End of an aphorism thread today. "I'm not religious. I'm not spiritual. I'm an aphorist."
Aphorism of the Day, March 31, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." St. Paul wrote in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male and female. Yet religion has been used to uphold differences to be used for purposes of bigotry, shunning and exclusive practices for years. Perhaps the "spirit" of Christ is no longer to be found in religious organizations which still practice such shunning and so the "spiritual" has gone extra-ecclesiastical in a world of global closeness that hardly needs religion to be divisive. It is a good time for the welcoming "Spirit of Christ" to be evident in churches without making people pass through such "narrow" doctrinal "detectors" at the door.
Aphorism of the Day, March 30, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." The late John C. Lilly of dolphin study fame and friend of Ginsberg and Leary, wrote a book, "Simulations of God: The Science of God" in which he explicates from his own experience multiple ways to achieve the "brain states" of spiritual experience. This scientific approach of believing that the human being is always already open to experience of "optimal states," "peak events," and ways to be in the "zone" or "flow" of things without religious tradition narrative content seems to be attractive to people who are wearied by religious organization being exclusive and seemingly wanting to prove that Freud was right about lots of religious behaviors being disorders.
Aphorism of the Day, March 29, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This expression may be an indication of the loss of anthropological soundness of the rites of the church because the rites were not experienced as connected with true life events and they have not always been taught as transformational practice. So the spiritual has become "supplemental" extra-religious "self-help" individual strategies. Religion needs to find its re-connection to life in helping people explicate the realities of the stage of life that they are in and promote practices which help toward the achievement of "optimal" states of being within the variety of occurrences within any stage of life.
Aphorism of the Day, March 28, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." For many people of faith, the terms religious and spiritual may not have any relevance. They don't seem to apply to people in their own self-understanding of faith because they do not live in some "academic and pollster" wake of analysis of what they are doing and feeling when they say that they believe in God. Such people live in the continuous primary naivete of what is a personal relationship with Persons of Greatness whom they know to be Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And they are not sure about the academic value of characterizing such a vital relationship, in fact, such academic aloofness seems to be the untrue analysis of people outside of and foreigners to the type of relationship which they think that they have with God. So religious and spiritual can simply be the linguistic coats which academics and pollsters force people to wear. Some people of faith believe such coats don't fit their experience and so they refuse to don them as how they would show their faith in the public.
Aphorism of the Day, March 27, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Some analyze religion as consisting of exoteric and esoteric aspects, the the former being all of the externals of religion and the latter being the spiritual center for which religious tradition and institutions actually exist. So the external aspects of religion can seem to be mainly about "crowd" control and administration of people in having a significant "club" for social integration in a larger society. And the kernel of of religion is the call of the path to the beatific vision of God which only the saints and the holy ones seem to want to travel on. In the bifurcation of religion and spiritual, one might use the analogy of having body without spirit or being simply ghostly without a body. It may mean that we live in a situation of double alienation; religion alienated from spiritual life and religious life inapplicable to everyday life.
Aphorism of the Day, March 26, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Such an expression seems to be nostalgic aspiration for the Presocratic notion by Anaximenes who essentially held that "spirit" =pneuma= (πνεῦμα) was the basic matter of the universe. As the metaphorical term accrued meanings in the theological and psychological mappings of the interior terrain of the unknowable but metaphor inspiring inner self there developed massive institutional and social structures around the many notions and practices of the "spiritual" within successive social contexts. And some have thought that the institutional shell is now "empty" of "spirit" or the institutional furniture has become like idols distracting away from the spirit that seemed to be the founding spring. So a post-institutional spirituality is expressed in more local or individual modes until post-institutional spiritual gatherings become their own institutions. It could be that such spiritual institutions are and will be more a part of the "for-profit" economic structures, e.g., every yoga based spiritual establishment. When one pays for yoga classes one may be paying for the way in which one chooses to learn how to map one's spiritual-psychological-physical being.
Aphorism of Day, March 25, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." To assume people of faith to be saying, "I'm not spiritual; I'm a religious person," is something like the rotund baseball player John Kruk who was eating, drinking and smoking in a restaurant and a shocked woman asked him if he was an athlete. To which he replied: "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."
Aphorism of the Day, March 24, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." It could be that we got to this commonly expressed belief by social process. Modernity in wealthier societies allowed more individualism, more nomadic freedom and the proliferation of all kinds of products for every kind of entertainment. Sports and entertainment have become more specialized and expansive. Church as once having an exclusive place on weekly calendars had fewer things to compete with and church fulfilled a major socio-entertainment aspect of a person's life. Bible words have a much greater ocean of words in the modern era where world knowledge doubles daily; Bible words have had more difficulty in avoiding "saturated meanings" in the plethora of word products including modern historical scholarship where scholars purport to know more about the Bible than Jesus did in his time, i.e., that Moses did not write the Torah and that David did not write all of the Psalms. Can there be a rapprochement between the notion of the religious and the spiritual? It could be that Sabbath time in the past was structured around "market time" so that trading of products did take place before after the time of prayer. So even Sabbath "fit" in with the local economy. Can we think outside of the box and return to the "individual body as temple" theology of Jesus and Paul in times when actual Temple was destroyed or church buildings did not exist? If each person's body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, then there is the collective body of Christ as a Temple in its gathering together but there are also satellite and connected altars in each person's body as a Temple of the Holy Spirit. A rapprochement strategy would mean that the religious authorities would give up their guilt production by acknowledging that the enforced obligatory regular group gathering in the group's building may not be omnicompetent to the spiritual/social/psychological needs of persons and families. At the same time the satellite spiritual people, freed from those who would make them feel guilty about church, would understand the importance of preserving the religious gatherings and its locally adapted accoutrements to their lives and their society.
Aphorism of the Day, March 23, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." For people who claim this it means that there was some point in their lives when religion and spirituality became separated. What has happened to a person for religion no longer to be regarded as spiritual. Such experience must have been widespread enough for it now to be a common claim. Could it be that churches have been perceived as lagging behind society at large in willingness to extend justice of full inclusion to lots of people who were willing to consider themselves religious Christians but did not feel welcome? Was spirituality a refuge to find inclusive justice?
Aphorism of the Day, March 22, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Being religious in a day when we like to believe that each person is a free agent and not caught in a web of obligations and commitments either to church rules which seem out of date or with forced ways to read the Bible which contradict all of the scientific ways of one's life; it seems easy to latch upon a spirituality which provides visualizations of the insides of one's being to re-organize one's life to the hum of the the Om of the universe and find "peace." But there may be some things which atrophy by "going it alone." What about a religion which totally understands the aesthetic sublime of religious and biblical discourse, allows you continuity with a tradition which you can "doubt, disagree with and argue with" (one doesn't agree with grandpa and grandma about everything and yet one still loves and does not deny the continuity)? What about a religion with expressions that are not regarded to be absolutes and one which reforms and adjusts to how love and justice is perfected in life situations? What about a religion which keeps our social natures from atrophy by being an intergenerational mentoring community, in part organized to help those who need help? And what about a religion which encourages as much private prayer and extra-ecclesiastical meditation as one wants? How about the Episcopal Church?
Aphorism of the Day, March 21, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." The words "religious" and "spiritual" are words which give us good reason to avoid pollsters. Pollsters use words which have thousands of nuances and could easily "die the deaths of a thousand qualifications" but one is put on the spot in a "religious poll" to be "either/or" for the sake of the rhetorical purpose of the poll to enlighten the American people on the nature of religious life. Church leaders do fear irrelevance and obsolescence of their "totemic" traditional forms being able to continue to inspire a participatory identity for people. And it could be for many that "spirituality" expresses for some a moment of discontinuous break from the religious traditions which have been so formative in the "story" background of our society even as actors in the foreground have lost vital touch with that background.
Aphorism of the Day, March 20, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Does this have some historical roots in the "Boomer" generation who experienced a disillusionment with public institutions including churches when such institutions seemed to support or tolerate war with less than pure motives and racial discrimination and social inequality for women and minorities? A naive bubble of our false national righteousness got burst and there was the reception of a wave of meditating gurus from the East who provided more religious neutral modes of spiritual, physical and psychological practice (yogic practices) that could be done alone without having to live in church communities which upheld social practices which were no longer regarded to be just.
Aphorism of the Day, March 19, 2019
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This may parallel the general disillusionment with public institutions and may express the irony of our political sector: "I'm an American; I don't vote." Meanwhile people with "skin" in the game and wanting more are fanatic about controlling all public institutions including religious organizations. Being spiritual can be used as a naive excuse for political quietism (passivity). We may only awaken from the quietism when we realize atrocities that are done in the public sector while we slept politically, did not vote, but consoled ourselves that we were spiritual.
Aphorism of the Day, March 18, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." In case you haven't noticed for sometime now spirituality has been quite a "cottage industry" and has gone from extra-institutional supplemental support to becoming separate "spiritual" institutions. Wisdom teachers and gurus, sheikhs and masters have come from around the world; Edgar Cayce, Madame Blavatsky, Guerdijeff, Ouspensky have generated eclectic and syncretistic styles of spiritual practice coloring widely outside of the lines of religious institutions. Religions can become more popular in "other" countries; the global South is now the center of Christianity. Spiritual people ultimately realize they have bodies too and that they are not just spirit and so they develop institutions to support their physical existence in this world. Today the world has many "spiritual" institutions which have all of the signs and indications as replacement for the traditional religious institutions. Meanwhile many plumb their own religious institutional traditions for the spiritual practices found in the rich devotional practices of the Quakers or the profound monastic traditions of the various churches. And what is spiritual? Spirit is wind or breath. Breath is an invisible but real sign of life. To be spiritual, in a metaphor, is to be the "wind instrument" of divine presence.
Aphorism of the Day, March 17, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Frankly the word "spiritual" can have as many accrued meanings as the word "religious." Spiritual or spirituality can be a modern day marketing label tool like "natural" and "organic" is to the food sector. It can be an unwitting way of saying that I am eccentrically special from the rest of the herd who are only "religious." One needs to be careful that "spirituality" does not become an identity worn like the person who is proud of their humility.
Aphorism of the Day, March 16, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." To be religious probably means for most that one makes a commitment through regular attendance and participation with a religious organization or church in one's locale. Such a commitment was more obvious when people lived in the area for the duration of their lives. Modern life and modern economic life has actually helped to diminish the participation in religious life through a forced nomadic lifestyle. Corporations do not want commitment to home and local institutions to compete with "all out" loyalty to the profit line of the company. Moving people means that people don't make commitments to "local" situations since they know that they can at anytime be moved. Others, like migrant workers are forced to move to wherever the work is. One can see how people have been forced to become more isolated "spiritual" islands to adjust to a continual uprooted existence.
Aphorism of the Day, March 15, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." It could be that religion is often presented with such rigidity for "community" belief controls that what gets covered up is the fact that sacrament, dogma, sermon, creed and holy biblical writings are but highly funneled abbreviations and reductions for the great mystery of God and the incredible Plenitude of All. God or mystery cannot be domesticated for our control of either. If God and mystery are reduced to proposition then we have fooled ourselves with inadequate replacements and lost the posture to be in "awe," which one would imagine is the very basis of what might be called "spirituality."
Aphorism of the Day, March 14, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Is this a way of saying that one can love God without going to church? Is it because one has never tried church because one was not raised that way or has heard all of the bad press that religion gets? Has one tried church and not found the serendipity of the kind of engaging fellowship that one looks for? Do we need to have matchchurch.com and eharmonychurch.com for churches and people to find good matches for serendipitous commitment?
Aphorism of the Day, March 13, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." Is this expression revealing of the post-modern tendency to oppose "totalizing" views of life? Religion would be such a totalizing view in that it would include the entire person in society. Is the modern world of specialization characterized by dividing the human person into constitutive "parts" and then treating those parts something like the offerings of a cafeteria. "Hmm...I'll have spiritual but I don't want sacraments, or priests or pastors and I don't want creeds or doctrine or dogma or religious community or too much Bible, just the good parts about love."
Aphorism of the Day, March 12, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." People may say this because they may think that religious organizations have accrued too much baggage in the long years of their existence. And they find that the institution is tending too much to the baggage rather than the people for whom the baggage is supposed to be supplying the necessities for the life journey. So, this metaphorical stripping oneself down to but the "spiritual" seems to be their individual response. If one is going to go alone to summit one cannot carry all of the baggage and it could be that the quest alone characterizes how "people weary" some have become.
Aphorism of the Day, March 11, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." But I will bask in the collateral effects of the religious witness in the world, like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Mardi Gras; not to mention the conversion of modern governments to be responsible for Health, Education and Welfare. The results of religion in society have given people the freedom to see themselves as individual spiritual persons who can deny the parentage of religion in their very formation. Religions as "Mom and Dad" organizations have certainly not been perfect parents in all of their activities but they do represent the attempts at having a social effect and formation by being fellowship gatherings for societal cohesion. That everything has not been perfect is not the issue; finding a social boat to make it through the full play of freedom in the morass of particulars in our world is a significant mission. "Spiritual" people who pretend to be free agents unwittingly ignore all that they have and do receive from the effects of religion.
Aphorism of the Day, March 10, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." What other rejoinder to this might one generate? I'm not religious, I'm natural? I'm a Democrat? I'm Libertarian? I'm Republican? I'm scientific? I'm Vegan? I'm superstitious? I'm an agnostic? I'm a Cubs fan (talk about faith?) I'm Musical, I believe in the Muses. One can be religious and be lots of other things too, including spiritual. It is a no-brainer to include spirituality as an inherit part of the Christian religion, but not just by title but also by practice.
Aphorism of the Day, March 9, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This is what many tell the pollsters about their religious preference. This expression should be a wake up call to churches about an aspect of faith which is not being fostered by the church. As the extra-religious identity features of religious commitment break down, chiefly the ethnic religious tradition identity, and as modern individualism has happened to make it seem as though everyone is truly a "free agent" because of the seeming economic independence, the individual may be asking oneself, "What's missing in the midst of my apparent self-reliance?" It could be that disillusionment with all human organizations makes the individual seek an unattainable "utopia" or "perfection" and it goes under the name of "spirituality." Such is probably chimerical but still a valid impulse that should be a concern of churches.
Aphorism of the Day, March 8, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This phrase might unwittingly assume the following words from the mouths of religionists: "I'm not spiritual; I'm religious." But how many people who find themselves within religious community would assume that they are not spiritual in any way. If spirituality cannot be separated from religion either religion is being presented wrongly or those who are "spiritual without being religious" missed the message. It is our responsibility to awaken people who are religious to the spirituality that is found within the religious tradition.
Aphorism of the Day, March 7, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." There may be a subtle judgment in this confession that people who are "religious" are not "spiritual." It may be the case the religious people are religious for the "wrong reasons" but "spiritual" persons may be spiritual for the "wrong reasons." The relevant question might be how a person is filling out the fullness of one's humanity in one's acknowledgment of God. Religious people balance their spirituality with corporate prayer and the community context to practice intergenerational mentoring and outreach. Religious people may not "toot" their spirituality on street corners and leave that as the secret side which they perform in their prayer closets. Spirituality as merely individual religion may leave a person impoverished in the social dimensions which are provided by religious community. Why would one want to leave the social dimension of spiritual maturity out of a full definition of "spirituality?"
Aphorism of the Day, March 6, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." As modern science has become the main criteria for determining "truth," traditional religious literature has been "demythologized" and the old truths have been diminished in comparison with scientific truths and historicism. Oddly enough we find spirituality of UFO's and healing crystals and much more New Age re-mythologizing of all sorts. Wonder has not disappeared it only looks for new topics once traditional topics have been condemned as no longer worthy for the projection of our wonder. Religionists have defended their books on the grounds of "scientific" truth and come across as being silly, e.g. the world is only a few thousand years old. Having scientific truth does not necessarily make us better moral beings, as our "marvelous?" inventions of weapons of mass destruction prove. We need to look to the life transforming truths of our traditions in gaining better integration of excellent living for persons in society today. Some forms of modern spirituality are as eccentric and exclusive as the expressions of the "old" religions which have been abandoned.
Aphorism of the Day, March 5, 2014
Ash Wednesday Haiku
Body on fast forward
as ashy paint
on canvas forehead
Aphorism of the Day, March 4, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This can be a form of the subtle oxymoronic misanthropism of Charley Brown when he said, "I love Mankind; it's people I can't stand." The writer of the Epistle of John counters, "how can we say we love God whom we can't see if we don't love our brothers and sisters whom we see." Theory is less messy than practice. Religion expresses a devotion to God; a "binding" connection but religion is done collaboratively since Word and Language make us necessarily always already oriented toward collaboration. Spirituality as an individual "impossible" retreat from the always already of collaboration as a given because we are languaged beings, is a dishonest way of living.
Aphorism of the Day, March 3, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." How did religion and the spiritual ever get to be so antithetical? Has religion become associated with the organizations of people who mostly are known in the news as people who fight over arcane religious topics or about who is welcome to their churches? To say, "I'm spiritual" may mean that I want to be a political quietist or passive about some important issues of justice and inclusion of people in our society. We need to be careful about using "spiritual" as an excuse for non-involvement because it may represent a real naivete about the truth of the "messiness" of life. The whole point of the Good Samaritan story is that the so-called spiritual people did not want to get involved in helping the man who was left beaten by the road. Let not the spiritual be an unrealistic escape from the messiness of life. Being spiritual means that we work to clean up some of the mess.
Aphorism of the Day, March 2, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." A child may feel so pressured by the family baggage of being over-determined and want to "escape" a family heritage. Something similar may happen in how people want to leave their religious tradition for a new start. This new start may happen with cursory brushes with imported aspects of Eastern religions. The most accessible contact with other religions has been what we call "meditation" technique. The appeal of meditation technique perhaps has to do with the presentation of Christianity as being something that happens from the outside in. Even the Spirit is supposed to come upon one from outside. The meditative traditions seem to emphasize an arising from within of Life that has always been. This should be a signal that Christianity should see redemption and salvation as a progressive recovery of what already was within us. Salvation is allowing original grace to arise within us to new events. The apparent external stories of our faith are the screens of the interior arisings. The disillusionment with "religion" may only be with religious practices that have radically bifurcated the interior and exterior worlds.
Aphorism of the Day, March 1, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This attitude might be symptomatic of frustration with established religious bodies and a revolt against the hegemonic mediating tendencies of church hierarchies. It might be healthy and phase specific in one's spiritual life to "go it alone" in the sense of taking personal responsibility for one's creative advance in integrating the spiritual into one's overall life but it would seem that in healthy adult psychological development the end result of spiritual development is a giving mentoring within a community, which in the thinking of the church is stated as, baptism is also ordination to ministry. If the notion of being religious is divorced from baptism as ministry then we do have a problem. Even when infants are baptized, they minister. How many have been won and converted to goodness by a baby's smile?
Aphorism of the Day, February 28, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This could mean practicing a purely individualistic religious belief which may be oxymoronic since religion imply traditions. How does one then become the infallible pope in a church of me, myself and I? Or does it mean that I am the ultimate consumer in cafeteria religion? I simply pick and choose from different religious offerings without the insight of knowing the profound social experience which brought each tradition into existence and without the commitment to get myself dirty in the continuance of a tradition particularly if the tradition needs to be reformed. Being in a church of one is a way of saying, "I am really only going to tolerate one imperfect person, namely, myself."
Aphorism of the Day, February 27, 2014
"I'm not religious; I'm spiritual." This self description often given to religious preference pollsters bespeaks of the loss of the church as a significant society where spirituality has been replaced with jumping through hoops to maintain the institution.
Aphorism of the Day, February 26, 2014
What does "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" really mean? It probably means something different for anyone who uses the phrase. Does it mean "I am so eccentrically and individually spiritual that I cannot tolerate the rules and the social strictures of religious organizations?" Does it mean that religious organizations have too much "old" baggage and cannot adjust to the rapidly changing new world? Does it mean that the modern era has allowed me the illusion of being an individual and self reliant free agent so that I don't have to rely on religious community to negotiate my existence within a larger society? Does it mean that work society and family are enough of a social hassle; why should I add another social unit like the church to my "hassle" schedule? The challenge for the church today is to make the human fellowship of religion and spirituality completely compatible. Spirituality without religion might be a bit disconnected or "disembodied;" religion without spirituality might be boringly lifeless.