Rooting for the holy rollers, and for guided imagery as a treatment for PTSD. Salon readers weigh in on "Christian Party Animals" and "My Heart Is Back."

Published December 16, 2004 8:00AM (EST)

[Read "Christian Party Animals" by Kimberley Sevcik.]

I don't suppose there's any harm in 24-7 missionaries asking for prayer requests while on their holy pub-crawl through the streets of Ibiza. It's wacky, but so is Ibiza. Their larger agenda and follow-up discussions, though, are problematic. Is it ethical -- or productive -- to peddle religion to the intoxicated and the stoned? I don't think so. No one is looking for God on the dance floor. Christians handing out fruit and platitudes at nightclubs won't change that.

And are these missionaries offering anything more than an experiential alternative? Sounds to me like a methadone clinic: Have this "feelgood Jesus" instead of that "feelgood ecstasy." At best, it's a theologically dodgy presentation of Christianity.

Missionaries are often enthusiastic but immature, well meaning but misguided. They're also often ill informed. These 24-7 types have presumably read their Bible and so should know that the prodigal son's father waited for his profligate son to come home. Spiritually hungry people know how to find churches, if they're interested in that sort of thing.

In truth, these missionaries are the primary beneficiaries of their good works -- they get to feel great about themselves, and they get to do it in Ibiza.

-- Christian Gulliksen

Even though I'm not what anyone would describe as religious, I appreciate their effort to go where they feel people need help, offer to help, and at no time during their help cram their beliefs down anyone's throat.

-- Don Bruey

I think Kimberley Sevcik has achieved what I previously thought impossible: she's made me kind of root for these holy rollers. Congratulations.

-- Ericola

I truly appreciate Salon.com for having the courage to publish something like "Christian Party Animals." As a Christian and inveterate leftist, I often find it discouraging to find the left dismissing the beliefs of many Christians for their politics, while Christians dismiss the politics of the left wing for their perceived atheism. Through this article, I would like to think that Sevcik and Salon.com have made the world a slightly more tolerant place.

-- Luke McReynolds

[Read "My Heart Is Back" by Lynn Harris.]

Bravo for printing this interesting article on PTSD, which is so little understood or acknowledged by society and yet so pervasive. We all need to be less judgmental of others and realize we have no idea what lies beneath their reactions to what we may perceive as insignificant stimuli.

I have suffered PTSD a long time due to surreal violence in my childhood and teens. I also developed chronic autoimmune problems (one potentially fatal) and adrenal burnout, among a host of other physical problems. Diet, meditation, and all kinds of therapy for 20 years and I still have to deal. Violence ruins health and it is only through extraordinary care that one can overcome severe PTSD. It's time we started to weigh the effects and costs of violence to children instead of pooh-poohing it.

-- M.A. Borawick

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the only article I've ever read that made me go, "Yes! That's exactly how I feel." I was a victim of sexual assault at 16, but never told anyone until I was 26, and didn't bring it to therapy until I was 34. When I did start talking about it in therapy, the panic attacks started, and my ability to relate intimately ended in stark frozen terror, even though my thinking brain knew the man I was with was safe and adored me. Before, when I wasn't talking about it in therapy, my sex life was fine. So talking definitely seemed to make it worse.

What finally helped? A different kind of therapy, where we focused on the body, a part of myself I'd been denying existed for years. Not just how my heart felt, but my eyes, my mouth, my hands, my feet, my torso -- all of me, all the parts that I had to reclaim from that terrible experience. That helped some. And what finally put the nail in the coffin was painting a very detailed picture of my attacker. I've always wondered why, but something fundamental changed after that, something that all the talk, all the pillow pounding, all the cutting up of his image, hadn't done.

I still get panic attacks, but they are very few and far between. I hope others with PTSD will read your article and see hope in it, and hope in the use of imagery to conquer fear and pain.

-- Name withheld

By Salon Staff

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