Workers of the world, incorporate!
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The real ecumenical/interfaith opportunity

By Bishop Paul Marshall
Posted on "Bakery" the interactive Internet list
of the Diocese of Bethlehem, June 25, 2011

I read this factoid on the web:

Using General Social Survey data, those identifying themselves as Southern Baptist fell from 8.9% of the U.S. population for the 1996-2000 survey period to 7% for the 2006-2010 period, a drop of 21%. The percentage of Episcopalians in the population fell by 14% for the same period.

So if this is true, the conservatives are losing members faster than the mainline! I wouldn't do the Schadenfreude polka just yet, but the numbers suggest that the propaganda that our church is shrinking because of its positions on various matters needs careful examination. The RCC has lost a breath-taking 30% of its membership.

Perhaps the real ecumenical/interfaith opportunity is to find ways to communicate to our culture the importance of religious belief, period.

Here is a starter on that project, from a Jewish doctor:
Download Kernberg religion.pdf

In case time is short, here is his conclusion:

In contrast to Freud, I would conclude that science and reason cannot replace
religion, that religiosity as a fundamental human capability and function has to be
integrated in our understanding of normality and pathology, and that a universal
system of morality is an unavoidable precondition for the survival of humanity.
Psychoanalysis has given us fundamental information regarding the origin of
religiosity, but not a world conception or an arbitration of the philosophical and
theological discussion regarding God.

At a clinical level, one of the functions of the psychoanalyst is to explore the extent
to which religiosity as a mature desire for a transpersonal system of morality and
ethical values as outlined is available to our patients. The function of the
psychoanalyst is not that of a pastoral counselor or a guide to such a universal
system of values; rather, the psychoanalyst's function is to free the patient from
unconscious conflicts that limit this capability, including the systematic confrontation,
exploration, and resolution of unconscious conflicts that preclude the development of
concern, guilt, reparation, forgiveness, responsibility and justice as basic aspirations
of the individual. Psychoanalysis also has to help certain patients to free themselves
from the use of formal religious commitments as a rationalization of hatred and
destructiveness directed against self or others. Perhaps one might add to Freud's
suggestion that love and work are the two main purposes of life, that the
commitment to morality and the appreciation of art are two further major tasks and
sources of meaning for the human being.



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