REFLECTION - "Spiritual" but not Religious?
by Father John Dresko
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.... Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
(Revelation 3:14-16, 20-21)
A relatively recent phenomenon in American culture (within about the last five years) is that a great number of Americans (mostly the so-called “millenials”), when asked about their religious preferences, respond that they are “spiritual but not religious.” In news articles, they are even referred to as “SBNRs.” They find “spirituality” wherever they choose to find it, but refuse to participate in a church. They say things like, “I find spirituality in the sunset,” “I find spirituality when I walk along the beach,” etc.
Is this even possible?
We are now in the middle of our Paschal celebration, but the Church has already pointed us to the coming of Pentecost. When Jesus ascended to His Father from the mountain, it was with the promise that He would send the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon the Apostles. Then, the Spirit-filled Apostles would go to the ends of the earth, preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ risen from the dead and establishing the Church in places that come down to Las Vegas, Nevada today. He established the Church when He sent the Holy Spirit.
To be “spiritual” for anyone who knows and follows Jesus Christ is to belong to His Holy Church. Now, I am in total agreement with Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory when he said, “No to religion.” But what he meant wasn’t “no” to the Church. It was an emphatic “no” to the dead falsehood of empty ritual and the preaching of and adherance to the forms of religion and not substance. But that is not the “religion” that today’s “spiritual” people reject. They reject the Church.