Spiritual Methadone

About a week ago, there was a story on the local news that followed up on a story from months earlier about a drug addicted beggar who knocked down an old man he had asked for money.  The old man was giving him $5, a generous enough sum, but when the guy saw the old man’s wallet he grabbed it and knocked him over, injuring him.  The incident, captured on security cameras, happened in a church.  Let’s ignore the presence of security cameras in an institution built on faith, for the moment.

Today, the mugger is in a religious retreat.  He can’t explain his actions of that day but now he is a changed man, he says.  He has found god.  Hallelujah.

Neither he nor the pastor at the home he is in made any mention of real world counselling, therapy, or treatment.  He doesn’t appear to be addressing any real issues.  What he is doing is reading the bible.

No doubt the pastor thinks he has done good work.  He has converted a man who was ‘lost’ and brought him into the fold.  A good get.  Another soul saved.  And, because his soul has been saved, he is cured.  In fact, the man is just hiding behind god.

I’ve written before about AA and other twelve step programs requiring addicts to trade in their old addictions for addiction to god.  This is no real solution, but it does increase the numbers of the Lord’s army.

It seems a rather perverse outcome for a man who would attack an old man in a church to find shelter in a Christian retreat.  He didn’t seem to think there was anything special about the church before.  Why should he think it can save him, now?  It can’t, and it won’t make him any better.  Only he can take responsibility for his actions and decide what to do or not.  Pretending that it was all part of god’s plan isn’t taking responsibility or control.  And substituting one addiction for another doesn’t address the real underlying problems.

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4 Responses to “Spiritual Methadone”

  1. the chaplain Says:

    Good post. You are correct in noting that “spiritual” solutions to emotional, physical, psychological and other problems often do not address underlying needs. They simply replace one addiction with another. The new addiction may be less destructive than the old one, but it’s not a solution. That’s one reason why recidivism is an ongoing problem with these sorts of programs.

  2. C. Fraser Says:

    People using the system….

    Did the mugger receive any kind of secular justice?

  3. paulmct Says:

    The news story didn’t say if he was sentenced or not. But, if he was on TV talking about the crime, I assume the police had caught him. Maybe he got away with taking a ‘treatment program’. Some treatment.

  4. paulmct Says:

    Thanks, Chaplain.

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