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The other day I began reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat Pray Love. I know, I know, I’m late to the party, but while I was reading, something jumped out at me—her stance on God.

After feeling trapped in a failing and unhappy marriage, Gilbert finds herself splayed out on her bathroom floor, praying…for the very first time, asking for guidance on what she should do. This was surprising to me. As someone who grew up in the church, it didn’t dawn on me until I got to college that some people didn’t do the same.

Sure I knew that some people attended mass or the mosque, while others kept Kosher, but for whatever reason I felt like everyone (except a select few), worshiped a God.

But reading Gilbert discussing praying for the first time—in her mid-30s (word?)—really struck me.

As I have gotten older, I’ve listened as many people talk about being spiritual as opposed to being religious. Some believe in a “higher power” or “the universe” or mother nature but hesitate to label that being “God,” I suppose because for some, “God” is a loaded word.

While I am still very much a Christian, my view of Christianity, of the Bible, and of other religions that spring from the same place have changed. I no longer feel there are these huge spiritual divides between Jehovah and Jesus, Allah and Elohim. I feel like those us of who believe are all talking about the same God, and only the language is different. But it wasn’t until I read this one little passage in Gilbert’s book that I saw someone else articulate what I have been feeling for some time.

She writes:

I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abided very close to us indeed—much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I responded with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then retuned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love.

…When the question is raised, “What kind of God do you believe in?” my answer is easy: “I believe in a magnificent God.”

Like Gilbert, I also believe that God lives—not in these books we subscribe to Him—but in our everyday lives, our breath, our actions, our hearts. And although I call my God Jesus, I respect that you, or someone else, may label yours Allah.

But does this make me spiritual or religious? I guess it just depends.

How about you, Clutchettes and Gents? Do you consider yourself spiritual or religious (or none of the above)? Is there a difference?

 

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  • j. mustermann

    Atheist and proud.

  • bb

    Agnostic. I believe there to be a higher being, but he is not Jesus, Vishnu, Mohammed, or the god-human Dalai Lama. I find it difficult to worship images that do not reflect my phenotype (dark brown skin, kinky hair) with the way religion has been used as a vehicle to oppress groups of people (i.e. non-whites). When Europeans came to the Americas and Africa they came preaching religion, believing themselves to save the souls of the people of whom they would soon oppress. I have searched to find a religion which praises a god of my complexion and I have yet to find one (Rastafarian?) Call me superficial. I don’t care. Is it wrong to ask ‘why there isn’t a god in an African’s image’?

    • Tomi-chan

      “Is it wrong to ask ‘why there isn’t a god in an African’s image’?”

      There are, I suggest you look them up. The Dalai Lama is not a godhuman, Buddhism is one of the nontheistic beliefs… Buddha, Dalai Lama and God are not inter-changeable in anyway at all. People who worship Muhammad are not Muslims, and I can go on…

      Sorry I hate it when people attribute things to religions that are simply not true. Looking up African mysticism and religion would be worth your time though =)

    • bb

      There is? Can you name them, or are you just making an assumption.