Spiritual but not Religious

Spiritual but not Religious - A Spiritual Journey - Christina Lattimer
Spiritual but not Religious - A Spiritual Journey - Christina Lattimer

A Christian faith

When I was a child I wouldn’t have ever thought of myself as spiritual but not religious. I was brought up in the Christian faith. Before I was born my parents went to a Christian church. Although they had stopped attending church by the time I was born, they saw fit to have me Christened.

I went to a Christian oriented school where we had a religious assembly. Daily we recited the Lord’s Prayer. We sang hymns, and Carols at Christmas.

Belief in God

If asked about God then, I may have vacillated about my belief, But looking back I think I was driven to be near God. At around the age of 7, I took myself off to Church on a Sunday. None of my family attended with me. It was a personal choice. In those days I believed if there was a God, he/she was a presence outside of me.

I joined the Sunday School and the choir, although I didn’t stay for long. When there, I remember I felt a distinct sense of awe.  It resulted me in being been pretty solemn as I can still vividly recall a friend yelling to me I was boring when I wouldn’t join in being disruptive in choir practice. I had a strong feeling of wanting to be respectful if I was in the presence of God.

Spiritual but not religious

These days when I complete forms or questionnaires that ask about my faith I usually enter “other”. Where there is an option for spiritual but not religious, that’s what I opt for. So why did my young self stop the practice of going to Church as abruptly as I started? Why do I not see my faith in God as a faith in a Christian religion? The answer lies in my lack of belief in the power of ritual.

Faith isn’t always about ritual

What drove my young self to attend church? Did I believe in God or Jesus or Christianity? At that time I’m not sure. Did my parents? I don’t know, they never spoke about it. The only sign my mother had faith was a hymn book she kept at the side of her bed.

When my son was around 7 years old I took him to Church for a few months. I wanted to see if, like me at his age, the experience of going to church meant anything to him. He was interested in talking about God for sure, but the ritualistic service didn’t resonate with him. Eventually he made the decision he didn’t want to continue. I realised at that time that my own young self similarity didn’t equate my relationship with God as being ritualistic or tied to a particular religion.

Being blessed every day

When asked by an elderly lady sitting next to my son whether he was going to take holy communion, he replied “No”. “Oh that’s a shame” she said. “You will not be blessed by God if you don’t” To which my son totally unprompted and quick as a flash replied. “I’m blessed every day”.

And for me that sums it up. You do not have to practice a religion or a ritualistic practice to experience God or to be blessed. I do think for many people religion is an important practice or belief which brings them comfort, or helps to open up their mind to the possibility of God. In those circumstances religion can be and is a force for good.

Religion as a barrier to God

I do think though it’s a shame that the elderly woman who spoke to my son that day believed that she would not be blessed if she didn’t carry out a ritual. Religion can be a beautiful learning experience which takes a member of that religion to a deep experience of God.

Where the problems start for me is where

a) Religious teachings are taken out of context and applied literally, when they are not meant to be literal but are symbolic or allegorical.

b) A member of a religion feels superior to another because they belong to “a club” where you receive certain benefits non members don’t.

Our spiritual nature

I believe we are spiritual beings experiencing life in a physical body. There are no exceptions to that. God (love) is within every single person and the ego ( not God, not love) is in every single person too.

Our lives and choices determine whether we choose to let God (love) and our eternal nature in. Or we live out our belief we are physical bodies who live for a short time and then cease to exist upon death, an ego belief.

Deciding on spirit

When you choose to see life through your spiritual lens and so you become spiritual but not religious, you invoke your real self which is love, joy, abundance and eternal life. Often we have had a lifetime of living through the eyes of ego and so we have to build our spiritual muscle. For me that’s a spiritual journey and what life here is all about.

What about you? Are you Spiritual but not Religious? Are you learning through practicing a religion?

One thing for certain there is no right or wrong way to learn about our truly loving self.

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  • Ryan

    A good read and not too dissimilar an experience from my own formative years. “Spiritual not religious” for me stems from being free of the ritual, rules and dogma of organised religion to pursue and explore my own spirituality

    • Hi Ryan, yes that about sums up my experience too. It’s very sobering to understand whether you believe in God, (whatever that means to everyone), or not, the essence of God is within reach of every single person. That’s hope I think 🙂 Thanks for your comment, appreciated.

  • Gary Gruber

    Christina, This is a touchstone for many of us who have been on our own spiritual journeys over the years. I left the institutional church way back in the 60’s and joined with a bigger movement that was in concert with my views and values having to do with social justice, peace and change. This after 3 years of theological education in a mainstream seminary at Princeton and 7 years in the Presbyterian church. My “church” is an invisible church and you’ve given me a thought to pursue further in an upcoming 2018 blog. That said, I don’t think spiritual and religious are necessarily at odds and that it may be possible to be both without getting caught up in the trappings of dogmatic and doctrinal practices. This might offer an opportunity for a conversation that could be publicized via YouTube or some other podcast venue. I have more to contribute and perhaps we can connect soon to pursue some possibilities. Thanks!

    • Gary thanks for your insights – I think you’re right the two are not necessarily at odds. Much depends on how they are interpreted and who’s doing the interpreting! I like the sound of a conversation and look forward to connecting! Very best – Christina