How to Explain 'Spiritual' Relatives to Kids

Q I love Thanksgiving. I love seeing family. But the holiday is a time that finds me too often at a loss for words. You see, many of my relatives tell me they aren't into the Church, but are “spiritual.”

A It's a statement heard all too often these days: “I'm not a religious person, but I really am very spiritual.”

Although said with pride, it always seems empty and defenseless to me. Sort of like cake without frosting. Ice cream without chocolate sauce. Hope without salvation.

Folks are proud to say they meditate, but unwilling to admit they pray. Folks are proud to say they believe in some undefined higher power, being kind to their neighbors, keeping the environment clean and saving the snail darter from extinction. But it would be politically incorrect to believe in, er, well … God.

Perhaps a family member of yours is the one who gave me a brochure recently while I was waiting for a business associate at an upstate New York airport. The brochure promoted an upcoming community festival that promised to be a glorious celebration of music and the environment.

People attending would be called to the shore of a local waterway for a “blessing of the river.” Others would be able to participate in “reflective and joyous workshops offering Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and a World Peace Flag ceremony.” If none of that struck your fancy, there were entertainer-philosophers ready to “demonstrate the Zen of juggling.”

Yoga, Tai Chi and the Zen of juggling? Wow. How spiritual can you get? At least the brochure was honest enough to say, “All around the festival you'll find clowns, circus artists, comedians and fools entertaining.”

I hope my children grow up with a sense of fun. I want them to respect the environment, use resources wisely and appreciate various cultures. I don't mind if they take up juggling, provided they understand it involves tossing balls into the air, not achieving spiritual oneness with the universe.

There is hardly a place in North America where someone in search of a spiritual experience is unable to find a Catholic church. In each church is a tabernacle. And in the tabernacle is Christ.

In other words, as an alternative to juggling and spiritual nonsense, people have the option of finding faith in Christ and the hope of eternal salvation. Yes, it requires some faith, a little work and embracing a religion with particular requirements.

But wouldn't you rather have eternal salvation than a gig as a circus juggler?

Jim Fair writes from Chicago.