Monday, April 15, 2013
Books on the bestseller lists often deal with healing and the young, an increasingly popular topic of discussion for nearly everyone nowadays. And now even religion has joined in by offering remedies for what ails us.How does religion help? asks a priest writing for priests.
He offers several ways that have been suggested by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck. He argues that our modern society is fostering sickness by encouraging a change from loyalty to the institutions of society to an extreme concern for ones personal welfare; the individual self is becoming, he says,the primary agent of meaning. The traditional structures of society--religion, family, nation--for the most part have been pushed into the background, and their legitimacy seriously questioned. As a result, religion, family and community have been weakened, making society less harmonious, the person all important. In the process we are losing our original self, which is social by nature, becoming more isolated, and damaging the long-term health of our community.
The writer wonders whether the strong movement toward healing is a sign that societal problems have begun to affect our daily lives, creating more personal problems for us to deal with. Healing takes for granted that we have areas that are hurting. Why have these hurts begun to appear? Examining carefully, the reasons for the pain is the first step to finding a remedy for the pain.
He refers to the plot of a famous novel and movie: A young boy, the only son of his mother, was kidnapped and killed. The murderer was caught and put in prison. The mother became a Christian and was convinced by others that she should forgive the killer, who was waiting for the day of his execution. When she went to the prison to forgive him, she was surprised to see the peaceful look on his face and was told that he was forgiven by God. Being told he had been forgiven by God, she was so upset that God had seemingly taken away the right she had to forgive that she renounced her Christianity and fell into deep despondency.
Her religious belief were no help to her in healing her pain. Rather, it enabled her to deceive herself; it was a drug to sooth her, a refuge. She had been using her belief to heal herself from the pain she did not want to feel, and never went beyond that.
Healing is not something distant from us, nor something that others bring to us. When we are in crisis and come up against opposition, losing our equilibrium, illusive feel-good feelings alone will not help. We should be looking for healing that will last and support us in all difficulties. He quotes a famous phrase: True light is not one that glitters. We have to 'stay the course' and in silence go the way we know. Faith is not a superficial exercise in our search for the truth, but the central motive behind the search for the truth that will set us free, allowing us to live in a way that will promote healing for all.