Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dalrymple on "Spiritual But Not Religious"

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Berlin, Theodore Dalrymple has an interesting take at City Journal.

The money quote:

The reason (I surmise) that so many people claim to be spiritual rather than religious is that being spiritual imposes no discipline upon them, at least none that they do not choose themselves. Being religious, on the other hand, implies an obligation to observe rules and rituals that may interfere awkwardly with daily life. Being spiritual-but-not-religious gives you that warm, inner feeling, a bit like whiskey on a cold day, and reassures you that there is more to life—or, at least, to your life—than meets the eye, without actually having to interrupt the flux of everyday existence. It is the gratification of religion without the inconvenience of religion. Unfortunately, like many highly diluted solutions, it has no taste.


B. said...

At its best it has no taste but at its worst, "spirituality without religion" is dangerous as it is fertile ground for pride, especially, spiritual pride. Religion is difficult for many reasons, mostly though, it is difficult because its internal system of checks and balances forces us to live life "topsy turvy" as Chesterton would say, which is something that we cannot do of our own volition. The more we try to dominate religion the more it rejects us, until we give up and it begins to humbles= us, both intellectually and spiritually.
God of the bible is challenging and humbling and thus he is dynamic, a hound of heaven that leaves no parts of our soul untouched. Our personal God is just another item among others that our minds suck into the black hole that is our ego. As Fulton Sheen says "what is Satanic is wanting the divinity of Christ without the cross".

Unknown said...

The relationship to ''the rules'' is crucial; Even (or especially) for non-believers, the greatest thing religion has to offer is how it allows us to interrogate the relationship between Authority and The Good (The Euthyphro dilemma) or, in other terms, the relationship to the SuperEgo. As B. says, pride is one danger of spirituality; the other is the loss of pride, or more specifically, the loss of a sense of defiance in the face of established norms and the consequent failure to see the 'Good' as something which subverts and surprises, rather than fulfills, expectations. When everything is just 'spiritual,' the personal fear and trembling, the inner conflict and confusion, are leached out.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

David T. said...

That's right. The contemporary summum bonum is a life free of anxiety or stress, rather than possession of the true Good. Of course, a worm or a house cat lives without much stress or anxiety.