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Fears and stories about an underground religion devoted to Satan, which demands and carries out child sacrifice, appeared in the United States in the late twentieth century and became the subject of media reports supported by some mental health professionals. Examining these modern fantasies leads us back to ancient stories which in some cases believers consider the height of religious devotion.

Horrifying ideas about human sacrifice, child sacrifice, and the offering to the gods of a beloved only son by his father appear repeatedly in Western traditions, starting with the Greeks and the Hebrews. In Flesh and Blood: Interrogating Freud on Human Sacrifice, Real and Imagined, Beit-Hallahmi focuses on rituals of violence tied to religion, both imagined and real. The main focus of this work is the meaning of blood and ritual killing in the history of religion. The book examines the encounter with the idea of child sacrifice in the context of human hopes for salvation.
Multiple forms of oppression, injustice, and violence today have roots in histories of colonialism. This connection to the past feels familiar for some and less relevant for others. Understanding and responding to these connections is more crucial than ever, yet some resist rather than face this task directly. Others resist oppressive postcolonial conditions.

Using intercultural stories and pastoral care scholarship, this book charts pathways through five resistances (not me, not here, not now, not relevant, not possible) to awaken creative pastoral care in a postcolonial world. McGarrah Sharp recommends practices that everyone can do: believing in each other, revisiting how histories are taught, imagining more passable futures, heeding prophetic poets, and crossing borders with healthy boundaries.
The 30th volume of Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion consists of two special sections, as well as two separate empirical studies on attachment and daily spiritual practices. The first special section deals with the social scientific study of religion in Indonesia. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country whose history and contemporary involvement in the study of religion is explored from both sociological and psychological perspectives. The second special section is on the Pope Francis effect: the challenges of modernization in the Catholic church and the global impact of Pope Francis. While its focus is mainly on the Catholic religion, the internal dynamics and geopolitics explored apply more broadly.
The general papers in Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 29 cover a range of topics including psychological type, prayer, nature and well-being, psychobiography, coping with addiction, and the role of place in spirituality. The first special section on congregational studies draws on a range of large datasets from the National Church Life Surveys in Australia. Papers examine the factors that predict individual sense of belonging in Catholic parishes as well as congregational-level aspects of vitality, collective confidence, and innovativeness. The second special section examines the Ideological Surround Model and how it can help to better understand expressions of faith related to psychological constructs such as mindfulness, fundamentalism, and the ‘Dark Triad’ of Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy.
Conspiracy theories are a ubiquitous feature of our times. The Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion is the first reference work to offer a comprehensive, transnational overview of this phenomenon along with in-depth discussions of how conspiracy theories relate to religion(s). Bringing together experts from a wide range of disciplines, from psychology and philosophy to political science and the history of religions, the book sets the standard for the interdisciplinary study of religion and conspiracy theories.
This volume of Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion includes a wide range of papers from a social-science perspective. The special section gives a unique insight into the rapidly growing field of psychological studies of religion in China. It draws on experts from China and the USA who met for a conference at Fuller Theological Seminary and have together compiled a collection of original research and reviews that helps to locate the current state of the discipline from a specifically Chinese perspective. Other papers in the volume examine intergenerational religious transmission and religious problem-solving styles in the USA.
Integrating Theology, Philosophy, and the Cognitive Science of Virtue, Emotion, and Character Formation
The language of habit plays a central role in traditional accounts of the virtues, yet it has received only modest attention among contemporary scholars of philosophy, psychology, and religion. This volume explores the role of both “mere habits” and sophisticated habitus in the moral life. Beginning with an essay by Stanley Hauerwas and edited by Gregory R. Peterson, James A. Van Slyke, Michael L. Spezio, and Kevin S. Reimer, the volume explores the history of the virtues and habit in Christian thought, the contributions that psychology and neuroscience make to our understanding of habitus, freedom, and character formation, and the relation of habit and habitus to contemporary philosophical and theological accounts of character formation and the moral life.

Contributors are: Joseph Bankard, Dennis Bielfeldt, Craig Boyd, Charlene Burns, Mark Graves, Brian Green, Stanley Hauerwas, Todd Junkins, Adam Martin, Darcia Narvaez, Gregory R. Peterson, Kevin S. Reimer, Lynn C. Reimer, Michael L. Spezio, Kevin Timpe, and George Tsakiridis.
In Caring for Joy: Narrative, Theology, and Practice Mary Clark Moschella offers a new account of the value of joy in caregiving vocations, demonstrating how the work of caring for persons, communities, and the world need not be a dreary endeavor overwhelmed by crises or undermined by despair. Moschella presents glimpses of joy-in-action in the narratives of five notable figures: Heidi Neumark, Henri Nouwen, Gregory Boyle, Pauli Murray, and Paul Farmer, gleaning their wisdom for the construction of a theology of joy that embodies compassion, connection, justice, and freedom. Care must be deep enough to hold human suffering and spacious enough to take in the divine goodness, beauty, and love. This book expands the pastoral theological imagination and narrates joy-full approaches to transformational care.

“This work is a scholarly, engaging and compassionate call to reconsider the significance of joyful living and joyful lives in radical pastoral theology.”
— Heather Walton, University of Glasgow, President of the International Academy of Practical Theology, July 2016.

“Based on biographies, interviews, and life stories, Mary Clark Moschella presents joy as a counter-cultural emotion, as a spiritual path, and as a fruit of the Spirit. In her research, joy and reason are not ultimately opposed.”
— Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Professor of Pastoral Care, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, July 2016.

“This highly readable and compelling theology of joy will inspire you to explore how joy might energize your vocation, especially caregiving vocations that use narrative approaches to spiritual care and pastoral counseling. I plan on using this book as a textbook in my theodicy, grief, death and dying, and vocational courses.”
— Carrie Doehring, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, August 2016

“Mary Moschella has given us a rare text, one that is theologically rich, intellectually sophisticated, drenched in pastoral wisdom, and beautifully written. She gives us a pastoral theology attuned to the realities of diversity and sensitive to the complex challenges facing those who lives constantly interface with suffering. There is simply nothing else like this book in pastoral care.”
— Willie James Jennings, Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, Yale University, August 2016
This volume includes a wide range of papers that explore individual and institutional aspects of religion from a social-science perspective. The special section has articles related to the practice of prayer, and includes studies from the USA, Europe, and the Middle East. The general papers include studies on coping strategies, God representations, spirituality versus religion, self-control in a Muslim context, and faith-based organizations in Cambodia. Together these papers form a valuable collection indicating the depth and vibrancy of research in these fields.
Volume 7: Sociology of Atheism (2016)
Recent studies show that atheism is increasing. The reasons for this development have not as yet been examined thoroughly. Many atheists continue to be residual groups in surveys on religiosity, making it difficult to examine who they are and why they have chosen to be atheists.
Moreover, they are minority groups in most countries (former Soviet bloc countries are left out of discussion); many do not identify with any organized groups of atheists or agnostics. Atheist groups and ideologies, then, represent a wide range of attitudes, behaviour and ways of acting towards religion. The lack of a clear definition of what being atheist (or an unbeliever) means today invites us to study the issue in greater depth. This volume represents a first attempt at understanding and scrutinizing atheism. Thanks to all contributors, it provides both a global perspective and specific insights into specific cases.