WE OFTEN HEAR, ESPECIALLY IN THE WESTERN WORLD, THAT PEOPLE NOW SAY THEY ARE SPIRITUAL THEY ARE NOT RELIGIOUS. WHEN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO IS DESCRIBED THEY OFTEN USE THE WORD DOCTRINE AND WHEN THEY USE THE WORD THEY DON’T USE IT IN A POSITIVE WAY, IT TENDS TO CARRY MANY NEGATIVE CONNOTATIONS. WHY IS THAT?
Let me say in general, you raise the question as one that is a phenomena that we look at the idea of spiritual versus the religious. Let’s take cannibalism for example. What is the spirituality of cannibalism? I would say eating is the doctrine. But is there really a spirituality of it and is it a good one? In other words is every spirituality, a spirituality of good? You know today is Halloween there are people who embrace a spirituality whose doctrine is witchcraft. They want to get in touch with a spiritual side but our tradition tells us that there are good spirits and evil spirits. There is good and bad in the spiritual as well as in the human corporeal realm, so spirituality without doctrine is an amorphous spirituality that can be anything I want to make it. People want to break out of what they consider are constrains and limits of those religions. So they say I am spiritual, not religious. But in effect a real spirituality has to involve religion because religion is about how you order your human life vis-à-vis God. That spirituality, there is a kind of popular sense in saying, oh well, I am trying to find something that is helping me to be better that’s spirituality. But religion means that you are face to face with some options that you have to make about whether there is a God and what that God may be asking and what that kind of relationship he wants to have with you, his creature. There is a whole sense in which modern man is saying I don’t want to be a creature. Religion is always going involve a concrete challenge to us in terms of our relationship to God.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
"Spiritual versus religious"
I've seen this excerpt from an interview with Abp. Levada, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (former Archbishop of San Francisco) on Vatican Radio on a few sites.