A quote from Naked Spirituality

From Naked Spirituality, coming March 2011:

‘So what do you do for a living?’ you might ask if we happened to sit next to each other on a flight, mutually ignoring the flight attendant’s spiel about how to turn our seat cushions into a flotation device and what electronic devices we need to turn off before take-off. ‘I’m an author,’ I might whisper, which might then prompt you to ask what I write books about. I’d probably reply, ‘I write books on spirituality, cultural change and social issues,’ or something like that. More often than not, we’d end up getting into an interesting conversation that would last until well after we reached our cruising altitude. (Unless you want to take a nap – I promise I wouldn’t bother you in that case.)
Since we haven’t actually met, I …

… have to imagine what you might tell me about yourself. I was a pastor for over twenty years, so I learned to be a good listener.
If you’re like a lot of people I meet, you might describe yourself as ‘more spiritual than religious’. You’re seeking meaning and depth in your life, maybe even a deeper experience of God, but you don’t feel that traditional ‘organised religion’ helps very much.
Or you may be faithfully religious – a lifelong church-goer, a paid or unpaid minister, a diligent seminarian or theologian, a hard-working pastor, para-church worker, or priest. But you feel you’re on autopilot, going through the motions. You’re keeping the religious treadmill spinning, but your soul is dry, thirsty, empty, tired. You feel a little toasted, if not fully burned out. Too much guilt. Too many ‘should’s. Too much pressure. Too much activity and controversy without a clear sense of worthwhile outcomes. You wish you could rediscover the deeper purpose of it all, the point, why you do what you do.
You may have been engaging in some deep questioning and theological rethinking.1 You can no longer live with the faith you inherited from your parents or constructed earlier in your life. As you sort through your dogma and doctrine, you’ve found yourself praying less, less thrilled about worship or Scripture or church attendance. You’ve been so focused on sorting and purging your theological theories that you’ve lost track of the spiritual practices that sustain an actual relationship with God. You may even wonder if such a thing is possible for someone like you.
You may have come to the point where even the word God is problematic for you. You are so dreadfully sick and tired of hearing God’s name over-used and abused that you’d rather not add to the commotion. You’re tempted to compensate for all the noisy religious overstatement by speaking of God as seldom and softly as possible. As you’ve been going through this painful process of rethinking both your theology and your practice of faith, your experience of God may have gradually been evaporating from your life,. As a result, God may be shrinking from a substantial Someone to a vague something, leaving a thin residue that is next to nothing. All that may remain for you is a theoretical concept, an esoteric principle, a distant abstraction that’s eventually not worth talking about … or to.
You may be spiritually disappointed and wounded; you may feel God has abandoned you, turned on you, left you, and you don’t know where to go next. You may be, perhaps without admitting it even to yourself, one of the increasing numbers of theologians, pastors, priests and lifelong Christians who have practically become atheists because of longstanding disillusionment, unanswered questions and unresolved pain.
You may have been so skeptical and cynical for so long that now you’re skeptical of skepticism and cynical about cynicism. You wonder if there could be a post-sceptical faith, a post-cynical hope, and maybe even a post-atheist love.
You may be rebuilding after a faith collapse, or you may be embarking on your virgin voyage into faith and a spiritual life. Either way, you have no interest in fake spirituality, forced spirituality, hyped spirituality, inflated spirituality. You want to strip away all the layers of pretence and get down to naked reality.