The right dose of religion

As a hospice chaplain I know that Karl Marx was perfectly right when he described religion as “opium for the masses.” With the end of life approaching, I find patients and families seeking comfort in religion. For the person on hospice care that is perfectly appropriate. They receive all kinds of medications for pain-relief. They may also use religion for pain-relief. Similar to the opioid crisis with pills, America is suffering from an opioid crisis with religion. A faith that is supposed to make the individual feel better, does not represent the wholeness of biblical witness, missing out on prophetic challenges. Spiritual Comfort Care in extremely high doses needs to be reserved for those who have absolutely no prospect of change in condition. Too often, healthy grownups get drunk on religion. That can be detrimental when they care for a family member on hospice care and religiosity is really a mode of denial. Religious sweetness can be lavished upon the dying as generously as they need and want it. As with any intervention the maxim is: the right dose at the right time.