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? Because some people eat better than you do and they understand fine food, and it makes you look bad? All of these and many more reasons can be given.
“Spiritual but not Religious?” This just means the person is too lazy to look beyond their adolescent bias. They are too lazy to learn what it means to be truly religious. They are too smug and shallow and immature to ever regard anything greater than themselves as greater than themselves.
“Spiritual but not Religious”? They have dismissed religion before they have even seriously considered it or studied it, and even if they have had a chance to consider it, what kind of religion have they been offered to consider? The state of Christianity in the United States is so dire, I’m not surprised any kid with half a brain rejects it. The culture encourages passivity and being a spectator. No wonder they reject religion for religion requires commitment and hard work and wonder and fear and self sacrifice and guts.
“Spiritual without Religion” is subjective Protestantism taken to it’s logical end point. It’s where individuals in a Protestant culture will end up, and given the starting point it makes sense. Some time ago a Protestant woman came to see me about her teenaged son who was a pretty smart kid who stopped going to church. He said to his parents, “I can love Jesus without going to church. Church doesn’t matter.”
“What can we say to him!?” they wailed. In fact, they didn’t have an answer. The kid was right. If it is only about me and Jesus; if it is only about me and my “personal relationship with my Lord” what is the point of going to church?
Every argument is a theological argument. So what is the underlying theological problem? A distrust of the physical world. Manichaeism. The belief that the physical world is either evil or it doesn’t ultimately matter. Protestantism with its denial of the visible church and it’s emphasis on eternal security and salvation by faith alone (therefore what you do doesn’t matter) and it’s often otherworldly Puritanical denial of this world and all that is ‘worldly’ is Manichean, and it is no mistake that the historians of the Protestant movement see their pre cursors as the Bogomils, Paulicians and Cathars.
“Spiritual but not Religious” is therefore a denial of all that is real and physical in God’s interaction with the world. It is a denial of the importance of the physical world. It is a denial of the church, a denial of the sacraments, a denial of the incarnation, and is therefore a most noxious heresy.
No. Because the Lord Jesus Christ–the only begotten son of the Father–took human flesh he therefore sanctified the physical realm. Because he took human flesh; human flesh matters. Because he on physical matter; matter matters. My body matters for it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. My Church matters. The physical church building matters. The One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church–the Catholic Church with all her institutions and history and paperwork and bureacracy and canon law and dogma–all of it matters. The incense and the candles and the books and the bells. They all matter.
The saints and their suffering matters. My rosary and my books of theology and my Infant of Prague and my plaster St Therese and my Our Lady of Lourdes–soiled and with a hole in her head because a nun from the convent where I got her dropped her once–that matters, and so does my starving neighbor and my friend with a headache and my child who needs a hug and a listening ear. They matter.
And so does the Blessed Sacrament which is the focus of the presence of God in the physical.
…and because of this I kneel to adore.
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