In a recent survey conducted by the Wilberforce foundation in Aotearoa NZ we were reminded of the huge shift in peoples thinking around organised religion and spirituality. Up until recently many considered them to be one and the same but now it seems people are breaking free of the commanding dominance of religions claim to spirituality and finding ways to experience the sacred in everyday life. Meaningful expressions of spiritual activity are entering into the mainstream of society as helpful centering and contemplative practices. Meditation and mindfulness are heading the way, giving people an opportunity to slow their busy lives through ancient breathing and self-awareness disciplines.
The Classic western church affiliate has now branched out and invited the eastern mindset to enlighten their spiritual perspectives. The divisions of east and west, conservative and liberal, christian and non-christian are finally being confronted and exposed as the disabusers they are. We are coming face to face with our dualism, welcoming a new conversation of spiritual significance, one that is asking institutional religion to reconsider its hard line polity and possibly become more flexible and inclusive?
‘Everyone is spiritual and has something to contribute to the evolution of humanity’
Religion is more interested in right and wrong than we realise, often unable to consider a dialogue that debates the taboo subjects that we are afraid to talk about.
In the survey we saw that topping the list of bug bears for how people saw institutional religion was its position on HELL and the LGBTQI community. Both of these subjects will need some mature and patient ongoing conversation if we to reframe how we understand God, and how that same God relates and responds to human sexuality.
Does our God of Love really sustain an eternal place of torment for irreligious souls?
Are we to believe that our God of love cannot cope with sexual orientations that are not normative to our generic male and female gender distinctions?
Truth be told its not about who God is but who we need God to be in order for us to cope with the human behaviour that is at variance to our own individual perspective or preference.
Religion needs definitive boundaries so that it can maintain its construct as a moral guardian, which is not altogether a bad thing, it just struggles to be spiritually interesting if it is not open to consider whether those boundaries are open to interpretation.
‘The boundary lines of God are always pleasant so unpleasantries will never give us the inheritance we deserve’ (adapted from Psalm 16)
Spirituality cannot be controlled by institutional mandates as it is not a human construct but a sacred endowment that layers all of life, a transcendence that is trying to shape our immanent domain.
Spirituality has become more animating and interesting to the everyday punter as it does not have a whole bunch of hoops it needs people to jump through, just an open heart that is willing to become more aware of a bigger way of being.
Religion does have its place in the grand scheme of things because it is trying to figure out what faith community could be like when it gathers around common ideas and interests. It just needs to realise that the world is changing and not necessarily for the worst, and remember that essence of its spiritual drivers have always been at work in the universe.
My spirituality is no longer afraid of variance and variety, no longer positing God as a distant super-being who is disappointed with humans. To be spiritual is to constantly find God, transcendence, otherness, sacredness, beauty at work in the cosmic everyday, and to respond to its invitation to participate in the divine drama.