Religion: a response to the spiritual
There is a progressing number of people who claim to be spiritual and not religious because, in some way, religion boxes and contains while spirituality delivers, liberates, and explores. I want to agree with this perspective, but I can’t.
What does it mean to be spiritual? It means not physical, exploring the soul, the spirit. Why do people disclaim religion? Well, why would anyone want to claim religion? Hypocrisy, wars, politics, and church are a few reasons why many avoid being part of a religion.
It seems like spirituality is a safe escape from religion while still holding onto the theology that religions proclaim. Spiritual people may dislike the idea that God is watered down to a system—I get that. Elias Cerna, a freshman pre-nursing major, expressed while giving me a haircut, “I don’t consider myself religious. I think what matters is a relationship with God. You know?” I’m picking up what you’re putting down, Elias.
What if we saw religion as the flesh and bones of spirituality? C.S. Lewis wrote, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” What if we viewed religion as the body of spirituality? Most people are comfortable with the idea of a spiritual, supernatural relationship with God, but cringe at the idea of religion.
Natural things such as gravity, sunshine, and winter demand to be experienced. We fight gravity by flying planes, we wear sunglasses and short shorts and roll down our windows to give sunshine a run for her money, and we wear warm clothes and heat our homes to battle winter’s bitter cold. Spirituality also demands to be experienced, so we study God and fellowship with family and friends—and at some point in history, studying God and fellowship was labeled religion.
Religion isn’t bad; it’s just a response.
So my question is this: Why are you at Union? How does your faith, Seventh-day Adventist or not, weave into the mission of this institution? Adventism is very obvious here; however, Adventism is not everything. You might be an Atheist, Buddhist, borderline heretic, or confused wanderer. My hope is that you, whatever your beliefs might be, will explore God and religion and spirituality. I hope Union is the perfect place for you to discover and wander and believe.
Abner is a sophomore studying theology.