Sam then appropriately questions for those still open to the spiritual, well, what now? Certainly this has been part of my process too, although I’ve had my feet in a couple camps. Sam is convinced that any “new” spirituality has to be evidence-based, in the sense that we can bring in the phenomenological/hermeneutical modes of expression to it. I am not so sure about that. Personally, I find an evidence-based spirituality too dry. I’ve encountered some “Buddhists” who love to geek out on states of mind, and while this may be fruitful for a while, it doesn’t feel alive to me.
To really gather a community of like-minded souls in the fullest sense, there has to be imagination, inspiration, exemplars, intellectual coherency, heart, humility, purpose, meaning, and so forth. In other words, any true religion has to bring in all the elements that make us whole. While spirituality may be all about internal experience, religion is the pursuit of total reality!
Can you imagine if Jesus tried to distill his teachings into evidence-based dogma, instead of the symbols and metaphors of love and truth? As Ratzinger once noted, “Christianity is not an intellectual system, a collection of dogmas, or a moralism. Christianity is instead an encounter, a love story, an event.” And it’s that sort of very human/divine thing that has brought people together for a couple thousand years.
I sometimes feel frustration that many of my peers have so much resistance towards traditional religion. And yet I completely understand why they may not relate to the anachronistic expressions of it. However, I also don’t buy any progressive spirituality (a.k.a. New Thought) is going to do things any better. They tend to be abstract, less imaginative, hubristic, and way too clever. CS Lewis noted that “to prefer abstractions [over mythology] is not to be more rational; it is simply to be less fully human.” And so, while I sometimes drawn to new creative expressions of Divinity, I am not so sure we should be tossing away the roots of those seeds.