Reflecting on Spiritual but not Religious

You always know when something has become mainstream - it gets adopted into everyday language and life.  A few years ago when I enrolled on a well known dating site and before I met my lovely wife I noted that they gave me the option to identify as "spiritual but not religious" and naturally it felt like a fit.

As Space to Breathe has developed we seek to bring wellbeing to people and we use non-religious spirituality as a tool.  This terminology and the debate around it therefore makes a lot of sense and so it was exciting to be invited to take part in the Church Mission Society's discussion on this kind of spirituality at day conference in Oxford yesterday.  

Church Mission Society are some of the good guys.  Encouraging people of faith to re-imagine what they do and how they practice what they belief. They push the boundaries and encourage entrepreneurialism.  This was evident yesterday.

We heard from Paul, an Anglican tasked with working with New Religious Movements and particularly Paganism.

We heard from Cate Williams enabling a brilliant Forest spirituality amongst families in Gloucestershire.

My favourite was Phil Wyman, a brilliant guy from Salem, Oregon who attends Festivals like Burning Man and uses art to draw out spiritual meaning.  Inspired by ancient mystic Simon Stylites he encouraged people at Burning Man to climb pillars and wait for a voice.  The responses were extraordinary.

Into this little mix I shared a little about Space to Breathe.  We are less religious than some of what's going on but I felt a real resonance with the attempt to find out what on earth all this interest in spirituality is and its many roots in the land, in earth-spirituality and in all the traditions of spiritual practice around the world.

Charles Taylor, one of the originators of the concept of "Post Secular culture" (2007) talks about something called "the immanent frame" i.e. that we can't always explain everything in the context of what we see and where we are.  If you like, there may be more to life.

This isn't organised says Taylor "it is a more modest, but nonetheless profound recognition that the world is not wholly a story that can be empirically told."