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."


Q:I'm new in New York and I hear kosher this, kosher that. I'm not Jewish but could you tell me what's the thing with kosher?

A: If you're about to dive into a platter of ham and eggs, or munching a cheeseburger for lunch or perhaps dining on loin of venison, we can start right there.

Kosher is essentially about foods that have met the test of Jewish law. It has to be the right kind of food prepared the right kind of way. The regulations come straight from the Ultimate Recipe for Jewish life, the first five books of the Bible. There's no complicated set of reasons given. Just do it.

Here are some basics. Meat can't be eaten with dairy. Fish are fine; shellfish not. If your entrée had cloven hooves and chews its cud, so far so good. That allows sheep, cattle and goats, among others, but no pigs or camels. Birds, generally yes, but scavengers and birds of prey need not apply.

Dispatching the acceptable candidates requires exacting execution skills that have made the kosher butcher a paragon of hygiene. All blood must be drained or broiled from meat, for instance.

There's much more, of course, to maintaining a kosher home. Many Jews adhere to this gladly and reverently as a means of sustaining their religious identity. As for your diet, the ham would be disqualified right off; the burger theoretically might be okay, but not with the cheese; and the venison could possibly be acceptable, if it had been butchered by kosher means and cooked by kosher methods. It can be tricky. A bagel may seem kosher but not be, for example.

Lively disputes over who's more kosher than whom are common. For the record, this column has been prepared under supervision of a golden retriever.

Q: Someone down the street told me she saw another neighbor dig a hole in his front yard and bury something that looked about the size of a statue or a cat. When she asked him, he said it was St. Joseph. Is he kidding?

A: One way to tell if it's for real or some kind of lawn joke is to look out for For Sale signs at the house, if they haven't already cropped up. Folklore has it that sinking a statue of Jesus' adoptive father head down in the front yard will help unload the property at a favorable price. That's a lot of responsibility to impose on a humble saint in a booming real estate market.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad