Yesterday in my blog Do Your Friends Know Each Other It Might be In Your Genes I provided a link to an article I found that suggested the way we make friends and whether our friends are also friends is intimately related. It has set my brain twirling and i have since spent a lot of time reflecting on the ways in which community is literally written into our DNA. Now of course some would say that is another indication that we don’t need God to explain who we are and how we relate together. To me however it says the exact opposite. Not only has God knit us together in our mother’s wombs but God has also knit his very nature, the nature of community within us as part of our creation. And there are some intriguing aspects to this.
One way that we appear to be linked in community is through the production of pheromones – chemicals that are released by an organism to communicate with others of its species. Unfortunately research into pheromones in humans is not extensive but it has long been known that when women live together in community their menstrual cycles soon synchronize. In animals, pheromones are involved very strongly in care of offspring, in recognizing members of your social group, in recognizing family members. their production can result in group violence, sexual attraction and in warm fuzzy feelings of togetherness. I suspect that in humans too there are many ways in which we are hard wired for community interaction through the production of pheromones, hormones and DNA structure.
Evidently singing together produces pheromones that increase our sense of bonding, community and shared endeavour. Read more. One only needs to watch spectators singing together at a football match to know how powerful this bonding can be.
Working together in community can also play an important part in bonding. Many phsychologists recognize that community involvement can lift depression and calm anxiety especially if we interact with positive thinking people. It doesn’t surprise me therefore that as our society has become more individualistic and less community minded that depression has reached epidemic proportions. Evindently 121 million people suffer from severe depression and by 2020 it is expected to be the second biggest killer in the world next to heart disease.
So what are the implications for Christian community. Not that we want to view the way that we practice our faith in a purely clinical framework, but I think it is good for us to recognize that our shared practices and interactions strengthen our faith and bond us to like minded individuals.
How do you think this knowledge could help us in strengthening Christian community?