•    Spiritual But Not Religious   

    Scales of Balanced Justice

    This article is responding to Alan Miller’s original CNN ‘My Take’ article (“The ‘I am spiritual but not religious’ [notion] is a cop-out”) ~~ and this response is also addressing — another of Alan Miller’s similar commentaries – condescendingly entitled: “I’m So Spiritual.” (See footnotes below for links to these Miller articles).

    Miller condescendingly states that spirituality is delusional in believing that “by choosing an ‘individual relationship’ to some concept of ‘higher power’, energy, oneness or something-or-other – they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution.” From this errant perception, Miller concludes, “The trouble is that ‘spiritual but not religious’ offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.”

    It’s a classic illustration of how erroneous premises invariably lead to erroneous conclusions. Miller has gotten it exactly backwards. He has reality standing on its head.

    In Christianity, the exodus from institutional religion to Spirituality constitutes the abandonment, i.e., the patent rejection of, religious ‘dogma’ — in favor of Compassion – the central cardinal precept of Christ’s teachings. Spirituality, which manifests for most of us in our daily lives as ‘Compassion’ — differentiates itself from the epistemology of rationalism, and in doing so, often incurs the wrath of rationalists like Miller, who have difficulty understanding that when you take Christ’s central teaching, Compassion, and try to cram it through the rationalistic meatgrinder, you end up with ‘dogma’ — NOT the Compassion Christ enjoined us to marry. When you cram ‘Compassion’ through the rationalistic meatgrinder you end-up with a seedy ‘quid pro quo’, something-for-something, plastic, Golden Rule, glad-handing barter-and-exchange concept utterly devoid of Compassion’s content and directly opposed to it.

    Websters defines “dogma” as: “something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet – a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds.” Within the ‘religious’ context it means that religious dogma sees religion as a body of black letter rules and edicts that must be blindly obeyed and followed, much like the hierarchy of military command, where the soldier’s ethos and thought processes are subordinate to the high command. Those who do strictly obey and follow the tenets, the edicts, the religious laws, are deemed to be holy and religious (good soldiers).

    Central to religious dogma is the belief that one need not ‘understand’ or ‘grasp’ the meaning or import or purpose of the edict or rule. To the contrary, such an effort “to understand the meaning and import” is considered an act of blasphemy, an act of heresy by religious dogmatists and zealots, because it is deemed tantamount to ‘questioning’ or ‘second-guessing’ the inspired imperial word, order, edict, rule, law that God promulgated. This belief is often expressed as the fierce military command “Yours not to reason why, but to do or die.” Blind, unquestioning acceptance and obedience is expected and demanded, as an article of ‘faith.’ The hallmark of religious dogma is apparent as a cardinal trait in all mainstream and “Fundamentalist” religions throughout the World.

    Spirituality is the antithesis of religious dogma and the Fundamentalist movement. Spirituality holds that true religiousness lies in an ‘awakened’ understanding of the ‘spirit’ — the ‘heart’ of the religious rule or precept. Where religious dogma pontificates direct orders saying “You must do this – you must not do that” — spirituality emphasizes “being” over ‘doing.’ Thus, religious dogma says “you must do this” while spirituality says “if you will ‘BE’ this, you will always do the right thing.”

    Spirituality rigorously contends that Christ was a fierce anti-dogma Enlightened One. In fact, they would argue that anti-dogma stood as the very heart and soul of his teachings. Spirituality holds that Christ was saying “It’s not enough to follow the strict black-letter law not to kill. Instead, one must cultivate a heart of such Compassion that the impetus to kill cannot arise in the first place.”

    Christ WAS a devout anti-dogmatist. The teaching of Christ was of Compassion. There is no other teaching but Compassion. There is no other ‘way’ – no other salvation – no other ‘awakening’ – no other born-again eureka or ‘enlightenment’ – no other ‘understanding’ but Compassion. That was the teaching. That is what Spirituality embraces and what the rationalistic meatgrinder despises and avoids like the plague.

    Several recent Vatican ‘decrees’ help to illustrate this point and help to differentiate ‘dogma’ from Compassion. Recently, Pope Francis issued a decree holding firm on the long-standing ‘policy’ that NO Catholic church shall offer a gluten-free wafer in place of the standard gluten-filled communion wafer. This is a perfect example of the Vatican’s long, long history of choosing Dogma over Compassion. Contrast this sociopathic model with Christ’s teachings of Compassion. In his day, Christ was castigated by the religious authorities for working on the Sabbath — something that was deemed forbidden by religious doctrine. Christ’s response? He said, “You enjoy adhering rigidly to the letter of the law, while you violate the heart of the law.” Translation: “It’s about Compassion, idiots, NOT the ‘dogma’ or the doctrines.”

    What would Christ have said about the communion wafer? “Why of course — go ahead and substitute the gluten-free wafer, so it does not harm or kill anyone. Communion is just a symbolic exercise and it symbolizes each person taking unto themselves the Compassion of Christ. It represents the consumption of Christ’s Compassion — and therefore — if it is not admistered in a spirit of Compassion, it defiles and bastardizes its own intention — to perpetuate and instill ‘The Spirit of Compassion’ in every human Heart.”

    About a year or so earlier, Pope Francis issued a heartless pronouncement to Brittany Maynard’s grieving parents, decreeing that their beloved daughter Brittany Maynard would go to hell because, in an act of Euthanasia, she ended her life a few months before her brain cancer would have, with certainty, killed her in a most cruel and inhumane and long-suffering manner. As has been evident in the entire history of this sociopathic, callous institution known as the “Catholic Church” — Pope Francis and ‘The Church’ once again patently reject Compassion in favor of the dogma and its mindless, heartless doctrines. Only a certified demented sociopath could have issued such a cruel, heartless comment to the profoundly grieving parents of a recently deceased child.

    In repudiating Compassion, Pope Francis and ‘The Church’ have, once again, patently rejected Christ, his teachings — and the teachings of the pope’s name-sake, Saint Francis — all of whom advocated, with every fiber of their being, the patent rejection of the ‘dogma’ and the unconditional embrace of Compassion in its place. The very same stunted papal mentality that militantly repudiated Saint Francis’ teaching — before, during and after his death — is precisely the same ruthless, sociopathic, decrepit Dark Ages mentality that terrorized Brittany Maynard’s grieving parents — and it is the same demented mentality that throws its own Communion participants under the bus — all in the name of a mindless, heartless dogma, which it deifies, while demonizing Compassion as a heretical threat to the dogma it worships and idolizes.

    What would Christ have said about all of this? Well — let’s look at what he actually did say about it. Christ was criticized by the religious elders — the religious ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ of his time — for socializing with a prostitute — which was forbidden by religious doctrine. Christ’s response was essentially identical to his response to his Sabbath Day critics. He said, “This woman washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Which of YOU have treated me with such Compassion when I came to your city?” Translation: “It’s about Compassion, idiots, NOT the ‘dogma’ or the doctrines.”

    But Miller would have us remain wedded to institutional “beliefs” and belief systems (the ‘dogma’) dispensed as a toxic pabulum gruel after being pressed through the rationalistic meatgrinder for a ‘one size fits all’ grease-ball patty that’s content-barren and guaranteed to choke your arteries with its myopic indecencies and generalities. When we look at all the Crusades and wars and atrocities and genocides committed in the name of ‘religion’ we see rationalism’s self-righteous dogmatists enforcing their sanctimonious dogma and belief systems in a militant iron-fisted determination to impose them on others.

    Miller has inverted reality. The cop-out actually is the substitution of dogma for Compassion — the substitution of rationalism for Spirituality. Spirituality is not a “cop-out.” It’s the toughest, hardest, most grueling rocky road one could travel. It takes enormous courage, honesty and Compassion to take such a hard and burdensome path. Just ask the beloved enlightened ones, the saints and sages who have traveled that rocky inglorious road – Mother Theresa, St. Francis, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer. It’s not the easy life of remote arm-chair ruminations, rationalizations and pontifications dispensed from a safe, comfortable perch in a sumptuous lecture-hall sanctuary for robust discussion and ego gratification. Rationalism masquerading as ‘religion’ is the cop-out.

    The road Miller would take us down is the road of institutionalized rationalistic dogma that has heretofore alienated people from the Compassionate Heart of the True Teachings. Miller’s delusion is that he sees ‘Compassion’ as nothing more than mere emotional ‘feelings’ that need to be bridled by and subordinated to the supreme operation for the human species — the Rationalistic Meatgrinder — that produces such superior products as dogma, belief systems, egotism and feudalistic wars of carnage and atrocities committed in the name of this religious dogma versus that religious belief system – The Doctrine Wars — it’s what the killing has been all about from time immemorial.

    So once again, we witness the goose-step march of rationalism’s dogma, stomping and strutting through the town square with imperious ferocity — with an impudent, militant determination to condemn all blasphemers and to castigate, mock, scorn and exterminate all infidels who repudiate the supremacy of its beloved rationalistic dogma and all that it stands for.

    It’s something we never see within the Spiritual domain — where Compassion reigns supreme by virtue of its honesty, and its acceptance of the ‘other’ as other. Compassion is NOT an emotion — no matter what rationalism says to the contrary. And Reason is not nearly all of my eye.

    Revised: Tuesday, September 26, 2017


    FOOTNOTES


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    Below are some footnotes that link to Alan Miller’s original CNN ‘My Take’ article (“The ‘I am spiritual but not religious’ [notion] is a cop-out”) which this response is addressing — and including a link to another of Alan Miller’s similar commentaries – condescendingly entitled: “I’m So Spiritual.” Footnotes 3-5 are links to Reflecting Pool articles that are also listed here in the Posts and Pages index on the left.


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    Footnote 1 Link: CNN My Take – Alan Miller article entitled: “The ‘I am spiritual but not religious’ [notion] is a cop-out”

    Footnote 2 Link: Battle of Ideas discussion panel with Alan Miller on topic – I Am So Spiritual

    Footnote 3 Link: Related Articles: “Has Religion Forsaken Spirituality”

    Footnote 4 Link: Related Articles: “Rationalism Religion & Dogma Three Wicked Sisters”

    Footnote 5 Link: Related Articles: “On Moral Questions – Science is Clueless”

     

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