Today being Sunday, I am of course blogging about religion and spirituality (just because I like to be orderly).
As a child my mother used to send us to Church (Sunday school) every week. There we got to learn about Christ and Christian principles and about God. We also had a load of fun colouring in pictures and listening to stories, and one of my most vivid memories of Christ was of him dressed in a long pure-white robe, a long vibrant sapphire blue cloak over that, brown sandals long brown hair and a beautiful smile. That image was portrayed in a large book my Mother had given us of Bible Stories.
As we got older and started going to grown-up Church, sometimes my Mother (or Father – depending on whom we were living with at the time) would come with us, most times not), I recall that the preacher – of whichever church was nearest at the time (we moved a lot), would stand on his pulpit and either preach about how God would punish us for various sins etc and banish us to hell, or would preach about a loving God who forgave all sins. This confused the heck out of me and I could not relate that to the pictures I had seen in the book or the stories I had read. (I do confess I have never read the bible through, only got as far as Genesis and touched on Revelations, as well as briefly on others in between).
In the fullness of time church went out the window and religion took a back-seat to real life, and we practised what my Mother called a ‘shot-gun’ religion – church for weddings, christenings, funerals and the occasional seasonal catch up. Although I then considered myself to be a Christian the reality was that I did not lead a Christian lifestyle. Neither I, nor my siblings were either; Baptised, Christened or whatever. We had conflicting experiences of how life should be lived and how life was lived – leading to total confusion. Although I pretty much gave up on ‘religion’ per se, I was still curious and over the years I investigated, albeit briefly, different religions; touching on Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, I went to different churches: Methodist; Church of England; Catholic; and Baptist and even ventured into the world of Seventh Day Adventists.
When my daughter went to school, I sent her to a Catholic School for most of her junior years, the result of which that she has sworn off religion for life (so far). (Actually, the Toasim venture, was unwittingly mitigated by her; through a Chinese school friend she was helping to learn English and who was teaching her Mandarin in return.) We were totally taken with the whole experience and faithfully attended services every Friday, which lasted till they told us that cats don’t have souls! Bearing in mind: I am a cat lover of note, had five cats at the time, one of whom had just been killed by a car that very day – bad timing). Taosim went out the window.
On the rare occasion I have attended church since my childhood, it is usually to pray for someone else (I do believe in an Almighty God/Entity), to attend Easter Service or Christmas Eve Mass (I enjoy the carols) and for weddings, funerals, christenings and very occasionally just because I want to enjoy the spiritual environment. Other than that I am totally taken with old churches and cathedrals and love wandering about whether they be whole or in ruins. It is more for the aesthetic beauty than religious, and I also love the traditions.
Which brings me to spirituality. I would consider myself to be a spiritual person; I had an amazing experience at Date With Destiny (see my book). And I have been thinking; what is religion as opposed to spirituality and how does spirituality fit into our daily lives? Doing some research, of course my first stop was Wikipedia and this is what I found.
Traditionally, religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience and have long claimed that secular (non-religious) people cannot experience “true” spirituality. Many do still equate spirituality with religion, but declining membership of organised religions and the growth of secularism in the western world has given rise to a broader view of spirituality.
Secular spirituality carries connotations of an individual having a spiritual outlook, which is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas/influences, and more pluralistic than that of the doctrinal faiths of organized religions. At one end of the spectrum, even some atheists are spiritual. While atheism tends to lean towards scepticism regarding supernatural claims and the existence of an actual “spirit”, some atheists define “spiritual” as nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by the mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale.
Some modern religions also see spirituality in everything: see pantheism and neo-Pantheism. In a similar vein, Religious Naturalism has a spiritual attitude towards the awe, majesty and mystery it sees in the natural world.
For a Christian, to refer to him or herself as “more spiritual than religious” may (but not always) imply relative deprecation of rules, rituals, and tradition while preferring an intimate relationship with God. The basis for this belief is that Jesus Christ came to free humankind from those rules, rituals, and traditions, giving humankind the ability to “walk in the spirit” thus maintaining a “Christian” lifestyle through that one-to-one relationship with God.
Interesting! This is just a small sample of what I found. What are your thoughts? Of course there is much, much more on the internet and the subject could be beaten to death, however, please bear in mind that I am not decrying, deriding or slating any religion, belief or way of life, in any way – I am just voicing what is my belief and how I have experienced life. I do not wish to be ‘converted’ and if you leave any comments kindly do so at a constructive level, respecting the fact that everyone has a different set of beliefs, values and their own model of the world and that in my opinion we are all correct in our thinking and that we all have the right to our own beliefs. I also do not feel that any one religion or religious sect, or way of thinking or set of beliefs, is either right or wrong; it just is. How I do wish that we could all accept that.