Dr. Mercadante’s Keynote Address at the Ohio Ministries Convocation
Columbus, OH

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10 thoughts on ““Who Are the ‘Spiritual But Not Religious?'”

  1. Maggie

    We are kind humans. We study yoga, we study & practice energy work, we meditate, we enjoy spiritual music like Deva Primal, we love others and most importantly, we see God in every human being including ourselves. We are all divine beings here on an earthly experience. If only the religious people could see that too!

  2. LMercadante Post author

    Thank you for your comment. My only question is, who are the “religious people” you are referring to? That is such a BIG category. There are so many religions and so much diversity within each one. Do you have specific people in mind?

  3. Patrice Rochelle

    Who are the religious and who are the spiritual? Though this is question contains few words, it is rich in magnitude. This question reminds me of a person I admire and love dearly-my Uncle Keenan. Uncle Keenan is an agnostic person. Due to his encounters with organized religion, he feels compelled to never walk those holy avenues again as long as he lives. This compulsion comes to him not because he has a strong dislike for religious persons (my Aunt Gabi, his wife, is a practicing Buddist), not because he dislikes God, not because he simply is not thankful for the life he lives, but I firmly beleive that there is something bigger that makes Uncle Keenan a spiritual, not religious person.

    The Holy Bible encourages Christians to “let our lights shine before all humankind so that people may see the good works of God.” It is impossible for Uncle Keenan to see God when Christian “saints” never exhibit the light of Christ living inside of them or share that light with others. I think Uncle Keenan has two misguided assumptions about Religion, at no fault of his own:
    1) Religion/Religiosity is synonymous with Christianity
    2) Religion is filled with law/rules-things that are “made to be broken” anyhow, so in his minds eye, what is the point of, for example, a Christian person following a set of laws/commandments that are made to be broken, yet one can be fixed again through the sacrifice of a man named Jesus?

    For Uncle Keenan, aurally, it is more pleasing when someone states that they are spiritual as opposed to religious. Spiritual conveys a sense of autonomy, inclusiveness, and acceptance of others outside of a religious order. People like Uncle Keenan have been hurt by the Christian Church and by persons who call themselves Christians. It is my belief that in order for this chasm (Spiritual versus Religion) to be closed, the Christian Church must be intentional about exhibiting Christ-like love and erasing the whole idea of “otherness.” Otherness creates segregation.

  4. WesleyT

    I think Patrice has hit upon the two main experiences that make people identify themselves as Spiritual but Not Religious (SNR). Religiosity, which is, of course, not limited to self proclaimed Christians, gives SNRs an experience of religion as making religious people believe they have a right to look down on others. In current public discourse the loudest religious voices overwhelm any evidence to the contrary. Against that background, ritual prayer, for example, looks like an extension of the effort to force prayer into schools. This invites critique of ritual. Ritual won’t stand up to empirical critique. Of course, ideally, there is no need for it to stand up to empirical critique. The value of ritual is in the experience of the practitioner. SNRs emphasize the private, discrete nature of spiritual experience. However I think a number SNRs are content to stop at the rejection of religion.

  5. Eliza Villaquiran

    Clearly your open minded and receptive to other ideas. Many people in the online community are a little more totalitarian. added to my socialbookmark well done Of course– and I probably shouldn’t even have to say this– people are free to run their own blogs as they see fit. But I get the highest value from blogs where either A) the author’s writing is so outstanding that the lack of comments isn’t material a combination of good writing and good comments leaving my personal Research website if you dont mind Arabic names

  6. Pamela Lee Hill

    I consider myself spiritual, but not religious, though I must admit, I do many things in life “religiously”, like brush my teeth three times a day, practice yoga, and write in my journal. I equate the religious with religion with organized religion, which I do not feel inclined to pursue because organized religion generally entails the assumption of ideas and pathways constructed by others. For example, churches generally have creeds or statements of faith that the faithful are expected to recite and believe. I am not interested in creeds but in questions, and in finding my own unique path untrodden by others. I do enjoy LEARNING from others, and I think this is highly advisable! But there’s a difference between learning from the experiences and insights of others and assuming their belief systems, no matter how broadly and beautifully they may be portrayed.

  7. Elfreda Dreyfus

    Well i just felt like dropping a comment here because it really deserve a thanks from myself. Really very good post. And yeah its better than the ones that i have visited so far regarding spiritual books .I expect more such threads.

  8. Simon

    I think Patrice has hit upon the two main experiences that make people identify themselves as Spiritual but Not Religious (SNR). Religiosity, which is, of course, not limited to self proclaimed Christians, gives SNRs an experience of religion as making religious people believe they have a right to look down on others. In current public discourse the loudest religious voices overwhelm any evidence to the contrary. Against that background, ritual prayer, for example, looks like an extension of the effort to force prayer into schools. This invites critique of ritual. Ritual won’t stand up to empirical critique. Of course, ideally, there is no need for it to stand up to empirical critique. The value of ritual is in the experience of the practitioner. SNRs emphasize the private, discrete nature of spiritual experience. However I think a number SNRs are content to stop at the rejection of religion.

  9. Bill

    Who are the religious and who are the spiritual? Though this is question contains few words, it is rich in magnitude. This question reminds me of a person I admire and love dearly-my Uncle Keenan. Uncle Keenan is an agnostic person. Due to his encounters with organized religion, he feels compelled to never walk those holy avenues again as long as he lives. This compulsion comes to him not because he has a strong dislike for religious persons (my Aunt Gabi, his wife, is a practicing Buddist), not because he dislikes God, not because he simply is not thankful for the life he lives, but I firmly beleive that there is something bigger that makes Uncle Keenan a spiritual, not religious person.

    The Holy Bible encourages Christians to “let our lights shine before all humankind so that people may see the good works of God.” It is impossible for Uncle Keenan to see God when Christian “saints” never exhibit the light of Christ living inside of them or share that light with others. I think Uncle Keenan has two misguided assumptions about Religion, at no fault of his own:
    1) Religion/Religiosity is synonymous with Christianity
    2) Religion is filled with law/rules-things that are “made to be broken” anyhow, so in his minds eye, what is the point of, for example, a Christian person following a set of laws/commandments that are made to be broken, yet one can be fixed again through the sacrifice of a man named Jesus?

    For Uncle Keenan, aurally, it is more pleasing when someone states that they are spiritual as opposed to religious. Spiritual conveys a sense of autonomy, inclusiveness, and acceptance of others outside of a religious order. People like Uncle Keenan have been hurt by the Christian Church and by persons who call themselves Christians. It is my belief that in order for this chasm (Spiritual versus Religion) to be closed, the Christian Church must be intentional about exhibiting Christ-like love and erasing the whole idea of “otherness.” Otherness creates segregation.

  10. Marilyn F Morris

    I am a board certified chaplain, and this topic interests me greatly. I was disappointed that I could not read your keynote address from this website. Is there another link I need to use in order to read it? Thanks, Chaplain Marilyn

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