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Verena von Pfetten Headshot

Step V of My Spiritual Journey: In Which I Ask People To Share

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Why does spirituality make people, specifically, young people, uncomfortable? Wait, let me qualify that: "young people", meaning 20-somethings. Young people, as in children, are more than happy to talk about God, or their religion, or their pet hamster, for that matter. And I think 30-somethings are all about spirituality, and yoga retreats, and cleanses, and Buddhism or Kabbalah or whatever the hip new religion of choice is. But 20-somethings, they don't really want to talk about it.

I first started noticing this when I would tell people that I write a spirituality column and feel obligated to crack a joke right afterwards. I felt like I had to clarify that I wasn't any sort of religious nut. I also started noticing when that would be the end of the conversation. My friends didn't want to talk about their God, or a god, or whether or not they had a soul.

I decided to put my theory (half-baked as it was) to the test at my New Year's party on Monday night. In asking people to sign the guestbook, I asked them to be a little creative and jot down their thoughts on spirituality, in any way, shape, or form. And let me tell you, people do not want to write about spirituality. I had thought that the party libations would have loosened their tongues (and therein their pens), but boy, was I wrong!

I had one post, which as funny as it was, was a rumination on New Year's from the point of view of my dog. An excerpt: "Who should I get to pull on my toy? I always win that game! I have teeth and they have drunken sweaty fingers." Funny and remarkably apt, but not remotely spiritual. Someone else felt the need to tell me that my "dog likes to fart." Thank you! I hadn't noticed.

The next entry inexplicably instructs me to "most def put some cheese on dose [sic] crackers cuz [sic] dey [sic] lack attention."

I can thank one friend for posing the question: "Is Feng-Shui spiritual?" And another friend, who asks if "[believing] in enough spirituality for [his] message?"

But that was hardly enough material to work from.

Some were spiritually funny: "If God doesn't exist, then who's birthday did we celebrate last week?!?!?" But coming from someone who I know was raised a staunch Catholic, a little opaque.

The most useful and perhaps indicative quote comes from someone whose name I cannot read and who's handwriting I do not recognize: "God is like white cake with white icing. Utterly delicious and sinfully homogenous."

And maybe that's it. In a generation made up of people desperate to feel original, religion feels a little too white bread. But how is that possible when there are literally hundreds of options to choose from? What is spirituality if not an utterly individual choice? Perhaps it's the idea of belonging to something that thousands, if not millions, of people already belong to. I think there is a resistance to being pigeonholed, and perhaps the confusion comes when what you believe doesn't match up exactly with a pre-described option. I mean, I even had to take a quiz to figure out which religion I should belong to.

And I get it, people just don't want to pick a religion. But for a generation made up of transparencies (Facebook, Myspace, Blogs), why won't anyone even talk about their inner self? A quick scan of my friends' Facebook pages confirm this. Most opted not to answer the "Religion" section on their profiles, and those that did either wrote something safe, but utterly un-enlightening ("To each his own."), or made some attempt at comedy ("Morgan Freeman"). Since when did politics become hip, and spirituality taboo?

And I don't have the answer, but I plan on working my way through it. And for those of you who may think that this is yet another procrastination in the steps of My Spiritual Journey, it's not. This is me thinking about spirituality, and where it fits (or doesn't fit) in my world and the world around me. And I think it's okay to not have all the answers, or even an answer, because really, isn't spirituality itself a question of what is out there? Or in there? Or just there, in general?

Since I couldn't get drunk people to wax spiritually in my guestbook, maybe I can use the anonymity of the internet to my advantage. So here is my final question: If there are any 20-somethings out there who read this blog, what are your thoughts on spirituality? And if you have any other answers or thoughts as to when spirituality became un-cool, or even if you disagree, let me know!

And for my readers of all other ages - maybe you can help enlighten me and my generation, because clearly, we need all the answers we can get.

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