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Even on Christmas day, television networks and local stations in the American States refer only to the holiday indirectly through “Happy Holidays.” It is essentially to ignore Christmas, or to make a statement to that effect. Either way, passive aggression is involved. Such aggression is also involved when on the very next day—the day after Christmas—the media drops “Happy Holidays” and refers to New Year’s directly. The presence of an ulterior agenda is rendered transparent when more than one holiday is continuing on upcoming even on the day after Christmas. That is to say, were “Happy Holidays” being on the level during the Christmas season, the greeting/exclamation would apply up until the last of the upcoming holidays. In 2011, the private holiday of Kwanzaa began on the day after Christmas and ended on New Year’s Day. The private holiday of Hanukkah began on December 20 and ended on December 28th.  Therefore, “Happy Holidays” should technically have lasted through New Year’s Day. That is to say: if that expression is appropriate. I contend that it is not.

I contend that “Happy Holidays” would only be appropriate were more than two national holidays in close proximity to each other. In December, the U.S. Government recognizes only one holiday: Christmas. To be sure, New Year’s Day is also officially recognized, and thus fully appropriate to be recognized by name in the public square. Yet for decades, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” fully captured both of the national holidays. To switch to “Happy Holidays” because holidays of private parties (e.g., groups) are also in December is to fallaciously treat those private groups’ affairs as national holidays due recognition in the public square. More abstractly, to treat a private group’s event as equivalent to a national holiday (national meaning officially recognized by the government, and thus by the general public) is to commit a category mistake. An unconscious discomfort with this category mistake (and the related false entitlement for the private groups’ events) probably contributes to the general resentment of “Happy Holidays” even apart from the natural reaction to the passive aggression wherein one public holiday is singled out to be ignored by name.

An implication of my argument is that there must be a secular Christmas holiday, for otherwise the constitutional separation of church and state would have been violated by the Congress when it made Christmas a national holiday. Government offices such as the post office and courts are closed by law on Christmas. This could not have been mandated because of the religious significance of Jesus. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas precisely because it is not a religious holiday—the miracle of the incarnation being associated with the conception rather than birth of Jesus. A birthday, in and of itself, is not theologically significant; it is not a miracle. Even so, some Christians are under the misimpression that atheists (not to mention non-Christians) do (or should) not celebrate Christmas. I know of many atheists who do. One need not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God in order to hang stockings by the chimney with care, decorate a Christmas tree, or believe in Santa (and Frosty the Snowman, as well as Charlie Brown). Millions of non-Christians in India and China have Christmas trees and exchange presents on Christmas; one need not attend a Christian service. In fact, a full array of festivities is regularly made of Christmas by many people without them attributing any religious significance to it.

Generally speaking, much of the “war” about Christmas is fueled by misconceptions and category mistakes. In other words, the whole thing is a bit of a mess. Straining out the confusion, we can conclude that the secular Christmas that is recognized by the general public through its government is the only such holiday in the month of December. It is thus hardly inappropriate for anyone to refer to Christmas by name in the public square. Conversely, no obligation exists to recognize an event or holiday by a private group or association, whether it be religious, political or social in nature (including the religious aspects of Christmas!). If this conclusion be ignored, then at least the “Happy Holidays” should not suddenly end on the day after Christmas unless there are no private events through or just after New Year’s.

Adding a personal observation, the pushy passive aggression, invisible category mistake, ignorance that cannot be wrong, and sheer fakeness of “Happy Holidays”—all seeking to monopolize public discourse like a drill Sargent—had me counting the days during “the season” of 2011 until Christmas. This was not because I could not wait to wake up on Christmas morning (remember how exciting waking up on Christmas morning was as a kid?—and how hard it was to get to sleep on Christmas Eve?). I suspect that as the profit-seeking retailers stretch the Christmas season ever longer and longer, more and more people will suffer such burnout midway through December—and not just because we have allowed the retailers to eclipse Thanksgiving. The mere recognition that a secular Christmas exists for many and that it is recognized by the U.S. Government (and thus perfectly appropriate to refer to by name in public!) is sufficient to clean away much of the rubbish and perhaps restore some of the innocent excitement that many adults had as kids on Christmas. We could then turn our collective sites on those sordid retailers who (conveniently) don’t seem to know the expression, “too much of a good thing.” Hopefully, clear thinking will come out ahead of confusion and resentment.

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It is rare to read of someone calling for a total re-examination of Catholic faith and culture. When the person just happens to be a retired Catholic bishop, one cannot help but wonder if the guy has a death wish, or at the very least is not much interested in frequenting the Vatican’s social calendar. As rare as it is for anyone to suggest a total re-examination, it is just what the doctor ordered yet almost impossible to administer because the patient does not think he is sick, even in spite of the symptoms in the clerical sexual abuse of children.

According to the Huffington Post, “The roots of the decades-long clergy sex abuse scandal lie not in any set of rules or practices, but are found deep in the culture of the church itself, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said on [March 28, 2012] in a wide-ranging talk at the historic Newberry Library in downtown Chicago. Among the other aspects of Catholic culture Robinson said contributed to the abuse crisis are mandatory celibacy for priests, a ‘mystique’ some attach to the priests as being ‘above other human beings,’ and a ‘creeping infallibility’ of papal decrees, which is used to protect ‘all teachings … in which a significant amount of papal energy and prestige have been invested.’” Astonishingly, Robinson even mentioned the emphasis on an attribute of the Catholic conception of God as a contributory factor.  In this sense, Robinson resonates with Nietzsche. Before tackling this likeness, I lay out Robinson’s remarks on what at least in theory is more subject to change, and thus fixable, within Catholocism.

The mandatory celibacy can be regarded as a manifestation of attaching too much significance to priests as somehow not subject to their own nature as human beings. To assume that dysfunction does not ensue from a young priest in particular denying hormonal instincts to the point of suffocation is to treat him as being above other human beings. This in turn reflects the traditionalist reaction against the greater lay participation of the laity in the Mass. With Pope John Paul II came the movement against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which took place in the early and mid-1960s. By the pope’s death, the movement come to dominate the hierarchy—Joe Ratzinger evincing its iron-clad grip on the Vatican and many dioceses around the world. Besides including conservative political stances on many issues, at least in the U.S., the reactionary movement has sought to re-establish the ecclesiastical distance between the clergy and the laity. For example, the change in the English translation in the Mass begun in 2011 intentionally uses language oriented to the assumption that only the priest shares in Christ’s sacrifice during the Mass. As an alternative assumption, the wafers brought to the altar as sacrifices represent the priesthood of the people in assembly, with the priest merely lifting up the sacrifice (rather than being part of that which is sacrificed). This alternative, wherein people actually put a wafer in the cup as they enter the church before Mass, had been eclipsed by the view of clerical exclusivity by 2011.

Implied in the distancing of priests above other human beings is not only the Judaic view that by honoring God’s priests, one have reverence for God, but also an arrogant supposition that priests are somehow above other human beings, at least relative to God.  This can be refuted by an analogy. Any distance between people here on Earth is dwarfed by the distance between the Earth and the sun. In other words, relative to God, our differences with each other are paltry. That we all make so of our little hierarchies makes us all pretty much the same, relative to God.

In terms of the clerical sexual abuse of children, the traditionalists’ view of priests as being above other human beings involves not only expecting too much from the humans who hold the offices, but also enabling the clerics to evade any sort of lay or ecclesiastical accountability. “You can’t criticize a priest,” a traditionalist is apt to say in imposing his or her view as if truth itself. Adding insult to injury, clerics in the church hierarchy may presume that they cannot be wrong, even as they enable the child-rapists by refusing to hold them to account. Even though infallibility is limited to the papal office, I would not be surprised if many bishops and even priests have tacitly replicated the doctrine for themselves, if only in assuming that they cannot be wrong in their judgment.

According to Robinson, the application of the church’s teaching on infallibility is a “major force in preventing a pope from making admissions that there have been serious failures in the handling of abuse.” Pope John Paul II, “it must be said … responded poorly” to the sex abuse crisis. “With authority goes responsibility. Pope John Paul many times claimed the authority, and he must accept the responsibility. The most basic task of a pope is surely to be the ‘rock’ that holds the church together, and by his silence in the most serious moral crisis facing the church in our times, the pope failed in this basic task.” In other words, the traditionalist assumption of clerical supremacy over other human beings, added by the doctrine of papal theological infallibility, has enabled at least one pope to evade responsibility without being called on the carpet by the Priesthood of the People—the congregation itself. In other words, the real authority of the church has been taken in too much to proffer a check on sordid fellows in ecclesiastical offices.

Referencing the Second Vatican Council’s recognition of the “sense of the faithful” and its definition of the church as the “People of God,” Robinson said that “it is surely simple fact that the People of God as a whole would never have got us into the mess we are in, for their sensus fidei would have insisted on a far more rigorous and, dare I say it, Christian response. The pope and the bishops have lost credibility, and it is only the People of God who can restore it to them,” he said. “If the church is to move forward, these painful lessons must be learned, for this is an issue on which to leave out the People of God has been positively suicidal.” Indeed, the laity had been increasingly relegated by an increasingly traditionalist clergy who have conveniently viewed the People of God as having unjustifiably benefitted by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. It as if the traditionalist clerical reaction to Vatican II were a message to the laity: Know your place!  Few would reply: Know yours!  Servant leadership had become too convenient a placard to wrest the officials from their actual perches.

In his writings, Nietzsche characterizes the ascetic (or celibate) priests as people among the herd who are driven to dominate even while remaining weak. The domination from weakness is apt to involve abuse or cruelty to force what power can be mustered over the still-weaker herd. Meanwhile, the strong are free-spirits, only under the sway of the new birds of prey if beguiled by guilt for being strong.  Nietzsche goes on to view problems in the priests’ conception of God—there being too much vengeance in what is taken as God.

Relatedly, the Huffington Post reports that “Robinson also focused on the issue of our perception of God as a being who is angry; saying Catholic sexual teachings have ‘fostered a belief in an incredibly angry God’ who ‘would condemn a person to an eternity in hell for a single unrepented moment of deliberate pleasure arising from sexual desire.’” Rape being a crime of power rather than a sexually-motivated act, the moment can be said to be one of pleasure from dominating another person. Such power-aggrandizement goes along with lust and greed as elements of human nature. A person lusting is not a sin, but acting on the instinct just once sexually outside of marriage somehow condemns the soul to hell, and yet confession can restore that soul.

In his talk, Robinson expanded on the idea of God as being an angry god that reduces an element of human nature to a single act. Specifically, he said the idea “can lead to the unhealthy attitude of sexuality being seen as dark, secretive and troublesome.” For instance, Augustine suggested that a married couple having sex to reproduce should not enjoy the act, it being of the fallen world and thus not worthy of being enjoyed. In the priesthood, such a disavowal of human nature could give the illusion that celibacy is somehow laudatory rather than artificial and thus dysfunctional.

According to Robinson, in the sexual abuse crisis, viewing sex as a sin rather than as natural helped to “place the emphasis on the sexual sin against God rather than the offense against the abused minor. Paedophilia was, therefore, to be dealt with in exactly the same manner as any other sexual sin: confession, total forgiveness and restoration to one’s former state, and this was a significant part of the motivation for the practice of moving priests around from one parish to another,” he said. Beyond the dysfunction in denying a major part of what an organism is by nature, the category mistake that renders a biological act as a theological act enable that act to be repeated because of the way the church handles sin.

Robinson deserves a lot of intellectual credit for relating an element in the Catholic conception of the Godhead to the way in which clerical pedophilia has been “dealt with” by the Church officials. Subtle assumptions can indeed affect conduct. He deserves moral and even theological credit as well, standing up for what he believes at the risk of being crucified by his colleagues. Vengeance is not limited to God, even in Catholocism. Robinson affords Catholics and the world a rare glimpse into how deep the problems may go. In terms of the pandemic of priest child-rapists, the self-serving self-elevation of traditionalist clerics a few decades after Vatican II, the presumptuousness of ignorance that it cannot be wrong (backed up by what authority it thinks it has) within the church hierarchy, the pathological view of sex, and the category mistake wherein the theological over-reaches into biology, criminal law, and even morality can explain the plight of modern Catholocism. As to whether any fundamental re-examination of Catholocism is apt to ensue, a betting person would do better putting the money behind the existence of tooth fairies.  At least they don’t rape children.

Source:

Joshua McElwee, “Bishop Geoffrey Robinson: Total Re-examination of Catholic Faith, Culture Needed,” The Huffington Post, April 1, 2012.

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While it might seem easy, discerning saints from sinners can be rather difficult. Hence, we are urged not to judge, lest we, too, be judged. This lesson landed on me when I found my opinion on a seemingly-saintly elderly woman change dramatically.

The elderly Philipino woman whom I met seemed at first to be very pious, having an explicit desire to gain the attribute of holiness. The simplicity of her faith appealed to me. Yet when I made reference to one of her priests being–to put it nicely–more of an administrator than a pastor, she replied that her priest “was Jesus.” I replied that the priests are in the line of the Apostles, rather than instantiating Jesus. I cited apostolic succession, and she relented. Not content to be corrected, she asserted that the Bible is sufficient as a source of historical evidence. I replied that a faith narrative is neither written with the intention of recording historical facts nor of the genre of historical writings that is taken as proffering historical evidence. The woman disagreed, insisting that a faith narrative can be considered as a source of historical facts. I asked her whether she knows or believes the so-called facts. She readily replied that she knows them. “Well,” I observed, “then it would seem that you have no use for faith then.” My unexpected comment stopped her in her tracks. “What do you mean?” she asked. “We have faith in things we don’t know–things we are not certain of, such as whether we will be alive tomorrow,” I replied. “It doesn’t make sense to have faith in something we know because there is not uncertainty about it. So if the Bible gives you facts that you know, that tells me that it is not a matter of faith.” Taken back, she repeated that she knew that the Bible proves that certain historical events took place. “And you can’t be wrong about that?” I asked. “Yes, I can’t be wrong about it.” As if giving the conclusion of a syllogism, I remarked, “Then that means that not only is faith unnecessary for you, but it is based on arrogance–that of presuming that you cannot be wrong.” My pronouncement stunned her into speechlessness. She stood staring at the ground as if unable to move. There was no anger or resentment–just a wall that was blocking her view and not letting her pass.

If Jesus is a door, then a believer opens the door and walks through; one does not keep holding on to a front door once one has entered a house. The elderly woman was stuck holding on to a doornob as if it were attached to a wall. For myself, I was simply stunned that religion could so distort cognition so much and involve denial to the extent that a human being readily admits to not being able to be wrong about something that most of us would say involves belief rather than knowledge. It is as if the domain furtherest from certain knowledge were somehow the most capable of proffering evidence about which a person could not be wrong.

Perhaps this exchange reflects the saying, “Where God builds a church, Satan builds a chapel.” My question is: In preaching against arrogance, was I in the church or chapel?

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I am writing this post on the Winter Solstice of 2009 (December 21st).   Technically, I suppose, that means that last week was still autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. So yesterday was still Autumn in Quebec, Alaska, and New York.  The huge snow storm that travelled up the east coast a few days before the solstice was thus dubbed by the NYT as “Winter Arrives Early.”     One line is particularly strange: “On its way out the door, autumn gave the New York region a mighty foretaste of winter.”  Odd that mid December in NYC would be referred to as rightfully autumn.  Even if “autumn” is used to refer to the earth’s tilt relative to the sun from the equinox to the winter solstice, such usage represents a misuse of language, especially if it is used in this way outside of scientific circles.  Indeed, “autumn” is mostly used in quite another meaning…one that does not include highs in the mid 30s and snow.  That is clearly winter.  

What I am getting at here is the oddity that is behind sticking to a technical usage that is so obviously ill-fitting.   Prime facie, winter does not arrive early when it snows in New England in mid December.   This might be the case in thirty years if global warming takes hold, but for now the statement evinces a rather strange form of journalism.  At the very least, it implies that we should communicate as dictionaries even where it doesn’t make sense.   Rather than resisting playing fast and loose with language, I would argue that it does just the opposite because it involves using terms against their central meaning.  

What might the mentality be that so proffers such an obviously misfit even in technical terms?  I believe the technical term should be changed because the term’s normal usage is at odds with it (at least where winter weather is significant).   Is a person using a technical term in common usage even though the technical meaning doesn’t apply trying to be cute?  Or an insistence on the technical meanings of terms even when they don’t fit?  If so, there is presumption in it.  I don’t view an ill-fitting technical meaning as trumping ordinary usages in ordinary discourse such as a newspaper.   In any case, snow in mid December in the Northeast is not “winter arrives early.”  

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/us/20snow.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=central%20park%20snow&st=cse ; http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/plenty-of-snow-but-hard-to-get-anywhere/?scp=1&sq=central%20park%20snow&st=cse

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How, you might wonder, could “happy holidays” have wound up being used as a subterfuge for passive aggression against a major holiday.  The practice might well be akin to the impersonal politeness that some people dish out at others whom they don’t like.  The duplicity involved in using “happy holidays” becomes transparent when all of a sudden after a week of “happy Thanksgiving,” the next major holiday–the next national holiday–is obviated with the generic “happy holidays.”  The referent is never clear, but it is not supposed to be.  The  intended object of the slight is of course Christmas.  

Interestingly, the sheer magnitude of Christmas finally breaks through on Christmas Eve day, when people are able to summon the requisite guts to vocalize “Merry Christmas” in greeting strangers as well as friends and family.  It is as though people know that political correctness is unjustly imposed and say to themselves when the intensity of Christmas overcomes them, “to hell with it (really “them”), I’m going to say it anyway.”  I suspect that they tacitly know that “happy holidays” is something that they tolerate but do not accept.  That is to say, on the cusp of Christmas most people reckon enough is enough.  The force of the Christmas surge overcomes the feckless wall.  Of course, there are the diehard holidays people who insist on their politically correct greeting even on Christmas Eve day when the obvious holiday could only be Christmas.  Such people are utterly fake–they seek to impose a vaccum of cold empty space. Once the front guard has broken through the imposition on the cusp of Christmas, nearly it isn’t long before nearly everyone is wishing a Merry Christmas.  From this standpoint, is easy enough on the day after Christmas to go from “Merry Christmas” on to “Happy New Year.”  Happy Holidays is then only on the tardy television ads–which attest to the utter fakeness of the phrase.   That we don’t go back to “Happy Holiday” after the excitement of Christmas has passed not only points to the force of habit; it also indicates the duplicitous use of the phrase–singling out Christmas.  All of a sudden, it is once again ok to go back to using the holiday’s name.   What we are essentially witnessing here is disfavoritism being imposed in resentment.

To single out one of the national holidays in using the generic term “holiday” in place of the proper name is inherently insulting to those who celebrate that holiday.  Various motives go into the resentment. First, there is the mistaken assumption that Christmas is only a religious holiday; the fact that non-Christianscelebate it can safely be ignored.  In actuality, Christmas is not theologically a religious holiday at all.  The theological events concerning Jesus are his incarnation (i.e., at his conception rather than birth) and resurrection (i.e., Easter).  To treat Christmas as akin to Easter is to make a theological category mistake.   In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Pentacostals (I can’t remember which) refuse to celebrate Christmas precisely because it is not a religous holiday in Christianity.   One need only look at the Christmas trees and gift-exchanges in India and China to realize that millions of non-Christians celebrate “the holiday.”  Ignoring all this, some people who resent Christianity–perhaps even jealous from the mistaken association of Christmas with their own religious holidays–say “happy holidays” as a weapon of passive aggression as if to say “you must ignore Christmas because it is not my religous holiday.”   Such resentement is of and for the weak, according to Nietzsche–who was no anti-semite (in fact, he detested his brother-in-law for being one).

Second, some people are happy not to recognize Christmas because it has become so commercialized.  Among these people are those who mistakenly make the assumption above, and thus want to “put Jesus back into Christmas.”  However, there are non-Christians who celebrate Christmas and yet are turned off when stores are so greedy for business that they put up their Chrismas displays even before Halloween.  As a form of passive aggression, we might try wishing store clerks a such stores a “happy holiday” before Thanksgiving. 

In general terms, I recommend that “happy holidays” be used in general before Thankgiving, after which we should turn on a dime on “Black Friday” to wish people a “Merry Christmas.”  Then immediately after Christmas, we should return to “happy holidays” instead of “Happy New Year.”  Essentially, following this recommendation is to make transparent the duplicity in the current usage of “happy holidays” by using duplicity against the duplicity–passive aggression against the passive aggression.  All of it, subterranean.  

 I suppose the issue is whether a minority opposed to a holiday should be given such power that the rest of us feel ashamed to refer to the holiday by its name.   The weak use subterfuge in order to dominate beyond their means, out of resentment.  They are herd animals who want to dominate the herd, but they are not strong enough. We unwittingly give the resentful power beyond their means when we stop ourselves from saying Merry Christmas and Happy New Years.”  In effect, we feed their resentment and become weak ourselves. 

Just to be clear: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are national holidays in the United States.  After Thanksgiving, Christmas is the only gift-giving official holiday.  So “gifts for the holidays” is needlessly opaque (besides being passive aggressive).  Also, there is no such thing as a holiday tree.  Will we sit back and permit some people to redefine terms as per their ideological agenda?  I suspect we will because we are too vulnerable…not paying sufficient attention. 

And, now, as you might be expecting, permit me to wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

For more, pls see http://twitter.com/deligentia

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Empty Your Cup

Three students from North America visit Japan to learn from a Zen master.  When the students arrive at the temple, the religious sage meets them at the gate and invites them to sit with him near the garden of stones.   “Let me pour you some tea,” he offers.  Impatient to learn from him, the students try to get right down to business.  “Thank you,” one confides, “but we came all this way and we have a schedule that we have to maintain.”   Not surprised in the least, the old man gingerly hands each student a small cup.  The students acquiesce and hold out their small cups as the master reaches for the kettle of hot tea.  The old man begins to pour the steaming tea in one of the cups, only he does not cease when the liquid reaches the top.   With hot tea on her hands, one of the students cries out, “Stop pouring!  You are burning my hands.”  The Zen master calmly puts down the kettle and replies, “Like this cup, you are too full to take in any more.  Empty your cups and I will teach you.”

Since writing this post, I have found a version of this story in the film 2012–only there it is in a Tibetan Buddhist setting (between an old and young monk).

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The religious vs. spiritual debate is perhaps a modern one.  I suspect that the ancients and medievals would tell us that we are making much ado about nada.  Institutional religions, of course, would say that sprituality exists within them; they could also point to explicit spirituality programs. Christianity, for example, goes to the extent of proclaiming the work of the Holy Spirit, a person or manifestation of God,  in the Church as well as in the individual members. 

In short, I think the distinction between a religious and a spiritual person has been overdrawn, and has perhaps been fueled by prejudice against “the other side.”  When a person says “I am religious,” it can be taken to mean that that person is a spiritual person, and vice versa.  People without an agenda do not fret so about any proclaimed distinction.  That is, I suspect that in modern parlance, the two terms blur together even if some have a vested interest in seeing that they are pried apart.  I think historically this has been the case, though for people in the profession spirituality has referred to something within the religion.  To say that now such spirituality no longer needs the roof of an institution is not to say that being spiritual is not religious.   If there is a distinction to be made, it could be that spirituality refers to one’s inner feeling or experience while religion refers to the sphere or domain (e.g., the field) in which it is taking place (i.e., institutional or not).  By analogy, politics goes on in the political realm.   Or, politics is an activity in the civic domain.   How much difference is there between politics and civics?  The particular polity, ecclesiastical or civic, does not seem all that relevant here.

Also, I think the distinction between following the beliefs promulgated by an organized religion versus one’s own idiosyncratic beliefs is overdrawn as well.  With few exceptions, I bet that most people who identify themselves with a particular organized religion have their own take, or interpretation, hence the “collective vs. idiosyncratic” distinction is, I would argue, overdrawn.  Even people who view their religious beliefs as idiosyncratic must surely have imbibed to some extent collective beliefs, even if unconsciously.   Finally, the quality of the beliefs–and more importantly the faith (which is not necessarily cognitive)–is more important, I would argue, than whether they are shared in common or idiosyncratic.  That quality, I submit, is <em>sui generis</em> in the sense that a faith, whether you want to call it religious or spiritual, is oriented beyond the limits of our world.  Besides being of value in itself, this transcendent nature of religious faith or spirituality means that we, ourselves, cannot be the focal object.  In fact, the object cannot be known or perceived in itself; only its immanence can be felt.  To sense the real in our world even as one grasps or is oriented to the transcendent is, I submit for your consideration, the core of religious spirituality or spiritual religion.   Put another way, a person who feels herself spiritual and a person who feels himself religious are much more alike in these respects than they are to a person who really doesn’t give a damn about either being religious or spiritual.    A person can be spiritual or religious and yet not take so seriously the sort of pretended minute distinctions that have historically sparked war.   I suspect that if one really is spiritual or religious, he or she would naturally transcend meaningless distinctions, which would otherwise be felt as an inconvenient distraction.  The implication regarding those who insist that we make the distinction is…well, you can connect the dots here.

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