Andrew Byers reviews Lillian Daniel’s When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough, which makes the case that the spiritual life “gets rich and provocative when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself”:
“Spiritual But Not Religious” is not a promotion of religiosity, legalism, or institutionalism. Nor is Daniel unworried about a meaningless ritualism that contents itself with going through the motions. Her intention, rather, is to present a spirituality thicker than the euphoric sensation brought on by a lovely sunset or by the smile of a giggling infant. Having labored for years amidst the trenches and pews of pastoral ministry, she knows all too well that a spirituality that can accommodate sunset hues but not cancer, grinning babies but not wails in the night, is woefully inadequate for the realities of an ex-Eden world.
The Spiritual/Not Religious category is not only insufficient for our sin-streaked realm; it is also grossly unoriginal. A spirituality divorced from communal life and eviscerated of a deep tradition is a predictable product of secular American consumer culture. It’s custom-made, says Daniel, for a “bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating.”