Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

You Can Always Be Spiritual and Religious

Do you ever describe yourself as “spiritual, but not religious?” I actually don’t since my personal faith leaves room for a lot of doubt. I don’t reject religious affiliation by insisting that I’m merely a “spiritual” person. I can stay interested in dogma, but still not subscribe to it. Anyone else have this kind of religious identity? Can you explain it any better?

Here’s noted religion writer and editor Philip Zaleski writing about the spiritual but not religious crowd in his introduction to “The Best American Spiritual Writing of 2006.” The whole anthology is especially excellent this year.


How often have we heard a person say “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual”? The argument suggests that religion imposes a set of doctrinal beliefs and the ethical behaviors that spring from it: conviction leads to conduct, belief influences behavior. An ingredient in most religious practice is the conviction that the practices and beliefs of that particular tradition are the only valid ones, and this can lead to an arrogance of opinion based on absolute and exclusive truth claims. When these claims conflict, as they must in a pluralistic world, there appears to be a choice only between a demoralizing relativism and a fundamental conflict with the “other” that leads either to conversion or to extinction. When people speak of religion as the source of all serious trouble in the world, they usually have this rather grim scenario in mind, and alas, the history of the world and its political and cultural conflicts tend to confirm this pessimistic view of religion’s role in human afairs.

To some, the only answer to this is a denigration of religion itself and the passions it ignites…

Wish I could quote more for you. Look for the book in bookstores. Do you resonate?

Comments read comments(11)
post a comment

posted December 20, 2006 at 2:46 am

Totally! I HAVE said “i’m spiritual and not religious” as if to distance myself from what religion has come to mean in my mind. Rigidity, hypocritacal, judgemental, and some more not so nice words.BUT I have an unquenchable thirst for religion. Taking what is valuable to me from many religions and running with it.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 3:22 am

I was happy to see that I am not the only person around who feels that it’s ok to be “spiritual AND religious.” Perhaps I have taken offense to the “I’m spiritual and NOT religious” crowd because of a certain sense of superiority that has come with this pronouncement. It’s the same sense of superiority I’ve seen in New Agers who look down on conventional Christians…

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 1:48 pm

I agree. In my life I have been both religious and “non” religious and have spouted the same spiritual but not religious quote.. The older I get the less I know! I love ritual and feel that it’s important in my life.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 1:50 pm

I am both religious and spiritual. My faith is rooted in an catholic upbringing but I don’t agree with all of the beliefs of catholism. I’ve expanded my faith beyond what I was brought up to believe and am still learning and growing in my spirituality. I think a blending of all faiths is a wonderful practice.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Yes. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. …” Pythagoras said that-and I agree. The dogma is the spiritual blockage I think-it keeps people from truly connecting with one another on a heart level. If we are always having to love THROUGH God, FOR God, in HIS name,, etc-it filters out our real love. I believe divinity is within us, and we can awaken to this knowledge. Religion is full of labels and rules and things that to me have little to do with the internal state of being and feeling and loving. There was a cartoon a few years ago in Rolling Stone of a bong-what was being smoked said-SPIRITUALITY-and the bong was labeled RELGION. Funny.I am a DEEPLY spritual person.I believe very much in the Great Spirit, I feel that energy in nature, in my kids, my love with my husband, it’s everywhere. I can see how men and some women throughout time have taken this energy and made rules and created dogma around it to have a deep void met within themselves. WE ALL CONTAIN DIVINITY AND YET WE CRAVE EXTERNAL VALIDATION WHICH IS WHERE RELIGION COMES IN. AND WE ARE TAUGHT TO LOOK OUTWARDLY FOR WHAT EXISTS ALREADY INWARDLY. IT IS JUST WAITING TO BE AWAKENED. I ALWAYS KNEW THE CHURCH WAS NOT FOR ME. MY CHURCH IS IN MY HEART, IT IS MY HOLY MIDDLE, MY PLACE OF LIGHT WITHIN.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 2:54 pm

I take somewhat of an issue with the “spiritual but not religious” set, because I believe that being “spiritual” means having a belief in the Divine and having spiritual practices that affirm one’s connection to the Divine. I have encountered folks who claim spirituality without religion who do not partake, individually or collectively, in any form of spiritual practice: not a prayer, not a moment of meditation, zippo! I believe that whatever we claim to believe is ultimately played out in our behaviours and dealings with the world around us. Recognizing the presence of the God in your fellow man–regardless of color, class, creed or gender–means more than the ambiguous claim of being “spiritual” without practice or faith-affiliation.

report abuse


posted December 20, 2006 at 4:16 pm

i as well consider myself spiritual not religiuos. spirituallity is a matter of the heart. religion is a set of made mad rules based on what each religion believes to be the truth. i do however believe there is some truth to every religion. the practice of sprituality is constant. “RELIGIUOS” people go to a building on sunday/saturday to prove a point to whom i do not know. i have personally know i am sure well over a thousand or two, of religous people, in my day, but NOT many spiritual. i am also what i call, “prayer minded” which is a prayer in my heart/on my lips at all times. i am a sinner as we all are but i am learning we have such little time left on this crazy planet that it is all about the heart which rules the mind. be good to your self and being good to others just comes natural. the same applies to spirituality. whatever you choose to believe in , stand up for what you believe from the heart. thx margie jean in the “tree-top bungalow”

report abuse

Sandra Tyler

posted December 20, 2006 at 7:34 pm

I don’t understand what the difference is. I love the LORD. I study his word. I consider myself as spiritual, but I never looked at myself as not being religious. I always thought of it as one process. My spirit is rich because I am religious and I have religious beliefs. I make sacrificious because of my beliefs. I make commitments to rituials that spring growth to my religious spirit. I find it glorifing gathering together with others who I can share that religious spirit with. I honestly don’t understand the difference between the two.

report abuse

herbert lynch

posted December 21, 2006 at 3:34 pm

Are you living this mistery called life to its fullest? All of us weather we know it or not are on a Spiritual Journey – religion or not? To often we get caught up im the argument of spirituality or religion? We are on different steps within our Spiritual Journey? Yes, I was Lutheran & than I was Episcpalian before I started on my Spiritual Journey. Once I started on my Spiritual Journey I dropped my ties to religion? I am 25 years into my Spiritual Journey it has been sort of Super-fragilistic-expe-alidoius with sugar? What more could I want? I feel I am living my life to the fullest – if only I were 21 & know what I know now? Will enough for now – May your Blessings be realized ?

report abuse

herbert lynch

posted December 21, 2006 at 4:15 pm

I wish to add this to my prior comments – I have come to realize in my Spiritual Journey that we are not just skin or flesh & bones. My Spiritual Guides have made me realize the Eternal parts of my makeup are Soul & Spirit – given to me by my Creator? I do not see people by the color of their skin but by the character of their Soul & Spirit? I have read the Bible – but now in my Knowing I have qutoes from the Bible come to me & I exclaim – Haloluyah. It recomfirms what I already knew. In the past the teachings of the Bible confused me – now they are a part of my fullness of life? My Blessings are many thank the LORD.

report abuse


posted December 23, 2006 at 11:12 am

I have an eclectic arrangement of beliefs based in Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Pagan, and animistic theories. My cosmology is mostly Hindu-esque, my daily life ethics are guided by the words of Krishna through the Avatara Buddha.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Chattering Mind. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Inspiration Report Happy Reading!!!   ...

posted 9:09:39am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

CM's Final Posts: You Can Fill the Space
Eighteen years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine that got me called in for a taped interview with a Fox TV morning news anchor. Being an effective communicator and a skillful public speaker was a dream of mine at the time. And still ...

posted 3:14:59pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Websites to Visit, Blogs to Read
Here are some blogs and websites I like. It's not a complete list. But it's a start. The first is called New Moon Journal and it is written by Michele Bailey-Lessirard, a life coach, collage artist, and "shamanic astrologer." On the opening page ...

posted 1:24:03pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Still Posted at My Desk
"Take off from here. And don't be so earnest, let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes. Let go, let fly, forget. You've listened long enough. Now strike your note." From "Station Island," by Seamus Heaney ...

posted 1:13:33pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

And Finally, This:
Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. Remain all the time steadfast in the heart, in the Transcendental Absolute. God knows the past, present and future. He will determine the future for you and ...

posted 11:30:38am Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.