Tuesday, September 13, 2005

ABCs and 123s of spiritual development

Science asks: just how does religion help children? The answer goes back to William James and James Fowler, big surprise there. William James is the only person I've ever seen come close to studying religion in a sensible manner, asking exactly how various faiths dovetail with various personalities. I'm glad to see science is paying more attention to the positive effects of religious experience and not simply cataloging the negative.


Anselm's Apprentice said...

I'm so glad to see you dropped by my blog! It's turning into old home week over there. Thanks for visiting, and I'm glad I got over here to see what you're up to.

I haven't run into a William James link in a long time. (I teach a history of philosophy class as part of my wife's "Tapestry of Grace" curriculum, and James is a fun and interesting part of the late 19th century.)

Your post makes me stop and think: why don't traditional schools teach James? Here's my short take:

(1) Public schools are scared to teach anything about religion. Too controversial!

(2) Private religious schools aren't interested in James's psychological insights into religion. They've got their own doctrine to teach.

(3) Private nonreligious schools are relatively rare, but I'll bet there are some out there that are doing a great job of tackling this kind of material.

Lioness said...

Thank you, Scott. I'm convinced the world would be a better place if more people studied James' The Varieties of Religious Experience. 103 years ago James spelled out clearly that there could never be One True Religion or an Universal Church because there was not an Universal Personality Type with an Universal Worldview. Instead each personality type either choses a religion based on their own worldview or tweaks the religion they are in to suit their own worldview. Even in the impossible event that everyone on earth would agree on one religion, it would need at least nine different denominations to suit the nine different personality types -- and that is before you get into differences caused by different life experiences making different metaphors resonate with different people, or the inevitable mutations that occur over generations.

Hey! *Hop!* *kick* *crash!*

Sorry about that. My soapbox tends to sneak up and grab me by the ankles whenever I get the chance to talk about the philosophy of religion.