- - Monday, November 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

America has always been a spiritually creative country.
From the insights of the Founding Fathers to the various
historical periods of “great awakenings,” America has been a
startup nation for repackaging the spiritual impulse. Periods of religious enthusiasm gave rise to new movements and new religions. Some of those religions – such as Christian Science and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism) - are still practiced today.

The 21st century may turn out to be another period of spiritual creativity.

According to a survey released last week by the Public
Religion Research Institute (PRRI) about one out of five
Americans identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”
These are mainly people who belong to a formal religious
tradition, but are not particularly observant or involved with it.
They reported feeling connected to “something much larger
than” themselves and “felt particularly connected to the world
around” them and to a “higher purpose.” These are elements of conventional religious faith, but not for these people.

Even though these Americans are members of a formal faith
group, religion is not their source of spirituality.

A hunger for spirituality lurks beneath some of our most
pressing social problems. Addiction and anxiety are on the rise. Families are broken, communities fragmented, institutions weakened and distrusted. Loneliness is literally killing us. The primary intervention for addictions of all kinds is still the Alcoholics Anonymous model with its 12-step program. When these programs succeed, they do so because they respond to the addict’s spiritual hunger and thirst for community. The two needs are deeply interconnected.

Creativity always entails risk, and the search for new forms
of spiritual expression is no exception. There is a dark side
to spiritual experimentation: Scientology was founded in the
1950’s, and the 1970s saw an alarming rise of cults, false
and destructive avenues for faux spirituality.

It remains to be seen whether ours will be an age of spiritual
creativity. There is no doubt that it is an age of spiritual
need.

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