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When "Spiritual but Not Religious" Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church Hardcover – January 15, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jericho Books (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455523089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455523085
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Daniel made a splash on the religious-debate scene in 2011 with an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post. It berated people who eschew formal religious practice for their own brand of personally manufactured spirituality. The post, titled “Spiritual but Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me,” went viral on the Internet, and a year later Daniel is back with a similarly titled book that expands on her now-famous commentary. From the death of a close, irreligious friend to the difficulty in sitting still at yoga class, no subject is too large or small for Daniel to take on. She does so in short, zingy anecdotes with a marvelously gritty wit that pokes holes in the spiritual laziness and self-aggrandizing behavior of which she believes so many “spiritual but not religious” people are guilty. But pointing out the utter ridiculousness of self-satisfied personal faith is only part of the story, and the true thrust of her argument lies in making an impassioned and winning case for why church, community, and formal religious traditions are so integral to creating a fulfilling life. One might not agree with everything Daniel says, but her ideas are thought provoking and her conviction infectious. --Taina Lagodzinski


"In short, zingy anecdotes, Daniel strikes out at what she sees at the spiritual laziness of those who opt for "personal faith" outside of a church community. Controversial but powerfully argued."—Booklist, starred review

"Marvelously gritty wit...an impassioned and winning case for why church, community, and formal religious traditions are so integral to creating a fulfilling life....her ideas are thought provoking and infectious."—Booklist, Starred Review

"Intelligent, inviting and nurturing, these essays...offer a rich banquet for pastors, lifelong congregants, disaffected Christians, and confused seekers alike."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"This is the wonderful, essential Lillian Daniel at her best-earthy, perceptive, devout, tough-minded, angry and laugh-out-loud funny, all in one. Daniel's easygoing style is just right for revealing her great gift of finding God in the everyday. Sometimes she is biting. Sometimes she is tender and often what she says is stunningly beautiful."—Bob Abernethy, Executive Editor, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS

"Here is why I love Lillian Daniel's writing: it is honest; it is funny; and it teaches me about Mary and Martha via a yoga class. The church she describes is the place that has sustained my spiritual life when my own interior sense of God's presence has faltered; and it is the place that, as often as not, is where I am sitting when my sense of God's presence reignites."—Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

"You read some things because you have to or need to or ought to. You'll read Lillian Daniel for the pure pleasure of pitch-perfect writing-she has the rare talent of a "natural." Along the way, you'll discover enrichment and insight that you needed and wanted ... Lillian cooks up a delicious and nourishing feast for readers. Don't miss it!"—Brian McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (brianmclaren.net)

"Lillian is as fed up with bad religion as anyone else, but she's also careful to celebrate good religion and good spirituality that brings people to life and makes the world a better place. May her book invite us to stop complaining about the Church we've experienced and work on becoming the Church we dream of."—Shane Claiborne, author and activist, facebook.com/ShaneClaiborne

More About the Author

Lillian Daniel is the author of the 2013 book When Spiritual But Not Religious is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church, and two other books, This Odd and Wondrous Calling and Tell It Like It Is.
Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Lillian Daniel has served as the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, since 2004, and before that she served two churches in Connecticut.
An editor at large for the Christian Century Magazine, and a contributing editor at Leadership Journal, her work appears in The Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Books and Culture, The Journal for Preachers and in the Stillspeaking Daily Devotionals.
She is featured in Animate: Faith, the new adult formation DVD series from Sparkhouse. Twice, her work has been featured on the PBS television show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. She hosted the Chicago based public television program 30 Good Minutes.
A frequent speaker around the country, Lillian has preached at the National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, Howard University and the Festival of Homiletics. She has lectured to clergy at Kings College, London, Queen's College, Ontario, and will speak this summer to preachers in Denmark.
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Lillian has taught preaching at Yale Divinity School, Chicago Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago Divinity School. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Chicago Theological Seminary and the Board of Advisors at Yale Divinity School. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Yale Divinity School, where in 2010, she received a distinguished alumni award for "Distinction in Congregational Ministry."
Lillian is married to Lou Weeks, a labor union organizer who chose not to take her name when they got married back in 1991. She is the mother of two teenagers, Calvin and Abigail Weeks, and therefore in need of constant prayer.
In her spare time, Lillian enjoys the following hobbies...
Wait; there is no spare time.

Customer Reviews

I found this to be poignant and thought provoking book.
To be fair, there is absolutely legitimate criticism to be had with people who call themselves "spiritual, not religious".
Like everything that Lillian Daniel writes, this book is a delight to read, and full of wit and humor.
J. Caldwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Caldwell on January 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) is a classification that seems to be appearing in the spiritual autobiographies of more and more people these days. I wouldn't call it new, but at the very least anti-institutional or self-styled spirituality is more present in the public discourse and more widely celebrated than it has been in the past. It should be no surprise. Organized religion, it seems, tends to follow culture. Sociologist Robert Putnam, among others, has been tracking the erosion of institutions and the rise of individualism in the U.S. over the last several decades. The SBNR movement, in my opinion, has been conceived largely of those two trends in our society. Interestingly, I received my pre-ordered copy of this book during a week in which NPR aired a series titled "Losing Our Religion," which chronicles the decline of organized religion in the U.S.--a trend that is pronounced among people in their 20's and 30's. Being part of that demographic myself, and being the senior minister of a mid-sized mainline protestant church (with a solid contingent of 20 & 30 somethings), this is a matter of great interest to me.

Chapter one of "When 'Spiritual But Not Religious' is Not Enough" regaled me by boldly claiming what is often seen as a forbidden sentiment for someone in my position: I find the SBNR narrative (i.e., the "heilsgeschichte" or "salvation story") to be rather boring and self-serving. Daniel captures it perfectly: "Let me guess, you read The New York Times every Sunday, cover to cover, and you get more out of it than the sermon. Let me guess, you exercise and where do you find God? Nature. And the trees, it's always the trees during a long hike, a long run, a walk on the beach. And don't forget the sunset. These people always want to tell you that God is in the sunset.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. McGhee on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I wanted this book to be powerful and thought provoking. But, mostly is was a series of small rants. The collection of essays did not follow the SBNR theme and many of the essays are so short with little depth they had very little value and less value in supporting the argument that church is the door to help build your relationship with God. The SBNR story is retold later in the book, it is almost word for word to the first essay, but there is no justification to why it is put into the book again with no more depth. Honestly I can't believe that any author would want to release this piece of work. I am hoping she was pushed into it by publishers because of her popularity - this is just a collection of small editorials that do not follow each other, are not build on each other, and do not offer much depth. Just ramblings of her opinion. Honestly as she uses the expression "these people" (for the SBNR) for the 100th time it did not make me feel welcome at church, but just drilled in how judgmental organized religion is. Sad to say I couldn't finish it, tried hard but it was too disorganized and judgmental.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Ackerman on February 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some time ago I attended a huge church where nothing but happy music was the order of the day. On the overhead screen (away from the cross), warm cuddly images of children, flowers, butterflies and puppies were shown to the delight of all the people. The pastor rose to speak and told a story of two men who fell from a ten story building. The one died, but the other - praise God - lived. If we only believe, the pastor concluded, we too will be like the man who survived because we are filled with upbeat, positive thoughts.

I left that church feeling utterly deflated, like I was a dinosaur in a slick, "whoever's teeth are the whitest wins" kind of world. My mind kept going back to the poor guy who died and wondering how his spectacular failure (what faithlessness he showed in dying!) was fodder for this preacher's sermon illustration. I felt like the odd-person out because I did not love this and because it was about as far away from what I believed as I could get.

Lillian Daniel light-heartedly and effectively pokes holes in people's easy theology in her book, "When `Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough." Before I read her book, I expected it to read more like an essay, but I was delighted to find narratives - stories that related her experiences of life in the church and how that life is often misunderstood by those outside of it. I admire her willingness to take on those who set up a caricature of the church and conveniently dismiss it as so much hocus-pocus. Daniel is one of the most gifted and engaging writers of our day, and as great as this book was, I suspect that her best writing is ahead of her. For readers like myself who really enjoy her storytelling, I hope so!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By vgs1895 on March 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I liked the title, but when I read a bit about the author I wasn't sure if this was a book I'd necessarily embrace. I was pleasantly surprised! Though I do have some theological differences with her (which is why I gave it 4 stars, and which may not even be "differences" if the author and I ever sat and down and had a discussion), the overall tone of the book is good. It is not a deeply theological book nor was it meant to be. It's a book about "being" the church everywhere, not just inside the church (though she definitely doesn't put down organized religion or attending church!).

In fact, that's what I really enjoyed about it. Ms. Daniel takes many of the common anti-church arguments (which are really trite and overused) and discusses them without mincing words. She makes it "okay" to go to church.

If you are looking for something really heavy-duty, this isn't it, thankfully. It's an enjoyable read which hopefully makes a person want to live a more loving Christ-like life, even in a church setting. ;)
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