While the rest of the world is watching 24 (my partner Dave entertains himself by emailing me updates like Bauer just saved my beloved Ontario International Airport), I can’t afford to be emotionally brought to my knees this spring so instead I chowed down this lovely essay on spirituality in America over at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
If I had to check a box next to Religion, I would search for "Spiritual, not religious." This may seem like an odd designation – after all, I don’t believe in God nor do I believe in dualism (a soul independent of the body). But, I do consider myself spiritual in the New Agey kind of sense. I like buddhism, I like meditation, I like introspection, I’m starting yoga in March, I like the sound of waves crashing against the rocks as the sun sets. Most important, I am on an endless quest for truth, for meaning, for understanding. This attitude is all fuel for David Brooks’ fire who says “soft-core spirituality,” with its attendant “psychobabble” and “easygoing narcissism,” is epidemic.
In this essay Professor Schmidt outlines six characteristics of American spirituality:
• a yearning for mystical experience or epiphanic awareness
• a valuing of silence, solitude, and sustained meditation
• a belief in the immanence of the divine in nature and attunement to that presence
• a cosmopolitan appreciation of religious variety, along with a search for unity in diversity
• an ethical earnestness in pursuit of justice-producing, progressive reforms
• an emphasis on self-cultivation, artistic creativity, and adventuresome seeking
Now, if only a church existed to cultivate such an outlook! (More on that idea in our next exciting mission.)