Baseball91's Weblog

November 30, 2008

Spiritual Bouquet


A newly released Minneapolis-based Search Institute benchmark survey of 6,853 young people ages 12 to 25 indicates that 55 percent of the respondents are spiritual, not at all religious.  If you ever read, you could have arrived at that conclusion without the cost.  Miriam Cameron, a University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing professor, said the results confirm what she has observed in her classes.  Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion. 

In the age of abundance, with an abundance of ideas, in the ongoing age of ideology, near the last week of the liturgical year with readings about the Final Judgment, we read about a survey by the Search Institute –an organization that foster in “all sectors of society a healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents,” –of a group of young people who are spiritual,” who are not at all religious.

“Spirituality is bigger than religion,” said co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, Peter Benson.  One of the things we have to focus now is disentangling spiritual development from religious development.”  According to the website, Dr. Benson became Search Institute’s president in 1985.  Prior to 1978, he was chair of the psychology department and chair of the program in human development and social relations at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He hold a Masters in the psychology of religion from Yale University.  In an age of ideology,  I wonder the reason it is, the basis that Yale offers a Master’s program in the psychology of religion, so that years later we can get these survey results.  It sounds like Dr. Benson’s focus is funding his own program, and creating a need along the way, with the help of corporate sponsors.      

Most students pay tuition to listen, read, and study what the experts have to say.  Except those on scholarship.  We’re not paying enough attention to what our kids are saying,” Gene Roehlkepartain, co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence said. “We need to listen more and talk less.”  Yeah, Gene Roehlkepartain.  Buy you kid another iPod. You were not supposed to worship your kids, Gene.  Why are kids, ages 12 to 25, being asked this nonsense?  Your kids might not like taking physics or calculus either.  These are the years you are supposed to have passed on a tradition that they had to learn.  My 2 ½ year old niece does not like to eat vegetables.  Or potatoes.  She has to anyway.  Yeah Gene!  How can we disentangle God and His history, from religious development, from spiritual development?  Can we hold class outside? 

Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion.  Do they provide locks at their church?  What did they lose?  Was it another kid or organized religion that stole their cellphone?  What else did they not trust?  Were any other questions ever asked?

If you ever were looking for an arsonist, you started focusing on 3 factors:  Motive.  Opportunity.  Accelerants.  In this case the Search Institute, Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence who funded the study, hopes to profit from their own survey, based upon their website.  This was not exactly the Gallup Poll, where surveyors had disinterest.  Search Institute mission statement is collaborating with partners (foundations, corporations, schools, communities, faith-based organizations, and other systems) to broaden and deepen commitments, capacity, and effectiveness in fostering healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents.  Search Institute would seem to aim at a secular society, to add to the divison between religions, serving “all sectors of society, including K–12 and higher education, faith communities, youth-serving organizations, social-service organizations, families, businesses, and the public sector.”

According to the news article, “The disconnect between spirituality and religion” was clear in the comments from young people.  Drawing a line between spirituality and religion, University of Minnesota senior David Horn said, spirituality ‘doesn’t make distinctions, and religion is all about making distinctions.’”  It sounds like the issue once again is relativism.  Religion was providing an absolute moral authority.  Distinguishing right from wrong.  And this did not seem fair. 

Or maybe the young, educated in secular schools without any religious training, are ignorant about specific belief, and the history of a belief.  Even by the time they get to college and are thought to be the best and the brightest.  Serving “all sectors of society,” the survey either shows the need in society for more teaching of theology and philosophy, or the need to encourage ignorance.  Most Doctors of Divinity spend time actually studying theology and philosophy before they are allowed to teach and preach.    

Speaking as the daughter of a minister, Miriam Cameron said she doesn’t think religions needs to feel threatened by the growth of spirituality. “Not at all.  Many of my students equate religion with dogma and spirituality with harmony.  Spirituality works well with most religions. The only ones it doesn’t work with are the angry people who say that everyone else’s image of God is wrong. … The spiritual view of God is much more inclusive.”  Dr. Cameron’s viewpoint seems to include an American culture bias and fails to see the dimension of spirituality that is fueling the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.  From my reading, Islamic dogma was not responsible for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, as one example.  Dr. Cameron seemingly does not believe there can be anger among those of the New Age “spiritual,” not religious.   Dissecting her comment, she mixes apples with people and oranges, when she begins to discuss angry people in the midst of th discussion of spirituality and religions.

Few religious professionals would equate dogma with theology. 

One of the things I came away with studying history, was that the human condition remains unchanged.  Two hundred years ago there were slaves in this country.  Actually in a lot of places.  A lot of people never really asked the “why” question.  My conclusion is that the basic human condition involves a degree of laziness.  There were slaves because landowners were lazy.  That laziness, to one degree or another, was still around. 

“If that’s the way they really feel,” said the director of youth ministry for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Terry Dittmer, said, “it means that we have some serious questions that we need to ask ourselves.”  It is the Missouri synod’s fault?   Or maybe Mr. Ditmer is looking for a new response in the growing secular world. 

The Center for Spiritual Development has not figured out that when a community or a nation lost its shared belief that the center became more like the hot air without its balloon. And you were left with the school spirit of an Earlham College.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill for or die for, and no religion too. Mr. Lennon, I don’t have to imagine much any more. 

When there was no identity left . And so the coming generation, adrift with only hot air.
The Center for Spiritual Development concluded its report with a suggestion that the place to start is with conversations, asking young people open-ended questions such as, “What is most important in your life?” and “What does being spiritual mean to you?”  I actually would start with the basics.  Like asking about God before asking what spiritual meant.  Like asking about the Greatest Commandment.  Do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  Do you want to make an academic commitment to study God?  You might have to buy a book and actually spend some time. 

Religion Blogs

In other news, according to Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, which surveyed 29,760 students over the past year at 100 random high schools nationwide, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test.   That is a lot of stealing.  I wonder if this was by the same nearly one-third of the young people who said they don’t trust organized religion.  

These surveys give me pause to quote a high school biology teacher:  “If ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” 



  1. In a survey of male college students, thirty-five percent admit, anonymously, that in certain circumstances, they would commit rape if they believed they could get away with it.

    A survey of 6,159 college students enrolled in the United States at 32 institutions found that twenty-five percent of the male surveyed admitted to some degree of sexually aggressive behavior.

    In a survey of high school students, 76% of the male and 56% of the females believe that, in certain circumstances, forced sex is acceptable.

    This is the American public school system at work with certain secular religions promoted like “feminism.” And the feminists go crazy reading these above results, while screaming about the terrible anti-abortion laws which “just keeps coming despite our best efforts to stop it,” seeing no correlation between their own sexually aggressive behavior.

    When each night on the news we see the monsters that have been created in Syria, in Iran, and in our own neighborhoods if not in our own homes. And all the right language, however artificial, directed at strategic partners, cultural sponsors, embracing partnering with diversity for television and the public spotlight. And to a classicist, it all seems related to the moral vacuum which resulted in the failure to see the connection of the power source to the vacuum, in the way of story-based religion to morality. Because the problem — the spacial problem –was in the failure of a so many in Generation Next to read, to connect the things invisible between the lines, to what the stories with a so-called religious-base were about.

    Comment by baseball91 — March 2, 2012 @ 8:25 PM | Reply

  2. Did you notice how history repeats itself? But instead of the European Inquisitions, the recent Islamic Inquisition which began in Iran in 1979 has become a rallying point, with the disparate natures of economies in any nation, for a return to Orthodoxy. That was the papal reign of Benedict XVI. It was the new Crusade, putting conservative bishops in charge, loyal to Rome. And so the Islamic World at the start of a new millennium.

    And so Syria, with more than 100,000 killed. As Orthodox clerics vie for more power. And always the Inquisition, over doctrine of the past. Religion without an understood morality, but with all the fear and anger somehow connected to belief and disbelief.

    Comment by paperlessworld — September 15, 2013 @ 5:01 PM | Reply

  3. In discussing disestablishing, there was the first. The First people. The first stories. Their history. Language and money are things which connect us… in everyday life. As do stories, in speaking of attachment and/or belonging. Or their opposite, abandonment. Like in Finland, of Christianity. Or of God, for an entire generation now growing up.

    Mindful of the subtleness of human language and its power, the subtleness of language is one reference point for what divides me and my community from outsiders, like in Finland. Where the language like the text you were studying was matched by only a cramped terseness of the style, with the language. The significance is when people gathered to say together words with a living language which has defined themselves to each other. Words to people somehow connected which had recognized meaning. Here! Once. But now dealing with loss, with the growth of The Nones.

    Like in the “Imagine no possession” commercial, and what kind of world, with all the depicted children, is being promoted? When never before has there been so little possession of Spirit in the past Spirit of the Land by a generation. And it is not the fault of the children.

    In connection to the Promise Land, there is here in any history this Use of Force? In connection to the Promise Land, there is in sacred story mention of
    this fear of the Lord, descending from English people who desired freedom FROM a central religious authority, with the force in the story. And in the United Colonies of America, the purpose in the American Revolution was this “Freedom from Authority.”

    Liberation! ! Liberation, as the cause of cause of religious freedom becomes your “Freedom from.” In the first cause of Liberation, as in the cause of cause of religious freedom, that so often becomes your “Freedom from.” And for some people that freedom FROM Church leads to the anarchy of freedom FROM State. And if you watched how so many political leaders led these days, this was the center of the new conflict over policing. In the city of Minneapolis, one candidate for office in November campaigned on the idea of getting rid of the police force.

    Comment by baseball91 — February 9, 2018 @ 1:18 PM | Reply

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