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by ProfDave, ©2020

Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay, License

(Sep. 29, 2020) — Back in the day, one of my son’s friends wore a t-shirt emblazoned with “Bad Religion.”  I was told it was a rock group, but can religion be bad?  Senator Feinstein seemed to think so when she accused judge nominee Barrett of taking her Roman Catholicism seriously three years ago.

A mature, healthy spirituality or religion or worldview needs to be coherent, adequate, functional, true, and existentially powerful.  It needs to make sense and be internally consistent.  We can’t see the invisible, comprehend the incomprehensible, or unscrew the inscrutable, but irrational and contradictory spirituality will give you schizophrenia.

To be adequate, a healthy spirituality has to deal with the spiritual issues and questions of life.  You don’t have to know all the answers, but you need to know where to take the questions.  Where did I come from, where am I going, what is wrong with life, what can I do about it, how do I sort out right from wrong, how do I find meaning and significance?

To be functional means it works.  It fulfills the expectations it creates.  Magic, where we pretend to control and manipulate the spiritual world, rarely works in the real world.   It may not make you healthy, wealthy, and wise, but a healthy spirituality should produce a measure of serenity that transcends both happiness and pain.  Something that will carry you, not drain you.

A religion, spirituality, or worldview which is true would obviously be better than one that isn’t.  Dogma does make a difference. Within Christianity, for example, we find more coherent, adequate, functional and powerful spirituality as we approach orthodoxy, despite its conceptual difficulty.  And there is a certain survival of the fittest among belief systems that operates against Animism.  We base our lives on the assumption that our vision of the spiritual realm is true.  All visions cannot be true, for they contradict one another.  The problem is that we can’t agree.  When I try to prove mine to you and you try to prove yours to me we run the risk of offending each other.  But finding and sharing truth is an ethical obligation, isn’t it?

Which brings us to the final criteria.  A healthy spirituality, religion, or worldview is one that has the existential power to order and give meaning to our lives.  But it does no good unless we use it, not like the fondue set in a box in the attic, but as a way of life.  Perhaps “dogma” should “live loudly” in all of us?   How mature, healthy and positive is your spirituality?

David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College.  He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota.  He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020).  He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.”


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