Sunday, January 21, 2007

God at the U of M Hospital

During these first few years of the twenty-first century, research hospitals, like Ann Arbor's U of M, having been looking ever more closely at the link between spirituality and wellness.

To be sure, no simple link exists: we cannot simply assert that those who sharpened their spiritual awareness don't suffer from the same health problems as everybody else. They get sick and die like the rest of us.

But it is also indisputable that some fascinating correlations exist among the realms of faith and health. The mediator between those two is sometimes psychology. All three play a role in a recent dissertation, "God in Fatherlessness", submitted in June 2000 by a staff member at Michigan's hospital.

There exists, on the one hand, the established connection between fatherlessness (through death, divorce, or a father who is physically present but emotionally unavailable) and a decreased ability to engage spiritually. On the other hand, there are the indirect links between spirituality and health.

The recent dissertation adds to this already complex mix the notion that fatherlessness pushes the fatherless toward the conclusion that the absent father is "negatively intended"; one possible conclusion is that the fatherless are nudged, not only toward mere atheism, but toward a view that God is somehow malicious.

Final conclusions in these questions will be found only after much more research, but this will clearly be a major field of medical exploration as the century moves forward.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting Married in Somalia?

The Associated Press recently (11/11/2006) that the Islamic government of Somalia has made it illegal, punishable by death, to get married without the explicit prior consent of the parents of both the bride and the groom, no matter how old they may be. "It is against the teaching of our religion and parents do not approve of it," said Sheik Mahad Mohamed Sheik Hassan, chairman of Somalia's Islamic court. The fact that the title "Sheik" occurs twice indicates his high governmental position.

The Muslim government has also banned movies, live music, and sporting events. Somalia is currently in the midst of a civil war. Both sides, however, seem to embrace the view that Islamic law should control society.