In case you missed it, there’s a comedy on NBC called “The Good Place,” and the premise revolves around pseudo-Christian notions of the afterlife and what humans have to do to avoid eternal torment and damnation after they’ve died. The show stars Ted Danson as a (spoiler alert!) demon and Kristen Bell as a person who’s done much to redeem herself after living a less-than-altruistic life.
It pretty much goes without saying that if not for the modern world’s evolving tastes for spirituality, all the actors on the show (and most certainly the writers) would be burned at the stake. Welcome to the modern world, where religiosity—i.e., the fervent belief in religion—and spirituality don’t necessarily mix anymore.
The Complex Case of Spirituality and Religiosity
According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), Americans can be sorted into four distinct categories: spiritual and religious; spiritual but not religious; not spiritual but religious; and neither spiritual nor religious. Also, seven out of ten Americans say religions are losing their influence. Finally, there has been an increasing interest in the practices of non-Christian religions and spiritual practices, such as yoga, Kabbalah, meditation, and various Eastern philosophies.
Why is this shift towards spiritual practices happening? Most likely for a few reasons…
The distinction between spirituality and religiosity is becoming more defined.
Spirituality is a universal experience. It is the desire to find meaning in life and a sense of connection with things greater than oneself. Religiosity is the devotion and conviction towards a belief or divinity, usually manifested in rituals, rules, and system. While some people may experience spirituality within the structures of religion, not everybody has access to religion. Likewise, not everybody has the same experiences and the same level of appreciation for one’s own religion. Moreover, the differences in the expression of faith from one religion to another may bring forth divisive consequences.
There is an increased search for personal meaning in spirituality.
Our society’s direction towards independence and self-sufficiency has also impacted our spirituality. There was a time when more traditional families would go to church, and religious traditions were inherited from previous generations. Nowadays, there is no default way to go; one is free to take whichever path he or she pleases. Hence, the search for meaning in life becomes more personalized, and specific to one’s needs and requirements.
The call to look inward and do self-introspection has become more widespread.
Getting off the grid, social media detox, disconnecting from technology—these are some of the practices that were brought forth by this “looking-inward” culture. With so much noise and clatter, taking the time to reflect and look inward can certainly help in keeping one’s balance.
The availability of information about religion, science, and philosophy is creating a buffet of beliefs right at our fingertips.
This makes it conducive for people to DIY their “spirituality concoction.” Do you want to know more about the teachings of the Dalai Lamai? Go ahead and follow his Official YouTube Channel. Interested in philosophy? The answers are just a search away. Additionally, celebrities and personalities are making spirituality accessible and approachable.
Why Spirituality Matters
The search for meaning and the desire to connect to something bigger than ourselves is as old as time and probably harkens back to when human beings first gazed at the stars. Spirituality is a deep-seated basic need that should be fulfilled in order for us to appreciate our place in the grand scheme of things. Why does it exist? Because a lot of things in life happen beyond our control. Similarly, there are so many miracles and wonders that the human mind is yet to grasp. Hence, the quest for meaning and the call to be part of something beyond ourselves is vital.
Whether you seek healing and clarity, hope, direction, meaning or purpose in life, you’re free to ask the questions relevant to your existence and seek the answers that will quench this search for meaning. If holistic health encompasses the mental and physical side of things, true holistic health must also cover the spiritual side, too. And it really doesn’t matter if your spiritual health comes in the form of a sitcom about the afterlife or Youtube video by the Pope!