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Being spiritual is very different than religious

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I was watching the PBS special on national parks, right after the state of the union speech on Jan. 27, and the story of John Muir, American naturalist and explorer. A comment captured my attention. It was approximately this: "John Muir was a very religious man, capturing the spiritual essence of nature and man's relationship to nature."

My antenna went up on the use of the words religious and spiritual.

Recognizing that this may offend the sensitivities of some, possibly many, who see no real difference in these terms, allow me to put a rather vivid contrast of interpretations on them.

Firstly, my Funk and Wagnalls does not use the word God, even once, in its rather lengthy definition of religious. In the definition of spirituality, however, the word God is used.

Secondly, religious has the immediate connection with religions; the immediate connection with denominations; the immediate connections with dogma and creed; the immediate connections with differences in sacred texts; the immediate connections with opposing views and differences in church service structures; etc.

Thirdly, spirituality, on the other hand, has none of these divisive characteristics. Spirituality is all about our connection with a higher loving power, whether we call it God or by some other name.

What does this tell us? Why even bring this up? Well, I think it is a very important distinction to think about.

Muir, in my opinion, was much more than a religious man, he was a spiritual man. And this says a whole lot. He was out there in nature, above all the divisiveness of religious bickering and posturing and just being his spiritual self, communing with nature, feeling close to the same higher power which originally birthed all religions, until man got in there and decided one religion was better than another and started the whole string of religious wars and divisiveness.

And, I guess a question for each of us is who am I, and what do I live by?

Bob McClellan

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