As we race through Advent and toward Christmas, a new study by Pew Research came out last week exploring the idea of spirituality, and more specifically, what that means to people. For those of you who are into this sort of thing, you can read all about Pew’s report by clicking on this link.
As a report from NPR notes, the terms “spiritual” and “spirituality” have been difficult for researchers and scholars of religion to define. There is such variety in the way that we tend to think about them that “[t]he terms seem so elastic as to include any number of disparate ideas or experiences.”
The Pew survey of 11,000 Americans finds that 7 out of 10 people in this country describe themselves as spiritual in some way. Nearly half say they are both spiritual and religious, while 22% describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. About 10% say they are religious but not spiritual, and 21% say they are neither spiritual nor religious.
The report further finds:
- 83% of all U.S. adults believe people have a soul or spirit in addition to their physical body.
- 81% say there is something spiritual beyond the natural world, even if we cannot see it.
- 74% say there are some things that science cannot possibly explain.
- 45% say they have had a sudden feeling of connection with something from beyond this world.
- 38% say they have had a strong feeling that someone who has passed away was communicating with them from beyond this world.
- 30% say they have personally encountered a spirit or unseen spiritual force.
We’re going to talk about this idea of being spiritual in our conversation this week. Here are some of the questions we’ll take on. First, how do you relate to the findings described above? How do they fit with your beliefs or experiences? Digging deeper, do you consider yourself to be spiritual? If so, what does that mean to you? The Pew study suggests that the word “spiritual” means many different things to many different people. If that’s the case, does it mean anything at all? Is being spiritual and being religious different? If you do, what do think the differences are? If you think they’re more or less the same thing, how do you think the two ideas are related, or go together?
Join us for the conversation tomorrow evening, Tuesday, Dec. 12, beginning at 7pm at Casa Real in downtown Oxford. And just a heads up, this will be our last meeting of 2023 as we take the next few weeks off to get ready for the holidays. We will be back with more discussions come January.