I’ve long listened to the discussion between being “religious” vs “spiritual.” Of late, I’ve heard of a lot of fatigue with people classifying themselves as “spiritual.” I suspect this has to do with how nebulous a term “spiritual” actually is and how many people have chosen to identify as such. There’s a great article in TIME magazine, actually it’s a whole section in the print edition, that covers the role of faith (religion)in health (medicine).
One of the things that struck me was how one of the experts, Rev. George Handzo, a chaplain with the HealthCare Chaplaincy of New York City describes the religion/spirituality talk:
“…Religion has to do with an organized set of beliefs. So I’m a Lutheran; I adhere to a set of beliefs that has been defines as Lutheran, and I identify with a community that’s Lutheran.
Spirituality, I think, is a much broader concept, and it has to do with probably a personal quest. Lutheran is what some other people have said Lutheran is. Your spirituality is what you say it is…”
(emphasis and parenthesis mine)
I thought this was such an incisive statement.
Going further, the series of articles is pretty great. Ever since my first psychology classes at Rutgers where I heard about the role of faith, religion, and belief in more positive outcomes for cancer patients, I’ve been fascinated by the power of faith and healing. The series speaks to a need for a more holistic health care system where not just the diagnostic of the individual goes past merely the clinical and goes broader to the social and faith-based. I, for one, am in favor (duh, given my earlier stated fascination with it) of involving clergy, guru’s, or whatever is right for the person to guide them through a period of deep illness in consultation with medical staff. TIME did a great job of gathering up a man of faith (quoted above), a medical doctor, and a psychiatrist to dive deeper. Good stuff.