“Our findings support the overall hypothesis that increased religiosity – as determined by attendance at worship services – is associated with less stress and enhanced longevity.”
Perhaps the team needed to perform a separate study of pastoral-liturgical ministers and musicians!
Joking aside (and I do hope the previous sentence is received light-heartedly), I do wish to make a few comments:
- Having done my own research on worship and healing (health) now a decade ago (which came to publication in articles and then my 2009 book), I am glad to see that medical and social scientists continue to probe this topic, even as ours becomes an increasingly less-churched society (especially among the younger generations than the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers of this new study). I’m left wondering whether the reported positive effects of worship might vary according to life stages (that is, the full range of youth, adults, middle-aged adults, elderly).
- I would argue that working theologically (practically and theoretically) with social-scientific studies does not reduce liturgy (corporate divine worship) to instrumental human purposes. The glorification of God and sanctification (salvation) of people are flip sides of the same coin.
- Strangely, a key point Dr. Marino Bruce makes in the video clip does not appear in the Vanderbilt write-up: He argues that scientists have largely attributed the human benefits of divine worship to “social support,” whereas he is proposing a further or alternative benefit, namely, the practice or experience of “holiness.” If the latter intrigues you, I recommend playing the short video included in the article. But I cannot help but wonder, now having completed my sixth year at Vanderbilt, whether there might not be an institution-wide bias (conscious or not) against explicit, detailed presentation of theological categories even when discussing religion. I offer that last musing in relation to the evolving North American version of “secularization.”