Religion – Trauma or Therapy
The annual meeting of the Association of Friends of the Protestant Theological Faculty took place on 20-21 October 2012. Many of the members of the Association are former international students at the Faculty, and people came from as many as 10 countries to meet old friends and re-visit Prague. The theme of this year's meeting was "Religion – Trauma or Therapy". The idea of the organisers was to examine faith from the psychological and social points of view. Prof. Tomáš Halík, a well-known figure to the Czech public, described the factors that lead people to worship God: anxiety, vulnerability, and mortality. It is remarkable how often religious symbols are used even in secular public life. People usually turn to religion because it offers to rescue them from danger. But true faith is accompanied by a struggle with anxieties and doubts; it does not mean a legalistic approach, but a prophetic one, and being silent in the presence of the mystery of God. Prof. Leif Gunnar Engedal from the MF Norwegian School of Theology analysed faith in terms of its content, rituals, and consequences and from the practical and intellectual viewpoints. He also informed the participants about current literature dealing with these themes. In general it can be said that religion makes it possible to evaluate life more positively and to better come to terms with upheavals, and thus provides the foundations for more stable mental and physical health.
This was confirmed in the afternoon when the participants visited the psychological clinic in the Bohnice district of Prague together. There Dr. Prokop Remeš presented to them a therapeutic method known as hagiography, which provides therapeutic help to addicts and the psychologically disturbed by using stories and other texts from the bible. Experience shows that religion creates an internally consistent system and thus diverts attention from perpetually unsatisfied desires to joyful gratitude for everything that people already have.
The next meeting of the Association has been fixed for 23-24 November 2013.