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The Problem with Religion
These three are but one of the reasons I need both spirituality and religion...

These three are but one of the reasons I need both spirituality and religion...

It's easy to find problems with religion. As I write in "Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious,"

Religious texts have been used to justify everything from slavery to homophobia to abusive relationships. Religious people in positions of power have abused that power and harmed others, including children. There have never been any "spirituality wars," but conflict in the name of religion has often escalated into violence and has claimed countless lives. For many, religion is synonymous with rigidity, exclusion, unquestioned authority and rule keeping. It almost seems un-American.

So should we abandon religion altogether? That's what Frank Raj writes in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Times ("Allegiance to God or to one man-made religion?"). He disagrees with me quite explicitly:

Amy Julia Becker, author of Why I am Both Spiritual and Religious,addresses the problem of soul-draining stress amidst life's chaos and strength, by urging us to become both spiritual and religious. Becker claims true peace and solutions for life can be found in drawing on the strengths of both spiritual practices and religious doctrines and disciplines.

What troubles me about religious people, is their certainty about their belief system. They easily overlook its history and serious flaws; they don't have perfect knowledge about spiritual matters at their disposal, but they can act very sure.

I share Frank Raj's concern about "religious people." I just don't think the answer is to forgo religion, but rather to discover religion that is infused with spirituality. Again, to quote myself:

Spirituality without religion poses problems. So too does religion in a vacuum. But Christianity describes God as a Trinity—as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As God who is both authoritative and intimate, holy and humble, revealed through the structures of church and Bible and creeds, revealed through the person of Jesus, revealed through the ministry of care and comfort from one person to another. Christian spirituality offers a path of peace, joy, love, and fulfillment for everyone who longs for meaning and connection both to others and to God.

As I turn again to the challenges I face every morning—the challenge to remember or discover meaning and purpose in the context of William's temper tantrum and Marilee's dirty diaper and Penny's refusal to eat her strawberries, the challenge to summon the energy to care for myself and my family and other people, the challenge to balance bill paying and laundry and writing essays and playing with my children—as I turn to those challenges, I need spirituality. And I need religion. Together, they offer authority and intimacy, community and personal attention, service and rest, grandeur and goodness, morality and grace. Together, they anchor me, and they set me free.

At the end of the ebook, I offer a few questions for discussion, and I'm curious to hear what you all think:

Have you ever experienced "spiritless religion"? What, if any, problems did it cause to you or to others?

Have you ever experienced "religion-less spirituality"? What, if any, problems did it cause to you or to others?

Have you ever experienced "spiritual religion"? Do you believe that spirituality and religion need one another?

To read my argument for spiritual religion in full, and to read some thoughts on how you might begin to practice religious spirituality, you can purchase the book for 99 cents: Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious.

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