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Controversial Only Option For Fading Churches Is To Again Take Up Evangelization

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Only option for fading churches is to again take up evangelization

Father Raymond J. de Souza - The National Post - Last Updated: Dec 25, 2012

Spiritual but not religious. That’s one finding of the new Forum Research poll of Canadians, commissioned exclusively for the National Post: some 65% consider of Canadians themselves spiritual, but only 50% would identify as religious. What are we to make of this?

First, there may be some ambiguity in the terminology. To ask someone if he is spiritual is akin to asking him if he is human. Even the late atheist-propagandist Christopher Hitchens spoke of the "numinous" element in human experience, as he termed the encounter with beauty in art, music and architecture. Anyone who thinks about liberty, desires justice or experiences love is a spiritual being, for those things cannot be measured out in crude matter. Yet 26% of survey respondents described themselves as not being spiritual, which, taken literally, would mean that a quarter of Canadians think of themselves as orphans from the great human patrimony of art, literature and philosophy, to say nothing of theology.

More likely, it means that a quarter of Canadians find that, to the extent they think about a purpose or mission in life, they are content with the necessary but superficial pursuits of commercial life. Perhaps this is the expected consequence of a culture largely devoted to consumption and recreation, as indebtedness levels and the time spent on TV, social media and surfing the web testify. It can make for a full, if not fully humanly satisfying, life. But for many, the unexamined life is convenient.

That segment which is spiritual but not religious (65% less 50%) constitutes another interesting chunk of the population, though I am surprised that it is only 15%. Anecdotally, I hear quite often people say that they are spiritual but not religious.

Is it possible to be so? It’s rather like saying that one enjoys listening to music but not any particular kind, or likes playing sports, but not any particular one. One cannot listen to music in general, but only a particular piece or song, just as one must play football or hockey, not generic sports.

It could be that saying one is spiritual but not religious is just a dodge by people not willing to declare themselves thoroughgoing materialists. Or it could be a further sign of the superficiality of our time, when for a good number of Canadians the perennial questions of philosophy are now peripheral.

Spiritual realities are realities, and religious truths describe what those realities are. Given that religious answers differ, one engaged in the search for truth has to decide in favour of one or the other, not in favour of not deciding, which is what being spiritual but not religious often means. It is hard even to see how such a person might meditate or pray, for these fundamental spiritual activities require some sense of both God and man – i.e., of religious truths. Is God the perfect being who creates all of nature from nothing? Or is god part of the natural world himself, the personification of natural phenomenon like the wind, or the sun, or harvest? It makes rather a difference.

One question in the survey asked respondents if they were more or less religious than their parents. More than half, 53%, said they were the same as their parents. A third, 32%, said they were less religious. And only 15% said that they were more religious than their parents.

That indicates that religion will become, over time, more marginal in our common life. That’s not good for religion, obviously, but it is also negative for our common life. We know that religious practice is favourably correlated to family stability, community involvement, charitable giving in terms of both time and money, and a host of other positive social outcomes.

That 15% who are more religious than their parents will be critical to whether those declining social indices can be reversed. Religious revivals, when they happen, are not widespread social phenomena at first – they are led by a small, highly committed and evangelistic group. Is 15% enough to accomplish that in the generation ahead? If not, the decline of religious practice will continue unabated, with the associated negative sociological consequences.
The task for the churches is clear enough. Simply managing a vibrant religious life is not an option – religious life is not that vibrant today. Simply managing decline is not really an option either – it is not only terminal, but tedious. The only option is to abandon managing a largely superficial spirituality in favour of a persuasive invitation to go deeper than the generation previous, to propose again the truths of faith in all their depth and complete with the demands they make. That’s called evangelization, and it was once what the churches did. They have to do it again.

National Post


Harkiran Kaur


Jul 20, 2012
I think the author is not getting what people mean by the term 'spiritual' vs 'religious'

For me, the term 'spiritual' means a personal connection with the creator. It means I acknowledge the divine within myself and the divine nature of the Universe, and have a personal relationship with it (through meditation etc.) For this reason, I feel that Sikhi is more spiritual than religious, because it teaches that personal experience (and that consequently is why I chose to follow Sikhism... I was missing that personal experience). Sangat is necessary, and yes there are some rules, but those rules are all related to that personal experience and helping to attain it.

I feel the term 'religious' means dogma, rules, ritual, having a necessary intermediary (priest etc.) Following a specific belief system (whether or not you actually believe it.... blind faith etc) Creator is separated from the creation through that intermediary. Religious to me means following those rules, dogma, etc and belief and trust in what the intermediary (Priest, Minister etc) are saying. But there is no emphasis on personal experience.

So I actually consider myself to be more spiritual than religious... and I believe that spirituality is more important. Spirituality is realizing who you are (the divine within).
Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Spirituality Vs. Religion

Spirituality vs. religion ia an ancient debate. For some, religion is a set of dogmas and for a few it is a way of life. Some believe spirituality to be a bogus conundrum, while some affirm it to be the purpose of life. Irrespective of who has to say what, both spirituality and religion lead the followers on a path to choose the right and do the right thing. The distinction between the two is a fine line of perspective. One needs to have a keen eye for exploration to see what is the difference between psychology of religion and spirituality.

Spirituality Vs. Religion
Both spirituality and religion aim to take an individual towards the ultimate goal of life. A religion does so by spoon-feeding the individual. Religion gives the person set guidelines and asks him/her to follow. Often, religious beliefs instill fear of God in you and make you do things without questioning them. Spirituality is worship of self as it believes God resides in you and nowhere outside. The reasons to do so, often remain unexplained. On the other hand, spirituality is an individual experience of the encompassing effect. A spiritual person finds his own way, travels it alone and reaches there in a state of euphoria. Following a religion is doing a duty, whereas being spiritual is being who you are.

What is Religion?
Religion is a framework to a way of living life. It is a set of rules that guides its follower and owns its followers. Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Buddhism and Jainism are some of the well-known religions of the world. Each of these religions indulge in certain practices of worship, to reach God. Whether it's idol worship or worshiping nature or worshiping scriptures, each of these religion is guideline for worshiping. They are governed by beliefs designed by sages and saints who practiced the same. These religious faith and beliefs have been formed, to some extent, by cultural conditioning. World religions have been passed on to us over generations. They take the form of traditions and customs, which decide the way we live our lives. In totality, religion is what sets our lives in a direction, and in a large way grooms us.

What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is not bound by any rules. It does not follow any religion and neither does it adhere to any set of principles. Spirituality is the art and science of self-realization. It's a practice of knowing each part of your body. Being spiritual means awakening the very spirit of being who you are. It's means to recognize what you are made of. It can seem complex in the beginning. However, all of us are spiritual beings, it is just a matter of realizing it. Spirituality is a walk towards the ultimate goal of your life. In essence, it's your journey to find yourself. There are many schools of thought that believe in uniting with the pure mental and physical being by meditating. Meditation is focusing on breathing, which is the very reason for existence.

Spirituality against religion will no longer be a debate for you, if you can see beyond it. Beyond it lies the task of finding your purpose of life, fulfilling it and living it wholeheartedly. Today, I can finally find the words to answer my mother, who thinks I am an atheist. Atheism does not mean, not believing in God. God is a supreme power, the ultimate goal, the eventual destination or a universal belief. An atheist may not believe in an idol, but he sure does believe. The fact that one believes, is good enough to set them on the path, life has in store for them. So, spirituality versus religion, does not matter as long as you are ready to explore this life, the only one that you have.

By Mukta Gaikwad

source: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/spirituality-vs-religion.html
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