IT'S a miracle. Becoming religious has just been proven to
help people who need to stop drinking.
This is the sort of
news that reluctant drunks the world over have been praying for.
course, it's not a new phenomenon. It's what adherents of Alcoholics Anonymous
have always practised, though they merely talk about "a higher power."
the idea: you accept that strong drink has got the better of you and hand over
the problem to your creator. You reason that it's his fault, making you as vulnerable
as a pigeon confronting Sidney, the Cat. I'll write and tell you all about him,
the crazed killer of Meadow Lane, some other time.
meanwhile I suppose there is a practical value to all this when it comes to Communion
(assuming these are Christian drunks, of course). Have you ever tried delicately
taking a chalice full of wine from someone in a frock while you are kneeling down
and feeling like being sick? Perspiration beads out like a weeping Madonna as
you try to keep your hands steady. You can feel it trickling down your back. Praying
"Please God, don't let me drop the silver jug of Holy wine" is a Hell
of a way to start a Sunday.
Anyway there was some good
stuff in the Bishop of Wakefield's penetrating column in the Times and I thought
it was a good idea to give it a much wider airing by reproducing what he said
then here now.
So here goes: "The link between
drugs and religion has long been ambiguous.
Marx's sardonic dictum about religion remains often quoted: 'It is the opium of
"Any genuine effort to draw people
away from drugs and alcohol abuse invariably gains strong Christian support."
Wakefield, West Yorkshire, which is several thousand miles from Ibiza, specially
trained magistrates have been given powers to place people convicted of drug-related
crimes on a rehab course.
The Bishop said: "Not only
does this save people from going to prison, where they could be led by other inmates
to take harder drugs, but also, and more significantly, it helps them to come
to terms with where they are in life.
them a chance to change, or - to put it in spiritual terms - to repent.
could deny the significance of spirituality in, for example, the recovery programme
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Here, in dealing
with what is still the most widespread form of drug misuse, the famous Twelve
Steps draw on insights that are basic to the Christian tradition.
steps are a programme for living. Indeed, many alcoholics have said that a meaning
spiritual life has become a prerequisite for staying sober and that finding and
accepting God is the most certain assurance against relapse.
that is because addiction is a form of idolatry. It takes over a person's life.
The addict's energies come to be wholly focused on acquiring, using and recovering
from alcohol's all-embracing power."
says more research needs to be done - but not only on how religious or spiritual
involvement may protect people from drug misuse: the converse side also merits
"The question is to what extent a
lack of such involvement may make people prone to misusing drugs.
research is required into the anecdotal experiences of those for whom spiritually
focused programmes seem to have promoted recovery."
the way, I also like the other idea about our bodies being temples of the Holy
Spirit. If it's that special, you wouldn't want to pull it down for the sake of
a few large ones, now would you?