This week as a part of my exam preparation for my comprehensives I am reading Bruce Rogers-Vaughan's Caring For Souls in a Neoliberal Age. To be honest, I was very worried that I would not be able to understand what he was writing about (as pastoral theology is my area, but NOT economics/political theory), but I have found the first few chapters to be highly accessible.
Rogers-Vaughan advocates for a "post-capitalist pastoral theology" in which the normativity of capitalism isn't assumed. He writes from the perspective of a psychotherapist who has seen, over the past 30 years in his practice, more addictions, relationship declines, powerful anxiety and depression, an increase in mental illness, more loneliness, and also shame rooted in personal failure. Clients thinking that they can't figure out what to do with their problems, and linking these issues to the idea that something is wrong with them. He states that theologically, these conditions are actually weakening the human soul, as they are breaking apart what connects us as a human community, and also what links us to the Transcendent.
I couldn't help but notice that the trajectory he is seeing in his practice aligns with the rise of self-injury in the West. With less community connection, and increased loneliness, self-injury is on the rise as young people feel very alone and like they cannot talk to anyone about their pain. I recently read an article in the Washington Post that said increasing smart phone use is leading to more self-injurious behaviours in young girls, I wonder what Rogers-Vaughan would think about this?