Thursday, August 10, 2017
How 'Bout We Give Religion a Break?
Here is a mild frustration that I as a person of faith have. If one's psychotherapist doesn't miraculously lead her client to peace of mind and joy of life in 3 sessions, we don't immediately assume the therapist is a fraud. Even if she's no damn good at all, we don't assume psychotherapy is b/s...we just find a new therapist. If our primary care physician prescribes a treatment that doesn't work, we don't throw up our hands and say medical science is a scam...we try another treatment. And as every dieter in the world knows, not one person alive has tried just one diet. We keep trying. So, in a world where perfection is expected of almost no one, and where we seem to intuit, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again," it almost sends me into orbit when religion is presented as a zero/sum game. Prayer didn't work like a genie in a bottle instantly granting a wish? Must be snake oil. An intuitive person who often gives wise counsel gets something wrong once, it was clearly a shell game. Prayers for peace didn't turn every dictator in a 1960s flower child? Religion must be bogus. Why isn't religion, like other social institutions, communities, arts and sciences, something that can be useful without being perfect, helpful without being magical, a good resource without producing microwavable instant miracles? We've all been disappointed when the magic didn't work (whether the magic was a pill, an exercise, a diet, or a prayer)...but somehow, only religion/spirituality can't be forgiven for its lack of omnipotence. As a religious person, this aggravates me...and now you know.