There was an intriguing forum this week in New York City provocatively titled “I’m So Spiritual.”
It was co-hosted by The New School, which trains up its students, it says, “to bring actual, positive change to the world,” and New York Salon, an organization composed of intellectuals, academics artists and public personalities, according to Wikipedia.
The forum featured four speakers: Courtney Bender, an associate religion professor at ColumbiaUniversity, Matthew Hutson, a Psychology Today science writer, Sally Quinn, editor of the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, and Alan Miller, New York Salon’s co-director.
Of the four speakers, Miller proved to be the most edifying. Echoing themes he explored in two recent essays, he noted the growing predilection of folk, particularly the younger population, to proclaim themselves “spiritual,” but not “religious.”
To his mind, that’s just so much new-agey hokum.
“Selecting a superficial mixture of ‘nice-feeling’ items from yoga to a slice of zen and a moment of Tao” is no substitute for an authentic faith life, Miller suggested.
The “Spiritual But Not Religious-ers,” as he mocks them, “have jettisoned the hard work, diligence and observation of organized religion for a me-me-me whatever kind of lifestyle.”
And Miller is not just talking about any and every organized religion, but Christianity, which, he notes, “has been interwoven and seminal in Western history and culture.”
He agrees with Harold Bloom, who authored a book on the King James Bible, who made the compelling case that, without the Christian Bible, “everything from the visual arts, to Bach to our canon of literature would not be possible”
What I find remarkable about Miller’s endorsement of Christianity – as opposed to the empty “spirituality” represented by yoga and zen and tao, not to mention astrology, feng shui and other unholy nonsense – is that New York Salon’s co-director, who also is a writer, filmmaker and director, is absolutely not a religious proselytizer.
Indeed, he says, “Being a secular admirer of the Enlightenment, I find it strange today that I should feel compelled to defend the increasingly bizarre and outlandish attacks on those who believe.”
Clearly, it seems to me, the Holy Spirit has opened Miller’s eyes to the truth – that it is impossible to be truly spiritual without being a member of the body of Christ.
For there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we may be saved.