Spiritual But Not Religious

by Marla Bollak on March 28, 2010

9th century fresco from the Bezeklik grottoes ...
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I’m really bothered by the term ‘spiritual but not religious.’ What does that mean, anyway? What if you are spiritual AND religious? What does it mean to be spiritual? What does it mean to be religious? Each of these terms is so loaded and mean such different things to different people. Why make it more confusing?

OK, I know it’s a catchall for those who don’t subscribe to any religious dogma, yet feel there is some force outside of themselves, and they relate to this force. And, yes, I really do sort of know what the person labeled ‘spiritual but not religious’ means, so why am I so bothered? Why does it matter?

You know what, I just hate boxes with labels. The problem with these boxes is that there just aren’t enough of them. Can’t you identify with a specific religion and not consider yourself to be religious? I do. What if you held religious beliefs, but didn’t consider yourself to be religious? There’s no box for ‘Catholic and not religious.’ What if you held spiritual AND religious beliefs, but didn’t consider yourself religious? How about ‘spiritual, Jewish, and not religious?’ Nope, no box.

If there were enough boxes, there would be too many – because we don’t all fit in boxes. Which leads me to another phrase that I hate – ‘think outside of the box.’ WHAT BOX? I don’t think in a box to begin with. But, I digress.

Funny thing… I have a favorite quote of the day widget in my google page. Here’s what came up today:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. – Thomas Paine

Maybe Thomas Paine would have considered himself to be ‘spiritual but not religious.’ And if he did, who am I to argue?

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{ 1 comment }

Rosemarie crocker March 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Thomas Paine was a member of the Unitarian Universalist – A big spiritual carton containing many little boxes of religions.

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