Why Don't Fundamentalist Christians Like Shrinks?

Plus: Whatever happened to the Moonies, what Buddha would say, what's with kosher and why people bury St. Joseph statues

Q: Why do so many fundamentalist Christians fear and disparage psychology?

A: Like kids fighting in the schoolyard, these two rivals have been slugging it out for more than 100 years and it's hard to tell who started it. Psychology was once a branch of theology. Then Freud came along in the early 20th century and sawed off the branch; shrinkdom took on a life of its own. Sigmund and his followers saw religion largely as a problem--an "illusion" he called it--rather than a solution.

In essence, they said, you didn't need to look beyond yourself (and mom and dad, of course) to figure out your strange behavior. Even before Freud, the growing effort to explain things in purely human terms sparked protest among many churches.

When fundamentalists came along early in the 1900s, the war between the two camps escalated.

Full peace may be impossible between them, but each side has moved somewhat closer to the other over the years. Psychology has opened the door a crack to spirituality. Fundamentalists have absorbed elements of psychology into the form of Christian counseling services.

Q: Are Moonies still around or did they fade out?


A: Indeed, they live on, thanks to dedication, smarts, and abundant resources. Religious survival is all about keeping the faith while keeping on good terms with the neighbors. At first, they were lumped in with a huge crop of sects and cults that bloomed in the wild and woolly 1960s and 1970s. Though they were much cleaner-cut and middle class, they weren't immune to charges of brainwashing the innocents. Far from it. Cadres of agents were hired to "rescue" the young from their supposed captors. Later, the group's founder, the Rev. Sun-Myung Moon, was jailed on questionable allegations, and he took his punishment in a Connecticut prison with exemplary forbearance.

Meanwhile, the Unification Church has settled in and no longer is regarded as a menace, in part because society is more accepting, in part because the church has become more open. Their numbers have never been large, but they have kept a vital, low-profile presence. The next rose you buy might just be ...

Q: I'd like to make a bumper sticker that goes "What Would Buddha Say?" but I'm not sure how to answer if someone asks me what Buddha might actually "say."

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