Culturally every person is surrounded from birth by collective convictions, ambitions, and more importantly religions or philosophies that foster or revile those convictions and ambitions. In “The Hiding Place,” the reader is submerged beneath the political rhetoric and atrocities associated with the Nazi Third Reich, and more specifically the experiences of a Christian woman in a concentration camps intended primarily for Jews and other ethnic minorities dispersed in and around Germany. Corrie Ten Boom is the woman that represents a uniquely different outlook on the struggle of victims during WWII. It is evident that her faith in God enabled her to survive and even forgive people willing to end her life at even a hint of an order. Boom’s faith played a crucial role in how she interacted with the world, especially in the extreme situation that she was in; it seems to have a significant influence on almost every facet of life.
In extreme situations, people become stressed. Those situations can vary greatly from person to person; for instance, Boom must have been under great emotional and physical stress when she became a victim of the Nazi’s, while someone who simply failed an algebra test can be stressed as well. Though Boom’s situation and the hypothetical teen that failed the algebra test are on completely different spectrums of levels of stress religion can have a reliving quality on them. It is known that people use their spiritually for stress relief almost universally. There was a study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that analyzed incarcerated women in prisons and monitored the stress levels of woman who received spiritual support and those that did not. “Inmates who received high-level support from participation in religious activities reported significantly less depression, recounted perpetrating fewer aggressive acts, and committed fewer serious institutional infractions than those who did not attend religious activities as well as those who attended but reported receiving low-level support,” the Journal goes on to say, “In addition, inmates reporting a high level of support through their religious activities reported fewer instances of feeling angry, having arguments with inmates and correctional officers, physical fights, and injury than those who reported no participation in religious activities.”(Levitt) This journal basically supports the notion religion can and does have a elevating effect on its participants negative emotions.
Corrie Ten Boom is only one person that used the power of her faith to get through a seemingly hopeless situation. Broadly speaking, it is understood that during the United States founding years, African slaves used their faith in God to survive their struggle for life and eventually freedom. God became the shoulder to lean on that did not exist in the physical world. Through God, people had reason to push on and look to a better future, because the faith promised a better future. In the African- American community the reliance on God is still rampant. If one takes a close look at the course of African-American history, it is apparent that God is used as a catalyst for their collective lives ranging from voting rights to music. Of course, the same thing actually happens in all cultures, and with most people, the influence of religion on African-American’s is simply a generic example.
Beyond the notion that religion can have empowering aspects for is followers is the fact that civilizations need to have something that holds them together. More modernly than ever, in the U.S anyways, is simply the culture around American nationalism. But generally what keeps a civilization working is the melding elements of religion. If there was not religion to make people that are different have something in common, many civilizations would not flourish. Evrin Laszlo wrote in his article entitled “Planetary Vision What It Is and Why We Need It,” “It [religion] is needed to temper our collective quest for economic and material growth with a quest for social justice, cultural development, and a sustainable and healthy environment; moderate individual egoistic drives and appetites with the ethic of living in responsible ways-ways that allow others to live, too; create social, economic, and political systems that can fulfill people's needs without undermining the integrity of their life-sustaining environment; provide creative, adequately remunerated, and meaningful jobs for all people who need them and are willing to work; enable governments to perceive and act upon the emerging requirements of regional and global policy development and implementation; define and create a lasting system of local, national, and global security without expensive, wasteful, and dangerous weapons systems and military establishments; sustainably and equitably to manage the use and enjoyment of the natural resources that are the collective patrimony of the world's peoples and nations; make social and environmental accountability part of the mission of public and private institutions and the culture of local businesses and global companies; evolve a holistic approach to food production and distribution, health care, and social welfare, beyond the dictates of short-term economic logic; appreciate, and make productive use of, the social and cultural diversity of the contemporary world in the pursuit of common goals.”(Laszlo) Based on my own observations and those of others, I can draw the conclusion that religion is need philosophically because it promotes ones sustenance. I am by no means suggesting that there cannot be society or a person cannot sustain themselves without religion, what I am saying is that is a viable option, as we can see from Boom.
Scientifically speaking, religion has an immense effect on the human psyche. People’s thought patterns are directly influenced by their environment, and religion is a prime example of what generally develops a person. One’s values are normally derived from the dictations of his or her religion, and ultimately the way they view the world. For instance, in earth-based religions or spirituality, like that of the Native Americans, have a reverence for the earth while the Christian tradition of the idea that our Eden is gone and the earth is a terrible place where we have to work very hard to survive. What this does is cause the generic Christian to not have as close a relationship with the earth as a generic Native American would.
Religion can even have an effect on the psyche that is negative even, quite naturally. For instance, the current tribulations associated with Islamic extremist are prime examples of how religion and thinking can mingle and have a negative effect; to contrast Boom’s experience with her religion. This can also affect how people want to deal with other people. In many Orthodox Christian communities, it is not uncommon for people to hear of them simply separating from the rest of society by creating their own support system, with as little influence from the outside as much as possible.
What needs to be universally understood is the idea that religion or faith can have transformative effects. If Boom did not have her immense faith in God, we wouldn’t know the story as it is, or know it at all perhaps. Faith can heal, prolong, kill, stabilize and destabilize. Faith can bring people together and it can pull them apart. Brad Gregory writes in his article, “No Room for God? History, Science, Metaphysics, and the Study of Religion,” “the reality of God as understood in traditional Christianity and the possibility of divinely worked miracles. Intellectual history, philosophy, and science's own self-understanding undermine the claim that science entails or need even tend toward atheism. By definition a radically transcendent creator-God is inaccessible to empirical investigation.”(Gregory) Gregory, in my opinion, understands that God is needed for the sanity of human civilization. Not in particular the Christian God, but simply divine beings that are greater than the people that believe in them. These beings keep humans looking positively to the future, they provide hope. It’s the reason religion even exist in the first place.
The influence of religious participation on the adjustment of female inmates. By: Levitt, Lacey, Loper, Ann Booker, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 0002-9432, 2009, Vol. 79, Issue 1
Planetary Vision What It Is and Why We Need It. By: Laszlo, Ervin, ReVision, 02756935, Spring2001, Vol. 23, Issue 4
2. NO ROOM FOR GOD? HISTORY, SCIENCE, METAPHYSICS, AND THE STUDY OF RELIGION. By: GREGORY, BRAD S., History & Theory, 00182656, Dec2008, Vol. 47, Issue 4
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