Spirituality through the eyes of a Truth Seeker

Monthly Archives: June 2008

Religious versus Spiritual (Part 2)

This is a continuing conversation, therefore it is important that you read Religious versus Spirituality Part 1 before reading this post.

A few days before writing this I received an email from a friend with two USA Today articles on this type of subject. The first USA Today article is called, “Religious Americans: My faith isn’t the only way” and the second one is called, “Survey: More have dropped dogma for spirituality in U.S.” (note: take a look at the fascinating survey results). It’s interesting to note that the oldest one has ZERO comments where the one on dogma and spirituality has, at the time this is being written, 1,791 (updated 9/10/08) comments. Obviously the latter has gotten the attention of a large group of people.

I read several pages of the comments and the fascinating thing is that they are very similar to the type of comments written in reaction to the YouTube “Church of Oprah” with the main difference being more comments from the “other side”. It’s also very interesting that the first article has absolutely no reaction but in just over 24 hrs there has been an average of one comment per minute (assuming no one is sleeping). Why? It comes right back to The Believing vs. The Feeling that I originally discussed in my post “The Church of Oprah vs Christianity“. The first article is about how my way is not the same as your way. Okay, big deal, we see that all the time. The second article is about people turning away from dogma, the cornerstone of ANY religion and turning to this nebulous thing called Spirituality. So again, The Believing is being attacked here, even though it’s in a more mundane fashion than the Oprah YouTube phenomenon which was more attacking so it could promote a book. This article is only publishing the results of a survey but perhaps the reactions are forcing the readers to re-evaluate their Believing when there are statistics that challenge the dogma that supports their Believing. In other words, “Why are so many leaving dogma and turning to spirituality?”

Taking all of this into the context of what it means to be “spiritual” with dogma being used as the basis of the definition, it not only puts dogma into the realm of a personal opinion but also being religious or spiritual as a personal experience. This then takes us back to the comment in my first post about The Believing and The Feeling. Believing is based on thoughts and Feeling on emotions. As in language, we both can decide that what we see in the distance is a tree, but that does not say that we will ever fully agree on exactly how we feel about that tree. For example, perhaps that tree looks a lot like the tree one of them fell out of as a child and severely broke a limb, where for the other it looks just like the tree where he/she first made love. Both people are looking at exactly the same tree, but are having entirely different emotional reactions, which again points to experience affects how you feel about what you see which in turn can affect your Beliefs.

Taking this to the altar of religion, two people can be within not only the same religion but also part of the same physical church and neither of them may fully agree on how they FEEL about God. In this case The Believing is fundamentally the same but the resulting Feeling may not ever truly match and again be based on previous personal experiences. As a result the dogma, principles or doctrines of a religion are normally vigorously and clearly stated to ensure that the resulting feeling is as much the same as possible (did you know that nothing in the Bible could be questioned until the early 1900’s?). The congregation of a religion then looks to a main figure of Authority to bestow upon it The Believing in such a way as to ensure they all feel the same way and if ever doubted The Dogma is then reiterated to bring the correct Feeling into the religious commonality. You see this quite clearly in the “Church of Oprah” comments and ensuing video responses. The Dogma is being reiterated over and over and over again. When this is being done by the main figure of Authority it ensures that The Believing is legitimized which then reconnects to The Feeling the congregation has come to know as a result of The Believing as stated in their Dogmatic Doctrines.

An excellent example of this is one of the “Church of Oprah” response videos. Continue reading

Religious versus Spiritual (Part 1)

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about the differences between these two words? Think about when they’ve come up in conversation long enough and you might notice some things.

The most common one for me is that more people will “defend” their beliefs with Spiritual more than with Religious. In other words, whenever the subject of “Belief in God” crops into a conversation, especially if you ask someone what religion they are and some will respond with that they are “spiritual not religious”. I see this as a defense and can attest to that mainly because I am “guilty” of it. When this is the response, the person has rejected the notions of religion in favor for something not so specific and needs to state that. The one thing that I have not ever heard is the opposite of someone saying they are “religious not spiritual”.

So just what is the difference? Most people, especially those that claim the “spiritual not religious” stance will tell you the main difference is in the word “dogma”. Let’s then start with the “Grammar of It All”.

Per http://www.etymonline.com; Dogma – “1541 {another source stated 1590-1600} (implied in dogmatist), from Latin dogma “philosophical tenet,” from Greek dogma (gen. dogmatos) “opinion, tenet,” literary “that which one thinks is true,” from dokein “to seem good, think” (see decent). Treated in 17c.-18c. as Greek, with pl. dogmata.” So there we have it, right? Not really because this is using the word to describe the word, so big deal if dogma is from the Latin or Greek of the same name. So that didn’t help.

If you just take the referenced Latin and Greek, tenet appears in both. Cross reference tenet (http://dictionary.com) you get opinion and dogma in the definition for tenet which exemplifies the peculiarities of the English language where we use the same set of words to describe another set of words. I take this to mean they have similarities with very subtle differences that are never really explained leaving you to come to your own personal understanding of their use. Using what has been given between these two; then it’s a philosophical opinion or tenet (opinion, doctrine, principle) that which one thinks is true. Let’s bring that down to something more manageable and say it’s a “philosophical opinion, doctrine, or principle that one thinks is true”. This leaves itself open for lots of speculation because you may not agree with what I think is true, but then again opinion is used in the definition.

When looking over the actual results at http://dictionary.com, the speculative “one thinks is true” doesn’t appear in these definitions. The various dictionary definitions are actually more solidly stated than that. Take a look:
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The Church of Oprah vs Christianity

Have you heard about the “Holy War” that is currently going on in cyberspace, which was initiated at YouTube?

About a month ago I received an email with a link to the video discussed below. Like so many other people I had a reaction to it but it was nothing like the thousands that have commented on it because they were taking sides. Instead, I realized that I had an understanding of BOTH sides. The number of views of this video is currently pushing towards 8 million with over 7,000 comments and this is not counting the numerous videos created in response to it (the most recent being one week ago)!!! While in the midst of building this blog I realized it would make a great first post. I originally expected it to be a quick commentary based on some of my initial reactions. When researching it I soon realized that there is a phenomenon going on that is actually representing us as a whole (a.k.a. The Collective), reflecting who we are as a society. First a quick synopsis of the more controversial parts.

This highly stylized video promo for the book “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” starts with the question “Have you heard about the largest church in the world?” followed by statements of the extremely rapid growth of it’s congregation. This is then followed by a few sayings, spoken as beliefs, of this new church threatening the Christian concepts of Heaven, Sin, and Salvation. The most serious one threatens the cornerstone of Christianity, “The Man on the Cross” referring to him as an archetypal image and eventually calls it a pathetic error of clinging to “this old rugged cross” with the final insult that this cross has only one message and dying for your sins it is not.

This church and its leader is then identified to be Oprah Winfrey with this segment ending with “Years ago she denied Jesus is the only way”.

A video clip now demonstrates this starting with Oprah saying, “One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live”. (Not according to John 14:6, which is quoted throughout the numerous comments). As she responds to a rebuttal, when someone tries to make a comment, she holds up her hand with a “Let me speak” gesture and continues talking (or is it insinuating her opinion upon her audience?). She completes her “argument” with “to what you call God”. Oprah cuts off another rebuke with “There couldn’t possibly be but one way” again attacking the crucibles of Christianity. Now comes the condemning question, when asked “What about Jesus?!?” Oprah replies “What about Jesus!?!” She does not directly deny Jesus; per this crucible, this expression of doubt and lack of declaration in Jesus must be deemed as denial of Jesus.

“Christians are being deceived” are the final words you see before showing portions of her web cast with Eckart Tolle and the now famous book, “A New Earth”, as he leads the participants in silence giving the air of priestly presence taking the audience into a trance or was that meditation? Regardless, it is not part of the Christian way.

When questioned on how she reconciles these spiritual teachings with her Christian beliefs, her reply is “well thought out” as is evidenced by the way her eyes wander around occasionally looking at the camera and then wanders around again with a series of “Um’s” inserted throughout. All of these gestures are indicative of someone pulling an idea from their head, in other words “Mental Belief”. This mental excursion, that is not really all that convincing, eventually ends up with her now famous “Jealous God” story.

The final part of this section shows Oprah saying, with Tolle’s agreement,

    “God is a feeling experience not a believing experience,
    if your religion is a believing experience,
    if God for you is still about a belief, then it’s not truly God.

This is, for me, one of the more incendiary comments made by her whether in or out of context, because this comment alone takes a pickax to the core of any religious belief.

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