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Are there dangers in being 'spiritual but not religious'?

Von: John Manning (jrobertm@terra.com.br) [Profil]
Datum: 06.06.2010 01:28
Message-ID: <-OadnUP0AYgEQJfRnZ2dnUVZ_oqdnZ2d@giganews.com>
Newsgroup: alt.bible.prophecy alt.atheismsoc.culture.jewish alt.religion alt.religion.mormon

"God and the devil were walking down a path
one day when God spotted something sparkling
by the side of the path. He picked it up and
held it in the palm of his hand.

"Ah, Truth," he said.

"Here, give it to me," the devil said.
"I'll organize it."



~~ Are there dangers in being 'spiritual but not religious'? ~~


"I'm spiritual but not religious."  --  It's a trendy phrase people
often use to describe their belief that they don't need organized
religion to live a life of faith.

But for Jesuit priest James Martin, the phrase also hints at something
else: egotism.

"Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and
self-centeredness," says Martin, an editor at America, a national
Catholic magazine based in New York City. "If it's just you and God in
your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help
the poor?"

Religious debates erupt over everything from doctrine to fashion. Martin
has jumped into a running debate over the "I'm spiritual but not
religious" phrase.

The "I'm spiritual but not religious" community is growing so much that
one pastor compared it to a movement. In a 2009 survey by the research
firm LifeWay Christian Resources, 72 percent of millennials (18- to
29-year-olds) said they're "more spiritual than religious." The phrase
is now so commonplace that it's spawned its own acronym ("I'm SBNR") and
Facebook page: SBNR.org.

But what exactly does being "spiritual but not religious" mean, and
could there be hidden dangers in living such a life?

Did you choose "Burger King Spirituality"?

Heather Cariou, a New York City-based author who calls herself spiritual
instead of religious, doesn't think so. She's adopted a spirituality
that blends Buddhism, Judaism and other beliefs.

"I don't need to define myself to any community by putting myself in a
box labeled Baptist, or Catholic, or Muslim," she says. "When I die, I
believe all my accounting will be done to God, and that when I enter the
eternal realm, I will not walk though a door with a label on it."
People seem not to have the time nor the energy or interest to delve
deeply into any one faith or religious tradition.

BJ Gallagher, a Huffington Post blogger who writes about spirituality,
says she's SBNR because organized religion inevitably degenerates into
tussles over power, ego and money.

Gallagher tells a parable to illustrate her point:

"God and the devil were walking down a path one day when God spotted
something sparkling by the side of the path. He picked it up and held it
in the palm of his hand.

"Ah, Truth," he said.

"Here, give it to me," the devil said. "I'll organize it."

Gallagher says there's nothing wrong with people blending insights from
different faith traditions to create what she calls a "Burger King
Spirituality -- have it your way."

She disputes the notion that spiritual people shun being accountable to
a community.

"Twelve-step people have a brilliant spiritual community that avoids all
the pitfalls of organized religion," says Gallagher, author of "The Best
Way Out is Always Through."

"Each recovering addict has a 'god of our own understanding,' and there
are no priests or intermediaries between you and your god. It's a
spiritual community that works.''

Nazli Ekim, who works in public relations in New York City, says calling
herself spiritual instead of religious is her way of taking
responsibility for herself.

Ekim was born in a Muslim family and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She
prayed to Allah every night, until she was 13 and had to take religion
classes in high school.Then one day, she says she had to take charge of
her own beliefs.

"I had this revelation that I bow to no one, and I've been spiritually a
much happier person," says Ekim, who describers herself now as a Taoist,
a religious practice from ancient China that emphasizes the unity of
humanity and the universe.

"I make my own mistakes and take responsibility for them. I've lied,
cheated, hurt people -- sometimes on purpose. Did I ever think I will
burn in hell for all eternity? I didn't. Did I feel bad and made up for
my mistakes? I certainly did, but not out of fear of God."

Going on a spiritual walkabout

The debate over being spiritual rather than religious is not just about
semantics. It's about survival.

Numerous surveys show the number of Americans who do not identify
themselves as religious has been increasing and likely will continue to
grow.

A 2008 survey conducted by Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut,
dubbed these Americans who don't identify with any religion as "Nones."
"I don't need to define myself in a box labeled Baptist, or Catholic, or
Muslim."
--Heather Cariou, a spiritual but not religious seeker

Seminaries, churches, mosques and other institutions will struggle for
survival if they don't somehow convince future generations that being
religious isn't so bad after all, religion scholars warn.

Jennifer Walters, dean of religious life at Smith College in
Massachusetts, says there's a lot of good in old-time religion.

Religious communities excel at caring for members in difficult times,
encouraging members to serve others and teaching religious practices
that have been tested and wrestled with for centuries, Walters says.

"Hymn-singing, forms of prayer and worship, teachings about social
justice and forgiveness -- all these things are valuable elements of
religious wisdom," Walters says. "Piecing it together by yourself can be
done, but with great difficulty."

Being a spiritual Lone Ranger fits the tenor of our times, says June-Ann
Greeley, a theology and philosophy professor.

"Religion demands that we accord to human existence some absolutes and
eternal truths, and in a post-modern culture, that becomes all but
impossible," says Greeley, who teaches at Sacred Heart University in
Connecticut.

It's much easier for "spiritual" people to go on "spiritual
walkabouts,"
Greeley says.

"People seem not to have the time nor the energy or interest to delve
deeply into any one faith or religious tradition," Greeley says. "So
they move through, collecting ideas and practices and tenets that most
appeal to the self, but making no connections to groups or communities."

Being spiritual instead of religious may sound sophisticated, but the
choice may ultimately come down to pettiness, says Martin, the Jesuit
priest, who writes about the phrase in his book, "The Jesuit Guide to
(Almost Everything)."

"Religion is hard," he says. "Sometimes it's just too much work. People
don't feel like it. I have better things to do with my time. It's plain
old laziness."

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/personal/06/03/spiritual.but.not.religious/?hptÁ






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