I had dinner last week with a friend who works in the Netherlands. I was intrigued by a word he used to describe a common label for religious belief by people in Amsterdam. It’s from the Dutch word “iets” which simply means something. When referred to as a shared belief it is referred to as “Somethingism.” In short, it means a belief in something but nothing overly defined or specific.

I found an interesting article that offers this description:

Times of great change are also fearful times. People feel uncertain, at sea. Many feel they have little or no control over their lives. And that makes some of them angry. Spirituality is the answer. Some say we have reached the end of “the grand narrative”: Not only is ­Christianity passé, but the meta-stories that tell us science or socialism will bring ultimate salvation have also failed to pan out. In the meantime, a new grand narrative is being created: a hopeful and uplifting story, one more and more people are starting to believe and from which we can derive inspiration and vitality.

This group is disillusioned with what they see as unsatisfying answers offered by different sections of society, from religious to scientific leaders. This could well be described as an existential crisis, as they are looking for a unified way to make sense of their experience and to find meaning and happiness that works for them in their current struggles. The article outlines seven broad beliefs common in Somethingism:

1. All religions tell the same story.

2. God resides within us.

3. Only as an individual can we find harmony with others.

4. Live in your body, not in your head.

5 We must let the ego die.

6. Humanity evolves through our individual development.

7. Everything is connected.

There’s an interesting parallel to Eastern thought reflected in the seven categories. When I teach worldview survey courses, I often point out this trend, particularly when people leave beliefs they see as more common in the West. What often results is a New Age outlook that still baptizes Eastern thought in Western individualism.

There’s also a similarity between Somethigism and Deism. Deism is a belief in an impersonal God. I describe Deism to my students as a space-holder worldview, as it is often adopted by persons moving towards or away from other perspectives — in my experience either away from Christianity and towards atheism or the opposite. That’s why one person described Deism as “watered-down theism or sexed-up atheism.”

However, in the case of Somethingism, both Christianity and atheism have been ruled out. Nonetheless, it seems like more of a space-holder than a permanent destination. I think they are going somewhere. Where will their journey lead? As my mom likes to say, “It’s their journey. Maybe one day it will be their testimony.”