My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out
The author notes that more and more young people are rejecting traditional religion and taking up a variety of spiritual practices.
September 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Alan Miller is Director of The New York Salon and Co-Founder of London's Old Truman Brewery. He is speaking at The Battle of Ideas at London's Barbican in October.

By Alan Miller, Special to CNN

The increasingly common refrain that "I'm spiritual, but not religious," represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious "movement" - an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect - highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.

Spiritual but not religious people are especially prevalent in the younger population in the United States, although a recent study has argued that it is not so much that people have stopped believing in God, but rather have drifted from formal institutions.

It seems that just being a part of a religious institution is nowadays associated negatively, with everything from the Religious Right to child abuse, back to the Crusades and of course with terrorism today.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an "individual relationship" to some concept of "higher power", energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.

That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.

The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.

What is it, this "spiritual" identity as such? What is practiced? What is believed?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The accusation is often leveled that such questions betray a rigidity of outlook, all a tad doctrinaire and rather old-fashioned.

But when the contemporary fashion is for an abundance of relativist "truths" and what appears to be in the ascendancy is how one "feels" and even governments aim to have a "happiness agenda," desperate to fill a gap at the heart of civic society, then being old-fashioned may not be such a terrible accusation.

It is within the context of today's anti-big, anti-discipline, anti-challenging climate - in combination with a therapeutic turn in which everything can be resolved through addressing my inner existential being - that the spiritual but not religious outlook has flourished.

The boom in megachurches merely reflect this sidelining of serious religious study for networking, drop-in centers and positive feelings.

Those that identify themselves, in our multi-cultural, hyphenated-American world often go for a smorgasbord of pick-and-mix choices.

A bit of Yoga here, a Zen idea there, a quote from Taoism and a Kabbalah class, a bit of Sufism and maybe some Feing Shui but not generally a reading and appreciation of The Bhagavad Gita, the Karma Sutra or the Qur'an, let alone The Old or New Testament.

So what, one may ask?

Christianity has been interwoven and seminal in Western history and culture. As Harold Bloom pointed out in his book on the King James Bible, everything from the visual arts, to Bach and our canon of literature generally would not be possible without this enormously important work.

Indeed, it was through the desire to know and read the Bible that reading became a reality for the masses - an entirely radical moment that had enormous consequences for humanity.

Moreover, the spiritual but not religious reflect the "me" generation of self-obsessed, truth-is-whatever-you-feel-it-to-be thinking, where big, historic, demanding institutions that have expectations about behavior, attitudes and observance and rules are jettisoned yet nothing positive is put in replacement.

The idea of sin has always been accompanied by the sense of what one could do to improve oneself and impact the world.

Yet the spiritual-but-not-religious outlook sees the human as one that simply wants to experience "nice things" and "feel better." There is little of transformation here and nothing that points to any kind of project that can inspire or transform us.

At the heart of the spiritual but not religious attitude is an unwillingness to take a real position. Influenced by the contribution of modern science, there is a reluctance to advocate a literalist translation of the world.

But these people will not abandon their affiliation to the sense that there is "something out there," so they do not go along with a rationalist and materialistic explanation of the world, in which humans are responsible to themselves and one another for their actions - and for the future.

Theirs is a world of fence-sitting, not-knowingess, but not-trying-ness either. Take a stand, I say. Which one is it? A belief in God and Scripture or a commitment to the Enlightenment ideal of human-based knowledge, reason and action? Being spiritual but not religious avoids having to think too hard about having to decide.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan Miller.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (9,994 Responses)
  1. Nii

    Sorry you feel that way. These blogs are not for the faint-hearted but I actually do not see women as weak and to be bullied. My mum was a strong woman see. I also do not believe that women who allow themselves to be subjugated or are cowed into submission have it right or their men have it right. I come from a land where women are respected and treasured.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • thoughts

      i was talking about how it seemed that most religions are used to control women
      you proved my points – that is all
      i don't feel that way nii – you were a bully to me all morning
      apologize for being a bully to me – and explain why i cannot have my own thoughts without you bullying me

      October 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • thoughts

      nii – the one thing that really strikes me as funny in what you say is this:

      Funny you then mention your female neighbors? lol
      What sort of love do you think they need from you?
      You are veery sick!

      seriously – did you even think about what you are saying?
      why is it sick to 'love' your female neighbors as well as your 'male' neighbors – as jesus probably meant for you to do?
      nii – you there???

      October 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Nii

      Were u not the one who differentiated them based on gender?
      As to the love that you seemed to be implying if u will kindly then explain it to be a harmless comment I will duly apologise to the both of you. Charitable love or loving someone as yourself is gender blind.

      October 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Gabriel Malakh

      @ Nii

      I have a publication on this subject on women that I would like to share with you gentlemen and any who would like to take a look at it.


      October 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • tonii

      nii – what land do you refer to – if i may ask
      i mean – because you've been disrespecting females all morning

      October 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  2. Which God?

    Oh yeah Nii, I forgot to mention. That "warm and fuzzy you get while praying to jeebus and goD? It's just mental master-bation. Bet you are good at it and never lost a "home" game.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Nii

      Which God stilranting and raving I see...
      What warm and fuzzy feeling? Have you been praying to this Jeebus of yours? No wonder you are mastu.rbating. I meditate more than I pray and not for warm feelings when I do. So if u start to pray, read your Bible and meditate then you will obey the Word of God and stop wondering about whether I am getting warmer and fuzzier than you are. I am happy but not in head-in-the clouds way like you when mastu.rbate.

      October 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  3. thoughts

    Seems like religion (and some politics) are used in biggest part to control women.
    In a day and age where women are much more educated, independent, and have had some success in evening out the patriatrical societies that they were bound to for so very long – making them victims by gender birth and not equals to even their own children – which of course is still seen in religions and politics today – there is even more reason to:
    a. pay close attention to who you vote or don't vote for (that 47% includes a heck of a lot of children and women and the military and their families, the elderly, the young, young families, students, most of the service, educational, and support sectors.)
    b. choose religions and religious discourse and mandates very carefully – for they can mean victimization for most.
    c. demand (yes demanding is still necessary it seems) to be treated as 'real' women (not some idea of some hated mother figure, or person whom saw things differently than you, or who had to be held back and down in spirit and education and opportunities, and respect in order to be controlled and/or cared for), who have 'real' needs, desires, goals, ambitions, intelligence, worth, and rights – so they can do the same for all others – which of course also includes all men.
    question: is this a underhanded attack at women by Mr. Miller (and crew)?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Nii

      Your Psychoanalyst is not being paid well enough. What is it with women et all? Come back again cos you are not helping matters!

      October 16, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • thoughts

      my therapist got paid by the government to help me overcome my victimization from being born of the victim gender.
      he – yeah – he – made me see the light of day
      what's your problem?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • Nii

      Get a private therapist!

      October 16, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • thoughts

      why don't you

      October 16, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • Nii

      I have Jesus Christ and so I don't need one.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • thoughts

      seriously – what makes you think i do not also have what you have.
      you are a prime example of someone who uses religion to try to disrespect women so you can hold onto some form of false control

      October 16, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Nii

      For one if you had what I had you could say this very easly
      I love God with all my life
      I love my neighbor as myself
      My neighbor loves me as himself
      God loves me as Himself with all His Life.
      No therapist can match that

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 am |
    • thoughts

      my therapist helped me to see that some of my religious neighbors were actually devils and demons
      in practice and in spirit
      he taught me that my neighbors did not truly love themselves – therefore they could never 'love' me either
      unfortunately – he was right

      October 16, 2012 at 5:51 am |
    • morethoughts

      here nii
      let me help you out:

      you say:


      For one if you had what I had you could say this very easly
      I love God with all my life
      this makes no sense
      I love my neighbor as myself
      my neighbors might not want me to 'love' them like i 'love' myself – on some on my worse days
      My neighbor loves me as himself
      some of my neighbors are female – go figure
      God loves me as Himself with all His Life.
      this also makes no sense – and is god really a he – and does god have a 'life'?
      No therapist can match that
      believe you me – there are many who go way beyond that – especially the ones with deadly pills and ills

      October 16, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Nii

      Even though you are in for aimless banter, I can say that all your drivel is useless.
      In actual fact there is a personality that you could relate to if you so chose to and He is God. In psychoanalysis we deal with functional things. Repentance aka Cognitive Recognition Therapy is what I was talking about. If you are basically thinking you are a rational being then you are sorely mistaken since scientist have confirmed we are emotional beings. What does not make "sense" at rational level makes sense at the emotional level of thought which invariably is the higher function.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Nii

      Mistakes that I could point out in your arguement.
      Is god really a he?
      Silly god is not a definite noun so you cannot use the definite.
      Read is God really a He?
      Also silly since the word Goddess would have been used if He was not or even It if He was neuter.
      I love God with all my life does not make sense.
      Have you used it or you are running your silly mouth off.
      I love my neighbor as myself is impossible?
      I guess you really do have low self-esteem issues
      Note very well that pride( I love myself) is not self-esteem but its opposite contrary to pop psychology.
      The first mantra I love God with all my life gives self-esteem
      Second gives ability to think intelligently.
      Funny you then mention your female neighbors? lol
      What sort of love do you think they need from you?
      You are veery sick!
      And you have problems with your neighbor loving you?
      Oh guess some people were not born Atheists they were born dumb.
      Since you've allowed me to see the emptiness of your soul in such poor fashion go get your soul right.
      Its nothing but a G thing. God works for humans. Deal with it!

      October 16, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Which God?

      Nii. You have jeebus christ?? You do need help. BTW, women don't need your advice, especially from a jeebus fool. You have totally deluded yourself into believing a sky-fairy. Note: Jeebus never existed He was a myth, like your goD. You might as well pray to a rock...you'll get the same results.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Nii

      Which God?
      More of the silly Atheists crawling out. I just love it when the intelligent, rational, emotionally mature ones are around but well thats just my luck. Insulting my God or my intelligence is the only way that I can feel your sadness. My five year old throws tantrums for same. Grow up.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • sam stone

      Nii: When you come off as pompous as you do, do you really expect other than insults?

      Grow up

      October 16, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • thoughts

      you are right nii
      silly me to think you could or would 'get it'
      leave me alone – ok – you are a bully

      October 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Nii

      I come off as pompous?And deserve insults? When there is immaturity masquerading as knowledge you expect me to humour it? I did not have a quarrel with THOUGHTS. I just mention the words God and Jesus and you feel I am pompous and deserve insults? I think you have been treated with kindness enough than the insults will deserve. Indeed I prefer emotionally mature, rational and intelligent Atheist to discuss with. I do not relish trolls off-loading their junk at my doorstep.
      I tolerate them but don't think I like it or care about the insults.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You failed to acknowledge her victimhood. That is anathema

      October 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Gabriel Malakh

      I understand your view point and why you see it this way. Religion has done horrific things through out history, and the tool they use and some continue to use is God's word the Bible. But the question is; 'Is the Bible to blame?'

      The Bible is very clear on how God view women, and you can see that from the first Book of the Bible, Genesis. If one takes the time to read it, and meditate on what it is saying, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.


      Genesis 2:18
      18 And Jehovah God went on to say: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.

      What does the words HELPER & COMPLIMENT means? Does that sound like the woman is to be less then a man?

      Genesis 1:24
      That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.

      Becoming ONE FLESH! Does that not show a measure of quality? The man was to treat his wife as he would treat himself.

      Ephesians 5:28-31
      In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave [his] father and [his] mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

      There are many other scriptures to show that God does not tolerate the disrespecting or maltreatment of woman. So read the Bible yourself to know what it really says on EVERYTHING, as oppose to just listening to someone tell you and you run with it. You will just end up making a fool of yourself, repeating the lies, garbage and viewpoints of someone else.

      October 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  4. Sean

    Here's my opinion as someone who considers themselves in the "cop out" demographic. We went to church up until age 8. While I was growing up, I gave little thought to religion. As I got older, I lived in many different countries, coming across many people and many religions. During this time, I always wondered what my path should be. I have friends of many faiths and they are peaceful. I believe if it makes your being more whole and gives you happiness, then that is a wonderful thing. My father in law is what I would consider a "true" christian. He is honest, he is caring, he helps the poor and of course goes to church faithfully. I also have Muslim friends who fit that same profile. I have Jewish, Hindi, Buddhist, and Ba'hai friends that are also the same.

    I believe that we are all from one creator and our spiritual purpose on this planet for the short time we are here is to enjoy life, make others happy, and bring us closer to our "creator". If you're an Atheist, maybe the path is to bring you closer to a perfect human experience.

    There are different religions & different schools of thoughts, but the disciplines are all different paths to the same thing. After being exposed to all these people to all walks of life, this is the conclusion I came to believe. Loving all people of all religions, beliefs of deities (or lack there of) is a beautiful way to live. It is hardly a cop out.

    October 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Kikakika

      Thank you, my thoughts exactly! Of course the writer continues to put down people and not lift up!! I work everyday with the 'lepers' of our society...never see those faithful churchgoers doing what they preach!

      October 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  5. James

    British comedy did a better job of debunking this nonsense.

    The Brits need it too. The Church of England has embraced this lets-grab-tambourines-and-sing-kumbayah and their membership still falls like bad stock. Two generations raised outside of church and they're hungry for answers about life, the universe and everything. The CoE is to milquetoast so step in psychics, parapsychologists, "mediums" and other con men selling crystals or whatever. A QUARTER of Brits now believe in ASTROLOGY for gods sake. This weak climate is why Islam has such success proselytizing over there, since their preachers deal in moral absolutes and objective truths, which is what most people want to hear.

    October 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Kate

      What's wrong with singing Kumbaya? It just means 'come by here.' The arrogance of some people thinking they know what OTHER people need in their lives!

      October 16, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Nii

      James you do know that Islam is growing from immigration rather and procreation more than proselytizing in Britain, right?

      October 16, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  6. woodofpine

    It's GREAT to be- like the author – right about everything all the time. I'm not sure if I AM God or merely made in his image. We're both better looking than you!

    October 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  7. Athiesm is not healthy for children and other living things

    Actually, I've changed my mind. Prayer changes nothing! I renounce my religion and an now an atheist.

    October 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proven by name thief posting above.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Javajoe68

      Agnosticism is not Atheism.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Athiesm is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is healthy for everyone! I highly encourage it.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Athiesm is not healthy for children and other living things

      Free your mind!

      October 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • truth be told

      When confronted by Truth an atheist always reverts to its base nature of theft lying and murder, no surprise here.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Athiesm is not healthy for children and other living things

      You'd be more convincing if you managed to spell "atheist" and "atheism" properly.

      October 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Kate

      Heaven! Ten percent and you're in!

      October 16, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  8. Brother Gary

    If the scriptures were as dead as religion is today ... we would have never known who Jesus was and is. Read Ezekiel chapter 34 to see what religion has done to God's people.

    October 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • LinCA

      You don't really need to look very hard to see the misery that religion causes. It's a cancer on society.

      October 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Lin, Can you give us unbiased comparative examples of the detriments of religion versus the contributions? Every time I do the research I come up with more positives

      October 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • BetterLife PhD

      Boy, did Alan get it wrong! He sees the spiritual fence sitters as some personal failure or weakness, not as an indication of evolution of ideas. Since the 1850s, a new idea of God started to appear in Western discourse. Think Emerson and Thoreau. This spawned a new archetypal dynamic that is evident in Miller's fence-sitters. These new style seekers and worshipers are part of a movement away from the notion of the personal God, who exists in a heirarchical structure, to the universal God, who exists in a web-like structure of equals. This shift is at the very core of the political upheaval in America today. To simply deny its power is to ignore a growing move away from traditional religion.

      October 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Gabriel Malakh

      The real question is: 'Is it religion, or is it Man that's the problem?'

      Ecclesiastes 8:
      All this I have seen, and there was an applying* of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Gabriel Malakh

      I meant:

      Ecclesiastes 8:9
      All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Javajoe68

      One doesn't need to scratch too far beneath the surface of the 'Religion is/is not the cause of suffering' debate to find outright examples of religions detriments. WAR: Gulf Wars, Arab Isreali Wars, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India vs Pakistan, Lebanon, Ethiopia, the list goes on and on: scratch the surface : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_war

      October 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Javajoe68

      I halted my Roman Catholic practices when I was a small boy; right around the time I stopped believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, Lepruchans, and the Tooth Fairy (Even though she left me tangable evidence that she existed).

      October 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "Lin, Can you give us unbiased comparative examples of the detriments of religion versus the contributions? Every time I do the research I come up with more positives"
      Your research must not be unbiased then.

      No positive effect or contribution of religion can offset the atrocities committed in its name. No amount of feeding the poor, offsets the murders committed by religious zealots. No amount shelter to the homeless offsets the hate and bigotry against gays and lesbians. No amount of comfort provided by religion offsets that damage is done to science and education because of it.

      Not a single positive contribution attributed to religion, requires religion. Everything that is good about religion can be done, and is done, without it.

      The one thing that religion is good at, and that might be difficult to replace, is the control it has over the sheeple. There really is no other way that keeps the dimwits in line as well as religion does.

      October 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Nii

      You are back with your obtuse line of reasoning again, aren't you? Atheism has had lots of atrocities committed in its name, being committed in its name and will be having more atrocities committed in its name by Communists and Socialists. Yep the Atheist's version of the Taliban and Al Quaeda or have you forgotten! Better stop this and become truly non-religious.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • sam stone

      Is it religion or man that is the problem? Man created religion, so I suppose it is both

      October 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Joe

    Everybody needs something to believe in. I believe I will have another beer.

    October 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      "....a drunkard wants another drink of wine and a politician wants a vote. i don't want much of nothng at all, but i will take another toke"

      October 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      "It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody"

      October 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things...

    October 15, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • His cur jests

      Curb your God.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but everything you have ever asserted regarding atheism and prayer is unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • dworsoff

      I agree with you, It would make sense that kids with something concrete to believe in don't have to worry or think about it. Religion is also a great way to get your kids in shape, "don't fight with your brother or you'll spend eternity with the devil!" I wonder though, If you taught a child principles of empathy rather than religion would it have the same effect? I think so. To be honest, whenever I hear someone my age is religious or believes in god, I instinctually loose a little bit of respect for them. I feel like someone raised religiously should, by my age, question not only their own religion but all religions and come to the conclusion that: they are all just sets of rules. Once you see that, its easy to dismiss the magic and see the purpose of their contrivation, to maintain order. I think that we need self awareness and empathy to replace religion.

      October 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. marcusxl

    More like, people have realized that the organized religions are man-made, false, and essentially a conspiracy to keep power ove society. Personal enlightenment is far more accurate, as we do not have to outrage our reason by adopting backwards, archaic nonsense from books which are NOT the "word of God", but the words of vain, ignorant men.

    October 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Can you provide evidence of this "conspiracy"

      October 15, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • sam stone

      there's as much evidence of this conspiracy as there is of a god

      October 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • dworsoff

      the evidence is everywhere. One of the first things you learn are the ten commandments, though i cant recall them all by heart word for word, they are ingrained in our subconcious minds. But that isn't a particularly bad thing. dont kill, dont steal, dont be jealous, dont cheat on your wife, these are all things that you should learn even without religion. Nowhere in the bible does it say that the divide between rich and poor should be so great. Or that you should buy the new iphone every year. Your conspiracy to controll us through religion is false.

      October 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Kindness

    For you.
    My personal testamony
    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    October 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • seriously

      actually being in the moment is a key denominator of happiness and peace to many
      altho this does give you access to all time
      and all being
      try meditation to see better what i mean – if you haven't already

      October 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • dworsoff

      but god doesn't even have to be part of the equation. Jesus was a wholesome generous... just an awesome guy, so imitate him and you'll also be an awesome guy or girl. There doesnt have to be anything spiritual about it. Its as simple as this. Being nice to people makes them feel good, it also makes you feel good which in turn encourages you to be nice to more people and the cycle continues.

      October 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • beinglikejesus

      jesus was lucky – he only had to fight with the devil for 40 days and 40 nights

      October 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  13. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    October 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • seriously

      so what your trying to say is that have faith the sun will rise again and a new year will herald yet another opportunity to practice random acts of kindness.
      got it

      October 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Kate

      That's all very nice for YOU. Others will come to different conclusions.

      October 16, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  14. Belanova

    I understand the spiritual. Who wants be lead by corrupt, warmongering religions, or bullied by arrogant atheist theorist? We have the right to be individuals and decided for ourselves. Insulting a persons intelligence or denying people the power of reason serves as an attempt of creating an illusions that you are somehow elite whether in person or on a forum. History as well as daily news reveals the downfalls of regligion. But I can't say any better for some "truth seekers of science". Many times I know I hear of the "missing link" in fields of science just to find out that it was denounced some few days later. Asked why this happens, in order to get international attention and funding. Even what I learned in school about evolution, the material is presented one sided of many evolutionist pre-conceived notions. However, many times i would read other scientists present counter studies which debunking the originally and call for the revolution of evolution theories. yet some people assert the youth should continue to learn outdated debated evolution theory. If you want us to learn about evolution at least present us with the array of information out there so we can use our brains for ourselves.

    October 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  15. Stu

    Spiritual not religous means you believe there is a higher level of existence, but you don't believe in man's attempt to control man (also known as religion). It means you acknowledge there is likely a purpose to this universe and to life, but you also realize most people on this planet have no clude as to the meaning of life. A truly rightous person does not need a religion to hold him up; they know right from wrong and understand how to treat life on this planet.

    October 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      But there is not one who is truly righteous. Not even one.

      October 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • sam stone

      Based on what, Bill? A book?

      October 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    It is time to be truly Spiritual, and also rightfully Religious now!

    For GOD is real, and His Religion is absolutely True here:



    October 14, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • midwest rail

      But you have to call in the next 10 minutes, we can't do this all day.

      October 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • sam stone

      Come on, good news, jesus is waiting. What are you doing here? Jesus is waiting. Do you have tall buildings where you live? You could be on your knees in front of the messiah within the hour...don't wait......


      October 14, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  17. HereticX

    They call it a copout because religious organization need your money and someone to boss around. If you don't claim a faith, then there is no money and a weaker power base (can't get an invitation to the White House if you don't have a voting block that does as it's told). They'll never admit that organized religion is not for everyone and you CAN be an outstanding member of society without the dogma of some religion. You can believe in god and not have to belong to a church (e.g.. spiritual but not religious). To me, that's good enough – says you have moral codes by which to live by. Bottom line, they want you to take sides – with or against. If it's with, there's money and power in it for them. If it's against, then they have a righteous fight to build power. So pick a religion so we can do battle! And bring your wallet or purse; heaven isn't cheap.

    October 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      You can even be an atheist and be a good person..

      October 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • ECW

      WELL Said HereticX!! All religions have the same basic prinicples.. Treat people how you want to be treated... don't lie, cheat or steal.. Don't kill ..Give to those in need... etc. You can be able to quote the King James Bible or the Qu'ran front to back in 3 different languages... pray 3-10 times a day!! No matter what you believe.. if you don't practice and apply it on a daily basis in the real world then being religous or spiritual makes no difference.

      October 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Ms. Eva D

      Exactly. If the beliefs that get you to that connection with our Creator can't be controlled, then no one holds the gate closed except for the obediant few....Guilt sucks, fear is the opposite of Love, and no one can open my mind and heart to the God of my understanding but me. Awesome.

      October 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  18. EnjaySea

    The arbitrary, pointless and irrelevant opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan Miller.

    October 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Mrs. Sixx

      Well put. Thank you.

      October 14, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Suzie


      The arbitrary, pointless and irrelevant opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan Miller.

      They are actually somewhat profound, and I thank him for going against the tide, for opening a discussion about discipline.

      October 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • seriously

      I've read quite a few comments on this board, and don't see much discussion about discipline.
      I will therefore be disciplined in my decision that if you and the author think this was not a lazy cop-out attack on these people who may relate to this label of person hood – you know not what you speak . Most comments are decidedly against the validity of the author's comments as well as the manner in which the subject matter and authors arguments were presented. just more political religious vote for me (and/or pay me to get you to vote for me) war-mongering.

      October 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bridget

      From my experience people who are spiritual are satisfied operating within the guidelines of the ten commandments (or other religions' versions of them). The rest of the rites, prescripts and ceremonies connected with formalized religions are superfluous to living a moral life of values. The author is obviously more comfortable and secure living within the dictates of his religion. Good for you, Alan. Live the life you feel is right. See you in heaven!

      October 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  19. Molly

    The fixation on dichotomy and intolerance of ambiguity prevalent throughout this article is further evidence of the less advanced cognitive patterns so typical in religious adherents who cannot tolerate areas of grey. It is base, insulting, judgmental, and completely irrelevant. Thanks for...nothing, really.

    October 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bill Glass

      Absolutely! This is a perfect example of the black and white thinking of the blindly faithful.

      October 14, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Mrs. Sixx

      Agreed. People like Alan Miller just don't "get it", as they say.

      October 14, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Suzie

      Thank you Miller for having the courage to write about this subject, to examine thoughts. Is that not what some of those who criticise on this blog do? Criticize? I recently went to an Episcopalian church where "Sound Therapy" was done, in the sanctuary......this gives me the creeps. I thought I might get struck by lightning. I mean, if you are an edifice constructed for Christian purposes, then use it for that. The session could have been held in another room. New in this town, I leaned toward disrespecting the church for allowing alternative healing methods to be practiced in the sanctuary.....and I'm not Epispopalian. Also joined the local community center where the preponderance of offered activities involve what I've come to call (silently) "naval gazing". Many of my friends are confusing actually going to church/synagoge/mosque/temple with "being spiritual........they will actually mention yoga as though they are practicing it spiritually. Go to India and do the time, do the discipline of becoming a yogi then. Don't present yourself as spiritual because you practice yoga. Yup, naval gazing has replaced making a decision......I say become a yogi (how many years?) or go to your local house of worship. We could all use the discipline, one way or the other.

      October 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • seriously

      sorry suzie – you know not what you speak
      why don't you just go kick them or something – maybe that will get their religious or spiritual aspects flowing your way.
      see – i'm disciplined – didn't call you stupid right out

      October 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  20. augustghost

    Cop out ?Why?

    October 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.