Religion, well-being and quality of life

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We have to recognize that this is not an obvious problem and that many might be surprised by a Survey program which could instead lead to disappointing results, or worse, could distort and trivialize the meaning of the religious faith, in particular, of the Christian faith founded on the cross of Christ. It is important to start our proposal from the objections and doubts that may arise, before going ahead and clarifying what this program of study of religions, its possible developments and the fruits it is already bearing. In fact, we are dealing with a relatively new project: it is not easy to identify a theological and spiritual tradition that explores the relationship between the Christian faithon the one hand, and human dimensions such as well-being, happiness, quality of life or the idea of ​​the full life, on the other hand. They are closely related concepts that express the ideals and expectations that motivate us.



Does the Christian faith have anything to do with well-being? This question can have several answers, and the first is clearly negative: it’s not that it has little to do, that’s it faith ruined life many people it has made them neurotic and scrupulous, or simply prevented them from enjoying the joys of life. However, it can’t be the whole truthand we know of many instances where this faith has filled men and women of all times with joy.

We know that the Christian faith is a “religion of salvation” and, as such, his main objective is to save everyone, that is, to see everyone free from evil and suffering and that they obtain a full life, the best for all. In this sense, Christianity shares the same interest with the major religions, who also offer salvation. However, this proposition is understood differently in each case.

beyond death

Christian tradition has generally referred to another life, beyond death, the complete realization of the said ideal. Perhaps some mystical traditions could also claim this goal for before, nowbut its proposals, as in the case of the ascetic way, are today quite counter-intuitive, at least in relation to what is meant by “well-being” and “quality of life”.

It is certainly shocking for us, at least for those of my generation, to elevate the sense of christian faith and salvation advertises in terms that can be associated with the wellness industry, which is now undergoing extensive development; or at the self help literature, with so many books published; or to popular culture, which is expressed in comedies, in the most flattering advertisements or in consumer dreams.

But there are other areas in which these ideas have a more positive meaning or may be closer to Christian sensibility, such as the area of therapies or the treatments trying to compare psychological suffering; or that of the social programs, which attempt to alleviate structural ills; or even the altruism studiesprosocial attitudes, or the most serious ways of approaching questions of collective and personal quality of life.

A relevant topic

A very wide panorama opens up before us, since governments and public and private administrations are asking themselves the question of levels of satisfaction and personal and collective well-being a factor of great importance and closely linked to the sustainability programs. The question is to what extent this subject May be relevant for Christians too and churches.

Of course, there are many reasons to think that wellness theme is not for us, or that the salvation we Christians talk about has little to do with the models of good living and personal satisfaction sold to us by consumer culture. However, it would be disappointing not to pay attention to this concern and not connect to this “sign of the times” which also deserves discernment on our part.

First of all, the reasons for mistrust they are quite plausible. At one extreme would be the most radical, such as the apocalyptic, which also abound today: for them, it makes no sense to talk about well-being in the circumstances in which we find ourselves; It would be an alienation, an inability to notice our deep discomfort associated with sin. Moreover, if our hope is in the afterlife or in a radical transformation that only God and his Christ can bring about, then it would almost be a betrayal to seek well-being in this life, since, in principle, it cannot be found here, at least not until the return of the Messiah. .

Sustainability in question

Something similar happens with the sustainability programs: Christian apocalyptists have absolutely no interest in making this world of sin sustainable. Quite the contrary: they rather hope that it will soon self-destruct to make way for the “new heavens and the new earth”; the old is deeply corruptedand what we are experiencing under the effects of climate change, pandemics and other miseries are but symptoms and warnings of the expiration of the present world, the vanity of our aspirations for betterment and the nearness of the end.

Either way, we don’t need the company of doomsayers to find the reasons for distrust in the question of well-being. Another important reason is its absence in the Christian tradition. I am a professor of theological anthropology for 30 years in a pontifical university in Rome, I am very familiar with the bibliography of my subject, and I have also studied soteriology, or the treatise on salvation, which should encompass various related treatises: Christology, ecclesiology, sacraments, eschatology and also anthropology.

Well, off the top of my head, I can’t remember any specialized textbook or text that has addressed the issue of quality of life, well-being or happiness. There is a feeling of strangeness or strangeness in front of these subjects: it does not seem that they affect us, us theologians, even psychologists and sociologists. In my Theological Anthropology course notes, I notice that this chapter is missing: If we cannot talk about the Christian faith and salvation helping to live better, then what are we talking about? (…)

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Specification Index

1. DOES THE CHRISTIAN FAITH HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH WELL-BEING?

2. PROBLEMS WHEN SPECIFYING THE CONCEPT OF QUALITY OF LIFE AND WELL-BEING

3. WHAT CAN CHRISTIAN FAITH BRING TO WELL-BEING?

  • for. Religious adaptation
  • b. Religion and Welfare Studies
  • vs. The question of meaning
  • D. Happiness and Maturation Studies

4. CONCLUDING NOTES

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