Spiritual But Not Religious: What Faith Formation Means in the Age of ‘Nones’
In my experience, being “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) is generally treated with derision among clergy and scholars. The many difficulties include the sense that to eschew religious community and doctrine while at the same time espousing spirituality is individualistic. The notable sociologist Robert Bellah suggests that the claim to be SBNR is rooted in a genuine desire to hold individual convictions authentically, but that this inevitably devolves into the religion of “Sheila-ism” or of “Jana-ism” or of any one of us, singly.1 We each become advocates of our own “religion” with part of our inner personal work being the intense mental striving to invent authentically felt religious impulses on our own. This individualistic impulse of SBNR takes on an entirely different and more complicated set of questions when we ask, as an SBNR parent might, how to go about forming children to be individuals who construct their own spiritual journeys. What does it look like to form children and adults into a way of life that is “spiritual but not religious”?
Copyright © 2015, The Liturgical Conference
Bennett, Jana Marguerite, "Spiritual But Not Religious: What Faith Formation Means in the Age of ‘Nones’" (2015). Religious Studies Faculty Publications. 109.