Spiritual But Also Religious

We have roses for the table every week.
We have roses for the table every week.

It’s trendy these days to call oneself “spiritual but not religious.” I’m guessing the persons espousing such a designation have a two-fold goal: 1) To align themselves with the insights available to those who attend churches and synagogues and temples, and 2) To distance themselves from those tendencies and practices in formal religions that seem to them superfluous.

As a student of religion for some {mumbled} years, okay, since I majored in religion in college starting some 17 years ago, I have a very hard time letting the “SBNR” moniker go unchallenged. It’s not that I think people cannot be spiritual without religion or that I think that religious people cannot be spiritual. I just don’t believe that anyone is non-religious.

Each of us is a creature of habit. Our daily lives are rife with rituals. Therapists tell us to look out for places where we can self-soothe our senses. Usually these little soothing practices are regularized: going for walks, drinking favorite beverages, taking baths or showers, lighting candles, gardening, cooking, doing housework, writing, reading.

You may ask me how I come to think that such daily practices are religious. If they are not religious, what is? What does a faith mean, if it has no place among bathtubs and cooking pots?  Religion is washing stinky feet, pouring a cup until it overflows, and feeding all comers. You find it in gardens and bars and bookshops.

One of my practices as a writer is to find these places where faith makes common things holy, to highlight the way we can be healed and healing through simple acts. There’s no such thing as a spirituality that is not practiced. It’s a figment of the imagination that has no place in life or fiction.

[Do the formal parts of religion matter as well? Of course. They are the source waters that irrigate the fields where we live and grow. But the habits in our daily lives are the floodgates and canals. They are no less interesting if they rely only on rain.]

What are the daily habits that sustain you? Do they connect with your faith in God or humans?

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