"Spiritual but not religious" is just a landmark on the road to atheism.

Recently, a CNN article talked about the danger of being spiritual but not religious.

Here's the article:  http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/29/my-take-im-spiritual-not-r...

Does the danger exist because some of us are still entertaining world views not based in reality but in hopes and (pipe) dreams.

Is spirituality just a catch-all for an emotionally charged, wishy washy, perforated way of thinking?  I am beginning to think it is.  Anytime one develops a movement organized around hopes and dreams completely or partially disconnected from rational, empirical means of achieving those hopes and dreams, one runs the risk of becoming a religious machine.  Does it necessarily lead to a holocaust or crashing commuter planes into skyscrapers?  No, but it does provide a seed.

I have even called myself spiritual but not religious, but mainly because I don't have a single word to describe the constellation of feelings and thoughts that actually goes on most of the time.

Thoughts?

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Comment by Daniel W on October 7, 2012 at 6:48pm

That account of the New Mexico spiritualists is hilarious!

Comment by Jerry Wesner on October 7, 2012 at 11:29am

I've lived about an hour from Santa Fe (the real one -- New Mexico) for decades.  It, and northern New Mexico in general, has been a center for the "spiritual but not religious" since the sixties.  Vague women in filmy dresses wafting by; scruffy men with occupations from farming to begging; unwashed children of various ages playing or crying but not attending school.  Am I a bit negative about the "movement"?  Intellectually and physically lazy, self-satisfying, self-worshiping folks living on the land, and off the work, of others.  But I see no "movement" there; it's each one focused on herself, himself.  A danger? Only economically, stressing an already stressed area.  Some eventually wake up, sober up, and take a shower and join the world.  Others overdose or find other ways to slow suicide.  But a threat?  To themselves only.  (OK: Most are not this serious; our topic is the answer they give to "What church do you go to?)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 30, 2012 at 12:15pm

The amorphous of all amorphous words, also ambiguous-spiritual. I agree with Loren's definitions although there are probably others. If I am in a serious conversation with someone who uses that term I will ask for their definition.

Deism is the last conceptual or intellectual step before atheism. Perhaps spiritual but not religious is for some the last emotional step before atheism.

Comment by Daniel W on September 30, 2012 at 11:56am

Your comment about spiritual being a catch-all term has some merit.  If we did a Kinsey-type scale for the spectrum of religion-atheism, with 100% religious belief being a "10" (say, Mohammed Atta or the followers of Jim Jones) and atheism being a "0" (say, Christopher Hitchens), the "spiritual but not religious" is probably at a 3.  Not too bad.

Comment by Loren Miller on September 30, 2012 at 11:12am

My objection to the word, "spiritual" is simple.  Its root word is "spirit," to which I say, WHAT spirit ... and for that matter, how is "spirit" to be defined?  Ultimately, there is no more spirit than there is god, heaven, hell, soul, and the rest of the detritus which too many religions lay on us and insist we believe in.

Alternatively, I can be contemplative and self-reflective, meditate on my own nature and be in awe of the vast scale of the universe which somehow gave rise to us.  I think a recognition of the frequent imprecision in use of language is what gives rise to these kinds of problems.  I am neither spiritual nor religious, but that does not mean I may not have unanswered questions or occasional numinous experiences.

Cutting away the linguistic bullshit is one among many steps I see as necessary to a better means of giving voice to exactly what it is we're thinking and experiencing and from there to understanding it.

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