All Courses Forums Course Discussion Forums Healthy and Unhealthy Religion Week 3: Transitions and Forgiveness

7 replies, 5 voices Last updated by Michael Porter 2 years, 6 months ago
Viewing 7 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #4620

      A thread for thoughts and reflections for Week 3 – Transitions and Forgiveness. Enter your thoughts in this thread.

    • #4621

      brandeaton
      Participant
      @brandeaton

      I was particularly interested in Dr. Oates’ Chapter 4, “The Major Transitions of Life.”  In my own experience, I believe I have encountered on multiple occasions moderate dysfunction in individuals and families where major life transitions were not acknowledged.  Sometimes this failure to acknowledge a major transition was due to the person or family not having an active relationship with a faith community where he/she/they could find both the ritual and emotional support needed to navigate the particular change(s) well.  In other instances, the faith community neglected to provide the support needed.

      Personally, as a young adult I was the only one of my peer group in my high school graduating class who did not immediately go on to college.  My United Methodist congregation had provided a great youth ministry for those up through high school, as well as a good church school program for adolescents.  I also had participated with a Youth for Christ group in high school.  However, as a high school graduate any meaningful group life suddenly ended.   My first few years in the work force included a real sense of not belonging and some of he alcohol use and dysfunctional behaviors associated with a lack of clear identity.

      As a pastor, I have found major transitions a cause for personal and interpersonal dysfunction especially acute among (1) parents experiencing the empty nest; (2) males entering retirement.  Faith communities tend to mirror the culture at large, which tends to treat these times as wonderful accomplishments filled with new freedom and release from financial or time constraints.  The truth is often for folks in these times a real sense of lost purpose and meaninglessness.  People in these life stages also often have neglected their participation in a faith community or meaningful peer group, as Dr. Oates notes, in favor of career pursuits or following the myriad activities in which one’s children are engaged.  The sudden change in lifestyle can be fraught with emotional and psychic problems.

    • #4631

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Brand, Lee and others,

      The discussion on life transitions also spoke to me, Brand.  I have been fortunate during my journey to have good groups to support my transitions, especially during college, seminary and entering into the ministry workforce. My professional associations were very valuable in that regard.  When I resigned from all of those and starting my consulting business, I missed the support as I transitioned into a new work.

      One thing I was struck with throughout the reading was how hard it is for congregations and their pastors to provide intentional support to persons through the different transitions.  Even in my small congregation, there are many moving parts, many lives moving through different transitions.

      A current situation speaks to this. One of my longest serving couples just lost their only daughter at age 60. She had a kidney transplant from each of her parents, the first being when she was 14 years old. She graduated high school and worked for a number of years but because of her ongoing health challenges, she never left home. For the past few years, their total attention has been on taking care of her.  Tough times ahead.  As their pastor, I haven’t known how to help other than listening and being supportive.

      Lee, I feel your pain for the lack of forgiveness from your daughters. While I can see both of your points of view and the related feelings,  it sounds like a third party might be needed to help you all talk through.  I suspect, there is more to it than you or maybe even they know in terms of feelings.

      It has helped me to remember that forgiveness is not an event but always a process.

      Rick

    • #4632

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      Sorry not to have contributed to the discussions on week two — website problems.  Lee, have you seen the book in memory of Dr. John Claypool? It is Life is Gift and is available from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Saint-Lukes.com, contact person Sandy Porter 205 8713583. It is a beautiful collection of essays on him and his ministry.

      I’ll chime in on this week’s reading tonight. thanks. .. Rusty

    • #4639

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      This passage really jumped out at me:<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; font-size: 12px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 34.8px; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;”> “This, it seems to me, is the dynamic of much paranoid interaction in marriage. </span><span style=”color: #000000; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; font-size: 12px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 34.8px; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;”>The person builds a constellation of complaints against one or more individuals and preoccupation with these relieves him of the responsibility of personal change, understanding, and acceptance of the other person, and, worst of all, keeps a distance between him and other people that is guarded with his whole being.</span>
      <p style=”margin: 0px 0px 37.4px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 34.8px; font-stretch: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000;”><span style=”font-kerning: none;”>“This, too, is a garden variety of mental illness, which resides at the heart of many church “splits,” chronic division among church people, and running battles with a succession of pastors. At best, it is sick religion.” </span><span style=”color: #000000; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; font-size: 12px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 34.8px; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;”>(page 131)</span></p>
      How true this is. Instead of confronting our disagreement with another person or our prejudiced attitude toward them, we blame the other person and fracture the relationship. When this happens in a marriage it impairs the relationship. In a congregation, it may cause people to leave or split the fellowship. The antidote to this problem, as illustrated in the therapy for the last case presentation, was to help the subject focus on his selfishness. He was making his decisions based on maximizing his own pleasure at the expense of his wife and their relationship. I love the way the therapist involved the wife in the process and thus redeemed their marriage.

      …Rusty

    • #4640

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Dear Friends,

      As we close out our discussion today and tomorrow, please share any other reflections you have on the readings.  I am adding an article that you may have seen.  This kind of research approaches religious involvement from a healthy perspective.  Would value your thoughts on this article and others like it that identify specific health benefits from spirituality and faith participation.

      Obviously, by examing the unhealthy manifestations of religion, healthy dimensions arise such as keeping our focus and worship on God, confronting our overinvestment in the things of this life, avoiding magical thinking, etc. we discover the balance needed to enjoy the benefits of a healthy spiritual life.

      For me the most important thing I do to stay grounded is to have a community of fellow travellers like this group to discuss, confess, share, question my thoughts, actions and motivations.

      Thank you.

      Rick

    • #4647

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      A very interesting article, Rick. It suggests that in people who have an inherited tendency to depression, having a strong involvement in religious or spiritual matters can alter brain structure in certain regions.  “…<span style=”caret-color: #1c1d1e; color: #1c1d1e; font-family: ‘Open Sans’, icomoon, sans-serif;”>these regions are also associated with risk of developing MDD (major depressive disease), reorganization of white matter through R/S (religion/spirituality) may help protect individuals from going on to develop the illness.” It does not give a hypothesis about how this might occur. Increased social support by a loving faith community may certainly be one way this could happen. </span>

      The course has raised several issues, questions and important observations that will be valuable for me personally and in my function as a deacon at church. Thank You, Rick, Lee and all the other participants.

      Rusty

    • #4648

      Michael Porter
      Participant
      @mkporter

      Greetings All,

      I was on vacation last week and spent yesterday getting caught up with things at the hospital.  I appreciated rereading When Religion Gets Sick.  It brought a more helpful perspective than when I read it during CPE because I was able to relate it to people and experiences I have had.  One area I continue to struggle with is helping people with forgiveness.  My experience that people cannot forgive themselves and reflect this onto God.  As much as I assure people of God’s forgiveness they, until they are able to forgive themselves, they struggle.  The reconciliation model – “learning to accept oneself when one realizes that one is unacceptable …” this is a hurdle for many people I have cared for and takes more than the limited time I have with people.  This becomes more difficult when a person does not have the support needed to follow though with care.  One thing I do is listen to the person’s story and let them vent and start dumping the “self guilt” hopefully to make room for healthy thinking.

      Thank you all for the time we shared and your insights.  There is still much to ponder.  Blessings to all.

      Mike

Viewing 7 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.