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the transformative power of religious groups

I've never been super interested in religion, and while I respected religious views of the world, I felt largely disconnected from the religious community. My parents weren't religious, so I wasn't brought up to be religious either. And as a result I never understood what it meant to be part of a religion.

Recently, my mom joined a church, and the result of that has been astounding to me. In my weekly conversations with my mom, she sounds more energized, more content and just... happier! It seems like religion, when done right, creates a mentality of inclusion, empathy and peer support in its members. My mom enthused and cried over the sense of belonging she felt after regularly attending group meetings over a period of two months, and at this point I couldn't be more thankful that she's found a place for herself in a very friendly community of "brothers" and "sisters".

Very curious... the power of religion (or at least a religious group)...

3 blog comments below

A couple of points:
a) this effect occurs regardless of the actual religion. This indicates that what is happening here is a physiological human thing, not anything 'divine'.
b) this effect is not unique to religion. You can observe the same thing happen with new football fans, new fans of a particular band....etc.

I think you have it right - it is the sense of inclusion, belonging, support - that is the important active ingredient.

The question then becomes - is this necessarily a good thing?*

* I could confirm Godwin's law and point out that Hitler produced an identical effect in many people in Germany between 1935 and 1940...oops...damn....just did...)
Bikerman on Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:31 pm
A sense of community is very much missing in many people's lives. You need to feel like a part of something, a place where you belong. When you find it, it is elating.

I agree with Bikerman, as I usually do lol, although overall I do think it is a good thing.

I watched my Mum go through this when she joined a communist group.
Hello_World on Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:17 am
I guess as long as my mom doesn't become fanatical or start talking crazy-talk, it's all good. Bikerman is definitely right that the key ingredient here isn't necessarily religion, although for first-generation immigrants like my parents religion is one of the easiest paths.
mexiwithacan on Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:05 am

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