SPIRITUALITY: My Life Doesn't Need a Religion; in a World Obsessed with Labels, Is Spirituality Just Another Trendy Brand? Chief Feature Writer Paul Groves Investigates

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Groves

I am a cynic. I'm a sceptic. Come to think of it, I'm a doubting Thomas on just about everything.

There could be a case for arguing it goes with the territory for journalists. But I don't dismiss things for the sake of it, or to provoke an argument.

Helping put together this twoweek special on spirituality has led me to read lots of interesting articles and talk to some intriguing people.

I'm not a convert, but then that wasn't the aim of the exercise. My understanding has increased dramatically and yet I remain dubious of this thing called spirituality.

It will take more than a conversion, leap of faith or even an imaginative advertising campaign to get me into a place of worship. Organised religion holds little appeal to me. I am, possibly, just the person the church wants to attract - mid-30s, professional, due to marry and considering, one day, fatherhood.

But, no matter how hard it tries, there is not one religion that attracts me.

It is not that I think it lacks relevance to my life - I can see that it could. It is not that I think it is outdated and in need of modernisation - I believe its history and heritage is its strength.

It is not that I think my life is completely fulfilled - I'm not sure anyone could, in all honesty, lay claim to that.

It is not that time is too precious to me - the pace of society and of my life has increased, but there are always things that can be put off to accommodate something important. The major and fundamental sticking point for me concerning any religion, or belief system lies in the word 'organised'.

I value personal freedom highly and anything that appears regimented, dictatorial even, anything that sets out in often strict detail how I should think and act, holds little appeal.

And this is the underlying issue that organised religion and belief systems like spirituality must somehow come to terms with.

Advertising executives have been drafted in to try to engineer some sort of image makeover for the Christian religion in this country. But they have, by and large, missed the point. They have pinned the blame on obvious targets and have singularly failed to delve deeper into the heart of the matter. …