Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Religious Viewpoint

    Patti Florey is a retired 63 year old woman who lives in Mt. Pleasant, TX.  Before retirement she worked for Region VIII Education Service Center working specifically with educating teachers and administrators on how to recognize and deal with substance abuse in students.  I chose her for two reasons.  One, because of her strong ties to religion and her belief in God.  The second, because she has health issues causing her to be in chronic pain which seem to influence some of her survey answers.
    There were two main categories of survey questions where Patti's answers were very consistent.  In six out of six questions (9, 10, 17-20) that deal with mentally knowing your reality and wanting to be in contact with reality, Patti chose the choice in favor of reality.  In three out of four questions (6, 7, 16, 21) her answer indicated favorability to morality.  The one time that Patti did not choose the option indicating the most moral behavior was when it dealt with Carlos, who was the person that had some degree of mental disability and as a result, committed some immoral acts.  
    She views a good life as one based largely on morality and reality.  She also doesn't view autonomy or progress as adding meaning to life; however a sense of self is important.  As will become evident in the interview, these answers and her views are strongly influenced by her religion.  For example, in the question about the glow worms, she indicated that their life is not meaningless.  This is most likely because of her belief in God and that everything is according to his plan and has a meaning.  
    According to her, she views the meaning of life to be to prepare for the one (Jesus) yet to come.  Likewise, living a good life means having relationships with the people around you that have sound morals.  To live a good life also means to live knowing there is something much greater and more powerful than ourselves, and as a result, making choices reflecting that belief.  She has a strong religious Christian faith.    Growing up in a faith based on "the law" and importance of rituals, she is now involved in a faith focused on grace.  Her religious beliefs influence her views on the meaning of life by helping her to realize that things of worldly importance are not important when thinking of God and eternity.  Furthermore, there is no meaning without focusing on what is to come in the next life.  With regards to how her religion effects her view on how to live a good life, her beliefs influence both the small things that she sees as important to living a Christian life such as reaching out in kindness to those hurting or in need to the large moral decisions we are faced with from time to time.  To her, there is no good life help others come to know Christ on a day to day basis.  Also, focusing inward will not lead to a good life but rather an outward focused life of bringing others to God will.  Though she is strong in religious faith now, this was not always her belief.  There was a time when she questioned her belief in God.  Going through a divorce at the age of 25 and having the legalistic religious beliefs she had at the time, she could not reconcile her divorce with the belief that she would no longer be accepted by God because of it.  As a result, she decided to "give up on God."  However, no matter how much she tried she was not able to do this.  This is when she came to understand the grace of Christ which allows for failures and subsequent forgiveness.  
    The health conditions she faces include Psoriatic Arthritis, Undifferentiated Spondyloarthrapy, and Sjogren's Disease along with other autoimmune diseases.  These diseases damage and/or destroy ligaments, tendons, joints, bones, internal organs, and other parts of the body.  These conditions cause her to be in chronic pain.  She has daily pain ranging anywhere from a severity of 5-10 (10 being the most painful on a 1-10 scale).  I noticed that both of her answers on the survey regarding Angela, the girl on pain medication, were that the increased pain was favorable in order to know reality.  Because of this, I decided to look into her views on pain medication.  Her view is that pain medication should be taken if physical movement is dramatically effected by the pain and if qualified doctors deem the medication necessary for the patient to have some quality of life and activity.  She does however believe that pain medication should be taken carefully as it can be easy to become addicted to such medicine.  In her mind, addiction is wrong because it removes your ability to focus on others and their needs and can destroy important relationships in your life.  Some people have a reluctance to take pain medications because it conflicts in some way with their religious beliefs.  This is not true for Patti.  Her viewpoint is that God understands the extreme pain she is in and how it can affect not only her body, but also her mind.  She does feel that she should stay focused on God and those around her.  Because of this, Patti constantly battles the pain without pain medication for the most part.    Because of this pain, Patti's life has been dramatically affected.  At times, it causes her to not be able to be with family or friends.  However, she usually does not let that happen.  I decided to further try and get an idea of her importance of social interactions and if social interaction is important enough to merit taking pain medication.  She places a great deal of importance on social interaction with both family and friends as it plays a part in her idea of the meaning of life.   Though of great importance, she does not take pain medication any time it would have an affect on her social interactions.  Instead, Patti only takes medication if the pain restricts her social interaction for an extended period of time.  She does however see that there would be circumstances that would warrant medication but that they would be rare occasions.  
    The views she expressed in the interview coincided with her answers in the survey.  Her value of reality and having real interactions with people are shown in her favoring reality in the survey questions as well as in her answers in the interview relating to pain medication.  Her religion is also evident in that her survey answers show a strong sense of morality which is driven by her religion and belief in God.  

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