Monday, July 22, 2013

Spiritual, Not Religious

We live in a postmodern world where we often hear the lament of people claiming to be “spiritual, but not religious.”  I have often asked myself what they mean by this.  I now understand that this may mean that they probably believe in a supreme being, but they do not believe in institutional religion or they have been disappointed, hurt or embarrassed by a particular institutional religion.

To say that I have been disappointed, hurt or embarrassed by institutional religion would be an understatement.  I have felt all these things and more at various occasions in my life, both before and after I entered religious life.  What makes me remain part of institutional religion and not choose something else is because I believe in a Trinitarian God, which is to say I believe in a relational God.  I also believe in a God who sent God’s Son for sinners and a church that is made up of sinners.

As Sinsinawa Dominicans we believe, “At the heart of ministry is relationship.”  We chose to be in relationship with God, each other and those with whom we minister.  I could have chosen any other vocation or do many charitable things.  However, it is through my interaction with my sisters and church that I am challenged and encouraged, and also empowered.  I know that I belong and hopefully we can make a difference together.

What are the challenges that you face in the church or with institutional religion in general?  How can you make a difference?

Lystra Long, OP
New Grant, Trinidad


  1. Great and honest reflection! Thank you.

  2. For me, "spiritual/not religious" means that I believe and am dedicated to the One we call God. My faith is relational and growing in depth and committment. Unfortunately (maybe) I experience the institutional organization of Church as oppressive and depressing to the point it becomes a barriar for me. So I flow around it and find community in other places that nourish and strengthen my faith relationship with God.

    At the same time, I appreciate and honour those people who stay within the organization and seek change. I think that Sisters are especially strong in this because they have the support of their Sisters, or at least enough of them, and are a public, communal witness to the Gospel.

    I think both are necessary for renewal, and all who walk in the Way of Jesus need to walk together in love.


    1. Just as honest and awesome a response as was the original reflection. thank you!

  3. There are as many wars being fought due to institutional religions as there are being fought due to national boundaries. People are fleeing religion, not God.

    1. Love this discussion!


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