I would also suggest investigating the M.A. programs in philosophy that have a good track record of helping people get into top PhD programs. However, I'd also add that majoring in philosophy is not a requirement for admission to most PhD programs, and many strong graduate students in philosophy have majored in other fields. Whether you are competitive for the better PhD programs depends largely on your letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and, as already noted, your writing sample.
First, one does not have to be brilliant to go to, and be successful in, graduate school in philosophy. That aside, there are many interesting career paths for someone with your education. One avenue is to pursue federal jobs, by looking at www.usajobs.gov.You can do a search by major or keyword, and some interesting jobs pop up for philosophy, including overseas teaching jobs. Another teaching option is Teach for America (www.teachforamerica.org). Quite a few philosophy majors wind up working in digital technology. Your interests overlap with work in cognitive science, and potentially computer science. At social networking startups, there is a lot of attention to questions about agency, the nature of communication through different media, and even matters of identity in the digital environment. Teaching and digital technology are two large areas to consider.
We think philosophy can help in finding one's identity and values, as ap points out. We also think that you have identified a number of different values (money, satisfaction, good co-workers...). Some values are essential (you need enough money for food). We suggest identifying your fundamental values, and trying rank or bundle them to get the best overall combination of values available to you.
Good wishes from CT and TJH, a soon to be graduate who is wrestling with a similar question!
Interesting! There are significant numbers of self-identified "religious persons" throughout the world in different philosophy departments. You may find mostly Muslim philosophers in countries where the culture is Islamic, but that is not always true, as can be seen in the UK and USA. My own school includes a Hindu professor who shares a position with the religion and philosophy and you can find a guide to the many Christian philosophers working in the English-speaking world by looking at the Society of Christian Philosophers website. As for philosophy and spirituality, there are a few secular philosophers who have sought to promote a kind of spirituality without any religious affiliation or theistic framework (this was a project of Robert Solomon, for example). For a fascinating essay by one of the greatest living philosophers on the desire for some kind of spirituality, you should check out Thomas Nagel's essay "Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament." I think this is on his NYU website, but it is also available in a book by that title published with Oxford University Press.
It might not disqualify you at some programs, but it will certainly count against you at most. The writing sample is the primary way of distinguishing applicants' philosophical talents, at least once they have been narrowed down using other criteria (such as coursework in philosophy and grades, letters--though for the competitive candidates, they tend to be equally gushing--and perhaps GRE). A 5-page sample is unlikely to provide evidence that you can develop an argument responding to a particular position that you have adequately and charitably explained. (Of course, Gettier's famous paper is quite short!)
I say all this with empathy--I was a philosophy minor (not major) and did not have a good, long piece of writing to submit when I applied to grad school. I had to use a mediocre, long piece, and was lucky to be accepted in the few places I was. But that was (too) many years ago when the competition was a little less fierce. I would try to work with one of your professors to develop one of your short papers into something more substantial (12-18 pages).
(On the other hand, people should NOT submit pieces longer than 20 pages.)
I don't think that one has a moral obligation to pursue any particular career: one's obligation is to oneself, to pursue what one thinks will be a fulfilling, satisfying career, but what will count as fulfilling or satisfying is of course highly contingent on one's values, personality, etc.. Although you are quite right to note that the philosophy job market is quite tight at the moment, that is no reason not to pursue a philosophy PhD: after all, even if one were not to continue on in professional philosophy, the training one receives in a PhD program is highly portable and may thus be transferred to other professions. My recommendation is that you determine whether, if you were to pursue a PhD in philosophy but were not able to secure a job in the profession, you would still wish to pursue the PhD. If so, then you should apply to graduate school in philosophy; if not, then you should not apply to graduate school in philosophy. If you do apply to graduate school in philosophy, then you need to think about what sort of career path you would like to follow in professional philosophy (if, for example, you would only like to teach at a top research university or liberal arts college, then you would do well to apply only to apply to the most highly regarded PhD programs, so as to maximize your chances of achieving that goal), and, most importantly--given the uncertainty of the philosophy job market and the relatively low salaries earned by beginning professors--I would recommend that you not attend graduate school in philosophy, whatever your career ambitions, unless you do not have to take on debt to do so. The decision to pursue a PhD in philosophy--like most career decisions--should not be taken lightly, for in making such a choice, you are deciding what sort of life you will lead, at least for about six years and maybe longer.
In my experience, among humanists, it is philosophers who ask the most pointed questions: although the questions posed by Anglo-American philosophers (things are different on the Continent, in my experience) are pointed, they are not necessarily hostile, and I have never heard of anyone keeping score so obviously! It is among many philosophers a point of pride that discussions are as focused and pointed as they are, although it is most surprising to other humanists (and in fact I have sometimes inadvertently ruffled feathers when I have raised questions in a talk given in another area of the humanities in a fashion that would be unremarkable in a philosophy conference or talk.) I myself have found that the level of hostility and tension in a conference or talk varies directly with the topic: while there are of course always exceptions, I have found that talks in the general area of metaphysics and epistemology are more tense than talks in subfields of the history of philosophy, ethics, or political philosophy. One of my colleagues has suggested that this may be due to the fact that in the history of philosophy, for example, philosophers seek ultimately to deepen the understanding of certain texts and/or issues, but the discussion is responsible to the texts, whereas in metaphysics and epistemology, the arguments advanced are more personal, as it were, since they do not depend on texts in that way, and thus the position articulated is 'one's own' in a way that even a novel interpretation of a historical text is not. I'd be very interested in the responses of other panelists, especially other panelists with more experience in areas outside of the history of philosophy, the area in which I have done the most work, to this question!
If you have a rigorous philosophy paper, why not send it to an academic journal? You do not need to have a PhD in philosophy or a job as a philosopher to submit to a journal. Best to look for a journal that does "masked" ("blinded") review, so that your identity is not known to the referees and they won't be biased by your lack of professional stature.