Alas, not the case. It’s just another born-again celebrity claiming Jesus has healed everything she thought was wrong with her so that means Jesus can heal you, too. One size fits all salvation. The celeb in question is Danniella Westbrook, who was on the show EastEnders.
“Right now I’m enjoying my walk with God and as doors open I will see where he leads me. I am concentrating on my life, my family and on being a Christian. I’d also like to go to work as a missionary somewhere and spend time in Mexico and Africa to help people.”
And in a message to her friends who have yet to follow her path she said: “Get hungry for God! Find him! Find yourself a great church that’s on fire for Jesus that will speak the word of God in your life.”
Danniella – who spent £250,000 on cocaine during an addiction that destroyed the centre of her nose – has started a new life after her character left Albert Square in September last year.
She has become a regular church-goer with husband Kevin, 41, and children Kai, 14, and Jody, nine. And the family regularly talk about God.
It’s great to see celebrities turning their lives around. It’s great to see anyone manage it, especially given the sheer number of ways people can fall back into old habits and lose everything they gained (or, in the case of diets, gain everything they lost). That spot in one’s life when it’s realized that major positive change has to happen is a good spot to be. For many people it’s really the scariest place to be, since that’s the place otherwise known as “rock-bottom.”
This is the place where religious institutions can utilize the majority of their power. Those who’ve reached bottom are looking for any kind of a hand out of it and it seems like for in majority of that time, the hand is connected to someone who’ll next ask, “Have you ever thought about letting Jesus into your life?” It feels like help, but it’s also taking advantage of a vulnerability. I’m sure most believers feel their motives are true and pure but I’m also sure some of them are thinking, deep down below their realization, “I can’t wait to tell the girls I saved someone this week.” I expect it’s one hell of an ego trip, being someone’s saviour. What a rush. Must do it again sometime..
I can’t prove that kind of thought process is going on, of course. I’m just cynical of ulterior motives when it comes to this kind of thing.
Last night we had Chris DiCarlo in to talk about his new book, How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass
. The intent of the book is to demonstrate ways to think critically and use reasoning and logic to discuss ideas more effectively. One thing he noted near the end was something about how secular humanists, or even secular groups in general, aren’t doing enough to counter the impact the religious can have due to their sheer numbers. There should be more community outreach to help people like Danniella Westbrook so when they do hit bottom their first step up doesn’t have to be into a supernatural belief system. But if that’s all they’re offered, that’s all they’ll assume there is to take. And they’re wrong. They’re so very wrong.
Same issue comes up with our local Secular Organizations for Sobriety group. The woman who operates it told me last night that someone had been told SOS stood, not for Secular, but for Satanist. Seriously? Who’s that daft? She also said that a local addictions counseling office initially refused to stock her pamphlets. She had to do a lot of complaining before they’d acquiesce and she still has no idea if anyone at that office ever suggests her group over AA, pamphlets they do carry and pass out regularly.
Another from our group has a father who’s been in AA for decades. The father claims that GOD can mean anything a person wants to attribute power to, be it a person or a rock or a tree even. It can also mean “Good Orderly Direction” but how many people are going to put their hope of healing in the proverbial hands of a tree that might get struck by lightning next time there’s a storm? No, more people will take the supernatural God route if that’s what they’re told they have to do in order to be cured. It’s also wrong. If “wrong” seems too strong a word, then I’ll use “misinformed.” They don’t know there’s an alternative and they won’t know if people don’t organize alternatives, or advertise them, or encourage others to advertise them.
Which is why I’ll mention SOS once in a while. The emphasis needs to be on caring about the person, not selling an ideology to a desperate buyer. The emphasis needs to be on helping the person get better, not boosting the number of butts in a pew. The ambition has to be to help because the person needs it, not because the act will make the helper look more saintly. A willingness to help should never be so selfishly motivated.
I didn’t wind up picking up a copy of DiCarlo’s book last night. My cash went toward a shirt his son was selling instead. On it is a quote by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Culturally, we need to change the way we deal with all manner of human problems, from crime to addiction to other important life choices. The quest to find alternatives to leaning on a god is a worthwhile pursuit. People want to treat god-belief like it’s a universal band-aid even when the damage goes beyond skin-deep. Other ways to help and fix and cure are out there for those willing to look.