(NY Times On Religion) In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Darrel W. Ray, a psychologist in the Kansas City area who runs the Web site The Secular Therapist Project, made a similar point in a recent interview. As someone who was raised as a believing Christian and who holds a master’s degree in theology, he was uniquely able to identify what humanism needs to provide in a time of crisis.

“When people are in a terrible kind of pain — a death that is unexpected, the natural order is taken out of order — you would do anything to take away the pain,” Dr. Ray, 62, said. “And I’m not going to deny that religion does help deal with that first week or two of pain.

“The best we can do as humanists,” he continued, “is to talk about that pain in rational terms with the people who are suffering. We have humanist celebrants, as we call them, but they’re focused on doing weddings. It takes a lot more training to learn how to deal with grief and loss. I don’t see celebrants working in hospice or in hospitals, for example. There are secular people who need pastoral care, but we abdicate it to clergy.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenLife EthicsReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism

4 Comments
Posted December 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. DeeBee wrote:

“There are secular people who need pastoral care, but we abdicate it to clergy.”

Yet another example of cognitive dissonance on display, or at least a lack of attention to word choice.  “Pastoral” care is only useful to those willing to accept their “sheepish” nature.

December 30, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
2. Teatime2 wrote:

Well, yeah, what sort of comfort CAN they provide when life is tough and unfair? Those are the times when “reason” and “rationality” just don’t cut it or make sense. If everything in the world is logical and knowable then we should be able to avoid suffering, right? They like to ask why a loving God allows bad things to happen but they wouldn’t like to be asked why and how rational humans can make such bad decisions over and over again, would they?

December 31, 2:01 am | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

Or they could simply accept the implications of their worldview that life is meaningless, hopeless and valueless.  They have nothing to live for, face personal extinction in death and their body returns to the elements from which it was made.  What’s not to like or celebrate?  It would make a great bedtime tale to tuck in their 4 year old child.

December 31, 7:50 am | [comment link]
4. Teatime2 wrote:

Exactly, Br. Michael. I suppose they’d say that they live to be with their friends and family but why even have relationships if they’re so fleeting and there’s nothing beyond this? I wonder if, as times get more difficult (which I believe they will because I thing we’re in the end times), we’ll see more and more suicides among the “humanists/atheists” or will they be able to admit they were wrong and seek God?

December 31, 2:52 pm | [comment link]
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