Saturday, December 28, 2013

Poetry Sunday -- an offering

I don't know if the following is poetry or prose.  I wrote it several years ago after I heard one time too many the phrase:  "I'm not really religious -- but I'm spiritual."

Spirituality is individualistic. Religion exists in community.

Spirituality tends toward the spooky, esoteric and ethereal. Religion is realistic and pragmatic.

Spirituality includes beliefs that the affairs on earth are being controlled from an alien spaceship parked behind a cloud.  Religion – at least all the major religions – believes in some version of the golden rule:  do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Spirituality offers a refuge from the world. Religion is engaged in the world.  It builds hospitals, runs schools, delivers relief to people in need, and assists the poor and marginalized.

Spirituality appeals to celebrities and the well heeled. Religion is for all people.

Spirituality focuses on self-improvement. Religion is concerned with the needs of others.

Spirituality emphasizes feelings. Religion calls for action.

Spirituality is self-indulgent.  Religion demands discipline and sacrifice.

Spirituality is trendy and likes to turn political correctness into religious precepts.  Religion is backed by centuries of tradition.

Spirituality is smug and proud of itself.  Religion teaches humility.
Spirituality produces book tours. Religion has produced – just to name a few -- Notre Dame Cathedral, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul; the poetry of William Blake, Dante, Rabindranath Tagore, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Milton and Rumi; the music of Bach, Hayden, Mozart and Schubert; the sculptures of Michelangelo; the paintings of El Greco, Titian and Raphael, the novels of Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Graham Greene and a long line of great thinkers from Augustine to Averroes to Reinhold Niebuhr.

In other words, religion builds civilizations; spirituality, not much.

1 comment:

James R said...

The hallmark of poetry, it seems to me, is to surprise. Good poetry (or any writing) let's us see things in slightly different ways than we did before. That's why I read this, and will probably come back in a week, month or year and read it again.