By Tom Z
10:04 AM EDT, October 1, 2012
You hear it a lot: "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." But what exactly does that mean? Young people are abandoning religion in record numbers, but a lot of them still claim to be spiritual people. A new opinion piece on CNN.com examines the meaning behind this cultural shift:
Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.
That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.
When I was younger, I told my friend that I thought I was agnostic. He told me that "agnostic" was just a term for a pussy atheist. Of course he was right. When someone says they're agnostic, they don't really believe in religion, they’re just trying not to upset their parents. "Spiritual" people are one step above agnostic, but it's the same idea. They want to get credit from religious people without having to go to church. They're like the kid who signs up to be the equipment manager for his high school football team. He never catches a pass or makes a tackle, but he still gets to wear the jacket and say he's on the team. That's every "spiritual" person. When someone says, "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual," what they're basically saying is, "I don't believe a man walked on water, but I'd still like to bang Catholic chicks."
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