(RNS) Does megachurch ‘high’ explain their success?
Maybe religion really is the opiate of the masses – just not the way Karl Marx imagined.
A University of Washington study posits that worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry – a spiritual “high” that keeps congregants coming back for more.
“We see this experience of unalloyed joy over and over again in megachurches. That’s why we say it’s like a drug,” said James Wellman, an associate professor of American religion who co-authored the study.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life
Liturgy, Music, Worship
Health & Medicine
Religion & Culture
* International News & Commentary
* Religion News & Commentary
Posted October 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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1. dwstroudmd+ wrote:
CS Lewis’ sermon “Transposition” speaks eloquently to this described experience, which is not limited to megachurches, by the way. Lewis also discusses this phenomenon in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS when Screwtape notes that intimations of The Enemy’s presence (“in the most faint and mitigated way”) seem great to the believer and then complains that “He’s a hedonist at heart, Wormwood. He promises them rivers and oceans of delight.”
That there is a physical basis is merely the accoutrement of being human and being “amphibians” - spiritual and physical.
So, no it doesn’t explain their success per se, even though it appears to be related to other human experiences. The interesting study would be to see if the biochemical markers suggested parallel in individuals having isolated similar experiences, wouldn’t it?
October 2, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
2. Jim the Puritan wrote:
So now the secular elite says religion is like a drug. Now where have I heard that before. . . . .
October 2, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
3. drummie wrote:
I was told by my sister once that there was “no spirit” in catholic worship. What I have to ask is after this high wears off, what is left? I am scared of religion that relies mostly on emotion or feelings. Where do you turn when you are down or depressed? Where do you turn in times of disaster? If a spiritual high is all there is isn’t that kind of shallow? I hope that no one thinks that just because of religion they are supposed to feel good all the time.
October 2, 5:36 pm | [comment link]
4. Ian+ wrote:
How much time have you got? Let me count the number of people I’ve met who have continually chased after the spiritual high of that kind of worship. Quite a number of them burn out after a while and drop out of church altogether. Is it because they’ve eventually realized that they’re not finding fulfilment? I don’t know. But what I do know is the shallow spirituality that many of them display.
October 2, 7:16 pm | [comment link]
5. Big Vicar wrote:
Jim… a knowledge of history is a massive responsibility.
October 2, 10:25 pm | [comment link]
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