As many of you readers know my book, “A Change of Habit,” chronicles my struggles with guilt in being a Catholic nun for seven years. Meryl Streep may have portrayed “Doubt,” but I perfected “Guilt.” Hence, the “nun.”
On Jan. 23 I wrote a blog (“If Not Religion, Then What“) penning my search for a meaning and purpose within and without the confines of Catholic religious doctrine. During book interviews it never fails that the questioner searches out my religious views today determining if I am still a practicing Catholic. I answer with “I’m more of a cafeteria Catholic. The pope probably wouldn’t consider me a strict Catholic. I am more spiritual than religious,” finally discovering a pathway that suits my mind and practice.
Kicking the guilt aside, I was happy in that I could finally put into words what was in my heart. I thought that is exactly what I am today as a result of my spiritual journey.
Little did I know that I am not alone in this quest. When the article appeared in HuffPost, among the tags attached were “none” and “spiritual none”!!! My initial naïveté reaction was someone had misspelled “nun”!
Doing more research I was pleasantly surprised that fellow spiritual sojourners were right along beside me. I rejoiced when I read that there is a group referred to as SBNRs (“Spiritual But Not Religious”) and the Nones ( “none of the above”).
The SBNRs do not hold one specific spiritual theology. Looking outside one traditional religion they ascribe to “All religions contain some wisdom, but no one religion contains all wisdom.” Many beliefs are found in this group.
The term “none” is also on the rise. It seems that more and more of us are at a loss when checking the one box indicating a practicing religion. Failing to find the appropriate pigeon hole to check, people would check off “none” or “none of the above.”
This “movement” of growing dissent with one organized religion is rapidly increasing. In the few articles I read, authors cited between 29 million to 33 million people who consider themselves SBNRs, nones or spiritual nones. According to what I read, this figure has doubled in a decade.
One of my blog readers wrote to me about this very subject, passing on what she had heard on the radio. The point being that many people come to church to find God, and they only find religion. Sometimes people get so caught up in the trappings of religion they get lost in the “checklist.”
Perhaps they find that religion focuses on the “doing” (the rites and rituals) and the “saying” of prayers, novenas, and confession, thus leaving the more personal relationship with Spirit as secondary. It could be that the religious practices that suppose to bring us closer to God may even get in the way.
Perhaps people find that all the “rules” are at odds with their evolving belief systems. Maybe these practices that once served a meaningful purpose have lost their importance in meeting the needs of today’s families. Religion may be a stepping-stone but we must not trip thinking that one “religion” is the only path.
The SBNRs are taking responsibility, making their decisions that resonate with them, not waiting for directions from the pulpit.
My journey going from nun to none has been one of finding my true spirituality weaving my beliefs with those that I grew up with. Let us all learn with and from each other as we celebrate the journey together as the “one” that we are.
Remember secret No. 1: Don’t let religion get in way of your relationship with God.