When Religion Gets Sick, written by Dr. Wayne Oates, is widely regarded as one of the classics. “Sick religion” is defined by Dr. Oates as one that “hinders the basic functions of life.” In this book he uses a case history method for exploring religious pathology and addressing such questions as:
- When does religion get sick?
- What kinds of experiences result from sick religion?
- How can spiritual caregivers help people who have such experiences?
Through interdisciplinary, reflective peer group dialogue, participants in this seminar will review several chapters from this book and reflect on the meaning and consequences of “sick religion” in light of their own experience and context. Through this process, participants benefit by learning from each another as well as from the presentations and self-reflection.
- Recognize when religion is “sick” by observing the kinds of experiences individuals and groups have in their religious lives that hinder their functioning.
- Identify a course of action that spiritual caregivers, churches, and other caregivers can take to help those individuals and groups in their care who are exhibiting a religious pathology.
- Identify experiences in the lives of individuals and groups that serve as predictors for religious pathology, and suggest a preventative course of action.
Week 1: Conditions of a Dysfunctional Faith
Readings: Conditions of a Dysfunctional Faith and Religion by Larry J. Austin, D.Min., BCC; Chapters One and Two of WRGS by Wayne Oates.
Week 2: Superstition, Magic, and Sick Religion
Readings: Chapter Three of WRGS
Week 3, Major Transitions in Life
Readings: Chapters Four and Six of WRGS