Irreverent Spirituality

When I identify my spirituality as being irreverent some folks immediately ask, "What does it mean to have irreverent spirituality?"

The meaning of irreverence is multi-layered to me but on the surface is my love of raunchy language. I have a friend who insists that she is President of Christians Who Cuss. I guess I have to let her be President since she is a very conservative Christian so to her it feels more rebellious to cuss. I tried to communicate to my children that language was neither moral nor immoral but it could be appropriate or inappropriate. They never quite got the message on INappropriate so my teaching failed. But you get the point. Sometimes a flamboyant phrase cleanses the heart and mind. And it's really quite amazing to me how much people identify language with faith. I so wish our values and deeds were higher on the list than language!

Irreverent spirituality also involves discarding teachings of the organized church which seem more like they represent organized religion than God. Rules from the church of my childhood really qualify for this designation. No drinking, no smoking, no playing cards, no dancing, no divorce. Other than smoking, I've tried them all and can't say that they have had much impact on my relationship to God at all.

More recent teachings of the organized church that got moved to the Out Box: any teaching that doesn't include gay and lesbian folks in the full involvement of the church. They are children of God and the church doesn't get to rule on who is part of the kingdom of God and who isn't. Any teaching the gives second class status to women. Any teaching that indicates that the Bible is inerrant. The Bible contradicts itself; so how can it be inerrent?

I love the notion that "God is Still Speaking" (the current motto of the United Church of Christ). My vast range of reading material often provides spiritual fodder for my own life from some extremely unusual material. God speaks to me through fiction, biography and memoir and, certainly, through contemporary spiritual writers such as Anne Lamott and Tom Ehrich.

Many friends think my irreverent spirituality manifests in my attitudes about sexuality. I believe that sexuality is a gift from God and I do not feel the need to hide my sexuality or anybody elses. Where would we be without it? How can we not celebrate it?

How would you define irreverent spirituality? What are your examples? Let's talk about it.

updated: 7 years ago


one of your irreverent friendsWednesday, July 22nd 2009 9:04PM

LOVED the post, Bren!  I remember when Mark walked in on the night we founded the Flying Puppies, and he observed that seminary students were potty-mouths.  I always think of that when people apologize for using "bad" language around me.  If they only knew :)

And I totally agree on the way God is still speaking to us through literature, movies, our grandchildren, etc.  Who knew?

Love you.

Thanks, Katester. It is so, so true. I'm working on a more complex treatment of this issue with references to the journey I walked as a child with the SBC! Oh my, what another world.

Aren't grandchildren the best teachers in the world?

Brandon GilvinWednesday, July 22nd 2009 5:22PM

This is a shameless plug--but here's my recent project involving irreverence, advocacy, and spirituality...


Nothing shameless about it. Just good marketing. I love what you're doing. Gen X and Gen Y spirituality MUST be different or we will never reach them. Thanks for doing this.