This week: Spiritual but not Religious?Edited by: Sophy
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Hi, I'm Sophy ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
Spiritual But Not Religious?
Because a growing number of Americans answered “none” when asked by Pew Research about their religious affiliation in 2014, “nones” has become a shorthand used to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular.” These “nones” now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones” – while even older generations have become more unaffiliated in recent years. For example, 14% of Baby Boomers were unaffiliated in 2007, increasing to 17% in 2014.
While religious affiliation has declined, feelings of spiritual peace, wellbeing, and wonder about the universe have significantly increased in the last decade across religious and nonreligious groups. Even among the unaffiliated and those who say religion isn’t particularly important to them, spiritual sentiment is strong and growing. And more than half of atheists say they regularly feel a sense of awe and wonder, according to Pew. The term “spiritual but not religious” has emerged to describe how more and more Americans have come to identify themselves.
Spirituality is typically understood as something we express individually, while religion is normally understood as something we practice in a group. We tend to associate the word “spiritual” with the private realm of thought and experience, and “religious” with the public realm of participation within a community. At its worst, religion can be based in fear, concerned with who’s in and who’s out, creating a worldview steeped in “us vs. them” which leads to violence, war, oppression, and injustice against those who don’t believe the way we do; spirituality rejects the dualism of “us vs. them” in favor of us AND them. At its best, religion can do the same, and become spirituality experienced and practiced in community.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro says that, “Religion is about belonging, community, shared values, shared rituals, and mutual support. Spirituality is about living life without a net, forever surrendered to reality and meeting each moment with curiosity, wonder, gratitude, justice, humility, and love. The two are not antithetical. Religion is often a container in which spiritual practices are preserved and passed on. Some people find the container as helpful as what it contains and choose to belong to a specific religion. Others simply take what they need from the containers and fashion their own way.”
Personally, I do a bit of both. For me, it’s not religion vs. spirituality, it’s religion AND spirituality.
Below you'll find some spiritual offerings from other WDC members. Please let the folks know if you read their piece by leaving a thoughtful comment or review. I realize I post mostly poems, but that is because it is tough to find other types of spiritual writing on the site (most are poems). If you have something you would like me to highlight, please do share it with me, thanks!
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Here is a response to my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (June 1, 2016)" about Meeting in Rumi's Field:
I absolutely love the editorial, Sophy. Rumi has had a big influence on me in my life. Especially the I-thou, I-it, I-You sounds so close to the truth whether we operate in those terms consciously or not. Thanks for a memorable NL.
So glad you loved it - thanks for letting me know!
It seems to be the ecumenical culture, in this day, to blend all religious belifs to one "non belief." I find this trend to be most distressing. We read in the Epistles that the early Christian church fought to be heard, to spread the story of a living Christ with the power to change lives. What I find even more distressing is the mind set of people to ignore the consequences of actions. When one believes there is no consequence to an action, it leaves the field open for all kinds of doctrine and diversions to subjugate the minds of the people. I won't argue Christianity. When one knows with a personal knowledge that ones life has been changed. That is a personal testimony that can't be argued. It is when that personal expereience comes against an idea that says it can never happen that a discourse can begin. I find it a waste of time to try to change a mind. I can tell you my experience. If you don't believe it, we're done.
Thanks for sharing. I have to admit that I am having trouble connecting your comments about non-belief to my last newsletter on meeting in Rumi's metaphorical field. I was expressing a desire to see humanity strive to become one, instead of us and them, in light of our contentious culture. Your comment appears to feed an "us vs. them" mentality, and I'm not sure how it was inspired by my last newsletter?
From Vaughan Jones - ONE Scribe
Sophy; thanks as always for the enlightening article..
I released myself of self and all past lessons I'd been taught from my childhood and beyond about ten years ago. On so doing I also relinquished all religion, including the Christian religion, which I had clung to till I was 55, thus I became what I refer to as a-religious, but not atheist.
Thus I am free, open to anything, never judging anyone, and I exist and dwell in a wonderful realm of a "oneness of being". I'll be writing a poem about this way of life soon.
Please share your poem when you have it posted!
I just thought I would share my group folder, maybe you could have a look and maybe enter it into your next newsletter. I like your newsletter for this month. Keep doing all the wonderful things that you do!
Thanks for sharing the group info - hope you get many folks to join!
From: Mary Ann MCPhedran
Finding One's Religion.
I was raised by my grandmother in Lanarkshire Scotland. My grandmother raised me as a catholic and a good job she did, but as a child I was among the worshipers in the street if the Salvation Army were playing and asking you to pray with them. In the public park there were many Christian services, and one comes to my mind, Sunshine Corner and my friend and I were in the front row of the seats in the park. On a Saturday night the church in the town held a service for the children but it wasn't preaching, it was games they played. My grand mother was concerned and said 'Your supposed to be a catholic but your every other protestant church as well,' and she shook her head and let me get on with it.
I was roaming the streets and came across a crowd of kids waiting for the doors to open of the Gospel Hall, so I waited too and joined them. As they were letting us enter a boy pointed at me and said, 'She's a Catholic miss.'
And she replied' All are welcome. I was given a coat from the sewing circle who was also used the hall that night. No matter how many groups I joined, my grandmother made sure I was at mass with the children of the parish on Sunday.
Thank you for sharing from your spiritual journey.
Please keep your comments and suggestions coming! Until next time! Sophy
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