I’ve long monitored the discussion between being “religious” or “spiritual.” Of late, I’ve heard some fatigue with people classifying themselves as “spiritual.” I suspect this has to do with how nebulous a term “spiritual” is and with how very many people are now identifying as such. This is a great article in TIME magazine (actually a whole section in the print edition) that covers the role of faith (religion)in health (medicine).
One of the things that struck me was how one of the experts, Rev. George Handzo, a chaplain with the HealthCare Chaplaincy of New York City describes the religion/spirituality talk:
“…Religion has to do with an organized set of beliefs. So I’m a Lutheran; I adhere to a set of beliefs that has been defines as Lutheran, and I identify with a community that’s Lutheran.
Spirituality, I think, is a much broader concept, and it has to do with probably a personal quest. Lutheran is what some other people have said Lutheran is. Your spirituality is what you say it is…”
(emphasis and parenthesis mine)
This strikes me as such an incisive statement.
The entire series of articles is great. Since my first psychology classes at Rutgers, when I heard of the role faith, religion, and belief played in improving outcomes for cancer patients, I’ve been fascinated by the power of faith in healing.
This series speaks to a need for a more holistic health care system that goes beyond the clinical diagnostics and more broadly into the social and faith-based. I am in favor of involving clergy, gurus, or whatever the person wants in tandem with medical staff through the journey of deep illness. TIME did a great job of gathering up a man of faith (quoted above), a medical doctor, and a psychiatrist to dive deeper. Good stuff.