Yeah but sometimes I just want a greasy fast food burger…

… Fr. Longenecker has this great post over on his blog about the often heard claim of being “spiritual but not religious”. I was going to post a couple of choice quotes but I couldn’t decide, so here is the entire first part of his post. If you want to read rest you have to follow the link.

“What’s all this “spiritual but not religious” claptrap? Saying you’re spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking. Let’s take it further. You love food but hate cooking? That means you can’t be bothered to learn to cook. You can’t be bothered to study food and a meal and how it all fits togethers. You can’t be bothered to read cookbooks and learn how to make a recipe. You’re not willing to give it a try and burn something and be embarrassed. You’re not willing to burn your fingers, make a mess and have to clean it up. You’re not willing to invite friends, plan a dinner party, take a risk, spend some money and cook for them.

Why is that? Because you have known some bad cooks in your day? Because you were brought up on junk food? Because you have never had a cordon bleu five course meal? Because a chef once offended you in some way? Because you tried cooking from a cook book once and you failed? Because your friends think good food is snobbish? Because how can you eat a fine meal when there are hungry children in the world?”

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  • kenneth

        Spirituality is the drive to communicate with the divine and to nurture that spark of divinity within each of us. Religion is nothing more (or less) than a manmade method and framework for fostering spirituality. As a tool and a structure, it can indeed deepen and focus spirituality for many people. It can also serve as a crutch, or a distraction, or a barrier to real spirituality.

         I have not found any particularly convincing correlation between spirituality and religiosity. Many of the most spiritual people I have ever met were not religious, or at least not in any clearly definable orthodoxy. Some who toss about the phrase “religious but not spiritual” are of course neither, and are shallow flakes. Many deeply religious people are also deeply spiritual. 

        At the other end of the spectrum, legions of religious people are totally bereft of spirituality.  The Borgias were religious. Every suicide bomber is religious. The minority of priests who are predators are as deeply enmeshed in the letter and verse and observance of the Catholic religion as any pilgrim or saint who ever lived. The Pharisees were religious. 

    Where am I on this spectrum? I have a religion. Not one that Fr. Longenecker approves of (and in fact one he loves to libel). Be that as it may, it doesn’t bother me to be thought of as religious AND spiritual, but the former is always secondary to the latter. It is the means to the end, not the end itself.  Religion is what some other talking primate tells me about the divine.  Spirituality, for me, offers the ability and the imperative to go straight to the source. 

    • Ginacolleen

      Well said Kenneth! My thoughts exactly!

    • Kenneth;  without being religious (accepting the definitions of a faith tradition), how does one know their spirituality is genuine,  and not just the Devil leading one down the Garden path (so tho speak)?

      • kenneth

              I take it by the triple posting of the same question that you either had a setback with the submit key or I’m being subjected to what John Ashcroft’s house attorneys euphemistically termed “enhanced interrogation”!

            How does one know their spirituality is genuine? We all have the tools to discern truth, and the same hardwiring to communicate with the divine as does any bishop or prophet.  My relationship with my own gods is as deep and as close as that between a mother and child. We don’t see a need for mothers and children to consult texts and outside experts to divine how one feels for the other, why would I do differently for diety? They’re present with me in every day of my life, and I commune with them in the first person during ritual, an interaction as real, no, more real, than any flesh and blood encounter I would ever have.

            How do I know they’re not just evil? Well, that goes back to the discernment thing. I’ve been in the world a fair while. My former profession gave me the best education on human nature I could have ever had.  I’ve experienced true evil, and studied it. I know how it moves, how it speaks. Evil can speak in sweet tones, to be sure, but it speaks to ambition, to a sense of entitlement, to rage and self-righteousness.  It feeds the vision of oneself as God or God’s trusted inerrant lieutenant. Evil can be cunning, but it has no true patience or forbearance. No true empathy whatsoever. However pretty a mask it wears, it cannot hide its true nature when provoked. 

        • Brandon Arkell

          Or, hopefully, between a father and child! Since it’s frightful to think that one sex should be less loving than the other, if we are all supposed to embody the same standard of lovingness.

    • Kenneth;  without being religious (accepting the definitions of a faith tradition), how does one know their spirituality is genuine,  and not just the Devil leading one down the Garden path (so tho speak)?

    • Kenneth;  without being religious (accepting the definitions of a faith tradition), how does one know their spirituality is genuine,  and not just the Devil leading one down the Garden path (so tho speak)?

      • Ginacolleen

        Jacalyn, how do you know that your “faith tradition” isn’t the Devil leading YOU down the garden path?  judge not…..

  • robertgwirth

    I won’t even talk about religion and spirituality, because I don’t consider myself wise enough to comment, except to say: whatever floats your boat if you keep the Golden Rule.

    But I do love a good burger with fried onions now and again!

  • And Fr. Longenecker has just posted the relationship between spirituality and religion. Check it out.

  • Carlfrederickone

    Spirituality can only be found by looking within ~~ and most folks would rather shoot you than even consider that notion.  [Or, have your ‘government’ shoot you, vicariously.]

    “Every man should strive ~~ before he dies
    To find out
    What he’s running from…
    Running to…
    And why.”

    • And I would disagree. All that inward soul searching and looking within leads to narcissistic self love. Faith, love, religion and spirituality can be found by looking beyond ourselves with eyes directed at God.   

      • Brandon Arkell

        Which, ironically, ends up being a form of narcissistic selve love in itself through the proclamation, “Look at me! I’ve found God, and it ISN’T me! See? I’m self-effacing!” as if God is some trophy to be won. That is an even more insidious self love. Why is it such a big hairy deal to suggest that maybe people are part of a deity?

        • Yes, that is exactly what I typed above. You must be pleased with yourself to have the magical ability to read my mind. Can you teleport too?  

  • Brian Edward Miles

    Saying that “I’m a spiritual person” is as nonsensical as saying “I’m a bodied person”.

    No sh#t. You’re a person, and therefore by definition an indissoluble union of  body and a spirit. Nice work, genius.

    And for those still confused about the whole religion thing, just as eating, exercise, and sleep are the ACTIONS we take to attend to our bodies, so too religion (which refers primarily to praxis, from the Latin “to bind”) encompasses the ACTIONS we take to attend to our spirits.

    And yes, Evangelicals, even when you’re just having your quiet time talking to Jesus alone with your Bible, you’re still practicing religion. It’s just a teeny tiny man-made religion; for in jettisoning all the dogmas, institutions, rituals, and morality of true religion (i.e. The Church established by Christ), you haven’t succeeded one whit in freeing yourself from religion. You’ve simply appointed yourself as the final authority on what is and is not to be called religion – along with everything else that pertains to the faith. And don’t wave your Bible at me because I’m afraid you’ll find that the Old Testament you’ve selected is conspicuously slimmer than the one first quoted by Jesus and the Apostles.

  • gina101

    “Saying you’re spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking.”  ???
    Or being wise and knowing our limitations!  Not an appropriate analogy.  Tons of practice have shown I’m just an “okay” cook.  It’s a gift some have.  I don’t.  But I loooove good food made well from those who have that gift.   Ergo, I looooove the teachings of the Church and apply them accordingly to my life.

  • Brandon Arkell

    I don’t see the analogy between cooking and food on one hand, and religion and spirituality on the other. The institutional framework of religion is not necessary in order to practice spirituality. People are obsessed with dissolving the two into one–religion–when they are not mutually interchangeable. I think the reason for this is because it makes it easier to target spirituality for the same reason as one targets religion.

    • If an institutional framework of religion is not necessary than why did  Christ establish  the Church in 33AD and appoint St. Peter it’s foundation? 

      I guess He was just having a laugh.