It is about time someone stood up for the religious.
I am not impressed by the frequently stated comment. “I am spiritual but not religious.”
This is basically a put down of religious institutions. And in a sense a claim to superiority over those who are religious.
Yes there are religious jerks. But guess what? There are spiritual jerks too.
It does not matter if you kneel in a cathedral or dance naked under the moon. 1)You are part of a religious tradition. 2) You could still be a hypocrite and a jerk. 3) You could be a wonderful caring and authentic person. 4) You do not live up to your ideals. 5) As soon as you share your ideas or borrow them, you are being religious.
Here is what happens, religion is defined as everything bad, and spiritual as everything good. Then the good one is chosen. There is no clarity here. There is no definition. It begs the question.
So here is putting the shoe on the other foot.
Being religious is good! Religions as institutions have schools and hospitals sanctuaries and retreat centers. These can be an oasis in a materialist world. Religions have rules, examples to follow, and heroes. Religions have deep mystical traditions and great art and music.
Being spiritual is bad. It is based on the false assumption that teaching your children is wrong, and doing things alone is all that matters. It is a hypocritical lie. Those who say they are spiritual but not religious are often not spiritual at all. They get a warm feeling looking at a sunset and they are now the next incarnation of Mahatma Gandhi? They are actually not non-religious at all either. They cut and paste together an assortment of religious ideas like karma, reincarnation, angels, nature transcendence, and whatnot and act like they have a corner on the truth. They have fallen for the error that they needed to re-invent the wheel when all they needed was to re-discover fire. And finally being spiritual but not religious can lead to lawlessness. Look at how any spiritual but not religious community gets along. What community? It has either become religious or fallen apart.
Warm gushy feelings are pleasant, but the hard work of reforming self and society is the work of the religious.
So the next time someone says to me, “I am spiritual but not religious.” I will answer, “I am religious but not spiritual.”