Friday, August 19, 2016

Spiritual, not religious, is like baseball without rules

Imagine playing a game of baseball.

Without set base paths.

Without fences.

Without a set number of outs per side per inning.

Without a strike zone.

Without limits on the number of players on the field.

Without rules against doctoring the ball.

Without rules about the size and makeup of the bat.

Without rules, period.

Except, of course, rules that are made up by the players as they go along - and change based on the latest fad or whim.

Such a game might be fun for a while for little kids just interested in running around or hitting balls, but anyone who's serious about baseball, or even in playing a real game, would reject such a situation as nonsense.

That's what saying "I'm spiritual, not religious" is like.

If you are just starting out, a child when it comes to spirituality, then it might be okay to say that. But an adult using it as a way to reject organized religion is nonsense.

All too often, what it's really about is that it's a trendy way to discard inconvenient practices - like going to church - or rules - often but not exclusively linked to sex in some way. It tends to be part of self-indulgent pop theology. It's part of the kind of pop theology one might hear among college students, media and self-centered types, and suburban readers of spiritual pablum like Eat, Pray, Love.

Without rules, without paths, without boundaries how do we judge what is fair and good and right? Without religion, spirituality becomes a self-absorbed exercise, and as we all know, exercise without routine and commitment becomes boring and burdensome, and is soon abandoned.

Again, there may be some individuals who are sincerely beginning their spiritual quest and might say they are spiritual, not religious, but I can't say I have actually heard such a person people say this. Usually, they have sincere questions, or humbly voice concerns and doubts and pain.

They want to learn and understand the rules so they can be real participants, and not just folks who are running around aimlessly.

In the end, spirituality based in religion is the best way to get home - or even to know where home is.

Pax et bonum

1 comment:

Do Not Be Anxious said...

It's not too much different to talk about a political entity without a culture. Europe (soon-to-be America) has created a political entity focused on the individual's wants, without any cultural adhesion like borders or religion. And along comes Islam which settles within that entity without any expectations made of it. And they WON'T give up their religion. The French philosopher Pierre Manent has written an intriguing book called Beyond Radical Secularism, addressing the question of: What do we do now?