A new Pew Research poll finished in June 2018 shows that more Americans say they’re spiritual but not religious. Over a quarter of Americans now say they are spiritual but not religious. This is up eight percentage points in the last five years and spirituality trends are increasing.
What Does Being Spiritual Actually Mean
There are innumerable definitions of spirituality. If you get a hundred people in a room and ask them to write down their definition of spirituality you will get 100 various answers. A definition I like is spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than yourself which creates the desire to search for meaning in your life. Spirituality is a universal human experience. A spiritual person is more concerned with the essence and meaning of life instead of material things. My definition of spirituality is “…the awareness of our connection and interdependence with creation and the Creator, and our subsequent reverence and gratitude of this magnificent gift.”
We are in a Global Spiritual Reformation
We are now in the midst of a massive Spiritual Reformation. According to historians, the First Religious Reformation begins with the start of the Christian Protestant Reformation and the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Soon after Martin Luther’s rejection of the Catholic Church, they deemed Martin Luther a “protestant.” Protestantism was born out of this movement. This was a natural growth of religion. We are now growing past the great divisiveness of religions into a new paradigm.
People are disillusioned and disconnected from religion these days. They desire social justice, compassion, acceptance of others and unity of all faiths. Instead of visioning Christians versus Islam versus Judaism versus Buddhism, they see religions more as a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Store. There are many flavors in the case but they are all ice cream and all paths connected to the Divine. Another issue is patriarchy. It has caused so much destruction in our world and most of the religions are ruled by men who legislate and make all the rules. That is not tolerable by many in our world anymore. People also believe religion is more concerned with materialistic success and ownership than spirituality and nonmaterial issues of meaning.
Science is Engrained in Spirituality
With the advent of greater awareness of science people believe that science is exciting, factual and is our future. Religions have disconnected from science and have even demonized science and scientists in some cases. Many people are shying away from religion because they’re strongly against political and social issues like abortion and gay marriage. They view these issues as personal decisions and not one in the purview of religion.
The Bible is an Inspirational Book
Most spiritual folks see the Bible as a book of inspiration and possible guidance. They do not accept that the Bible is God’s Constitution or the absolute Word of God. Spirituality seeks guidance from many sources instead of, or including, the Bible. Many believe spiritual guidance and meaning is discovered by teachings and books from Divinely inspired individuals that are as equally inspired as the Bible.
Our Self-Obsessed Culture
We live in a culture that is obsessed with themselves and many experts believe we are living in an epidemic of narcissism. They believe religion is about listening to other people’s ideas about how the universe is constructed and is blind faith to a packaged image of God and creation. Spirituality is about experiencing, studying, and reflecting on creation and your connection to this universe, and then making your own decisions from within yourself not from the outside. We are like spiritual children at this point. We may have our private altars, practices or rituals, but eventually, we must grow from our narcissism and self-obsession into a spiritual community.
Find Your Tribe
I personally cannot see a movement back to mainline religions. They are too entrenched to change their laws, patriarchy, and rituals. Individuals and communities have moved past those institutions. They want to identify with a new paradigm of a new worldview. We desperately need community for our mental and physical health and well-being. We are humans and we essentially need tribes to flourish and thrive.
Hopefully, this spiritual movement will move people out of their private spiritual caves into tribes that can help each of us grow, create meaning, experience love, and hope. I believe these emerging tribes will be rooted in mindfulness and mindful living. The belief that our every thought, word, and action affects ourselves, our community and the environment. Everything we do, say, and feel has a ripple effect in the universe. We are not independent beings, we are interdependent and our survival, happiness, and future depends on our attitude and actions. These are exciting times to see what evolves. If you can’t find a tribe you identify with, create a new tribe in your community. We are one people, living on one planet, with one future.