Yesterday the New York Times had an article trying to come to terms from a secular point of view with studies that show that going to church is good for people.
The picture at the top has a woman lying on a couch apparently imagining heaven. Is this why people go to church? For a kind of relaxation therapy? I go to church and know a lot of people who go to church. In my experience this is not why people go to church.
Then the article brings up the placebo effect and ends by bringing in the tragedy in Rick Warren’s family. Pretty condescending.
Here is what the anthropologist author said she learned studying these strange church people:
What I saw in church as an anthropological observer was that people were encouraged to listen to God in their minds, but only to pay attention to mental experiences that were in accord with what they took to be God’s character, which they took to be good. I saw that people were able to learn to experience God in this way, and that those who were able to experience a loving God vividly were healthier — at least, as judged by a standardized psychiatric scale. Increasingly, other studies bear out this observation that the capacity to imagine a loving God vividly leads to better health.
The NYT looks at church people as though we were from Mars or something. The same paper a few weeks ago got the Resurrection and the Ascension confused and had to print a correction (scroll down to the bottom of the article). Religion and religious people are an enigma for the Times.