In her eyes, supporting religion was tantamount to supporting oppression.
Cut to another scene with the same girl, in my high school cafeteria. Now we are sitting side-by-side, talking like friends. She talks about how pressured she feels by her family to enter the field of law, but she would prefer to study something more meaningful than political science when she goes to college. She criticizes members of our generation for not caring about what is going on in the world, and our lack of social responsibility.
Ironically, it is the members of my faith community that seem to have used their belief as a touchstone of social activism to reach out and to help others. A concerned interest in the point-of-view of other people, and a desire to help them is the essence of the selflessness of faith, and it is also the essence of the dispassionate yet personally focused and proactive discipline of psychology.
I believe it is because religion has been constructed by our culture as intolerant, or as hostile to thought, that people in my age group tend to reject the concept of faith. The ideas and concepts of both religion and psychology can be used for negative purposes, but that does not mean that the disciplines themselves are bad. Psychology and science must stop trying to shut religion and faith out, especially as people articulate the need for a more meaningful life than current cultural circumstances offer them, but likewise religion must acknowledge the ability of science and psychology to help and to heal, whether it is through surgery, psychotropic medication, or even traditional therapy.
Even if the disciplines of the social and natural sciences are not hostile to the pursuit of human truth, what to make of the fact that our culture has polarized these two forces in such a way that they are seen as incompatible? Doesn't the fact that they are seen as incompatible make a difference have an effect upon their ability to heal individuals seeking truth and understanding? For examine, imagine a Goth teenager walking into a therapist's office, complaining about her school and how family does not understand her, and how the people at her school and at home are all false and superficial. Treating this girl with therapy for her depression, or more negative behaviors like self-harm, with Cognitive Behavioral techniques, antidepressants, and other medications in conjunction to a more spiritual approach, while still taking her questions of 'why am I here' seriously might be the ideal approach, according to Entwistle's text. And this indeed might be the case in an ideal world. However, there is a problem with the cultural resistance that might arise in the girl's mind, when she hears about spiritual concepts, given that she associates faith with indoctrination and conversion. The therapist, by broaching the subject of spirituality, might completely alienate the girl from the therapeutic process.
Also, what transpires when faith and religion are indeed at odds? Although Entwistle's advice seems useful for a patient coming from a liberal theological environment and political orientation, when a patient suffering from bipolar disorder needs medical care, attempting to create greater integration between his biological treatment and the care of his soul might be difficult for his traditional, Christian, conservative parents to understand. Treating the ailment purely like a physical illness might be necessary to ensure that his parents and the boy accept the medication he needs to stabilize his condition, if they view counseling as hostile to their faith.
Action will begin reading the science section of the newspaper more often. No joke -- in a science illiterate culture, as ours is often accused of being, despite our reliance upon technology, it is essential to understand the scientific paradigm and approach to seeing the world, as well as literary, philosophical, and theological approaches. Believers must come to see themselves as potential scientists, before they can expect scientists to take them seriously as believers. Also, I will try my best to call into question the currently fashionable notion of a cultural war between belief and reason,…