Pointless Relational Dialectics without Faith
Jason M. Roebuck
Northwest Christian University
The idea of reviewing three articles and keeping a central theme to my review seemed very difficult before I read the three articles. After reading them, I realized that the idea that we can analyze any relationship or communication between people without somehow using the faith that leads people to the driving force behind their communication is ridiculous. Here is the heading and articles that I used for my literature review:
As I read the first article, I started to regret picking this topic, because I quickly realized that the discussion about relational dialectics was going to center around the scientific research with a lack of concern for the faith background of the people surveyed in the study. When analyzing the first article’s data, I did not see any reference to if the couples were married in the church, or even if they were monogamous. It was concerning to me because the answers that the respondents gave to the questions about their long-distance relationships with their spouses that were deployed during wartime could have been analyzed differently if we knew the religious affiliation and/or their feelings toward maintaining a monogamous relationship with their spouse. Conclusions were drawn in the first article that were unrelated to the foundation of the relationships.
The second article, which was more interesting to me because it was concerning one of the social media outlets that is a large part of my current ministry as a youth ministry coordinator and director of religious education. Facebook and the impact that it has on the formation of young adults in their early years is something that interests me in a way that could have been transformative to my work in young adult and youth ministry, had the article done a little more research to start the study. However, as I read this article, I came to the same conclusion that I drew from the first article. The fact that the young adults were not consulted about their religious affiliation as part of their study should color the results that were given. If not, they at least would lend some credibility to the results that were stated in the article. The respondents mentioned their need to contact old friends, as well as the need for sharing media with new friends, without even a word about the real purpose of their attempts at connecting with them. It would be interesting to know the results of the same questions that were posed, if they were posed with the idea that disclosure of their religious affiliation could be helpful. For instance, a guy who spends a lot of time connecting with girlfriends online, might very well be perfectly normal if he is doing it with the purpose of sharing his faith with them. However, it would be creepy, if he was connecting with them because he was looking to hook up.
Now, after reading the first two articles and coming to the conclusions that I have stated above, I was really concerned about the third article because of the concerns that I had about my father and his affiliation with AA in the past. I was worried because my father had always touted the great work of AA, and related it to the idea that he did not have to name his higher power in order to work through the 12 step program that led him to sobriety. However, he did mention how he had to fake it to make it, through most of his recovery. Meaning, he had to pretend to believe, in order for the program to work for him. The third article restored my faith in researchers that study the theory of relational dialectics, because it showed that many of the people involved in the program were happy to talk about their difficulty with religion and therefore struggled with the overall effectiveness of the program. It discusses accurately the fact that surrender to an unknown God is problematic for people that espouse themselves as belonging or not belonging to certain religion. I mean, at least they were honest about it, but it showed me that finally the conclusions that I had drawn from the first two articles were clearly spelled out after reading the final article. In my final analysis of the third article, an issue that was brought to my mind during the discussion of non-Catholic AA respondents in the article that used their disdain for the church for their embracing the pluralistic understanding of spirituality.
The title of my paper, “Pointless Relational Dialectics without Faith” was justified in this last article, because it clearly spelled out the need for respondents to accept the faith of the program in which they were involved. Granted, a deployed spouse, young adults entering college, and AA patient are completely different demographic categories. The truth is that all of their lives, are directly linked to the decisions they make in following their faith. Possibly more important is the fact that anyone who believes themselves to be superior to another because of their affiliation or lack of affiliation with a certain group of believers/unbelievers is problematic because we believe that all humanity has fallen short of the glory of God. “For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23 NABRE) Therefore, when we leave out the discussion of religion when we discuss issues that are closely related to the human experience, it becomes difficult to relate to the people who respond in the survey. I have often drawn the parallel of an alcoholic who attends AA meetings, to a sinner who attends daily Mass in the Catholic Church. I am comfortable with the parallel that I have drawn, because I have accepted the fact that my struggle with sinful tendencies in my human nature are not different than someone who struggles with drinking too much. Therefore, I attend daily Mass as often as possible to display to God my willingness to lean of His grace to save me from myself. As Saint Paul says, “For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Romans 7:18-19) The truth is everything that we do is related to how we relate to our Creator, so it would make more sense to relate the studies we do about humanity to the way the humans we are studying relate to their Creator. My name is Jason, and I am a sinner in need of a savior. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.