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?"

excerpt:

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?

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."

edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/personal/06/03/spiritual.but.not.religious/index.html?hpt=Mid

The one good thing I can see in it is that opens the door and shows a certain willingness to leave the door open instead of closing it and being fully atheist.

That's very interesting about the SBNR.org group. For me, it is evidence of our fundamental need to belong to a community. Even those that shun "organized religion" cannot help but themselves organize as a community of believers. Somewhat ironic. :p

I've heard that before and it just astounds me how little those folks think! A general definition of "religion" is the "submission of one's will to God." Can't get that with just 'being spiritual.' Sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me. Folks wanting to have it "their way" instead of "God's way." God (Jesus) created a Church. He wants everyone to be a part of that Church.

Hi.

When I spoke briefly about my faith to my boss over lunch, he answered:

"I don't believe in organized religion."

To which I replied:

"So you're in favor of **disorganized **religion, then?"

I have many friends in the science-fiction/geek/new age communities. If I were a zombie, sometimes I would think I have a smorgasbord of brains to feast on since they are truly so open-minded as to have their brains fall out on the floor.

The Church tells us never to get involved in the occult or to try to wield or generate supernatural or preternatural powers ourselves, even if it is not for personal gain (CCC 2117). Without a guide to the nature of faith and all that it encompasses, a person can find themselves involved in situations or with people that makes life much worse, not better.

To say to be spiritual and not religious also lets a person try to "sit on the fence," taking neither one side or the other. It's a form of relativism. Karl Keating says it very succinctly: You wouldn't let somebody tell you that 2+2=5. Mathematics has only one truth in its answers. So why wouldn't a religion illustrate the same precision in its teachings? And, since not all faiths will have the correct answer, isn't it logical to seek out the one that hasn't conflicts in its doctrines?

To put that another way, I recall a question brought up to a well-known SF TV writer about his show. Specifically, the question asked why the guns used in the show were lethal and hadn't a non-lethal setting as seen on other shows like "Star Trek." The writer's answer was pithy: "Stun settings are for those who can't commit." The same is true with faith.

Another joke that illustrates the virtue of dedication of truth involves the contents of a ham and egg sandwich. The chicken was a participant, but the pig was committed to the task.

To be spiritual but not religious is to be as computer without an operating system. It's still a computer, but without the guidance of the operating system, the machine's overall usefulness is gravely limited.

One can be "spiritual" and live a holy life and have a rich devotional life...which is what I think of when I think of "spiritual".

When I think of "religious", I think of those engaged in their faith traditions on the surface...but their "religious life" really has no impact on how they live their lives.

One can be "spiritual" without being "religious"...and one can be "religious" without being "spiritually minded".

They are best defined when the two are combined...IMO.

I see "spiritual" another name for "Seeker"....."religious" another name for Nazarene, Quaker, Catholic, Methodist.

Oh yeah, plenty of dangers.

Here’s a quote from George Felos’ sick book (Litigation As Spiritual Practice), the creepy New Age lawyer who was instrumental in the murder of Terri Schiavo through court-ordered starvation and dehydration:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=45842&page=2

“As Mrs. Browning lay motionless before my gaze, I suddenly heard a loud, deep moan, scream, and wondered if the nursing home personnel heard it and would respond to the unfortunate resident In the next moment, as this cry of pain and torment continued, I realized it was Mrs. Browning. I felt the mid-section of my body open and noticed a strange quality to the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, ‘Why am I still here … why am I here?’ My soul touched hers and in some way, I communicated that she was still locked in her body. I promised I would do everything in my power to gain the release her soul cried for. With that the screaming immediately stopped. I felt like I was back in my head again, the room resumed its normal appearance, and Mrs. Browning, as she had throughout this experience, lay silent. “I knew without a doubt what had transpired was real and dispelled the thought as intellect’s attempt to assert its own version of reality.” (73)

“I felt like an empty vessel, a vehicle through which Spirit does its own work. I felt deep gratitude for being endowed with the abilities that allow this work to be done through me. In a sense, I lost, at least for that moment, a personal agenda. I became an agent and God was the principal. All I needed to do was permit the work to come through me.”

Every Buddhist in the world is spiritual but not religious. Many are more disciplined in their practices than most Catholics. So the term can apply to flaky New Agers who don't want to committ to anything, but it also applies to many sincere seekers. I would argue there also is a danger in the reverse: religious but not spiritual. No one was more religious than the guys who agitated for Jesus' execution.

[quote="kenofken, post:8, topic:201326"]
Every Buddhist in the world is spiritual but not religious. Many are more disciplined in their practices than most Catholics. So the term can apply to flaky New Agers who don't want to committ to anything, but it also applies to many sincere seekers. I would argue there also is a danger in the reverse: religious but not spiritual. No one was more religious than the guys who agitated for Jesus' execution.

[/quote]

Buddhism is one special exception in the nature of faith. They don't subscribe to dieties but see the world and themselves as connected to Something. But, yes, unlike neo-pagans, the Buddhist is in a valid religion as they commit themselves to living the rules established in that faith rather than redefining them to suit their needs--such behavior is more of a hobby than faith. Were I not a Catholic, the nature of Buddhism would be quite appealing to me, especially since many of their tenets mirror the commandments and ethical and moral living.

Your inference is that religion is a bad thing. History has shown that, overall, religion is a positive guiding factor, not a negative. But in the case of the Pharisees and related groups in Christ's time, the Crucifixion was more a matter of political power-wielding (from the human's standpoint) than theology.

When politics becomes entwined in religion (as an entity), the faith is often used as a bludgeon, an excuse to do what one wants under the guise of the name of God. Be wary of any faith that pushes the mantras of "In the name of..." far too often in association with a secular act (say, national expansion).

Most of my friends are science-fiction/geeky/make it up as you go along types. One jokes about being a Last Tuesdayist.

Anyway, being spiritual about what or towards what? Pagans are spiritual.

Another of my friends believes religion is this big curse. How many rosary praying women or nuns do you know who walk around with AK-47s? Anybody? How many are advocating a radical form of, well, anything?

Over the years, too many wars have started over the desire to own somebody else's dirt. "WE want your dirt!" "You can't have it!" "OK. This means war!"

What God were the Bolsheviks dying for?

Jesus was quite clear about how we were to go about getting into Heaven. There was no multiple choice answer.

God bless,
Ed

[quote="kenofken, post:8, topic:201326"]
Every Buddhist in the world is spiritual but not religious. Many are more disciplined in their practices than most Catholics. So the term can apply to flaky New Agers who don't want to committ to anything, but it also applies to many sincere seekers. I would argue there also is a danger in the reverse: religious but not spiritual. No one was more religious than the guys who agitated for Jesus' execution.

[/quote]

What is your reason for saying that "many Buddhists are more disciplined in their practices than most Catholics"?
Also, why was no one "more religious than the guys who agitated for Jesus's execution"?

The danger is the same as that of hesychasm... in opening one's self up to the supernatural without a reliable guide to help one interpret what one encounters, and without a strong and well developed moral sense, one has paved the way for demonic influences.

Being spiritual but not religious is just code for: I believe in God, because I CAN see His existance around me, BUT I don't feel like listening to rules so I'm going to reject religion.

[quote="nickybr38, post:13, topic:201326"]
Being spiritual but not religious is just code for: I believe in God, because I CAN see His existance around me, BUT I don't feel like listening to rules so I'm going to reject religion.

[/quote]

Exactly.

I have tried a few online sites for dating (Catholic and secular). On the secular I made it a point to include in my profile that I was a practicing Catholic seeking someone with similar beliefs and values. I received a lot of messages from people who made it their point to include that they were "raised Catholic, but no longer practicing" and/or "spiritual, but not religious (which is actually a category on this particular site). I wondered why they would comment that they thought they would be my perfect match, and later included in my profile that I didn't quite understand the whole "spiritual but not religious" label. I received a few messages from people berating me for "putting down" this category of belief...then still thinking they would be a good match for me and asking to communicate further :rolleyes:

I think that some people in the spiritual but not religious category are truly seeking God but may not know how to go about doing so. I also think that the majority just want to do what they want in life and not abide by any "oppressive rules".

I had very similar experiences. Mind you I was ‘spiritual’ not religious for awhile and yet had NO interest in men who were the same. ): Contradictory much? Haha.

I agree with you on that last part. I know that when I called myself ‘spiritual’ (even though it honestly felt wrong) I wanted to believe in God’s church but had some MAJOR authority issues (I had lost all respect for Protestant churches after learning more about how they started - and had come to doubt the Holy Spirit’s hand in the Bible).

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