Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the Protestant word for spirituality

I was the guest minister on Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Monica. The day went very well and I had a great time.

At one point during the service I looked out into the congregation of 150 or so and I thought to myself how so many of my friends entirely associate spirituality with Eastern influenced practices of meditation and yoga and chanting and esoteric theologies of reincarnation and so on. And how for many of them nothing that was going on in that church on Sunday would connect to their perspective of spirituality: a sermon, a choir, a children's story, even collecting food for a food pantry, or even the idea of worshipping as a community act rather than spirituality as something you do alone. My friends would not believe that you could have a spiritual experience in a room that didn't smell of incense, that had barely a candle or two burning, that featured no statues of dieties, that asked people to engage their minds not empty them.

While acknowledging the fact that many churches in the western traditions have grown too coldly intellectual to light a spiritual fire, it was a both a joy to me to feel how genuinely spiritual our churches can be in our own Protestant language, and a sadness that the Protestant spiritual language has lost its ability to speak to so many.

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