Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I listened to an interview with Louise Penny, the very successful author of a series of mystery novels set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. We have read them in part because our son and daughter-in-law now live in those parts and the villages and towns in the novels are recognizable in the stories.

The most recent and seventh, A Trick of the Light, includes a worthwhile exploration of addiction, recovery, forgiveness. Penny knows of which she writes. Alcoholism nearly derailed her life but her recovery, which included Alcoholics Anonymous, has allowed her to lead a meaningful and successful life. Not only does this show up in her novel, she is quite candid in discussing her journey.

I appreciate her candour. In every congregation I have served there have been individuals dealing with addictions. Some acknowledge it and others don't. Some fit the stereotype of an addict, others function reasonably well -- at least publicly. Some find support in 12 Step groups and others venture on alone with varying degrees of success. There is nothing easy about addicton and folk tend to talk with their pastors because they sense this is a spiritual issue.

I think faith communities have become better in supporting those who deal with addictions but there is still the stigma of moral failure and the resultant shame. We can hope and pray that this will come to an end. As I have commented before, some people experience grace and honesty in a much more authentic way in those 12 Step groups. AA invites participants to seek a "Power greater than ourselves," to pray and meditate, and to take advantage of the spiritual awakening.

Do you admire those who are open about their addictions? Can we be doing more? Have you dealt with addiction in your family? Do you feel that there is a spiritual component to overcoming addiction?


Anonymous said...

There are few things that make a person feel more helpless than when witnessing the effects of addiction.

IanD said...

I feel for those who deal with addiction, and find addiction so fascinating in cognitive terms. It amazes me to consider how the brain and mind end up "needing" something. The range of things people can be addicted to is likewise quite interesting (and heartbreaking at the same time.)