Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Definition of Religion

Many in American today like to distinguish between "religion" and "spirituality".  Some say that they are no longer religious but they are spiritual.  I have read that Europeans have no third category such as "spirituality".  One is either "religious" or "irreligious".  Hmmmm, I wonder if that is true of Europeans?

I have previously offered a definition of religion on this blog.  I wonder if those who prefer "spirituality" would want to reject religion as I have tried to define it?  In searching for definitions of religion, one will find many very different ones and many different approaches.  What are people rejecting when they say that they are not religious but rather they are spiritual?  While I have some ideas, I am not entirely sure what they mean. 

However for now, maybe as a step toward understanding religion and spirituality, I will repeat below a definition of religion offered by a philospher of religion, Geddes Maggregor.

Religion is chararacterized by

1)  interest in,
2)  concern for,
3)  encounter with,
4)  sense of absence from,
5)  sacrificial ove of,
6)  commitment to, and
7)  joy over,

that which is judged to be more important than anything else in one's experience and which, so conceptualized, is taken to be a symbol of that which lies at the heart of all possible experience.

I think this is a good definition.  I like that it does not have any primary emphasis on "beliefs" and seems to put more emphasis upon personal experience.

Although, what keeps this definition of religion from being totally subjective and private?  Is the spirituality that Americans want to retain more subjective and private than what they consider to be religion?

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