Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two views, one subject

As so often happens two different blogs I read came at the same issue from different perspectives: on Prodigal Kiwi(s), Paul Fromont quotes a writer called Amy Hollywood, who begins an essay called Spiritual but Not Religious: The vital interplay between submission and freedom in this way:

“Most of us who write, think, and talk about religion are by now used to hearing people say that they are spiritual, but not religious. With the phrase generally comes the presumption that religion has to do with doctrines, dogmas, and ritual practices, whereas spirituality has to do with the heart, feeling, and experience. The spiritual person has an immediate and spontaneous experience of the divine or of some higher power. She does not subscribe to beliefs handed to her by existing religious traditions, nor does she engage in the ritual life of any particular institution. At the heart of the distinction between religion and spirituality, then, lies the presumption that to think and act within an existing tradition—to practice religion—risks making one less spiritual. To be religious is to bow to the authority of another, to believe in doctrines determined for one in advance, to read ancient texts only as they are handed down through existing interpretative traditions, and blindly to perform formalized rituals. For the spiritual, religion is inert, arid, and dead; the practitioner of religion, whether consciously or not, is at best without feeling, at worst insincere…

On the Out of Ur blog, Gordon MacDonald writes a gentle post about Anne Rice, her denunciation of 'Christianity', and about other people who have left the faith for various reason.   He begins in this way: 

Best selling author Anne Rice has quit Christianity. She is not quitting on Jesus Christ or the Bible, she says, but she is quitting organized Christianity.  Ms. Rice announced her quit-decision not through a resignation letter (where would one send it?) but through her website and TV interviews.

Anne Rice’s decision to go public with her decision is not the only way people quit Christianity. Some do it quietly, gradually dropping out of the programmatic activities of religious institutions and out of personal contact with people whose devotion to the faith seems solid. One day someone notices an empty seat in the sanctuary and says, “I haven’t seen Bob (or Jennifer) around for a while. Wonder what’s happened to him (or her)?”

He goes on to discuss what's behind people leaving the church, the faith, (and sometimes everything else in their lives too).   He seems to be looking at the same question as Amy Hollywood: can you have faith in Christ apart from His Church?  

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