I like how Richard Rohr distinguishes between religion and spirituality. In his short, concise and excellent book “Dancing Standing Still” in which he relates prayer to justice, he writes that religion is for folks who fear hell, while spirituality is for those who have gone (or, are going) through hell.
Religion is for those who fear hell …. whether that be some notion of eternal damnation, financial ruin, making moral mistakes, earthly tragedy and accident … you name it. Basically, religion placates, and enables, fearful living. As if we can somehow avoid all of the above on the journey of life.
Spirituality, on the other hand, is for those who have gone, or are going through, hell. People who have experienced profound suffering — physically, mentally, socially and even religiously. Spirituality is for those who are aware of their own poverty, who have failed time and time again, who know their sin, who struggle honestly in the truth of their brokenness — materially and internally.
Just read the story from Luke 18:9-14 for a good biblical example showing the contrast between the two stances and their implications.
Where today do you find yourself are on the spectrum between religion on the one hand, and spirituality on the other? What do you like most about your religious, or spiritual, practice? What does it do for you?
How can religion (any religion) become more attentive to a growing number of people who are seeking a more meaningful spirituality despite their particular religious background?