Relationship To Contemporary Theory

“Religion was supposed to fade away as globalization and freedom spread. Instead, it's booming around the world, often deciding who gets elected. And the divine intervention is just beginning. Democracy is giving people a voice and more and more, they want to talk about God” (Shah, TS & Toft , MD (2006) Why God is Winning. Foreign Policy, 155, p 39).

Back in the ‘60's many people seriously predicted that we were entering a post-religious age; that religions would steadily decrease in power, influence, and relevance. It turns out that that has not been the case. As globalization spreads religion has proved to be a potent combination of identity, cultural heritage, ethics, worldview, and strength that has led to a resurgence of religion in general and fundamentalisms in particular. This combination of increasing religious power and increasing conflict has made religious reconciliation an increasingly important topic to explore.  

The one thread of commonality among all the sides in this war of cultures/religions is that each has a theology of forgiveness embedded in it. There is no end to the justification for violence if revenge is the motivator for all actions, since each offended party has a deep well of historical memories of pain and suffering. Perhaps, then, the gift that the psychological and counseling community is its ability to understand, frame, and promote a way to structure reconciliation around the acknowledgement of culpability and some kind of ritual/commission for forgiveness. One means of doing this has been identified through the concept of leisure.

Leisure is the basis of culture as Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher/theologian wrote after WWII, and his ideas came from the post war recognition of a need for healing. Basically, he noted that in leisure, whose root word licere means freedom, has the capacity to free us to become our true selves. Collectively, leisure produces the elements of culture: art, music, drama, dance, cuisine, fashion, festivals, sport, etc. and provides the time and state of mind for their enjoyment. Recreation, unlike any other experience, holds the capacity for enjoyable cooperation if we choose to use it that way. Instead, we have pulled out sport and focused on competition. By promoting sport as a cooperative and enjoyable endeavor while also looking at other uses for recreation, like cultural exchanges, cross cultural music performances, art exhibits, poetry, dance, drama experiences, fashion and food, new connections might be found that transcend other differences.

These tangible sources of activity capable of promoting respect and understanding help to bring about what the psychologist William James believed: You cannot think your way into a new kind of living; rather, you must live your way into a new kind of thinking. Recreation initiatives create new experiences and positive memories that, coupled with some structure for forgiveness, just might make a difference. By opening the dialogue between these various concepts of religion, legislation, leisure and other means of overcoming the cultural differences that lead to contention, it is hoped that we can learn from other cultures that have accomplished the goal of living together peacefully while imparting what has been learned thus far to those who might not have considered it possible.