Written by Connie Larkman
It's a familiar refrain, one that has propelled a UCC Stillspeaking Daily Devotional writer to the top of the Amazon charts and played a role in her selection as the featured author of a YouthRead event hosted by UCC Youth at General Synod this summer in Long Beach, Calif.
The Rev. Lillian Daniel, senior pastor of First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn (Ill.), says she was tired of hearing the same response from people she met when they found out she was a minister. "I'm spiritual," people would say, "but not religious."
Daniel, a celebrated author and member of the UCC Stillspeaking Writers' Group, heard it so often that she decided to write a Christian Century article in response ("You Can't Make This Up," Sept. 2011). She followed that up with a daily devotional titled, "Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me."
The devotional and a subsequent piece on the Huffington Post went viral on the Internet, sparking intense controversy and comment, with readers divided between those who agreed with Daniel and others who found the devotional intolerant and "snarky."
Daniel's latest response is a book — When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church (Jericho Press) — that expands on her view that "a mature religious faith is practiced in community over time. It is reasonable, rigorous, real, grounded in tradition, and centered in worship."
"Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me," says Daniel. "There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself."
When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough is No. 1 in humorous religious books and No. 5 in religion studies about spirituality on the Amazon best sellers charts. It has also been featured on the PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and in The Christian Science Monitor and the United Methodist Reporter.
Youth groups attending General Synod June 28-July 3 are encouraged to read the book together and come prepared to engage a humorous, lively and spirit-filled dialogue that will also be interactive. More details will be available on the Youth at General Synod website.