Course blog for 3/19: Spirituality and Religion

The article Religion and Spirituality: Unfuzzing the Fuzzy attempted to understand individual definitions and feelings regarding the state of being religious, spiritual, or both. While the study was fair, thorough, and asked the right questions, for me it lacked significant findings; the way people felt about religious and spirituality was pretty much in accordance with their religion, and could be predicted given the religion’s worldviews and history. For example, the person who identifies with religion and not spirituality (RnS) is often associated with higher levels of authoritarianism, self-righteousness, and church attendance. This could have been predicted given the fact these qualities would likely be assumed to be associated with Christians, which is the religious affiliation that primarily makes up the group RnS. On the other hand, the spiritual but not religious (SnR) are unlikely to engage in organized religion, and value nontraditional New Age beliefs and mystic experiences. Once again, this is not surprising given the fact that a majority of the SnR group identified as New Age.

In this sort of case, it seems to me that it would have been more beneficial to understand the history, culture, principles, and worldviews of a religion if one wants to find out more about how to classify them as individuals in a religious or spiritual terrain. If one looked at the history, culture, and worldviews of Christianity verses the New Age religions, one could easily assume that Christianity would be more organization-oriented, therefore practice with more structure and identify as more “religious”. (Including the fact that Christianity has existed for hundreds of years and has had significant effect on society and politics.) In contrast, New Age movements are primarily new religions that do not have ties to history and/or powerful institutions. Thus, the feelings and opinions of a Christian and a New Age “mystic” concerning spirituality and religion is very likely to coincide with the way their religion or spiritual origin functions.