Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spiritual or Religious?

Have you heard someone say, "I'm spiritual not religious"? Perhaps we'd like to ask the person help us understand the difference. And in some cases when the difference is stated, both spirituality and religion get a bad rap. Religion may seem to mean legal codes, judgmental moralism, and hierarchy. We must have done a bad job of teaching our religion. Spirituality seems to mean, well, almost anything I want it to mean, but mostly it's about my personal experience. We must have done a bad job of teaching the Christian tradition of spirituality.

Spirituality without a worshiping faith-community may be self-serving. Religion without spirituality may be without heart, dry and tedious.

I doubt that the early Christians of the first century spent much time debating these two terms. I doubt that the first century Christian martyrs ~ or for that matter the Christian martyrs of the 20th century ~ agonized over the distinction.

Maybe we would be better off having the simple direct faith of children as in these letters to God:
     Dear GOD, I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. Nan

     Dear GOD, Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. Larry

     Dear GOD, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't You just keep the ones You have now? Jane

Maybe these future theologians will help us to do a better job of integrating religion and spirituality in a way that gives meaning and purpose to our everyday lives.


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