What's your most unshakeable belief, and why? Share your personal story on CNN.
Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Share your story. More Videos What's your most unshakeable belief? Share your story It's a reasonable question. Considering the role that religion so often plays in fueling conflicts abroad and inspiring bigotry at home, it is not always so easy to defend the value of religion in society.
And, in a world in which reason and religion seem to be moving further apart, it is certainly understandable why so many people view religious faith as the hallmark of an irrational mind.
Of course, as someone who has spent the better part of the last two decades studying the world's religions -- and having recently crisscrossed the globe for my new spiritual adventure series " Believer, " where I immerse myself in religious traditions both familiar and downright bizarre -- I know better than to take the truth claims of any religion including my own too seriously. Faith is mysterious and ineffable. It is an emotional, not necessarily a rational, experience. Religion is a fairly recent human invention.
Considering Faith: Emuna | WBHM
But faith, as I have elsewhere argued, is embedded in our very evolution as human beings. Aslan: Let's talk calmly about religion And yet, in the end, faith is nothing more or less than a choice. You either believe there is something beyond the physical world as I do , or you don't. You either believe you are more than the sum of your material parts as I do , or you don't. You either believe in the existence of a soul as I do , or you don't. No one can prove or disprove these things, not any more than anyone can prove or disprove love or fear or any other human emotion.
Religion, on the other hand, is the language we use to express faith.
It is a language made up of symbols and metaphors that allows people to express to each other and to themselves what is, almost by definition, inexpressible. Clergy—minister, priest, rabbi, imam—are generally the first people contacted when families need help. This can also be true for chaplains, as they are often alerted to a patient in distress by family or other institutional staff. The client-parishioner-patient, in this case, George, makes assumptions about the helping professional, and he may well have stereotypes in mind.
Clergy who are also trained in a helping profession social work, psychology, psychiatric nursing, professional counselors, or psychiatrists can see both sides of these reactions. Clients bring assumptions about confidentiality, types of help that can be provided, and comfort levels. For the therapist, there are also clear expectations. For baby boomers, many were trained in single paradigm approaches.
The focus was on the work of a single theory, such as the psychodynamic, Gestalt, behavioral or cognitive therapies. In the s, it was finally acknowledged that most therapists were more eclectic than they would admit, and borrowed good ideas from one paradigm to the next. In pastoral counseling, a majority of the better known teachers in the s and s were trained in one of the psychodynamic approaches, often Jungian therapy, but also held a Masters of Divinity and were active in the church.
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That generation of clergy was trained to understand the integration of religion or faith with counseling practice through the perspective of bridges offered by Jungian analysis. This symbolic approach was rich with personal symbols of the client-parishioner and those of their faith tradition. Since the s there has been a much greater integration of faith and counseling practice in training faculty, as well as students. Another paradigm helpful to understanding George M. This is the transcendent aspect. Frankl, like most Existentialists, is holistic in his approach.
Alfred Adler began this line of thinking by understanding that unlike with Freudian psychology, the person cannot be compartmentalized.
For example, if you cut off my leg, you have created a physical challenge, but I will also have feelings about it, creating an emotional challenge because the two are related. Transcendence also exists between the individual and their understanding of a divine being. In this sense, Frankl looks to the spirit.
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For George M. This sort of spirit can have mystical qualities, but can also be about finding ways to become more relational, to focus on giving and caring about others. The critical challenge for traditional lenses in counseling has always reflected the role of religion or religious material. While clearly many of those trained in secular counseling approaches before tend to ignore any sort of religious- or faith-oriented content, counselors today ignore it at their peril.
Friendship and the Apologetics of Imagination
For many clients, to ignore religious content would be much like a surgeon ignoring an obvious lump or significant pain. Religion can be a very positive force in the life of the client. It can offer hope and allow the person to reframe even tragedies into more manageable emotional units. It can also reflect the flavoring of pathology.
In the case of George M. Persons with a psychosis will tell anyone, but the mystic will only tell those who the mystic thinks will understand, reflecting a relationship with reality not generally known to the hallucinating person with a psychosis. From the beginning of the relationship between George and his therapist, whether that person is clergy or counselor, the paradigm of the counselor will play a role in defining the problem and framing a care plan.