Can religion be good for mental health?

mylab123(z5NW)March 1, 2012

As a general rule, I have often thought so in general for the average already well balanced, non war mongering, non bigoted person, 'accepting about other religions and practices' kind of person.

But I'm bringing this up because Elizabeth Smart got married in Hawaii very recently and she is a practicing Mormon.

I find her to be an astounding, deeply interesting person who comes from an equally astounding and interesting family.

For what she was put through, which could warp anyone, this beautiful young woman has managed to deal with it and got on with her life in an apparently happy and balanced way. I don't understand how this is possible in as rounded a way as Elizabeth has, but if seeing is believing, she has managed it.

I give a lot of credit to good mental health genes and make up, fabulous parents who are not only extremely level headed but apparently really *knew* their daughters and how to best approach them both when helping them, both Elizabeth and her younger sister (who was key in Elizabeth's being found) - both unusually perceptive parents who, I believe who had pinpoint instincts on what best to do/not do - say/not say.

But I think that both their spiritual belief, religion AND their religious (Mormon) community helped them a great deal, in being there to support them through the worst of it and being there to celebrate with them during the best of it but also in a very big way, united around them and helped to protect the family's privacy through the experience and recovery.

I personally think that in the Smart family's case, their belief in God, the kind of God they believed in, their religion and their religous community perhaps made a huge difference, perhaps the key factor in Elizabeth's remarkable ability to put her kidnapping etc. in it's place and get on with her life.

Agree? Disagree?

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There's a song from the Book of Mormon called Turn it off.
Many people find great solace in Religion but not always with the structured hierarchy of that religion. I do not but I have know many people who do when it's life affirming I think it's great. When it seeks to undermine withe threats of loss & suffering forget it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Turn it off

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:06PM
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Yes, religious beliefs can definitely help with maintaining a sane outlook on life. But, I would caution that appearances aren't everything. I have known several people who, upon meeting them, you would think they really have it together but are really messed up inside. That's because most of us are trained to present a good image to the public and only the people who really know us well, know if we are what we appear to be.

Elizabeth Smart went through an awful lot. Only time will tell whether she has been able to overcome those years of degradation.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:51PM
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I think it's purely dependent upon the individual.

For me, religion was a great stifling source of guilt, even though I had no idea why I should feel guilty... fear, of eternal damnation and hellfire and all that... and I found the purveyors to be hypocritical, and the text so full of holes that if shot one more time it would surely disintegrate into a thousand pieces, to turn a word.

No, thank you. I'll pass on the fastest way to power and wealth.

For some people, it might work, or be badly needed.

For others, it's a massive mental hindrance that's already been completely infested and co-opted by the worms of evil.

Every day, it seems, there's another article about the pedophilia problem within the Catholic sect... or a Bible Belt cable vision pulpit personality can't keep his pants on, thinking fidelity a great joke.

Either practice what you preach or get off the podium.

I see it as just another con... a great scam of worldly proportions that takes money in exchange for saving souls. Rubbish.

Look at how wealthy religions are... and then look at the need in the world. Look at all the blood that has been shed in the name of all these "only" gods. Make a lot of sense to you? Because it sure doesn't to me.

Look at all the innocents harmed... and in the ugliest ways possible... and you still believe there's some great omnipotent deity, all loving and forgiving and just waiting to count you among the winged angels with harps and halos?

Everything a human being needs to survive and thrive in this world is already inside them... all they need do is access it. We all die, so what's the great fear, there? Questions? Life's journey will help with those answers... and really, do we need to have every single one? Or is a mystery or two such a horrible thing?

I find solace from within, and from my fellow human companions... and I try to stick with a certain set of ethics. To me, religion is just another business... except you get nothing in return for your money.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:56PM
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I think religion is what keeps many people sane. Without it they would have to think for themselves, and I think for a lot of people that is simply overwhelming (not impossible).

Religion can be great. I am often astounded and envious that people can be so absolutely CERTAIN of things while I keep circling around, looking from every angle.

The problem is I'm a cherry picker, so practicing religion isn't good for me. But I do enjoy learning about it.

Elizabeth... I feel so strongly for her and wish her the best. For sure, Mormons stick together and are very supportive. It helps that her family had money too. Has she overcome? Only time will tell. I will tell you that I know people who have gone through similar brainwashing with very little resources and although they struggle they have come through without religion.

Whatever works for you. I'm all for it.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Absolutely, religion can be good for mental health.

More accurately, a relationship with GOD is good for mental health.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:03PM
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Well.... in my humble experience a relationship with Buddha can also be good for mental health...

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:38PM
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I'm sure it can be.

Buddha can be "God."

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:42PM
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And "God" can be Buddha... Yes?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:43PM
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I think our Creator is our Creator, nomenclature does not matter.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:49PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Buddha is not a god. There is no supreme being in Buddhism.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Self-deluded people are typically more optimistic. The result is the religious and the optimists are generally happier, live longer, have stronger relationships and tend to achieve more in life. But it's still a comfortable self-delusion that any human knows anything about the existence or non-existence of god.

So to make Demifloyd's assertion more scientific, a relationship with a fictional entity that makes you feel better about the overwhelming and unknowable universe and your place in it is good for a person's mental health. Could be Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Gaia, Avalokitesvara or the nanny state -- people definitely can draw strength from a belief in something beyond themselves, whether that belief has any pragmatic basis or not.
" a study by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the medical histories of 839 people were tracked over 30 years. They had all completed a standard personality test between 1962 and 1965, measuring their optimism. There were 124 optimists, 197 pessimists and 518 in between. Their death rates were compared and every 10-point increase in pessimism was associated with a 19 per cent increase in death rate. Similar studies have been done more recently on the role of optimism in high-risk pregnancies, speeding recovery from heart by-pass surgery, and as part of the treatment for teenagers who take drugs. In all these studies pessimists tended to do markedly worse.

Scientists have proved that we can change our brain responses by conscious effort. We can actually condition ourselves to trigger a particular chemical pattern in our brains so that we can change our attitudes and our thinking in positive ways. Thus, even if you have a habit of focusing on the negative, with practice you can change that habit.

Taking control of how you respond to your thoughts and what thoughts you focus on can make all the difference between happiness and unhappiness. An excellent first step is simply to acknowledge the negative feelings respectfully -- they are not the cause of your feeling bad but rather signposts to your negative thinking. Then focus your energies on a substitute. Optimists, you see, use their imagination to rehearse success.

Indeed it has been discovered that the most successful individuals from all walks of life do this routinely. Not only do optimists imagine a rosy future, they remember their successes much better than they recall their failures. They dwell on the pleasant. They skip over, although they don’t ignore, their shortcomings.

This called "positive illusion". You see it in world-class competition of all kinds, for instance. The world champion goes into competition believing he or she will succeed. Top ice skaters, skiers, gymnasts, divers, and other performers imagine themselves completing their programs flawlessly. They are all optimists. As well as working very hard to achieve their peak form, they anticipate success. They don’t hope for it; they expect it.

The power of positive illusion occurs in the worlds of commerce, politics, and art as well. Research on the process by which people become effective and inspiring leaders uncovered one trait all great leaders possess. This "unwarranted optimism" is the ability to see a positive future even in the face of contradictory evidence and appears to be a strong component of top leaders."

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:02PM
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It's not fictional.

But certain fictional beliefs can contribute to good mental health, as well. Or, the opposite.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:53PM
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Jodi, I'm confused by your response to this topic which was about the amazing recovery of a young woman aided by a community of like minded people who;s connection had one thing in common: their like minded religion.

I don't understand how you went from that discussion point to how it is that religous people go for power and money, the vast amount of people belonging to a religion in this country tend to be the same financial scale of people as a group - probably reflective of society and it's income structure. A handful of very wealthy, (at least one or two at any rate), then some who are very well off, then middle income comfortable, then the majority: those who have to watch every penny and lastly, and too many - those who don't have enough pennies to watch over in the first place.

I think it's interesting how this religion based community
banded together in such a positive way to aid this family in a substantial but not financial (not needed) way - a family who's members all who went through hell during that time, including the youngest sister who appears to have suffered like I can't imagine as she was in the room and saw her sister spirited away. I may remember incorrectly but I believe she was under the age of 10 at the time when she had the recollection of who it was that took Elizabeth and went straight to her parents with the memory she was confident over, a very remarkable little one in her own right. The whole family to me is so remarkable.

It was through her sudden recollection nine months later
that the identity was made and her parents willingness to believe a little girl had an accurate and reliable memory and pushed it HARD to the local police to put it out there which led to Elizabeth's discovery and recovery.

I find it facinating, how a community so supportive as to be "family" in it's own way, linked with a common cause (religion) was able to aid the entire Smart family in such a positive way as to have such an unexpectedly marvelous result.

I do think that very good genetics as far as mental health goes, along with a great deal of family understanding in that the parents knew their girls better than most parents do - I think they were parenting through fabulous instincts - plus a good family 'character' and all of it glued with a loving and protective community bonded through religion, it's just amazing to me.

I'm not a fan of organized religion at *all* but I can recognize and admit when it works during a crises or a town and in this case, the family was much, much better off for it's belief than had it not been affiliated with a religious organization.

In fact, I think that in cases like these not of national attention so much as a family in crises, this is where a religion and it's local community can either shine or fail substantially. We just don't hear about the failures - if we did organized religions in this country would probably be much more proactive and more helpful in a greater way.

It is only logical that it can't be assumed that Elizabeth Smart is out of the danger zone emotionally, but I think that if anyone could recover so well, it might very well be her because of the background she was able to come back home to, her family AND her community.

It's true that time will tell but time is already passing, a lot of healing time is already behind her - of course she will have ups and downs like every human being,
but if it ends up hard to know what is regular life and what goes back to her trauma, then she has survived her hellish ordeal better than most ever could expect to.

In this case, it really did take a village and all in that village did such a wonderful job, even if Elizabeth still has some personal crises associated with her abduction which will negatively stain her life in the future.

I rarely have anything good to say about religion because I find it hard to FIND anything good to say about it, but I see how it shone with goodness in this case.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:42AM
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I'm sure it happens, but I don't know how anyone could mentally survive the death of a child without a relationship with God. To believe that this is it, never to see this child again? Organized religion really has nothing to do with it. It's that personal relationship one has with God. The ability to say, God, I need some help here, and knowing that He is there. When one has that personal relationship, it is so easy to point out the times in ones life that God has been an active participant. I can't even imagine trying to navigate my way through without Him.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:11AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

And, Betty, what was God's plan for that child, but whatever gives you comfort...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:14AM
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Richard, I was able to see His plan. A long but wonderful story.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:20AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

I have the time...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:34AM
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I approached the topic more from the question in the title, and less about a story I'm not that familiar with, Mylab...

I couldn't begin to imagine how the issue could affect anyone else... so I felt it simply better to write my vision/opinion of religion in general and what I see and feel about it and the affect it seems to have, and has had, on the world. A wider perspective.

Wealth is a very large part of organized religion... I don't know of one that doesn't have wealth... and most have very large amounts as viewed by their houses of worship and contents, the fact that the Vatican has its own bank... and the fact that none ever to seem to collect enough, or give out large portions of what is taken in.

It's that kept wealth that, in great part, makes me realize that there's not much mental health to it, but more mental coercion.

From my own perspective, and from the conversations I've had with a few fundamentalists, I have a hard time with the idea that anyone of strong will and logical mind would actually buy what religion is selling, so to speak. And the fact that they claim tax exempt status is just another slap in the face.

But it's only my view after about 30 years of trying hard to understand the whole thing, and from the narrow view of one small church, it may not look that bad... but when you step back and view them all, worldwide, news articles and everything else we're shown... there are very few that can honestly claim to be teaching the true message that Jesus was sent to give us. Therefore, I think it more a hindrance to strong mental health.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Can we separate "religion" from "spirituality"?

I can see Mylab's point and that there are many examples of this, probably throughout history. On the other hand, so many weak, mentally lazy, unthinking people, in my experience, seem to be using organized religion as a crutch.

I think a case can be made for having strong core values, developed over time and taking comfort in the morality of one's own inner belief system. I would call that spirituality and often a positive thing.

I think there are as many ways to use and abuse and benefit from religions as there are varieties of personalities. There is no "one size fits all."

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:29AM
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kingturtle(Zone 7 GA)

Not to minimize the spiritual part, but I would also attribute some of the mental health benefits to having close beneficial relationships with others in a support group that shares your views. The church like the school can be the glue that holds the community together.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 11:20AM
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In my first post, I said, "I think it's purely dependent upon the individual."

So I think it really comes back to how strong of a person you are, meaning your inner person.

Either people aren't receiving the true intended message of "religion"... or the leaders aren't leading by example... and I tend to see the latter as making a huge difference.

"Do as I say and not as I do" isn't a good or healthy way to teach a child... why would it be a good way to spread a message of love, forgiveness, empathy, ethics, or just treating those you come in contact with as you would like to be treated?

I don't think we can really take only one example of a "church" or "religious" happening, and use it as a model for... what? How religion can help?

What about how it has harmed over the centuries? They must count for something. All those people murdered, war over religious beliefs... even what we seem to be going through here, with women and same-sex rights.

I guess I simply don't think, looking at the larger picture, that religion is good for anything except religion, itself.

Spirituality is another breed, entirely... at least, I think it is. I don't have to believe a certain way, or say certain prayers, or attend a particular meeting, or give my money to the church so the pastor can make the next payment on his Cadillac.

After taking a long, deep, hard look around... I'm afraid I simply don't see a benefit that can't be attained elsewhere by walking a different path.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 1:18PM
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I saw the question as hypothetical & as such any tool can be useful for mental health. Religion may be in the business of instructing life at it's various stages.
As far as spirituality goes in recovery from many maladies using a 12 step format. A spiritual experience is described as a personality change sufficient enough to bring about recovery! There are many suits that have declared 12 steps as a quasi religion I'm not sure that I disagree.
I can reap benefits from studying religions without acknowledging a deity.
There are a good number of non theistic Quakers in ny

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Yes it can, whether one's religion is being based upon reality (God is real) or it's just a placebo effect it still helps dealing with life's stresses. Being an agnostic of the current multitude of God theories (leaning towards no way) I suffer through ;)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Basically, it's a security blanket. It does take way more strength and guts to go through live without it.

Mylab, I get your point. I too noticed it does sound like an outstanding occurence. If it were the norm...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Jodi, earlier this morning before you came back in, I posted to please excuse my reply to your thoughts because I realized you were responding to the question in my subject posting much more so than the subject matter and I told you that I had worded that darn subject posting SO badly that I wished I could have re-worded it to apply specifically to the subject matter in my message. Although the question posted in the subject would probably be interesting to discuss (unless it's "yes, to a believer and no to a disbeliever, which probably sums it up anyway!) it was not worded in a way that related well to the body of the message.

Obviously I didn't hit "submit" like I thought I did and got off because my day was very full ;)....a error I've made more than once.

I got what you were saying, I agree with what you say to a great extent - I was facinated though where it seemed to me that in this case religion and the community of that religion seemed to be the next best thing to having their daghter back, both during the kidnapping and after her return.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 5:46PM
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I don't fthink being intellectually honest about the limits of human knowledge or perception diminishes spirituality in any way. I personally feel the opposite, it enhances what I do appreciate in life in large part because it is so mysterious and meta-human. Feelings are real to each individual, as are emotions, as are beliefs, as are loves and losses. But that's where it ends, within each individual. The people with special knowledge that then must become action and society has to modify our lives and opinions based on their BELIEFS tire me. Culture war weariness.

I never have and never will meet any person who knows any more about the existence of a deity or deities than I do, which is not squat. I've been honored to meet people I've perceived to be quite holy, from many faiths, and spiritually far, far beyond me. I look forward to meeting more of them. It leaves unchanged the fact that each have their own individual delusion that allows them to maximize their own inner peace, beauty and strength. That doesn't diminish fiction, it empowers it -- who can deny the power of seeing someone turn their own conflated, fictional story into a real, life-sustaining mental construct, which nurtures the individual and collectively has aided our species in achieving incomparable evolutionary success. It doesn't get much more real than that.

But let's just be honest about what it is, is all I ask.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Well, Mylab, as I believe KT sort of said earlier, a church can act as a sort of close knit community, a support group... so I can see where the support and comfort might come from...

Unfortunately, I think it's the exception more than the rule... depending on a few variables.

I never found church, or more to the point, the parish we belonged to, to be very close knit. Quite the opposite, in fact. From my viewpoint as a child and into my teen years, it seemed more like the weekly fashion show, where the men were decked out in nice suits and ties... and the women wore their finest, right down to jewelry and furs. It was almost, to my young eyes, as though there was a bit too much going on in the "one-ups-man-ship" department, and not a lot going on spiritually.

Quite a few families departed immediately following Communion... or were heading toward the door before the final hymn was finished.

I didn't really notice a lot of socializing going on, not even out in the entrance area or parking lot. It was like a required thing one had to do once a week, and then people couldn't wait to get home before kickoff during football season... or, I don't know... there just didn't seem to be a lot of "community" going on.

But then, we are talking about a larger church, and a Catholic one.

There was always a list read sometime during mass of people who needed extra prayer, either because of illness, loss in the family, etc... but it just didn't feel close knit or community-like... and I wouldn't use the word "supportive" to describe the experience, at all.

So, I guess one of those variables would be size of parish, etc...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:16PM
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My impression of the Mormons is that they really take care of each other.
I know they are all required to give so many hours of service each week.
I have a cousin who became a Mormon when she was in her forties. My mother used to say that once she became a Mormon she never had time for her family because she was so involved in church activities.
Years ago , my son had a piano teacher that was a Mormon . She had 7 children and her husband was out of work. The Mormon church was supporting the family.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:43PM
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Trauma is trauma & certain fallout is to expected but if it is ever publicly displayed is another story.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:19PM
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most religions have praying and forms of meditation.
since most praying is a form mediation. And studies have shown meditation has beneficial effects for mental health. it might hold that this aspect of religion does help mental health. As for the other aspect of religion helping mental health I think we all can agree that proving or disproving a deity's interaction on mental health is beyond the means we as human have of testing. if praying lets g-d help you be more mentally stable is a big unknown.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:54AM
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There is a lot of speculation that, indeed, a big part of the benefit of religion is a placebo effect.

Placebo effects are real. The idea that a big part of the good effects of antidepressants is due to a placebo effect was recently making headlines.

Mitt, I understand, did his two years of missionary service for the Mormon community. I've run into a group of young Mormons who were doing their stint at this and they were an exceedingly nice, well mannered and enthusiastic young men.

I think Mitt also regularly contributes a large amount of money to the Mormon church.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:34AM
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I'm sure we've all heard the term "mind over matter". The human mind is a very powerful thing, and can actually be the catalyst that causes or cures various maladies.

My Dad was a fairly devout Catholic, who suffered with leukemia for about 10 years, before finally succumbing to it. But within those 10 years, he and my mother would make yearly pilgrimages to what was then Yugoslavia, to the area where a group of visionaries were located. I'm sure many of you have heard of them, in Medjugorje.

Upon their return, every year, his test results would come back that his leukemia had gone into remission. I know he firmly believed it to be religious in nature. I, myself, believe it to be a simple case of mind over matter. He had such faith, and believed so powerfully, that his mind actually played a part in staving off his illness for a short while. He also went through all the normal medical treatments, so that helped a bit, too.

But I think that it doesn't really matter whether you choose religion, or you choose the strength that already resides deep within us all... you can call it what you like... but it all comes back to the power of the human mind and spirit... and from my perspective, there's nothing to indicate a god is involved. It's purely the strength of your inner mind power, or some might say faith.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:38PM
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In most discussions on Hot Topics there is a rush to apportion the good things to my side and the bad things to the other side and I am surprised that it is not happening here. There is sanity in all religions but insanity reins at the fundamental bigoted end that exists in them all.If you stay amongst the liberal (small 'l') Catholics or Muslims or whatever they all seem the same to me but once you get amongst the "eliminate everybody who disagrees with us" crowd insanity is a prerequisite.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Aside from the placebo effect of religion, I agree with the "community" and the sense of support that you get from "belonging" to a supportive group. Another placebo effect?

In my youth, long after I saw the ridiculousness of the God concept, I kept going to the church for the social aspects.

I feel that here in this forum that we all share. I want to thank all of you for contributing to my mental health.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:50PM
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Yeah... welcome to the Church of Controversy... we'll be passing around a plate later... please give generously so we can all experience that warm, fuzzy feeling.

I don't know if you got the answers you were looking for, Mylab... but I would say that the power of the mind, combined with a sense of belonging, of support from a group, can definitely impact a person in a positive way.

Some people need that, and others... in my opinion... don't as much. No man is an island, they say... but I still think that many organized religions aren't getting or giving the intended message... the one of peace and love and empathy and having integrity.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 7:45PM
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I think I got interesting answers, thanks to you all for your contributions. This case interested me from the start and I'm so glad that she is seemingly doing very well and getting on with a nice life. I rather doubt I would have survived very well, certainly not been able to do so with the grace she has displayed - that her whole family has displayed.

I think that as far as her church and community of Mormons go, this is probably a best case scenario and if there's one like this, I think that means that there is more goodness out there from church congregatons for those in great need. I'm very glad to have found that a great community centered around a religious belief can do so much good. I don't have the capacity to believe but I now can see what greatness the people who do are capable of being.

Jodi, I was always somehow meshed into the "Catholic community" while growing up, being in the schools and socializing with Catholic kids from the local churches we woudl be living near - and it was very different from the Mormon community. It was not a community nearly as connected or intertwined, at least that my perception. Although being Catholic and in Catholic schools was what brought us together, it ended up being really only a common connection, it didn't have that "power" that other churches like the Mormon church seems to bring to a community. The ties did not necessarily bind - at least in my perception of what made up my religious "community".

Just like every single religion on earth that I'm aware of, there are horror stories about the Mormon religous community, but the ones I heard of, most of them dated back to the 80s and a lot of that stuff was corrected (advising a spouse to leave if the other spouse didn't toe the line set by the local church leaders - that sort of thing) but I'm always so happy when I see or hear of a local church which manages to do exactly what the function of the church community should be for those in real need of any kind.

Centered around their preferred manner of worship should be the caring and carrying for each other when needed - that should be the whole point - not just a roof over the collective heads while worshiping their God, as displayed by the church community to the Smart family.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:08AM
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Mylab, it sounds like we had similar upbringings, Catholic schools, church on Sunday, etc... and I just never saw or felt any "community" within. It was as you say... the venue was the only connection, not so much the people. A true sense of "belonging" was missing.

I think if a person could find a truly worthy religion/church community that was tight knit and provided the kind of real life support and help that people often need, while at the same time practicing what they preach, and that being the real message that Jesus brought, that would be great.

I'm more inclined to think, however, that a lot of parishes are simply too large for that personal feeling of belonging, and I also feel that religion in general just hasn't grown along with society and cultures. Some of the tighter knit groups are also the ones that display some of the more bizarre beliefs or practices, too.

Taking it all in, worldwide, the bigger picture... I see more farce than anything else... and that's really sad... especially considering what the message Jesus offered was really all about. I don't think society has failed religion as much as religion has failed society.

Basing my opinions on what I've read and learned about the Mormon church in general, and its history... I just don't buy into it. I don't buy into the fact that someone just happened to "discover" a new "book" from the bible in what was the American frontier. And I think that if they wanted to split from the original church, they should have simply done so... like other religions did... instead of pretending to discover a new section of the bible previously unknown... and one that clearly places an even stronger patriarchal angle to the entire thing... as in some sects taking more wives, etc...

I don't know... there's just so much wrong with the world, with religions in general, with the way that money and power influences everything, even within religions, that I just have to go with my gut instinct... and that is that no actual deity exists, and it's all a front for other purposes. I like to think that our Universe consists of energies both positive and negative, and somehow it seems to maintain a balance... even if it all seems quite a bit "off" at the moment... and we humans play only an equal role in it all to everything else. In other words, we're no more special than any other species within our ecosystem, except for the fact that we have evolved far enough along to control more of it... and we're actually doing more harm than good at the moment.

Hopefully, one day, all that energy will re-balance. I just think it's awfully conceited of us to think we're the grandest thing, or the only intelligent life, in what is actually a Universe so large that we haven't even measured it all yet. To me, it just seems like an awful lot of wasted space if that were the case.

I wholeheartedly agree that a sense of belonging to a group or community is important, and a natural part of our genetic makeup as a species, if you will... but I think there are a lot of other avenues to explore where this is concerned, and a church is not the only place one can find that same sense, or feeling.

For me, religion is not a good thing for my mental health... for others, it can work and in many ways. It's an individual thing, and if you find what you need within religion, then it's all good, I guess.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 11:01AM
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