secular priesthood

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Alain de Botton notes that "in many Western countries, the priesthood is now a shadow of its former self," and comments that "a key question to ask might be: where have our soul-related needs gone? What are we doing with all the stuff we used to go to the priest for? Who is looking after it?"

The secular response to the needs of the soul has tended to be private and informal: we find our own solutions, in our own time, we construct our own salvations as we see fit. Yet there remains in many a desire for more interpersonal, structured solutions to help us deal with the serious issues life throws us. Probably the most sophisticated communal response we've yet come up with to the difficulties of what we might as well keep calling, with no mystical allusions whatever, "the soul" is psychotherapy. It is to psychotherapists that we bring the same kind of problems as we would previously have directed at a priest: emotional confusion, loss of meaning, temptations of one kind or another and, of course, anxiety about mortality.

He suggests that "society would benefit if therapists were more explicitly reorganised along the model set by the priesthood; that therapists should be secular society's new priests:"

Modern psychotherapists' understanding of how humans work and what they need to cope with existence is, in my eyes, immensely more sophisticated than that of priests.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on March 10, 2012 11:08 AM.

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