Adam Snider

What are your religious texts?

In Inspiration on May 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Although I haven’t written anything here in quite a while, I have been thinking a great deal about faith and spirituality. I’ve been reading a lot of spiritual literature—particularly the poetry of Rumi—and trying to synthesize some of the ideas into something that works for me.

Since I began my focus on my personal spirituality this year, and particularly since I started regularly attending the Unitarian Church of Edmonton, I’ve been reading a lot of these sorts of books. Of particular note are the following:

  • A Year with Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks;
  • Ethical Ambition, by Derrick Bell; and
  • Becoming Human, by Jean Vanier.

In some ways, these books are my personal religious texts. I have found more spiritual value in them than in the Bible (which, admittedly, I have never read in it’s entirety).

I do plan to someday read the entire Bible, as well as other religious texts such as the Koran and the Sutras of Buddhism.

But, at least at this point in my personal and spiritual development, I have gained more from the works of non-dogmatic spiritual thinkers (who, often, are not explicitly writing about spirituality) than I have from traditional religious texts.

It is these books that are my personal religious texts.

What would you consider to be your religious texts? Do you find value in tradiational sources, such as the Bible or the Koran, or do you get your spiritual inspiration from other sources, such as poetry or music? Let me know in the comments section.

  1. For me there is the Upper Room Discourse in John’s Gospel. I just keep going back to it.

    Then curiously a psychotherapy text by a bunch of gleefull reductionists – Perls, Hefferline and Goodman’s Gestalt Therapy.

  2. I had to actually look up what the Upper Room Discourse is. I’ve read all of the Gospels, but I wasn’t familiar with the term.

    What about that particular section of John inspires you so much, Evan?

    And, believe it or not, you’re not the first person I’ve heard claim that books about psychology acted as spiritual texts for them.

    A woman at my church said that it was actually a book about a particular type of psychotherapy (I can’t recall the book nor the type of therapy) that made her a theist. Prior to reading the book, she had danced the line between agnostic and atheist. After reading it, she became a believer (though, her idea of god may not be the Abrahamic idea of Capital-G God that is prevalent in the West).

  3. Hi Adam, what inspires me about that part of John is the mysticism – the I in them and thou in me stuff.

    For me God has to embrace our personality and differences in some way or we just end up reduced to some kind of undifferentiated matter or energy. I’ve generally taken this to mean theism (maybe it wouldn’t have to but it does seem natural to me). What bothers me about not valuing personality and difference are the ethical implications – though I have trouble with its rationality too.

    • Thanks for sharing, Evan. I definitely understand the appreciation of mysticism. I’m often skeptical of it, but when taken as metaphor I find that mystical writings are often the most deeply affecting. The mysticism allows the words to bypass the brain and go straight for the heart, which is where spiritual messages belong (which isn’t to say that we should ignore our rationality—we shouldn’t—but we have to be open to the seemingly non-rational aspects of life, too).

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