Note: I wrote this earlier this year about relationships. One thing I’d like to add: tell people that you care for them or that you are their friend. For someone like me with autism it can make all the difference in the world. When I was in high school, I ran track. I didn’t run well, but I did run track. Practice would take place after school. I remember heading into the locker room to change, and passing by this front room set aside for physical therapy. Every time I passed by there were people my age chatting and having … Continue reading Repost: Out of Place
My last post created a lot of comments on Facebook. A colleague of mine disagreed with the article and me for the attitude against those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Actually, I was agreeing to a short article written by UCC pastor Lillian Daniel and her comments have received a bit of criticism themselves. Here’s what Presbyterian pastor Adam Copeland had to say:
- Really? An airplane? Would that be first-class or coach? I meet with
people (young adults, mostly) every week who call themselves “spiritual
but not religious.” They tend to be underemployed, live month-to-month,
and are doing their best to find meaning in their tumultuous lives.
Sure, the phrase “spiritual but not religious” needs some unpacking for
pastors whose livelihoods depend on people’s public religiosity, but
I’ve never heard it as “rebellion against the religious status quo.”
Rather, the phrase is more a humble testimony that they just don’t seem
to connect with fancy churches. And who can blame them?
- As opposed to what Daniel suggests, the “spiritual but not religious” folks I talk to yearn for community.
I have not found one who wants simply to have “deep thoughts all by
oneself” as Daniel accuses. What might be true, however, is that the
community they seek isn’t offered at most mainline churches with our
endowment funds and dress codes and judgmental matriarchs and
patriarchs. You see, some “spiritual but not religious” folks sense a
certain righteous attitude from these institutions (go figure?). Many
were once burned by hugely negative experiences with the church and
it’ll take the church reaching out — in love, not in snark — for healing
- God is working in the lives of the “spiritual but not religious.” I
happen to believe they have a huge amount to teach the church about
connecting to God, supporting true community, sustaining spiritual
practices, and living out St. Augustine’s call for a “faith seeking
understanding.” Daniel asks, “Can I spend my time talking to someone
brave enough to encounter God in a real human community?” I say, Yes,
feel free to do that in your church. But also be brave enough to listen
to those encountering God in ways you don’t fully understand. Learn from
Copeland does have some points to make, but I can’t help but agree more with Daniel’s original snarky response, than with Copeland’s defense of the SBNRs. Maybe part of it comes from being in ministry a bit longer than Copeland. Just a few weeks from my 42nd birthday, I’m not the angry young man I used to be. Things that I thought were just the bees knees are now seen as sheer foolishness. I’m not whining as much about how unfair the world is and more willing to say that we need to develop a spiritual toughness against the harshness of life. The people inside the church are not as stupid and backward as we thought they were. The folks outside the church are not the fonts of wisdom we once thought they were.
Continue reading “Lillian Daniel, Adam Copeland and the SBNRs”