Spiritual But Not Religious?

Probably the most popular religious “movement” in the US today is the multifarious group of “spiritual but not religious” people.

CNN has an article looking at various sides of the phenomenon. Critics label SBNR folks as selfish – the individual is the center of their own spiritual life. Religions become food courts – we should all choose based on what suits us, what fits with our individual personality and feels right on any particular day. Have a bad experience with Buddhism? Try the Taoism or the Native American spirituality – they’re very tasty!!!

Others say SBNR people are rightfully turned off by organized religion. Though there were of course exceptions to the rule, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Holocaust, slavery in America, and terrorist attacks around the globe have all been carried out with support of many leaders of organized religions. So SBNR people (rightfully) want nothing to do with such power structures. Why do people need intermediaries between themselves and God anyway? Haven’t we all stood in awe and wonder at the beach, in the mountains, in the midst of Beauty? That’s God, and we don’t need any hierarchical authorities to explain that to us.

So what do you think?

3 Responses to “Spiritual But Not Religious?”

  • Tim Says:

    While the SBNRs do have a point when it comes to their distrust for power structures and authority trips, I don’t buy the idea that we should simply abandon our religious communities. Just like any human-made structure in this world, religious institutions have the ability to shift and change if its members want them to. If SBNRs main beef with religious institutions are the corrupt power structures – why don’t they try to change them? We have seen this happen numerous times throughout history.

    Religious communities provide for support in difficult time, accountability, healthy growth through dialogue and many other things that you can’t have by being SBNR. It seems to me that SBNRs who speak in this article never had an experience with organized religion in its healthiest forms. How could they appreciate “religion” if they’ve never experienced the good parts? It would be like eating a tasty meal after it has sat out in the rain for few days – you would not be able to understand how good the food was until you tried in the way it was meant to be eaten. While their experiences point to the need for change and reform within organized religion, I don’t think that it points to abandonment.

  • Kamau Says:

    Spritual But Not Religious philosophy does carry an inherent attraction within our society. As stated, it allows somewhat of a buffet style picking and choosing of the norms and restrictions we desire and/or refuse to embrace.

    However, in practice I have seen it utilized in my social circles by friends who would never question the existence of God or a “higher power,” but just don’t feel like conforming to the “rules and regulations” of the religious system whose benefits they believe in whole-heartedly. {Ie.. I know my religious system declares all these items sin, but I embrace the items,…} They wouldn’t dare say God isn’t there, but no longer have to comply with the constraints or convictions of the written or spoken Word or traditions of the religion by declaring, “I’m SPNR.”

    Moreover, SBNRs have great points concerning the abUse of the power amongst certain “movements” or catastrophies of our history. However, we never stop purifying our meats with fire because of crimes of arsenists. It is virtually undeniable that the potency of religious belief has been utilized to justify heinous actions (most absolutely averse to the religious tenents the action is supposed to represent).

    However, alongside the “religious” abUses mentioned in the article, such as slavery in America, or terrorism, we must also admit that the powerful source of strength, organization, perserverance, and determination provided, in many instances, by religion. For example, the catalyst and foundation of the Civil Rights movement that makes our participation in this debate possible was organized religion. We may not have diverse genders and races raising our opinions accross these lines without the power and tradition of “religion” and “religious folk”.

    Thus, I would have to agree with Tim. We cannot eliminate or deny the power of a car when we see a drunken driver mis-Use or abUse its power. We must Use religion for enhancing life, society, and relationships, as was probably intended, and step up to prevent abUse whenever possible.

  • Eddie Franks Says:

    Who would you say was the most popular expert in this area?

Leave a Reply


Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree