Ask Fr. John: A further explanation of religious vs. spiritual Orthodoxy

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Is Orthodoxy “religious” or “spiritual?”

Part 3
It is frequently implied in modernity that it is preferential to be spiritual as opposed to religious.
Religion at face value appears to be juridical, following of rules and dogmas. At least, in Orthodoxy, what is believed to be “religious” is actually a way of life springing from love, not from rules or legalism.
Is going to the bathroom or eating or breathing or blinking religious merely because one must do so? No.
One must do these things to survive. For Orthodox, survival is not so much the motivator as is love for an actual person.
Spirituality has been equated with absolute freedom. One could ask if the most common understanding of “spirituality” is: dedication to the “free spirit.”
One can observe that this has in fact become a fad or dogmatic. Essentially, anything that is specific, absolute, or divisive is considered material; anything that promotes generalities, peace and unity, is considered good, like a spiritual law, since it supposedly rises above negativity.
Any absolute concepts equate to material; inclusivity becomes spiritual. Out of these sentiments, and others like them, come the dogma: “focus on similarities and ignore differences.”
There are so many equal “truths” out there that essentially nothing is true. The only absolute truth, another dogma, must be: “there is no absolute truth.”
I am reminded by people all the time about these spiritual dogmas and that the spiritual is essentially thrice blessed and the material (or religion) is base.
How did we get to this contemporary understanding of spirituality? Was it really evolution? Is it really a new truth to which humanity has risen? The truth is, this ideology is nothing new. This ideology is largely rooted in, and resembles the old beliefs of “gnosticism.”
Back in the early first century, gnosticism held that by acquiring secret-knowledge anyone could attain enlightenment.
Typically, gnostics tended to poo-poo the material and exalt the spiritual. It was held that the material body was bad and was basically a vehicle for the soul (or spirit) to drive around in.
Plato held that the body was the prison of the soul, from which one needed release and freedom. These same opinions, are now common today.
Needless to say, Orthodox Christianity believes quite a different view from above.
I have a theory: the dysfunction and abuses that have occurred in Western Christendom have produced the above neo-gnosticism.
The above spirituality has become the respite to which, like a pendulum, many are swinging, due to bad religion.