Not So Subtle Differences

With one of the articles that we read this week, Religion and Spirituality, by Zimbauer, the individuality and variety of different religious and spiritual interpretations were explored. Zimbauer presented his study in such a way that focused on statistics found by his team’s research. The study found what is more understood today–the vagueness of similarities and differences between spirituality and religiousness. In an attempt to understand what distinguishes spirituality and religiousness, the study found that it is a nearly impossible task. Due to the varying personal experiences and interpretations of spirituality and religiousness, it is hard to categorize individual experiences.

After visiting a sectarian congregations for our second congregation visit, the differences between religious interpretations between different groups–even if they are part of the same major religion. I was struck by how different the sermons were. The sermon from the progressive christian group was uplifting, and focused much of its attention to themes of social justice and the lives, history, and meaning we can take from many influential African Americans in honor of Black History Month. Through the entire service, only one reading was done read from the bible, simply being a parable to interpret in different ways. The service that I attended this last Wednesday was very different. From the start of the service, I cam to an understanding that this congregation and its pastor truly believed in an inerrant bible. Different interpretations of the same bible and teachings found within the text just further prove the complexity and problematic aspects of attempting to categorize a highly individualized experience.