By Mike Dooley - Versus
Religion vs. Spirituality
Like night and day. Spirituality is defined by the individual and therefore is without dogma, rites of passage, rituals, or other strings attached. Religion, however, is generally imposed upon the individual. A spiritual person typically has their own understanding of who or what God is, why they're here, and allows others to believe as they wish. Whereas religion is most often exclusionary - "you are either with us or you do not experience eternity." Spirituality trusts and believes in the inherent goodness of each person; religions are built upon a rock that presumes we were born broken and flawed. Spirituality recognizes the power, importance and sacredness of the individual; religion, much like communism, tends to subjugate the individual, generally in the name of the people, God, or the afterlife.
God vs. the Universe
The term "God" has a lot of baggage. At worst it conveys the image of an angry, aged white man with a long white beard, who is ready, willing, and able to cast his children into blazing pits of fire for eternity should they stray just a little out-of-line. At best, it conveys the image of a judgmental, yet loving, father. People have long outgrown the need for such a figure (which was based entirely upon our perceived frailties instead of our greatness) and are beginning to think that perhaps God is something that lives inside us all. Surely, if there is a divine intelligence capable of creating the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the infinite beauty, perfection, and majesty that we find on our little planet, wouldn't such intelligence also be infinitely compassionate? All forgiving? Inspired to see the smile on everyone's face no matter who they are or what mistakes they've made? And going one step further, as portrayed in my Notes from the Universe, wouldn't such intelligence be charming, witty, and playful? Using the term "The Universe" allows for God to be much more than we've presumed through religion.