One of the more enduring relationships found in social science is that between social class and health; or more accurately put: between social mobility and health.
I review medical research studies quite frequently where they have not controlled for social class but make some claim that health was improved with some nostrum. Such studies are meaningless.
The factors that underlie social class and health are not well understood. Usually explanations devolve into some psych-babble discussion of psychosomatic influences. But perhaps there is something mercurial that religion captures up as far as the human spirit and health.
Then there are the statistical outliers – the janitor who has saved more money than those of higher social class and income and enjoys better health; and not un-typically is religious.
Dr. Berger once famously wrote: “Max Weber is alive and well and living in Guatemala.” And he also might be living healthy in some ethnic enclave in the U.S. posing as a retired janitor who attends a Pentecostal church.
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“. . . in the profoundly revealing 2008 comment by Barrack Obama about folk in small towns (revealing, that is, about him, not about the people he was talking about): “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” These stereotypes were never empirically correct, and now are grossly incorrect.”
What’s incorrect is the context of Obama’s remark. Not an attack on Evangelicalism but a description of one segment of it. Don’t know where Berger lives, but in my home states of Texas and Oklahoma, and in my Southern Baptist church, there are plenty of people who fit that description to a T. And their numbers are growing.
I sent one of my more well-read church friends a link to Via Meadia. He was contemptuous. “Amusing what progressive academics think constitutes conservatism.” In other words, no birtherism, no calls for armed resistance to Muslim socialist tyranny, no “evolution is a Satanist plot.” Is this typical? No. But it’s not uncommon. You need to get out more Mr. Berger.
I very much appreciate your attention to the Pentecostal “elephant,” as well as your grappling with the politically correct, mandatory Marxist class warfare interpretation thereof.
I believe you missed two crucial new works which could have enriched your contribution: Craig Keener’s monumental 2 vol work, *Miracles: The Credibility of the NT Accounts* Baker Academic, 2011. He thoroughly documents healings and “miracles” world-wide, while offering a solid treatment of the NT data and exposing the circular arguments of Hume. Keener’s truly is now the definitive study. Another excellent work is Candy Gunther Brown’s disciplined scientific study (mentioned in the CT article on the Bakers): *Testing Prayer: Science and Healing* Harvard Univ Press, 2012. Maybe for another blog. Along these lines, I’d like to give you a heads up on my new book, *What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology: Traditional Religion vs. Biblical Emphasis*. God bless you in your thoughtful scholarship.
I can only report what I’ve seen. There is an older man in my church who wore two hearing aids. He was almost deaf. After he was healed during a visit by an evangelist he took them out. The next day my wife walked up in back of him and quietly whispered something while still several feet away. He turned around and answered. I don’t think you can fake that!