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A Spiritual Autobiography

It may seem a contradiction in terms to suggest that getting away from religion is the only way to arrive at authentic spirituality, yet that, in a nutshell, is the most concise description of my spiritual autobiography. How that journey came about takes in a lifetime of exposure to traditional religious practices, in a family context of serious but not fanatic devotion to faith and religious observance. I had a parochial-school education and attended mass regularly until about three years ago; old habits and early Catholic training die hard among those who set the curve in their Bible-history classes. But a deep and decisive crisis of faith has intervened in recent years that is specifically and programmatically attributable to the rigid institutional character of organized religion--more exactly to certain of its figures of authority and reach. That crisis has not been resolved within the community of faith but instead seems to be an ongoing process of discovery and a quest for the kind of enlightenment (or anyway insight) that is commonly associated with spiritual experience.

It should be noted that matters of spiritual import--the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich (1987, p. 17) uses the phrase "ultimate concern" to describe the structure and content of faith--have never been far away from my interests. But the traditional, formal, structured observance of standard institutional religion has for some time for me been a thing of my past and something that, as I write this, seems unlikely to appear in my future.

But let us begin at the beginning of this rather peculiar odyssey. As previously noted, I grew up a convinced Catholic and for the most part never particularly entertained the thought that I would ever "fall away" from the Church. However, events conspired to persuade me to question whether I really had a home in the Church. One aspect of this was--and still is--the public face of the Church, i.e., the pope and what has...

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A Spiritual Autobiography. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:12, August 03, 2020, from