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Mercadante categorizes SBNRs into five distinct categories: (a) Dissenters, (b) Casuals, (c) Explorers, (d) Seekers, and (e) Immigrants.
Owen Thomas highlights the fact that spirituality movements tend to be localized to English and North American cultures.When Mercadante has spoken with SBNRs, they take a decidedly anti-dogmatic stance against religious belief in general.They claim not only that belief is non-essential, but that it is potentially harmful or at least a hindrance to spirituality.The field of Religious Studies cannot even agree on one definition.Critical theory in Religious Studies encourages a focus on the political nature of any attempt to determine what the "real" boundaries of religion are.Krishnamurti introduced Americans to an eclectic fusion of occultism consisting of "Vedanta teachings of the divinity of the self" infused with Western psychologies of self-reliance. Both Krishnamurti and Suzuki provided SBNRs with the understanding that the essence of spirituality is comprised in the immediate, temporal and highly mystical experiences of human reality that paradoxically transcend the triviality of everyday existence.
The goal of Zen is not to cause individuals to perceive a different sense of "reality" from their current one, but rather to awaken its practitioners to the sacred nature of temporality.
According to the authors of the studies included in the edited volume Social Identities Between the Secular and the Sacred, some of those who are critical of religion see it as rigid and pushy, leading them to use terms such as atheist, agnostic to describe themselves.
Many of those studied who identify as SBNR feel a tension between their personal spirituality and membership in a conventional religious organization.
And as for spirituality, this is an old concept with a new usage.
Professor of Theology, Linda Mercadante sees religion as a complex adaptive network of myths, symbols, rituals and concepts that simultaneously figure patterns of feeling, thinking, and acting and disrupt stable structures of meaning and purpose.
Significant differences were found between the percentage of those considered younger Millennials (born 1990–1994) as compared with Generation Xers (born 1965–1980), with 34% and 21% reporting to be religiously unaffiliated, respectively.