Are you an “SBNR” ? I recently read a book about folks who self-identify as “spiritual but not religious.” As fewer people profess an affiliation with a particular worshipping community, this category is growing in surveys. Some say that’s because the church has disappointed them in some way. But what does it mean – what does it look like – to be an SBNR? How are these folks living out their spirituality?
Today’s scripture gives us a clue. In Exodus, we read the wonderful story of Moses, who was shepherding sheep near Mt. Horeb – the “mountain of God.” There, he had a “spiritual experience.” An angel appeared in a flame out of a bush, but the bush never burned up. Moses was intrigued!
When Moses stopped to look, God spoke to him by name: “Moses! Moses! … Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Moses encountered God – a being or power infinitely greater than he was. It would change his perspective, and the course of his life – forever. I think that’s what SBNRs, and also we religious folk, are longing for. We may look for it in different places, but it is the same longing for connection, for meaning, for transcendence. I prefer to seek that encounter with God (or whatever one calls God) through a community with a tradition from which to learn. Others believe that just nature, or friends, or family, or art are sufficient for discovering God and experiencing that uplift and larger perspective. What do you think? Where do you experience the divine? Are you an SBNR, or a person who longs to make the journey with a community of like-minded friends and neighbors? JBM