Anyway, I am reading and enjoying the conversation about spiritual things that started on Thursday. Scroll down to the last post to catch up....
... Ok, here's what I am thinking about today. (aside from my sermon tomorrow)
Have we any idea what 'spiritual' means? I hear the word all the time. There are whole bookstores devoted to it (along with sections on 'metaphysics' which never means Aristotle or Whitehead). Near as I can make out, people use the word to mean a sensation or feeling of meaningfulness about who they are and the world at large.
People feel spiritual. People act religious. We like feeling spiritual. We generally do not like people who act religious.
The older I get, however, the more I think feeling spiritual can become almost consumerist. We seek spiritual 'experiences' like we go seek out music or movies that moves us.
I am as prone to this as anyone. My 'spiritual' experiences come mostly from opera and classical music which can send my emotions soaring. Just heard a touching piece by John Adams last night in fact, his "Transmigration of Souls' in memory of the victims of 9/11. Very moving, especially because I was in NYC then and not more than a mile from the pile.
Far more moving to me now are the hours I spend practicing the piano, which I play far less beautifully than a concert performer. Making music is even more affecting than hearing it.
Making music requires work, effort, practice, even discomfort and frustration. It takes discipline and means following rules. It is like religion.
Hearing music is spiritual. Making music is religious. Which means that those who get spiritual feelings need religious people to provide them. See what I mean by consumerist?
No question, the only honest way to be spiritual is to be religious - meaning engaged in a discipline of the mind and heart and body and soul that takes work, effort, and even can be hard and frustrating.
Not just at the piano. Over the years I have attended Jewish services I have learned the songs, the Hebrew words and the melodies, the spoken prayers, the rhythm of the standing and sitting - the making of worship not just the 'attending.' Only when I learned to be a bit religious about it did it become really spiritual.
There's the lesson, I guess - if you really want to be spiritual, you have to be religious about it.