Despair, Drugs, and Faith

Despair, Drugs, and Faith September 8, 2019


Yosemite dawn
Not strictly relevant but very beautiful: Dana Meadow, Yosemite, at sunrise
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


The following two items, and most especially the second of them, tie in nicely with my blog entry from yesterday — Saturday, 7 September 2019 — which was entitled “Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse”:


“Despair is killing Americans. Here’s how people of faith can help”


“Drug abuse is a main driver behind America’s rising rate of ‘deaths of despair’: A study by the Joint Economic Committee found deaths of despair (suicide, alcohol and drug abuse) have trended upward since the mid-1950s, with drug overdoses being the primary contributor.”




And this piece, written by one of the most consistently interesting writers in today’s Latter-day Saint community, is also of potential relevance:


“Our porn problem has a true Christian solution: When we fall from grace, in our collective gardens of Eden, it’s grace itself that draws us back.”




I think that a recent column that William Hamblin and I published in the Deseret News on 16 August 2019, also merits a look in this regard:


“Is religious faith a disease to be cured?”




I generally try very seriously to avoid posting on political topics on the Sabbath Day.  It is, for me, not a day on which to argue about public policy, let alone trying to handicap political races or argue about Mr. Donald J. Trump.  I call attention to the following two items, though, for their illustration of the fact that, contrary to what some believe, religious faith and involvement in religious communities actually seem to moderate social extremism.


Which suggests a question analogous to one posed by the article mentioned in my first link, above:  If religious faith declines, will that be a good development or a bad one for social and political harmony?


My very strong suspicion is that it will be catastrophic.  For one thing, the human religious impulse won’t disappear if genuinely transcendent faith fades.  Instead, it will be transferred to to other, non-transcendent objects –for instance, as has happened before, to the State (see das Führerprinzip or 1984), to one’s economic class (e.g., the “revolutionary proletariat”), to one’s race (whether Aryan or non-Aryan), or to a social elite (as in technocratic movements or Social Darwinism) — with predictably terrible results.


Anyway, here are the two articles:


“Religious Trump Voters: How Faith Moderates Attitudes about Immigration, Race, and Identity”


“Why ex-churchgoers flocked to Trump”



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