Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Spiritual But Not Religious": A Comment And A Rebuttal


In a recent post I had published, Basic Training For Catholic Jedi: How To Pray!
I made the following assertions concerning what true spirituality is based upon:

These days, many people describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious"— as spiritual seekers who are ANTI--religion, who like Jesus but hate His Church.
These days, many people describe themselves as “spiritual.” So, what does THAT mean? For these folks, the word, “spiritual” has been deliberately emptied of anything to do with God. The word, “spiritual” has become highly subjective and political.“I am spiritual but not religious.”
Next time someone says to you, “I am spiritual but not religious,” let them know -- as the Catholic Jedi that you are -- that they are speaking an oxymoron, a statement that is self-contradictory:
* Like “Agree to disagree" or "A little pregnant" or "Boneless ribs” or "Sinfully good."
* Or “A Brief Homily”
* Or “I am spiritual but not religious.”
You cannot be “spiritual” without being religious. 
There is no spirituality without God. Your spiritual life, your spirituality, IS your basic, practical, habitual attitude toward God and toward your fellow human beings. Your spiritual life results from how you understand and live out your religious faith in Christ and His Catholic Church.

One of our visitors to the "Academy" read that post and published the following comment:
"I am spiritual and not religious and your saying I am not, does not change the fact. My kindness toward and compassion for my fellow man is my spirituality, and frankly exactly WJWD. You say in effect that if I don’t believe in YOUR religion (Jesus Christ, etc) that I have no spirituality, which is laughable. I am surprised a Jedi catholic priest would be so narrow minded, not to mention, holier than thou. I was enjoying stumbling upon your unique site until I read your ridiculous slap in the face statement. Neither your words, nor your religion apply to me, or anyone for that matter. My God, the higher power that I believe in, could not care less about petty and destructive, man-made religions. I am wonderful spiritual being and boastfully PROUD to not be religious. Blessings to you, and all, this day." Kathleen

Thanks, Kathleen, but your comment actually demonstrates what was posited in the original post. You write, "My God, the higher power that I believe in, could not care less about petty and destructive, man-made religions." How do you know?  Did your God tell you this? Are you sure it was God telling you this, or the Evil One? Because the One, True God made it quite clear, many thousands of years ago, that -- yes -- He does care about religion.  

Religion is a system of faith and worship (worship being the actions or rites that make up human beings' formal expression of reverence for God). True spirituality involves faith in the One, True God and worship of the One, True God.

Kathleen, I sincerely hope that you realize that what you wrote is not WJWD. 
You wrote, "My kindness toward and compassion for my fellow man is my spirituality."
However, the tone of your comment was quite angry and contained quite a few ad hominem attacks. This does not seem to demonstrate any good fruits from being a "wonderful spiritual being" and  "spiritual but not religious" and filled with "kindness toward and compassion for your fellow man."
Who are those "blessings" coming from?   You?   God?   Your God?   Or are you God?

One's spiritual life, one's spirituality, is one's basic, practical, habitual attitude toward God and toward one's fellow human beings. Follow a false god or a non-existent version of the True God, and your spirituality will be misleading and ultimately narcissistic -- because it will not be based on the truth.  One's spiritual life results from how one understands and live outs one's religious faith in the One, True God of Life.  

The Catholic Jedi Academy does not exist to be a cyber-battlefield for posting salvos of resentment, anger, ignorance, or venom. We teach. We propose. And as Catholics, our propositions and teachings are based in the Catholic Religion.  It may not be your thing, but please at least give it a chance and use your intellect to seriously ponder what we publish on this blog.  There is no need to be afraid of the truth. But, if upon serious consideration, you do not agree, we bid you adieu, but  please, don't toss an angry grenade as a farewell gesture. It is not WJWD.


Our God is the Way, Truth and Life.  May your journey to him not be filled with difficult obstacles.

I have excerpted below a few paragraphs from an article by Rabbi David Wolpe of The Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and the author of seven books.  Rabbi Wolpe's insightful observations are applicable to the affiliation of "spiritual but not religious" and to the behaviors produced by embracing that mentality.
Excerpts from the Time Magazine Online website. ( Red emphases are mine):

Viewpoint: The Limitations of Being ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’
By Rabbi David Wolpe  --  March 21, 2013

     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.

     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.

From Kansas Bob: The Spiritual Not Religious Cop-Out
     Being religious ... [means] testing yourself in the arena of others.

     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. 
[By way of explanation: to be solipsistic is to adhere to the mentality of Solipsism (from Latin solus, meaning "alone", and ipse, meaning "self"): the idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist, and that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure.]

     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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