NORTH SPRINGFIELD, Vt. -- For 15 or 20 years now I've heard people describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious."
I've come to the conclusion that the distinction means almost nothing, even to the people who use it. That's because it's so difficult to come up with any widely accepted definition of what it means to be spiritual, much less what it means to be religious.
In the end, it's mostly fuzzy thinking. Still, it doesn't keep academics from doing studies about this matter.
For instance, in a new study, Baylor University researchers have concluded that, as the press release about the study says, "young adults who deem themselves 'spiritual but not religious' are more likely to commit property crimes -- and to a lesser extent, violent ones -- than those who identify themselves as either 'religious and spiritual' or 'religious but not spiritual.'"
Well, OK, then.
One of the researchers said this of their findings: "Calling oneself 'spiritual but not religious' turned out to more of an antisocial characteristic, unlike identifying oneself as religious."
All of this may be meaningful and insightful and may even help law enforcement agencies reduce crime, but I'm sort of mystified by how. Does being "spiritual" really cause one to be a criminal more often than being "religious"?
I just can't get my head around these loosey-goosey concepts and am tempted to wait for the movie, which I don't expect to see here in Vermont where I'm spending some time with family before heading to Hartford for the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. You can follow the goings-on there on that website starting Thursday evening or Friday morning.
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While I'm on the road the chances that I'll add a second item to the blog each day, as I usually do, are pretty slim.