What's the difference?

  1. A statement I have heard from different people at different times under different circumstances (including here on allnurses) usually goes something like this: "There is a difference between religion and spirituality."

    Hospice professionals are present during some of the most vulnerable and revealing times of people's lives; i.e. while dying, so may have some special insight into that very issue... then again, maybe not. But the question begs to be asked.

    If there is a difference between religion and spirituality, what is it?
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    About req_read

    Joined: Apr '05; Posts: 296; Likes: 136
    Writer - on Dying Process; from US
    Specialty: Med-Surg, ER, ICU, Hospice

    21 Comments

  3. by   jmgrn65
    I will try to explain how I understand it.
    Religion is believing in a higher power usually God, an organized group such as Baptists, Methodists and so on.
    Spirituality is your own spirt and how you view it, your own values and beliefs. I don't know that I can explain it any better. That is how I understand it.
    I hope this helps.
  4. by   chelli73
    Quote from jmgrn65
    I will try to explain how I understand it.
    Religion is believing in a higher power usually God, an organized group such as Baptists, Methodists and so on.
    Spirituality is your own spirt and how you view it, your own values and beliefs. I don't know that I can explain it any better. That is how I understand it.
    I hope this helps.
    i think that is an excellent understanding, and i agree, save for one thing, i believe that even with spirituality you can believe in a higher power, GOD...
  5. by   leslie :-D
    i've always viewed religion as something learned and spirituality as something felt.
  6. by   doodlemom
    Quote from chelli73
    i think that is an excellent understanding, and i agree, save for one thing, i believe that even with spirituality you can believe in a higher power, GOD...
    Agreed, but do you have to believe in God to be able to experience spirituality?
  7. by   EricJRN
    For one take on the difference between religion and spirituality, see this link:

    http://www.tufts.edu/med/ebcam/religion/index.html

    Doodlemom - according to this link and others that I've seen, the answer to your question seems to be 'no.'
  8. by   leslie :-D
    i probably should have expounded on my simplistic and vague post on religion vs spirituality.

    i liked that chart in erics' link, citing the differences.
    i truly don't think anyone can define spirituality since it is not measurable; it is subjective and unique in interpretation.
    when i say that religion is learned, i mean that as a quantifiable and concrete absolute.
    in contrast, spirituality is 'felt'; meaning it's an inner voice, an intuition, a feeling, a 6th sense...
    it's an energy form if you will, that is experienced on a profound and intimate level, the more it is considered or contemplated.
    ones' spirituality is faith-based; not the same as religious based.
    where religion teaches (dogma), spirituality philosophizes.
    religion is intellectual.
    spirituality is poetic.

    i could go on, but it would be futile since there will never be a true 'webster' definition.
    we can only hypothesize what spirituality is, since there isn't any proof of it.
    but it is a powerfully intangible guide that has just as much impact on ones' life, as religion can.
    religion will tell you about a higher power but spirituality is unique to ea person: there is nothing textbook about it.
    one could never write a torah or bible on spirituality.
    i believe that is why God created Jesus- so that there was someone palpable and in the flesh and therefore, indisputable.
    but that's what spirituality commands: a belief in 'something' that cannot be proven of its' existence.

    spirituality is a component of religion, always.
    religion is a component of spirituality, sometimes.

    ones' religion can be taught over a measurable length of time.
    ones' spirituality doesn't recognize the unit of time: it is constant and lifelong and just is.

    thanks for trying to hear me out.
    i probably didn't make any sense whatsover.
    anyone can obtain a textbook definition of religion; but there is nothing textbook about spirituality.

    with peace.

    leslie
  9. by   doodlemom
    Quote from EricEnfermero
    For one take on the difference between religion and spirituality, see this link:

    http://www.tufts.edu/med/ebcam/religion/index.html

    Doodlemom - according to this link and others that I've seen, the answer to your question seems to be 'no.'
    That is my belief - I was really trying to see what chelli73 thought.
  10. by   aimeee
    Quote from earle58
    spirituality is a component of religion, always.
    I think ideally spirituality SHOULD be a component of religion, but I don't think it is always there. Sometimes the dogma, the rules, the outward practice becomes the focus and there is no room for growth and questions. I see people estranged from the religions they grew up in sometimes because their spiritual experiences were dissonant with what the religion demanded from them.
  11. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from aimeee
    I think ideally spirituality SHOULD be a component of religion, but I don't think it is always there. Sometimes the dogma, the rules, the outward practice becomes the focus and there is no room for growth and questions. I see people estranged from the religions they grew up in sometimes because their spiritual experiences were dissonant with what the religion demanded from them.
    i agree with this.
    just by virtue of believing in a God (within a religion), is the spiritual side i am talking about.
    even when most of the focus remains on the dogma.
    even if one's religion is filled w/more listening to someone talk, there still remains a spiritual component in religion; even if it is a bit stagnant.
  12. by   EmptytheBoat
    Same church, different pews. Nice to hear from you again
    req reader (old coot)
  13. by   BeExcellent
    That's MR. Coot.

    So...what's the thoughts around the question?
    Last edit by BeExcellent on Aug 14, '06
  14. by   req_read
    The thought around the question is this:

    EricEnfermero’s website (thank you by the way) makes the point that science is inclined to study religion while “In contrast, spirituality, and in particular, patient spirituality, has received greater attention in clinical practice.”

    In other words religion, because it has doctrine and is written down, is relatively easy to study. Spirituality, on the other hand, is almost completely unique to the individual… which makes it extremely difficult to study.

    Science, in that regard, is rather like the drunk who dropped a coin in the alley but looks for it under the street light… because he can see better there.

    Additionally, one’s personal spirituality (pardon the redundancy) is often hidden… at least until dying process comes along, dissolves the façade and exposes it. Consequently, insight into spirituality usually falls within the purview of a select few; often, individual clinicians… the nurse who is present at 2 AM for example.

    What science finds extremely difficult to study at all (and so far, has not) hospice nurses see all the time; i.e. human spirituality in the raw.

    Which makes me wonder…

    Would hospice nurses then not have some particular insight… some special understanding… of human spirituality? Including the difference between spirituality and religion?

    And by extension, are they not aware of differences in how religion and spirituality play out in dying process?

    Posts in response to this question are remarkably consistent. They are notable for their lack of dogma, indeed for a certain antipathy for dogma. The highly unique quality of spirituality is acknowledged (by experienced hospice nurses) and the conformity that is so often encouraged by religion is lamented.

    All of which suggests that the supposed difficulty in making accurate observations of unique phenomena may not be so difficult after all. Experienced hospice nurses seem to draw very similar conclusions. To wit…

    Dogmatic, closed-minded, know-it-all types have a harder time with their dying… whether they be of the religious or scientific variety. Dogma is dogma after all, regardless of its genus.

    Dying involves moving into the unknown. To withstand the impact of the unknown one must be as open-minded as possible. Fluidity, adaptability and openness are the keys to success. Practicing and developing these attributes in life prepares one for more life.

    We are inclined to think (so did I initially) that if a person is religious or smart, s/he should be better prepared. However, my experience ran contrary to that expectation. When it comes to predicting the degree of ease and grace with which a person will handle their dying, it is better to evaluate their openness than their religion or their intellect. Indeed, strict adherence to religious dogma or rigid intellectual constructs is more often a harbinger of angst than of grace.

    A good example of this is a sixty-some year old patient I once had who was mentally retarded… not severely, but he was no Einstein. He was, interestingly enough, born and died in the same house, the same room and the same bed. He died very nicely. Shortly before he passed he saw things I could not, accepted them and moved on. He was open to his experience and handled it much better than most of the preachers and professors I have known.

    What I am intensely curious about… and will probably never get the chance to study (at least from this side) is how hospice nurses die. Because they are the beneficiaries of extremely rare and valuable data, my theory is they should do well with their own dying. Do you suppose I will be disabused of this presumption too?

    Coot

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