I am reading Patrick Mason’s Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt. I had hoped to have a review up today, but the week has gotten away from me.
I love it so far, but today I wanted to point out one item.
Something I have been thinking about for sometime is the phrase “I am spiritual but not religious.” I do not want to dismiss the phrase because it likely has significant meaning for some. However, I am the total opposite.
I have not really taken the time to describe why I view myself at “religious but not spiritual,” but I like how Mason describes it briefly (on page 37) while surveying the variety of religious experiences within Mormonism:
Others still, whom we might call religious but not spiritual are drawn to and anchored by the community, tradition, and structure of Mormonism but infrequently have transcendent “spiritual experienced” to bear testimony of.
This fits me well.
Rosalynde Welch similarly described herself as religious but not spiritual a few years back. Here is one excerpt from her explanation:
Part of it, certainly, is the sense of social connectedness that these practices create for me. I suffer from some mild social anxieties, though I like to think I hide it well, and I have difficulty creating and negotiating close relationships from scratch. The knowledge that I am sharing an experience—a holiday, a traditional food, a daily routine—with my friends, family, and forebears gives me a feeling of commonality, security, embeddedness. It’s a basis for connection that is always available and mutually meaningful.
I think Welch’s approach places more emphasis on tradition and ritual than I would (see her full essay). I think my emphasis would be more on community. Again, something I need to more fully develop.
I will be engaging a bit with Mason’s book over the next few days. So more to come.
This is the first of my “Confessions” columns, a new feature in 2016 at Approaching Justice. Confessions are, or will be, daily thoughts about what I am thinking about. They will often deal with what I am reading, teaching, or writing about. Other times, they will be about my experiences.