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Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Spiritual, but not Religious." Is It Really So Wrong?

It's become pretty commonplace these days to criticize those who claim to be "spiritual, but not religious." Invoking Saint Ignatius and Soren Kierkegaard in this excerpt from my just released book, Already There, I suggest that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge. It might not be the whole deal, but might we consider they may be onto something?:

"Saint Ignatius is not the only one to have such experiences. All of us can fall into the temptation of doing religious things instead of finding out what God wants us to do with our lives. People that claim to be 'spiritual but not religious,' then, are onto something. But it’s not that the spiritual life is a replacement for religion. Rather, it’s that religious practice absent reflection on one’s gifts and talents, one’s interior life and relationship with God, one’s past, present, and future in light of God’s love and God’s will is hollow, no matter how sincere. It’s far easier to go through the motions of religious practices than it is to do the hard work of looking at your life and discovering in it what God is inviting you to do with that life. And, indeed, it is hard because many of us can’t imagine that God would be so concerned with our individual lives. The famous Christian philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, once described our relationship with God as follows:

'[T]his human being exists before God, may speak with God anytime he wants to, assured of being heard by him—in short, this person is invited to live on the most intimate terms with God! Furthermore, for this person’s sake, also for this very person’s sake, God comes to the world, allows himself to be born, to suffer, to die, and this suffering God—he almost implores and beseeches this person to accept the help that is offered to him! Truly, if there is anything to lose one’s mind over this is it!'”

Tell me what you think here. Comments are open.