Uncommon Sense

March 27, 2022

A Definition of Spirituality . . . of Sorts

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:29 am
Tags: , ,

(Can’t let a Sunday go by without posting something religious. S)

When addressing the topic of spirituality, I have often enough asked for it to be defined coherently. So far, I have not gotten anything I would describe as being coherent and often got no definition in response. It is a little like asking people what they mean by “god” and they respond with “You know, God, everybody knows God.”

So here is a definition I ran across this morning:

Spirituality . . . is based upon the acceptance of the existence of something more significant than ourselves. (Cynthia A. Morgan on Medium.com, 2-2-22)

So, significant means . . . (adjective) 1. sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy, 2. having a particular meaning; indicative of something.

So, we are talking about something greater or more important than ourselves, something that has meaning. Hmm, could be politics, right? Is not our democracy something that fits this definition? Or we could be talking about a family with along history. That would fit, no?

So, why do I tend to think that spirituality is a dodge for not being religious? It seems as if spirituality is something one professes when one is explaining why one is not religious.

What passes for Christianity in the U.S. now is what Dan Foster called “churchianity.” American Christians aren’t following Jesus the Christ, they are following their church. And I will bet that you are thinking of this right now: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Allow me to point out that this is another one of those things put into Jesus’s mouth that would never have come out of it. Ask yourself: what religious institutions were available to the early first century CE Jews? Well, there was the Temple . . . and there were synagogues . . . and . . . and . . . pagan temples, and  . . . yep, there were no “churches,” until later, well after Jesus supposedly died. Well, it was a prophecy, then, no? No. It was a corruption of scripture to bolster the standing of the newly formed Christian churches, clearly the one claiming to be lead by Peter.

And, if you make a list of all of the things “good Christians” think “good Christians” do or should do, you will find next to none of those things in scripture. For example: praying regularly, reading the Bible regularly, attending religious services, serving the church, not losing one’s temper, dressing modestly, and so on. None of this is in the Bible. All of these are part of the control systems created by church officials. If you don’t believe me, there is an experiment you can do. Find a church which is recruiting and find one which says “All you have to do is accept Jesus into your heart and you can join us.” So, tell them you have accepted Jesus into your heart and then show up for your first church services dressed inappropriately. (You don’t have to be dressed like a whore or dungeon master, just wear, say, blue jeans and a tee shirt.) You will quickly find out that you need to do more, a lot more, than accepting Jesus into your heart, to be acceptable to a church. And none of those “requirements” are in the Bible.

As another example, I was attending an art exhibition (secular art, not religious art) in a church and a church lady asked me to remove my hat because it was disrespectful. Interestingly, the Hebrew Bible has hat wearing as mandatory while in such places. The Hebrew Bible is what Christians call the “Old Testament.”

So, spirituality . . . actually is a vague feeling that all there is may not be all there is. (Imagine Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There Is?” in the background.) For people unhappy with their lot in life, this is called wishful thinking, wishing there were options not available normally. Even more massive wishful thinking is having a spiritual big brother who is going to the kick the asses of those who have made you miserable.

Actually, those who claim to be spiritual are just as deluded as those claiming to be Christians. To quote one of my favorite authors on this topic:

Listen to any sermon, Christian sales pitch, or read any Christian literature; their messages share the common themes of: We’re all born evil (despite God creating us this way and chooses not to change it), God loves us (yet will punish us and send us to hell if we don’t love him back) and he died for our sins (even though we never asked him to, also, how can God actually die if he’s God, by committing suicide?), and there’s no way out of this universal scenario because we’re incapable, without purpose, empty of significance, need saving, and can do nothing without God (all of which is by his perfect design). Finally, the only solution to this inescapable ordeal is converting to Christianity. Honestly, how deranged must one be to believe all of this? . . . The embarrassing part about this is that nothing literally changes after a person converts to Christianity. God never grants them the power to become anything more. His preference is to be the sole winner among his losers. (Jubei Raziel)

So, as far as I can tell, spirituality is a dodge against not being religious. The Pew survey now has a category for it that people can use to label themselves: spiritual but not religious.



  1. NOT defending “spirituality” (!!!), but do you even ponder why we humans act/think the way we do? Is it all evolutionary? is our desire to know more about “us” and our world so unusual?

    Of course I think you will agree that the problem arises when some want to hang a tag on this type of pondering. N’est pas?

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Nan — March 27, 2022 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

    • I think you can make a very strong argument for the evolutionary benefits of curiosity.

      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by john zande — March 27, 2022 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

    • N’est-ce pas 😀

      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by The Pink Agendist — March 27, 2022 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

    • Oh, I understand curiosity, it is just making shit up wholesale to satisfy one’s curiosity that is puzzling. Was someone showing off for their girlfriend/boyfriend? Was someone posing as an intellectual?


      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 27, 2022 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

    • Many of the questions that people say people ask, well, people don’t ask. Questions like “How did the universe begin?” “Can you create something from nothing?” “Does nature really abhor a vacuum?” Very, very few people entertain these questions, IMHO. Religions often pride themselves in being able to answer our “big questions,” yet I will bet dollars to donuts that most people haven’t spent one minute of their lives thinking about such things.


      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 28, 2022 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

      • I agree that the questions you mentioned are much more those that are asked (and answered) by the religious crowd. However, I do think many (most?) of us at one time or another have wondered about why “we” are here. And scientists question all the time about the universe and our relationship to it.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Nan — March 29, 2022 @ 10:59 am | Reply

        • Re “And scientists question all the time about the universe and our relationship to it.” I think not. Scientist are desperately searching for questions they can answer. And those are almost ever the “big questions” that are referred to: e.g. why is there something rather than nothing, etc.


          Comment by Steve Ruis — March 29, 2022 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  2. So, it means being enthusiastic.


    Comment by john zande — March 27, 2022 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

  3. My spirit is the invisible me, spiritual is me being me, and spirituality is relationship with others.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Arnold — March 28, 2022 @ 5:11 am | Reply

  4. Spirituality is one of those vague and nebulous terms that can describe just about anything, depending on the person using it. It’s recently become a substitute for formal religion for people who don’t like what they see happening in organized religion but still feel, well, something is going on. Basically when someone says something like, oh, “I don’t follow a religion any more but I am a spiritual person” they mean they don’t like some aspect of formal religion but they still believe there is some kind of deity/god/supernatural force out there operating in the background. Basically all they’ve done is switch from believing in Jesus or Buddha or Thor or whoever, to believing rocks are intelligent or in some kind of quantum universal mind or, well, take your pick.

    People who are ‘spiritual’ rather than religious are, when it comes to logical thinking, even worse than christian apologists when it comes to twisting words, double meanings, self referential ‘proofs’ and the embracing of logical fallacies.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 28, 2022 @ 6:44 am | Reply

  5. “Allow me to point out that this is another one of those things put into Jesus’s mouth that would never have come out of it.”

    What? The Jesus who never existed? Ever?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by silverapplequeen — March 30, 2022 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  6. I definitely agree on your objection to Morgan’s definition. I could put the quantum field in there too. I think spirituality is not about “the acceptance of existence of,,,” but is rather about the desire to establish a meaningful/practical connection with something greater than ourselves, in fact with the greatest thing or the largest whole. I agree with you that a lot of people use spirituality as a dodge but I don’t think we can generalize that to everyone. I make a distinction between religious and spiritual traditions in that religious traditions require adherence to dogma as part of the requirement for salvation. Spiritual traditions, for example Buddhism, don’t require a rigid framework and don’t put salvation in another place and time (heaven BS.) I think a lot of people rather identify with spirituality than religion because they still partake in the religious instinct but can’t accept dogmatic frameworks and restrictions that are insane in light of modern science and worldviews.

    Spirituality doesn’t have to even be about god or supreme being. I find Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy a spiritual tradition because it revolves around using contemplative practice as a way of establishing a meaningful connection with the whole; for him, and for me too, the meaningful connection is in living philosophically. I don’t think Husserl, or other spiritual figures, chose this way to dodge being religious. But I see your point about the vagueness, sometimes intentional and even fashionable, around being spiritual.

    The other superficial attraction of spirituality is that it supports instant gratification of the impatient, modern people that we are. Whereas religion puts the bait in the otherworld and tasks us with unquestioned obedience and chores in order to get it when we die, a total gamble; most fashionable spiritual schools are those that promise the heaven to be right here and now (btw, with which I agree but see the pursuit self-defeating when driven by the urge for escaping pain and suffering.) So being religion is like committing to a date and working toward the sex; modern day, fashionable, spiritual pursuits are often (and not always) are like getting off by watching porn on the coach. And I can’t believe I just said that lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by toomajj — April 4, 2022 @ 2:48 pm | Reply

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