Spiritual but not Religious?: Weekly Message for 07-30-2019

Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, Pax Christi:

By now you may have heard about my newest book: Spiritual but Not Religious: The Search for Meaning in a Material World.  I find myself quite excited about this book – a new kind of publication for me – and I would like to tell you why.

Almost all of my previous books were written to help people pray, or to help them learn how to pray.  I still believe that nothing is more important than that (because, after all, we only find happiness by living in dynamic communion with God, and prayer is absolutely necessary for such a communion).  But when Tan Books approached me about doing a book with them, they asked me to think a little outside the box. In fact, they said to me something like, “What has the Lord put on your heart recently?”  

I had a lot of ideas, but the one that took center stage in those conversations had to do with a trip to the local art museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts.  I had recently taken a few groups of people through a tour of that museum, highlighting the spiritual meaning behind select works of art there. The response to those tours was electric.  Not only did the people enjoy learning to contemplate works of art (instead of just glancing at the little description and moving on), but they also connected deeply with the idea (and reality) of spiritual meaning being communicated through artistic expression.

Meeting People Where They’re At

That was especially gratifying for me because my own conversion to Catholicism began in a similar way: the beauty of Catholic art and architecture swept me entirely off my feet and out of my life-plan.  

So it occurred to me that maybe this approach to spiritual exploration could be useful for all those people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious”.  After all, if they have truly had a spiritual experience, then they certainly have some kind of spiritual life. And if that’s the case, why not use that experience as a starting place to invite them along the journey that leads not only to titillating spiritual feelings but to the deeper meaning in life that explains those feelings and comes from authentic religion.  So that’s what I did in Spiritual but not Religious.

You can learn more about the book here (there’s even a little video trailer).  Whether you yourself identify as “spiritual but not religious”, or whether you know someone who does, I am confident that you will not only thoroughly enjoy this book, but you will also find your own spiritual journey boosted – or even jumpstarted – by reading it.

With the promise of our continued prayers for all our digital pilgrims, I remain, gladly,

Yours in Christ,

Fr John Bartunek, LC

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