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The Religious Quest As Transformative Journey: Interspiritual Religious Belonging And The Problem Of Religious Depth

Rory McEntee
Published Online: 2017-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0048


As scholars and the public grope towards understanding emergent forms of religiosity (multiple-religious belonging, spiritual but not religious, interspirituality), notions of discernment, religious depth, and spiritual practice figure prominently in defining and assessing these forms. Some form of commitment to a particular religious tradition is often considered the most important factor in the discernment of religious depth, while “spiritual but not religious” is often seen as the amorphous searching or the drifting whims of an immature ego. I will argue, however, that failing to take into account the most mature forms of emerging religiosity is bound to miss important developments, just as similar methodologies would for traditional religions. Further, I point out problems with correlating religious depth with belonging to a particular religious tradition, and offer an alternate way to conceive of religious depth. In doing so I develop the concept of the religious quest as transformative journey, allowing for a more capacious understanding of religious consciousness. I then introduce interspiritual religious belonging, contrasting it with certain understandings of “multiple-religious” belonging, and providing mature examples of its embodiment. Finally, utilizing new surveys from Pew and PPRI showing accelerating growth among the “spiritual but not religious” and “religiously unaffiliated”-as well as expanding religious and racial diversity within the United States-I briefly reference potential political ramifications the interspiritual movement might have, and address the importance of developing mature theological perspectives from within it. It is my hope that the Theology Without Walls project can provide academic space for the latter.

Keywords: John Thatamanil; multiple religious-belonging; spirituality; Jeanine Diller; emergent religiosity; spiritual but not religious; contemplative


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About the article

Received: 2017-05-29

Accepted: 2017-10-06

Published Online: 2017-11-07

Published in Print: 2017-11-27

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 613–629, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0048.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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