Chapter one of the book When "Spiritual but Not Religious" Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church is worth the cost of the book.
I wish I wrote it.
Chapter one reflects her thoughts on the "spiritual but not religious" people she encounters. Just to share a few quotes:
People tell preachers stuff they would never tell others:
When I meet a teacher, I don’t feel the need to tell him that I always hated math. When I meet a chef, I don’t need to tell her that I can’t cook. When I meet a clown, I don’t need tell him that I think clowns are all scary. No, I keep that stuff to myself. But everybody loves to tell a minister what’s wrong with the church, and it’s usually some church that bears no relation to the one I am proud to serve.
To those who find God in nature (my riff):
But push a little harder, on this self-developed religion, and you don’t get much, at least much of depth. So you find God in the sunset? Great, so do I. But how about in the face of cancer? Cancer is nature too. Do you worship that as well?
To the self-established spiritualistic people (my riff):
But their parents, so afraid that the church is a place where they force you to accept their answers, have set up a vacuum in which the answers get invented without any formation or guidance. So when there are rainbows and happy kids it all works, but it’s not so successful in the face of temper tantrums, selfishness, and dare I say it, sin. Because most self-developed Sunday morning ritual has little room for sin.
To those who feel they cannot be associated with religion because it has done so much harm:
The church has done some embarrassing things in its day, and I personally do not want to be associated with a lot of it. But, news flash, human beings do a lot of embarrassing, inhumane, cruel, and ignorant things, and I don’t want to be associated with them either. And here, I think we come to the crux of the problem that the spiritual but not religious people have with the church. If we could just kick out all the human beings, we might really be able to do this thing and meet their high standards.
To those who express they are blessed by not having pain in their lives (a riff):
But when you witness pain and declare yourself lucky, you have fallen way short of what Jesus would do. When you witness suffering and declare yourself to have achieved salvation in the religion of gratitude, you have fallen way short of what God would have you do, no matter what religion you are called to. And by the way, while I think God does want us to feel gratitude, I do not think God particularly wants us to feel lucky. I think God wants us to witness pain and suffering and, rather than feeling lucky, God wants us to get angry and want to do something about it.