Viewpoint: The Limitations of Being ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’

Only organized religion can mobilize communities and lead to real action

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Do you like feeling good without having to act on your feeling? Boosting your self-esteem no matter your competence or behavior? Then I’ve got the religious program for you.

According to the latest Pew report, almost 1 in 5 Americans identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they have some feeling, some intuition of something greater, but feel allergic to institutions. Yet as we approach Passover and Easter, it’s important to remember that it is institutions and not abstract feelings that tie a community together and lead to meaningful change.

(MORE: Empty Pews: Everyone Is Misreading the New Numbers of Religiously ‘Unaffiliated’)

All of us can understand institutional disenchantment. Institutions can be slow, plodding, dictatorial; they can both enable and shield wrongdoers. They frustrate our desires by asking us to submit to the will of others.

But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings know to perpetuate ideologies and actions. If books were enough, why have universities? If guns enough, why have a military? If self-governance enough, let’s get rid of Washington. The point is that if you want to do something lasting in this world, you will recall the wise words of French Catholic writer Charles Péguy: “Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.” Got a vision? Get a blueprint.

Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes. Religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world. Religions create aid organizations; as Nicholas Kristof pointed out in a column in the New York Times two years ago: the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization is not Save the Children or Care, it’s World Vision, a Seattle-based Christian group.

(MORE: Have We Evolved to Be Religious?)

Aid organizations involve institutions as well, and bureaucracies, and — yes — committee meetings. There is something profoundly, well, spiritual about a committee meeting. It involves individuals trying together to sort out priorities, to listen and learn from one another, to make a difference. I have found too often that when people say, “I stay away from the synagogue — too much politics,” what they mean is that they did not get their way. Institutions enable but they also frustrate, as do families and every other organized sector of human life. If you want frictionless, do it alone.

To be spiritual but not religious confines your devotional life to feeling good. If we have learned one thing about human nature, however, it is that people’s internal sense of goodness does not always match their behavior. To know whether your actions are good, a window is a more effective tool than a mirror. Ask others. Be part of a community. In short, join. Being religious does not mean you have to agree with all the positions and practices of your own group; I don’t even hold with everything done in my own synagogue, and I’m the Rabbi. But it does mean testing yourself in the arena of others.

(MORE: Rabbi Wolpe: Why I’m a One-Issue Voter)

No one expects those without faith to obligate themselves to a religious community. But for one who has an intuition of something greater than ourselves to hold that this is a purely personal truth, that it demands no communal searching and struggle, no organization to realize its potential in this world, straddles the line between narcissistic and solipsistic. If the spirit moves you to goodness, that is wonderful. For too many, though, spirituality is a VIP card allowing them to breeze past all those wretched souls waiting in line or doing the work. Join in; together is harder, but together is better.

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"it’s important to remember that it is institutions and not abstract feelings that tie a community together and lead to meaningful change" Lmao.. Yes people! Track the main connection to almost every evil in the past 2,000 years! < Remember to imagine how far behind we are when you look at how long science was illegal. PEOPLE make meaningful change. ArelowoAlao beat you to snot on Spirituality also..

rocket91
rocket91

I think that it does help to have some religious guidance in our lives and to be spiritual.  Regardless of what religion one chooses to practice, no one is going to be in full agreement on what the church teaches.  No church is perfect.  When I was a child we didn't go to church that often.  We belonged to a Methodist church but rarely went.  When we would go, it would be for a few weeks and then we would not go.  I seem to remember going to Sunday School more than church.  Later when I became friends with someone, she invited me to go to her Lutheran Church.  Within the next year, I did get confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and it was okay, at first.  After we were confirmed, we became part of the Youth Group.  It was fun to go to activities, but after about six months, I got tired of it because they were saturated with activities, and we were obligated to attend all of them.  The more I went to these Youth Group activities, the less they had to do with God.  I might as well have been doing something else with another group of people.  The church was always preaching about God and how we are supposed to put God ahead of ourselves and our own needs.  I was drained, exhausted and depressed from being constantly badgered into going to every activity.  To make matters worse, my mom did not take my side on any of it.  Anytime I was asked if I was going to a church activity and I said "NO", someone would be calling my mom to make me go.  They probably sweet talked her with stories about how great their church is (or other mumble jumble).  So, to me, the Lutheran Church did not feed or fulfill me to have a healthy religious life, so I ended up leaving when I was in college.  I attended college at home, but I just had no interest in going to this church anymore because of the havoc, drama and harassment.


After not going to church for about ten years, I did on occasion go to mass at the Catholic Church.  I later converted at my own initiative (no one telling me to or when).  I am happy in the Catholic Church, even though there are times when I slip from my faith, but I get back on track.  In the Catholic Church, there are obligations and expectation to uphold, but they don't jump down anyone's throats.  I think that might be because the priests don't know everyone enough, so they don't go out their way to judge anyone.  I like that the church does not bombard anyone into participating or serving when there might not be any available time or interest.  In the Catholic Churches that I have been to there are a lot of people in attendance.  While the parish community is friendly, it makes it difficult when people don't know your name or take the time to connect.  I think one reason is because people do service-oriented things outside church, but don't advertise their deeds.  I haven't always been Catholic, so I don't know what people did before, but when I started going to church, the church groups, both parish and diocesan wide existed but were sparsely attended and later died down.  I had read in a blog that this is common in all Catholic Churches across the U.S.  So, my thought is because people don't want to spend that much time with people that they don't have common outside interests with.  I have heard through word-of-mouth that some groups form from common interests such as choir or volunteering in Youth or soup kitchens, and they don't always want people entering the group without holding the same interests or niche.  Yes, it does sound harsh, but it something to think about.


As long as there is value in what you do, it does not matter whether or not it is in church.  I am not a big fan of doing something just so a group can meet a quota.  I think that some churches are guilty of that.

ArelowoAlao
ArelowoAlao

"Spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation"  This statement by itself shows just how far lost this guy and most "Religious" people are.  When you are born into this world you don't have a religion but you do have spirit.

William_Bloom
William_Bloom

It is fashionable to criticise Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) people for having no community, nor commitment, nor social engagement. But this is based on a misperception and stereotyping.


The misperception is understandable because prominent aspects of the SBNR culture can be seen as quick-fix spirituality, focused on personal gratification and to lack values. Make me healthy, successful and beautiful.


But this glamour is only the showbiz tip of the iceberg. It is an easy and inaccurate target. It is stereotyping similar to damning Christianity because of some abusive clerics.


SBNR people tend to be deeply engaged in action and caring. In his book Blessed Unrest for example Paul Hawken describes a global movement of thousands of non-profit activist organisations many of them fuelled by SBNR people. It would be interesting to research how many of the activists in for example Greenpeace or Occupy are SBNR. Are these not substantial, ethical and activist communities?


When I ran the Alternatives Programme for a decade at St. James’s Church in London I was simultaneously running a drop-in centre for teenagers with special needs and adults returning to learning. My team at the church, all of us SBNR, consisted mainly of professional carers and educators.


There is also this stereotyping of SBNR people as having no discipline or true commitment. How on earth do the critics know this other than from an impression? SBNR people are, I suggest, as disciplined or undisciplined as any other human beings, especially those of traditional faiths.


The reality I suggest is that religious adherents do not like the way in which SBNRs feel free to wander beyond the usual boundaries. SBNR types like to explore the different tools and concepts that can be found in all spiritual traditions. They do not adhere to one single belief. And why should they? This is the modern world. Why on earth would any autonomous adult want to stay within the confines of one knowledge tradition or belief community without assessing and incorporating what is useful in others? 

Caz
Caz

While I disagree with the author this post was better than I expected. However, it is narrow-minded in its view of SBNR.

"For too many, though, spirituality is a VIP card allowing them to breeze past all those wretched souls waiting in line or doing the work."

Really? These are my precise thoughts on organized religion, especially ice-cream-social and politically-minded Christian groups which pay more emphasis to "just getting people to church" or gaining political clout than actually doing the Works. The I-showed-up-in-church-on-Sunday indulgence card is all MOST Christians need to feel they did their part. Admittedly, organized religions do offer aid and help (The Mormon Church was on the ground after Katrina before FEMA was) - but MOST people involved in religions are as indolent and passive as the author would like to paint SBNR people as. I'd hazard that the level of involvement in social issues from people in both groups is about equal.

The church is being left behind and with good reason, I, like a gazillion other people around the world was never happy with the structure of power that churches are. We no longer believe in hell (except the hell people in need are going through), or that homosexuality is a "sin", that only Christianity offers "salvation" or that people who believe of other faiths are wrong or stupid. I thought once I was a good Christian; but looking back I realize that even if I meant well I was arrogant, prejudiced, petty and plain wrong. I am thankful for the good things Christianity taught me but it became obvious at some point that to really be the best man I could be, you may even say the "man Christ wanted me to be" I had to leave that ossified and dysfunctional church behind. 

Community was and is a big draw into religious communities, but as it turns out, you don't need religion to come together in a meaningful way.  

bhinkson41
bhinkson41

The point of SBNR is not anti-establisment or anti-institution. It revolves around the idea that all religions have a common moral code and are based on living a moral, positive life. SBNR deals with the fact that the different names of religions really just divide people into separate groups. Spirituality and morality bind humans everywhere together. It its just the different customs of each religion that divide people. The difference between a muslim, a catholic, any other religious person and a SBNR is really just specific customs, holidays and traditions, not what is being taught or advocated in each sect.

CarlosMiguelAlbuquerque
CarlosMiguelAlbuquerque

Oh, imagine that, a conservative abrahamic theologist being a pretentious, ignorant sociopath who does not comprehend empathy, divinity or human psychology, period.

PaulWebster
PaulWebster

For the SBNR crowd: If you are going to trumpet your apparent lazy inability to commit to the rigors of one religious doctrine or another as reason enough to title yourself SBNR, then let's consider some more facts about the religious institutions you all seem to hold in such utter contempt.


The truly Spiritual But Not Religious Sino-Siberian tribes of people populating pre-Columbian America slaughtered thousands upon thousands of their blood relatives with impunity for many centuries long before the arrival of a single Christian in the New World. The same is true of the African continent's tribal populations and the people of every other land mass around the globe. So, the argument that somehow only organized religion is to be held accountable for bloody wars waged in the name of some -ism, Christianity usually being the given culprit, is historically shortsighted, extremely bigoted, and simply not true.


Equally alarming is the usual total indifference that the SBNR souls give to the "institutional" out-pouring of charity to the tune of billions of dollars annually for the betterment of mankind, for the benefit of others around the world. And let me point out

the equally overlooked fact that this is because of Christian institutions and Christian charity. No other religion or secular group can even come close to the amount of benevolence in capital and man-hours as that funded by Christian institutions. 


Before you cast such a broad net to disparage traditional churches keep in mind that many colleges and universities including all of the Ivy League universities were organized and started by Christian churches. Today all across America many parents vie to get their children into highly sought after K-12 educational programs which are funded, housed and staffed by Christian churches. Many of the largest and best hospitals and medical clinics in America are here because of one Christian denomination or another. Many freely available urban social welfare programs that provide daily sustenance and a clean, safe place to sleep are here because of Christian institutions.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, my tiny church, a very small Presbyterian church in the Texas Hill Country, where but a dozen faith-filled souls may attend services on any given Sunday, quickly raised among ourselves over $12,000 to buy groceries, water and household items and then we drove that 600 miles into rural Louisiana to deliver it to a community of some very surprised and very grateful storm victims. Our church governance, the Presbyterian Church of the USA, and many other Christian denominations donated multiple millions of dollars more in relief aid to Katrina victims. 


So your insipid arguments against and thoughtless comments about the nature of traditional churches and religious organizations as being hypocritical, self-serving and inherently evil and no place for them in today's society is truly specious at best, and for many of you SBNR-types, probably a better description of many of your own personal shortcomings. 

KevinRose
KevinRose

I disagree with the author.


1. The author says "Yet as we approach Passover and Easter, it’s important to remember that it is institutions and not abstract feelings that tie a community together and lead to meaningful change."

This is false. People have feelings and choice. And it is those feelings and choices that tie an institution together. Institutions are an abstract creation; institutions have no feelings and no choice. Hence institutions are a tool - nothing more - for people to achieve their objectives.


2. The author says "But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings know to perpetuate ideologies and actions."

This is false. Ideas and actions are also made by individuals, families, ad-hoc groups and other non-institutional entities.

As a spiritual-but-not-religious (SBNR) person, my morals and values derive from within. I study external sources, meditate and ponder my spirituality and then choose the best I can in my life. All individuals have this same right and responsibility. 

By definition, all institutions have agendas and motivations that individual members disagree with; institutions require compromise. And institutions have zero legitimacy outside their constituency. As such, I associate with non-religious groups to serve, and take action based on my beliefs. This is not laziness; it's human behavior. It's doing what works in practical and effective ways.

The reason SBNR's have left traditional religious institutions is not because SBNR's are lazy and don't take action. It is because the institutions you refer to do not serve their needs; these institutions do not represent their values, their perspective nor the way SBNR's choose to serve our fellow beings and the greater community. Like obsolete institutions of monarchy, and dictatorship, religious institutions simply no longer serve the community-at-large nor the membership within the institution. 

Hence, SBNR's leave traditional religious institutions to associate with communities, groups, and organizations and that do represent their needs, and associate with like-minded people to meet their spiritual needs, perspectives, and objectives.

EtanB
EtanB

Firstly, he is a Rabbi, so I am not surprised he espouses a tendentious attitude toward blasé spirituality. But I also disagree with him. He says that only through religion can communal action occur. Even if that is true, it is a facile analysis…. what type of communal action? The history of religion is riddled with communal action towards ends that were horrific, to say the least. The reason action en masse is possible with organized religion is exactly due to its unquestionable tenets, when the mystical intuitions of “personal spirituality” take a backseat to dogma. 


Additionally, a religious community may work together towards some end, but that end is typically in the interest of that religious community. Seldom do religious individuals care about the interests of other religious groups, or those of the world at large…they primarily seek to further promulgate their own values (all too often ones of intolerance and self-righteousness). Universal inclusivity and open-mindedness, even if associated with New-Agey-Crystal-Worshipping nonsense, IMHO, is better than affiliating oneself with a group that downplays these ideals in favor of those that isolate people. 
His second point, that spirituality without religion makes you complacent with good feelings, is preferable to the alternative: being religious and miserable. I agree that if your belief system does not make you a better person, then it is useless, but that does not mean religion is necessary. It just means you need to take your own sense of spirituality seriously, and be mindful of yourself in the world. He apparently is not familiar with Eastern philosophy, since all the great Indian saints have said that we cannot help the world without first understanding ourselves…and no religion can show you who you are. The fact of the matter is that when you look at the world, the major problems caused by religion undoubtedly exceed those caused by the contented individuals who identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” And I rest my case there.

AinPa
AinPa

Please don't imagine that you know what I feel! 

I don't feel "allergic to institutions". 

I base my opinion on religion on facts. 

The fact is that religions have been proven to be emotionally manipulative, exploitive and abusive. They are corrupt orgnizations telling old lies about God, salvation an sin in order to gain power and influence over the people and communities in which they reside. They are profitable business that are selling salvation, for a price.


There may be good caring people associated with religions but that does not make the foundational lies true.

SamuelClemens
SamuelClemens

Asking a member of the clergy about organized religion is like asking a beggar about the merits of giving and taking handouts. Sorry guy, you aren't need for morality or spiritual life. Follow your own path, but ti is not the only one, or even the best one.

nomorelyz
nomorelyz

Actually, I respect the Rabbi, but I find this article a stellar example of why I'm spiritual & no longer religious.  In fact, humans tie a community together & it's historically evident that when they form "institutions" that the wars & oppression are crystallized into horrors.  

When we face each other & band together without undue concern over labels, we accomplish much greater things, IMO.  However, I understand why zealous representatives of institutions spend so much time chastising us for "feeling good" about God & each other while rejecting their choices.

ahmed.a.saleem
ahmed.a.saleem

I can relate to the Rabbi's words even though I'm Muslim. I would like to add that "spirituality" is one of those New Age words that don't really mean anything. Everyone is spiritual. We are all spiritual beings (if you believe that humans have souls). Often, calling yourself spiritual just means that you're afraid to commit, unwilling to recognize Divine Authority or haven't thought/read enough about what God means. Calling oneself spiritual is an excuse for ignorance.

Religion includes spirituality, and it is the very foundation of spirituality. Spirituality without its religious foundations means nothing. Spirituality today can be described as a pick-and-choose religion. A little bit of Buddhism, Paganism, Sufism, Christianity and Hinduism all combined into one. Pick whatever sounds nice from each ideology and you can call yourself a spiritual person. These are all obviously conflicting belief systems and it's illogical to subscribe to all of them even though they might have similarities.


To me, the cure for "spirituality without religion" is acquiring knowledge from authoritative sources. In short, reading.

RezaulKarim
RezaulKarim

The God has sent  messengers/prophets ( peace be on all of them), since the creation of humanity only to obey him, Otherwise what else he would  create them for other than to completely submit to him. They were sent to their tribes, first, then to their nations to prepare them for the final revelation for all., Finally,  God has completed his message by sending a messenger for the whole of humanity. That messenger was Muhammad  (peace be on him). God is one and his message is one- Why he would send so many different religions? So, It's obligatory for all his creation, men and women to have complete faith in him and to translate them in to actions with honesty and sincerity in his/her life and in the life of others..

SusanHill
SusanHill

I am a spiritual person. because there is no organized religion for what I believe. I really dislike labels for God. Because that experience is too big for a label. Now does that mean I am a lazy, spoiled trust fund wasp that sits around  eating twinkie!  LEtting all the children in my neighborhood starve while I run off to burn incense and chant with my guru?  No. I am a rational, human in todays confusing times trying hard to find a mature, responble way of life that dose leave me feeling guilty, stressed, like a failure and unfulfilled. Organized religion left me cold after years of service. 
I vecame a responsible seeker and worked hard to develop what my beliefs are.. GOd and I developed. You see the trick is... NO one can tell you what that is.. each person must ina sense make a pilgrimage to find their vision quest and keep that alive in thier lives.. IT goes without saying that if I a spiritual, God influenced and evolving human.. that I am going to feel the promptings of spirit and take part in global communal and personal works to help the condition. 
A thing shall be known by its offspring.. a vine is known for its fruit.. II beolieve it is wrong to poing a finger at us non organized believers.. Tolerance, compassion, and kindness is what is needed in these days.. 


Bessings to you 

susan Hill

Raxx_Nightblade
Raxx_Nightblade

As we approach Christmas and New Year's, it’s important to remember that it is institutions and not abstract feelings that mutilate babies and heap contempt on the corporeal archetype God envisioned for his Human male children.

ColinPierce
ColinPierce

This article is one of the most ignorant I've read in a long time. Bravo! Spirituality is about personal refinement and evolution, bettering oneself, aspiring to an ideal, an "enlightenment," or achieving a higher sate of being. It is not about activism. religion is about activism, politics, polarization, exclusion, debating, judging, dividing, all of these things. Spirituality is a personal matter; it is nobody's business but yours and your God/Godess/gods.' It should not be about t-shirts, bracelets, conventions, rallies, and secret handshakes. I believe I must say, you have it all wrong and quite backwards. As was said earlier, it is the spiritual who are dissatisfied, and if the religious are dissatisfied, it is mostly with other religions/faiths, and the demographics of them.

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Parker78

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Tanuchenka
Tanuchenka

There is an organization for the 'spiritual but not religious': it's called the Universalist Unitarian Church. They perpetuate ideology and action, get involved in community service, mobilize, and have a litany of committees. They just don't force anyone to believe in a particular creed. United by a common moral code, they bring people from diverse spiritual background (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, humanist, and everything in between) to a common community. And many of the members would not identify as 'religious', because spiritual beliefs -- questions about and supposed answers to the Big Questions -- shift and develop through life, and are unfortunately, unprovable (so why force them on each other). It can be about love, you know.

JJmolina
JJmolina

JJ

States allow exemptions for religious reasons; that's one reason views tend to appeal to proof of approved conscience exemption from the religious or philosophical reasons. This guide explains the claiming the multiple points of use claim may provide to believe that the risks to the human subjects are not absolutely any reason to basis for purposes individual lifetime unless you are exempt for other reasons.

Another reason to incorporate is it provides limited liability to individuals. As used in popular culture, revocation of non-profit for another reason than religious objections (political who could give a solid theological reason). Take another case—that of a poor young man, who may be (what few can ever subjects or slaves of the Romans, they had no national or individual spirit to like any other part of an estate, either by will or intestacy.

The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. As the right to privacy is not absolute, must disclose the limitations progress since the adverse information may affect risk for instance that subjects are given enough information to be able to provide informed consent. Not all individuals decisional capacity can provide as defined should not be absolutely prohibited from returning to the person and ascertaining, that subject's involvement in higher risk than is permitted for other direct benefit for the human subjects, unless the subjects themselves provide.

Everyone has an absolute human right to ensure that their dignity, rights and welfare are above providing information will of course vary greatly from project that standard, we would need to provide. Laws therefore human, of what kind so ever, are available by consent. It is manifest that men who are in absolute, if they please, are subject to no other inconstancy than that of human nature.

Another expansion of the right to life is the right to livelihood, which is a directive principle of state policy. This extension can check government actions in relation to an environmental impact that has threatened to the poor and disrupt their lifestyles.

A strong connection was established however, in a restrictive decision the court held that it is not feasible or appropriate to guarantee as the country lacked the economic capacity and development to honour guarantee. However, the expression 'life' assured has a much wider meaning which includes a right to livelihood, better standard of living, hygienic conditions in the workplace and leisure facilities and opportunities to eliminate sickness and physical disability of the workmen.

In this case the court used right to life to protect the health of the workmen by providing them with medical facilities and health insurance. The right to livelihood lost its battle to economic development in several cases dealing with rights of indigenous people. However, its earlier orders guided by the positive obligations contained ordered adequate compensation.

The reason for the poverty of their interior life is the neglect of spiritual values. When materialism erodes the higher spiritual dimension of life, a plunge into moral nihilism is bound to follow. We see this in the alarming statistics characteristic of materialist society: in the increased rate of suicide, in the explosion of crime, in the proliferation of abuse. This shows that a one-sided stress on material development in a pleasure-seeking society is ultimately self-destructive, like a piece of iron that is devoured by the rust arising from within itself. Even knowledge and discipline on their own are not adequate, for without moral ideals they may turn a society into nothing more than a mass-scale workshop or military camp. It is only the cultivation of a proper sense of values that can make society cultured and civilized in the true meaning of those terms.

The term Faith brings with it the special advantage of suggesting the faith of the Christian religion; we find thought opposed to immediate knowledge and faith, and, in particular, to intuition. But if this intuition qualified as intellectual that the case of religious faith involves Christian or religious development. In that case it is acting when it seeks to ignore this admission when speaking about faith accordingly the essential and real universal, when taken merely in its immediacy, is a mere abstract universal; and from this point of view God.

But the Christian answer is the claimant of the modern world’s, whether the modern world acknowledges the source of the answer or not. That we are created in the image and likeness of God and that God Himself has become man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is the basis of all thought of human rights – the language of consensus in the human community. The assertion of human rights is commonly made today without reference to God. It is thus nothing more than assertion. Human beings have rights because we say they do. Unsupported assertions only have force when they are asserted by the strong to the weak. This is very much the state of human existence in a secularized world. Rights exist only because a controlling authority enforces rights. Rights which are denied by a controlling authority have no existence.

As far as being 'objective' I propose there is no way around being first subjective. While many believe since we are automatically subjective, we can never not be subjective. I see much error in this way of thinking, but appreciate the challenge of figuring out why. I believe in process/procedure in alignment with the entire universe. There is nothing that exists without evolving... Change in decay, [re]production, or [re]acting... Therefore, to assume there exist an 'objective truth' and then believing we can never know the exact nature... Seems counter-intuitive and only productive in a form of absurdity. The sciences are very successful building off of what is considered objective; by means of community, consistency and consensus.

The intellectual is he who asks. The function which is universally human – to be able to ask questions – becomes in the intellectual a special function, the function which forms his character, the dominant function of his intellectual life. But if this is so, if asking becomes the dominant function of the intellectual, then a tension arises between the intellectual’s radical will to ask and the immediate, blessed certainty of the religious man and woman in their religious experiences, traditions, and symbols. This conflict cannot be avoided.

The intellectual also subordinates the religious reality to the function of asking – asking questions – and that means having distance and detachment from the religious reality. The religious man cannot admit this. The religious man subordinates everything else to his encounter with that which is his unconditional concern, his ultimate passion.

Finally one which is most actual today, the conflict concerning historical research of biblical literature – so-called “biblical criticism” – which deals with the Bible and its records as it would deal with any other book, namely, using the serious and honest historical criteria which every historian uses everywhere if he interprets documents of the past. This conflict is still going on and has not lost its sharpness after these two hundred years of struggle. This is one group of those who attack the intellectual on religion.


lafayetteann
lafayetteann

On the basis of reason and argument, there are some significant problems with this opinion piece.

"But institutions are also the only mechanism human beings know to perpetuate ideologies and actions. If books were enough, why have universities? If guns enough, why have a military? If self-governance enough, let’s get rid of Washington. "

This is a straw man argument.  No one in the 'spiritual but not religious' community would make these arguments.

Also this:

"Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world."

From my observations of people in the 'spiritual but not religious' group - it is the opposite.  That the 'spiritual' are dissatisfied with the world as it is and with organized religion is the reason why they are spiritual seekers.  Those nested in a chosen or birth-religion are the satisfied.




AV
AV

@PaulWebster  Shame to the widow at the temple for only giving a dime !  Twice foolish woman, for giving away her last in private...  


And if we don't care to give our last as she did, then the congregation will be sure to ask.... to test its moral perfection against representative temptation... 

But again, I don't think that the entirety of the Church is of this world. And demonstrative charity is always a kind of ball... today not unlike it was at the beginning of the church, as it cares to remind itself every year.

AV
AV

@nomorelyz  further on... 


Free association - young hordes whether of religious or other persuasions - does seem to produce horrors of its own...  


I am not saying this out of respect for old, enshrined hordes. Their tradition and history such as it is, says allot of what human beliefs look like as an indiscriminate, indispensable binder of choice. I do mean any belief ! [lets say, perhaps less of the kind that 'it is a good idea to wear shoes in summer' - all due respect to shoemakers; more of the kind of political beliefs with which religion finds historic affinities by its own accord... ]. Declarations of faith tend to universally tenable abstraction [like numbers]... and yet, their acceptance, administered by some form of dis-organization or another does what it does. I kept mine.


KevinRose
KevinRose

What exactly is an "authoritative source" in your opinion? A religious text? A large number of facebook likes? The best selling book? The religions of nations that won wars and hence propogated their religion on others?

All of those sources are external. In my experience, the only authoritative source of spiritual insight is within each person. Read all you want, experience life to the max, join whatever religion you choose. Those are all just externalities. In the final analysis, Shakespeare said it best. "Know thyself" and "To thine own self be true".  

That is all.

neuewilden
neuewilden

@ahmed.a.saleem   ahmed -- you have stated this very beautifully and I completely agree. I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian and on this  we can agree.  There is something intrinsically lazy and intellectually deficient in the concept of "spiritual but not religious".  It is a fine fall-back position for those that want to pay lip service to "love, peace and brotherhood" without having to sacrifice anything. It is the brother to an anti-intellectualism that claims one can be educated without an education. 

IvyVanessa
IvyVanessa

@SusanHill
"...there is no organized religion for what I believe"

Yes there is. It's called Unitarian Universalism. It is an organized religion that is different from anything you have probably ever seen or heard of. Check it out for yourself. http://www.uua.org/beliefs/index.shtml


ahmed.a.saleem
ahmed.a.saleem

@lafayetteann I don't believe that what you said is "well said", at all. The passage you quoted is not a straw man argument. It's a metaphor.

A straw man fallacy means creating an illusion and attacking that instead of the real argument. The real argument here is that beliefs have to be organized for them to serve any purpose. The Rabbi compares spirituality to self-governance, and religion to government. This is a metaphor.


"No one in the 'spiritual but not religious' community would make these arguments."

Exactly. If you believe that self-governance is meaningless without government, then you must also believe that spirituality is meaningless without religion.


MichaelRehan
MichaelRehan

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AV
AV

@KevinRose  'Guess you'd find lots of believers in this church ! 


Reminds of a Facebook button: 'See [your profile page] as X-Y-Z sees it' 


No kidding... 

neuewilden
neuewilden

(edit feature timed out while I was thinking.)  

Real love of one's own soul, and love for another's soul requires sacrifice and this cannot be achieved through a spirituality that declines the Creator's framework.  True spirituality, whether one is Muslim, Christian, or Hindu, requires of us a sacrifice to love that cannot be possibly be found within a wishy-washy, home-made religion.  It is the difference between wearing a garment of sackcloth made at home in the filthy hut of ones poverty of spirit, and a robe of honour earned by sacrifice.  God bless you Ahmed.