Psychologist Dan Kiley once said that he "threw out the baby of spirituality with the bath water of religion" when he quit Roman Catholic seminary in 1964. He was quoted by Darrell Sifford in an excellent series of articles about the Wizards of our day, people who advertise themselves as helpers, some of whom are dangerously incompetent and others who are surprisingly able. The main difference seems to be whether or not they actually listened to the actual problems they were being asked to solve and finding a real solution that would work. The quacks nearly always pushed their own theory over everything the patient/seeker/searcher might say.
From what I've seen of my friends and most of the people that I've known religion is clearly not a part of their lives. The main reason has been that most Christian demonimations do not lend themselves well to thinking, questioning, and challanging people. Too many churches ask that the laity be seen, as in counted as members and paying for the priveledge, but not heard. Most denominations seem to have an authority figure in the church, from which all Godly wisdom is handed down. And, for me and my people that's probably the best way to alienate and infuriate.
Which is not to mention that most of them can't believe in a theistic God, who reaches down and fiddles with everything on some ineffiable whim. To ask a scientific community to take things on faith is a sometimes difficult thing. Add to that the simple fact that several of them believe that if they ever crossed the threshold of a church, they'd burst into flame, and you have a basic disconnect.
And, yes, I focus nearly entirely on Christianity because that is the one religion which has the most resources and references through the United States of America, and, like it or not, it's the religion that has the most impact in the society that I live, breath, and work in. It's also the religion that I've had the most experience with, and I've tried, for the last ten years, to be part of a congregationalist based demonimation where they've emphasized the "Love your God with all your soul, heart, body and mind.
Yes, Virginia, there are Christians out there who think, question, and find answers for themselves. The UCC has been pretty good to me and my curiosity. It's the only demonimation that's apologized for things that it's done. One very important difference is that it's a demonimation of the covenantal tradition, which basically means there is no centralized authority or heirarchy which can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Any. There is no doctrine. None. Other than what you think through yourself or talk through with others. Yeah, it blew away my preconceptions of Christianity completely, simply by having this basic difference. All said, I'm still not sure I'm Christian, and in what time I have, there is a lot I'd like to explore outside the lines of what is accepted as 'religion'.
Given that, what is spirituality? And can it be nurtured without some organized religion?
"For me, spirituality is an ability to listen to the inner voice and have that dominate your life... The behaviorlist side of me says that the inner voice is a grand collection of your experiences and genetic disposition, that part of your private life that you reserve. You know subjectively that what that voice says is true...
"Some call it soul. I basically like that. Some say that it's the life spirit, the driving force. I buy that...
I'd add that, for myself, it includes interaction with other souls, other spirits, most of whom are embodied in people. A few of whom are embodied in plants, trees, animals, and machines. What do you think? I may well post some of the thoughts I like best here.
And, yes, I do believe that spirituality can be reached independent of any religion. Mostly because I've experienced a lot of spiritual people who have nothing to do with a church and wouldn't be caught dead or alive in one.
Here are a few self-defense things I've learned from reading the Bible.