Reply to Thread 1
I agree with you that many people tend to confuse religion and spirituality despite the fundamental differences between them. Religion is more about worship and belief in a "superhuman" governing power in most case personal gods or God (Kadar et al., 2015). Spirituality as you define it entails the value of getting concerned with the soul or the human spirit instead of otherworldly physical things or materials. This, as you noted, can be done by displaying acts of kindness and communing with nature. Additionally, despite the confusion between these two terms, there are some clear differences between them for instance while religion has set rules, spirituality does not require one to follow set guidelines. This means that spirituality will be based on love and not the fear of not following set rules. All in all, I also think that spirituality can lead to the growth and development of a religion since it calls for inner discipline and commitment.
Pool and Smith conducted an amazing study to describe the spiritual journey of a believer. As you have highlighted the various stages they laid out, the importance of these stages is to show how one discovers spirituality and more importantly how they incorporate it into their lives. Nevertheless, as much as these stages flow perfectly and can be applied in the lives of many believers, I agree with you that they are not fixed. People go through difficult situations regardless of their level of faith and as you note, God can test anyone and this does not mean that He loves them any less. Another important weakness of the Poll and Smith Model of Spiritual that you highlight is the issue of change of religion and as you note, people can change religion for many different reasons but it does not mean that they have lost their faith or their way.
Reply to Thread 2
I completely agree with your statement that "spirituality, although sometimes linked with religion, does not have to develop inside the practice of a religion". This is because there is a clear difference between spirituality and religion. A religion which includes the most commons forms such as Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and all other forms with fewer followers around the world usually involves having set code of ethics under any system of belief. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the fact or quality of being nonphysical or spiritual (Hays & Erford, 2018). I also agree with you that religion and spirituality do have similarities and this is why many people usually confuse them. Both terms always try to do what it takes to get closer to a higher power or God and their existence is only possible if they believe in God is present.
As you note, there are some major differences between spirituality for instance "spirituality is something that refers to what occurs within oneself, whereas religion is considered by most to be synonymous with an institution". Additionally, unlike religion which describes and denotes what truth is and how it should be followed, spiritually allows one to find the truth themselves. Moreover, since there are varying religions across the world, what is taught in these doctrines is different but spirituality does not see differences among people basing on doctrines since it only seeks the truth. When it comes to the Poll and Smith's Model of Spiritual Identity, I agree with you that each stage is meant to help an individual to nurture and build a relationship with God. Through the four stages "pre-awareness, awakening, recognition, and integration" an individual able to grow and understand God better and their spirituality are significantly boosted.
Hays, D. G., & Erford, B. T. (2018). Developing multicultural counseling competence: A system approach (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Kadar, J. L., Scott, A. B., Hipp, K., Belavich, T. G., Butfer, E. M., Rye, M. S., ... & Zinnbauer, B. J. (2015). Religion and spirituality: Unfuzzying the fuzzy. In Sociology of Religion (pp. 29-34). Routledge.
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