spiritual but not religious

Just think. You’re sitting at home (or possibly sleeping in), playing video games or surfin’ the web (or possibly taking care of that horrible stack of grading glowering at you on your desk), when you could be attending the Church of the Spiritual But Not Religious.

Doesn’t that look like fun and a great way to spend a Sunday morning?

I might need something to excuse procrastination and putting off grading, but I don’t think I’ll stoop that low.


  1. says

    “Now everyone open your twitter feed…”

    :Laughs: I think they may have hit pretty close to the truth for a lot of people.

  2. Sastra says

    I especially loved this line:

    “We are here because we reject the bullshit from one book so we can cherry pick and choose the bullshit we like better from a whole bunch of different books.”

    The Spiritual are often shocked — shocked I say — when they don’t receive what Greta Christina has called the “Atheist Seal of Approval” from science-based humanists. But they’re so religiously liberal and non-judgemental and open and everything! There is no possible justification for seeing their self-preoccupied endorsement of faith and denial of science as being anything at all like religion. And then they’ll go on to explain that no, it’s atheism that’s the religion — because “religion” is when people tell other people their religious beliefs are wrong. The Spiritual, on the contrary, disapprove only of the non-spiritual.

    While it’s often a waystation on the path towards atheism, if Spirituality gets emotionally entrenched and political power, I think it can be just as dangerous as the more traditional forms of religion.

  3. taraskan says

    @3 Exactly. But you don’t have to wait for them to get organized – they already have political power, and we already have to deal with their shit on a constant daily basis. I don’t want to make it through the much bemoaned marginalization of the religious and the overly dramatic death throes of their power structure just to have to fight another war with “the spiritual”.

    Spiritualism is not a good ally, since it has been used to justify everything from bad medicine to occult con games, and since its defenders are every bit as anti-intellectual when faced with threats to their belief system as a religioso.

    It’s had its brush with racism, too, unless you don’t consider the idea that Native Americans are all vegan pacifistic beaver-humping sweat-box builders with magical powers to be patronizing.

    It’s people like this that make shit like acupuncture covered under US government sponsored insurance plans. I’ve had an urgent care physician – a real one – suggest magnetic wristbands to me before. They felt no shame. They should. Our collective knowing gaze when these people walk down a crowded street ought to be heavy enough their feet pin to the ground, crouch down, and start bewailing what they’ve done with their life.

    Spiritualism might as well be synonymous with gullible, for how often these people get taken by psychics, or by gurus wanting them to pay $15000 for a massage and a trip to India while they fondle your feet. Pressure points do not exist, people, and they’re easier to disprove than the Christian god. It started out as a barely-useful reckoning that the four or five areas on your body that are thinnest between skin and internal organ (neck, wrists, groin) are good targets in martial arts. How it got retconned into The All Holy Eastern Medicine You Just Don’t Understand with hundreds of so-called ‘pressure points’ is just the name of the bloody game.

    And don’t give me that “one true spiritualism” nonsense, either. We should care less whether the herbal supplements sold in dubious ziplock baggies on your corner hippie shop are a con that has tried to cover itself up with a veneer of spiritualism or whether they started out that way. It’s all a con, it should all be illegal, and they should certainly all feel their shame exactly as much and no less than the right-wing talk show personality who knows how God(TM) wants you to treat women and sissies.

    If spiritualists didn’t already have the power they do, psychics would need a license visible from the lobby saying it’s all in good fun and giving the same warning labels that appear at the entrances to gambling establishments and on the backs of lottery tickets, eastern medicine would receive no government sponsorship whatsoever, and the History Channel would probably fold after six months.

  4. doublereed says

    I always thought the “spiritual but not religious” thing was just to say you don’t really care. Almost like a “whatever” answer.

  5. screechymonkey says


    I always thought the “spiritual but not religious” thing was just to say you don’t really care. Almost like a “whatever” answer.

    Maybe sometimes. In my experience, it’s either the version in the video (“I believe in all sorts of nonsense, but it’s ok because it’s not part of an organized religion.”), or like the famous xkcd comic, proclaiming one’s superiority to both atheists and the religious.

  6. gijoel says

    Coworker: I don’t believe in God, but I believe in an energy in the universe that connects everything together.
    Me: So you’re a Jedi.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What’s the difference between “spiritual, but not religious”, and a deist? It all sounds the same to me (handwaving, smoke, and mirrors).

  8. Saad says

    “I too feel good watching a sunset.” – spiritual but not religious person

  9. screechymonkey says


    I think deism is expressly a “hands-off” god who doesn’t really pay attention to humans, whereas “spiritual but not religious” allows one to shoe-horn in some wish fulfillment a la “The Secret” even if not expressly through prayer.

    This post is all the excuse I need to link to The Onion: Priest Religious But Not Spiritual

  10. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Sunsets can hang for all I care. The Milky Way (…ok, seriously, first time I ever thought that name out loud to myself while I was paying attention… who the fuck came up with that name?!?) sweeping across the sky at midnight? Ohhhh yes. *shiver* Or the aurorae? (auroropodes!) *dies of joy*
    Trees are also quite pretty in their way, but they make terrible actors – too wooden.

  11. quidam says

    This was done rather well (dare I say better) by the BBC classic “Not the Nine o’clock news” team back in 1980

    The Apostles Creed

    The Apostles’ Creed
    “I believe in God, the Father Almighty
    (Or at least it stands to reason that there has to be some sort of greater power, you know
    Like electricity sort of thing)
    And in Jesus Christ,
    (Who was obviously a fantastic bloke
    And has been proved historically
    that he actually did exist around that time
    was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary
    (No, don’t laugh
    It could happen
    After all
    They can do it in a test tube these days
    I mean, that proves it, doesn’t it?)
    On the third day he rose again from the dead
    (A sort of reincarnation if you like
    Did you see that program in BBC2?)
    I believe in the Holy Ghost
    Telepathy, flying saucers, black magic,
    there must be something in astrology,
    gay liberation, the Loch Ness monster,
    the abominable snowman, the Surrey panther
    copper bracelets for rheumatism
    water divining
    and the life everlasting
    That is, if the bloody Russians don’t invade Poland

  12. erik333 says

    @11 screechymonkey

    Yeah, deistic god models are hands off. Doesn’t necessarily prevent you from believing in various forms of magic though, I guess.

  13. says

    And in Jesus Christ,
    (Who was obviously a fantastic bloke
    And has been proved historically
    that he actually did exist around that time

    “Paging Dr. Carrier. Could Doctor Richard Carrier please come to the white courtesy phone?”

  14. Dark Jaguar says

    I’ve met a LOT of people like this. A LOT of them.

    In fact, most actors seem to be in this vague non-specific state. Think of the number of times a comedian or an actor has said, with no hint of irony, some comment about working on their karma. Frickin’ karma….

  15. says

    taraskan @4

    If there’s “nothing to pressure points”, why is it that if you apply pressure to a certain spot on the bottom of my foot, my ankle relaxes to a 90° position?