Fall Quarter, 2008


Instructor:         Dr. Wade Clark Roof

Office:              3001 HSSB (Tel. 893-2562)



Office Hours:    Dr. Roof:  Thursday, 2-3 PM or by appointment;

                        TAs office hours to be announced.


TAs:     Brad Onishi -

            David Heeren –


Course Description:  This is a course on religion and the “inner life” – described variously as “soul,” “mind,” or “psyche.”  The focus is upon humanistic psychology  -- on questions of identity, meaning, and the complex connections between religion, values, and everyday experience. Attention is given primarily to Western theorists and connections between their theories and contemporary life.   


Internet Resources:   There are thousands of web sites on religion, quite a number on the psychology of religion. You will find it helpful to check out, in particular, the Virtual Religion Index at Rutgers University:


Required Texts:

            Frankl, V.                                 Man’s Search for Meaning

            Csikszentmihihalyl, M.  Finding Flow

            Beaudoin, T.                             Virtual Faith

            Kimball, C.                               When Religion Becomes Evil

            Forsyth, James             Psychological Theories of Religion


Course Requirements:

1.      Attend lectures and discussion section

2.      Read assignments in timely order

3.      Two examinations, Mid-term and Final

4.      Short paper (Approximately 10 typewritten, double-spaced pages) – A separate memo will describe the assignment


Examinations: Mid-term and Final. Both cover films, lectures, readings, and discussion. The final is cumulative. Each examination will include both objective and short answer and/or essay questions.


Make-Up Examinations: Available only for those who present written medical verification of illness from a physician or an obituary of a family member. No exceptions.


Cheating and Plagiarism: Serious offenses. Anyone caught cheating or plagiarizing even once risks failure of the course. Continued registration in the course after January 9, 2008 is regarded as acknowledgement of this risk and its consequences.                       


Late Attenders to Class:  If you come late, please sit at the back of the room.

Grading:  Final grades to be determined on the basis of the following distribution of points:

            Mid-term                      30 points

            Final                             40 points

            Paper                           20 points

            Discussion Section        10 points





Sept. 25           INTRODUCTION

                                    Defining Religion

                                                                        Begin Reading: Virtual Faith


                                    Exercise:  How Religious or Non-Religious are you?  Go to

                           - - scroll down to “Compare Yourself,”                                              follow the leads (you in relation to other Americans). Have this                                      ready to share in your discussion group.


Sept. 30                       Gen X and Y:  The Centrality of the                                                                                                      Spiritual


Oct. 2-7                       RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE              

                                                Theories of William James

                                                Conversion, Mysticism, Spirituality

                                                Triggers of Religious Experience: Hearing,                                                                                             Seeing, Touching, Ingesting, Fasting, Pain


                                                                        Reading: “William James,” in J. Forsythe,                                                                                  Psychological Theories of Religion, pp. 103-    



                                                                        (2)Go to                                                                                                 

                                                Scroll to Chapter XVI, XVII on “Mysticism,” read first                                                             couples pages carefully, browse remainder.


                                                Film: “The Religious Experience”


Oct. 9                         THE SEARCH FOR MEANING

                                                Theories of Viktor E. Frankl

                                                            Threat of Chaos



                                                            Meaning as Tragic Optimism

                                                                        Reading: Man’s Search for Meaning and

                                                                        “Viktor Frankl,” in Forsyth, pp. 223-243.


Oct. 14-16-21                         THE HIDDEN SELF                                                                          

                                                Theories of Sigmund Freud

                                                            Need for Protection

                                                            Religion as Illusion

                                                            Film: “The Hidden Nature of Man”


                                                                        Reading:  “Sigmund Freud,” in J. Forsyth,                                                                                  Psychological Theories of Religion, pp. 150.


Oct. 23-28                   THE UNDISCOVERED SELF                                  

                                                Theories of Carl G. Jung

                                                            Collective Unconscious



                                                            Personality Types


                                                                        Reading: “C.G. Jung,” in J. Forsyth,                                                                                          Psychological Theories of Religion pp. 51-                                                                                102.

                                                Go to:                                                                                                                             


                                                Answer the Question:  What is Your Personality Type?



MID-TERM ---   Oct. 30


Nov. 4-6                      THE  DEVELOPING SELF

                                                Theories of Erik Erikson and Others

                                                Life-Cycle Theories

                                                Men and Women

                                                            Video:  “Adam, Eve, and the                                                                                                                 Serpent”


                                                                        Reading -- Study carefully:                                                                      

Nov. 11                       HOLIDAY




                                                            Read about Object Relations Theory:



                                                            Read about Attachment Theory:



Nov. 18-20                  WHEN RELIGION IS BAD                                                                                                                                        Reification



                                                                        Coercion and Violence

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reading: Kimball, When Religion Becomes                                                                               Evil .


                                                            Go to

                                                            Scroll to New Religious Movements

                                                            Read “Society and Religion Movements”

                                                            and “Heaven’s Gate Website” (group



Nov. 25-Dec. 2            WHEN RELIGION IS GOOD

                                                                        Maslow and Self-Actualization

                                                                        Fromm and Being Human

                                                                        Csikszentmihali and “Flow”      

                                                                        Allport and Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic                                                                                                           Religion


                                                                        Readings: Csikszentmihali, Finding Flow.


                                                                        Also read Gordon Allport, pp. 165-192 in                                                                                Forsyth, Psychological Theories and                                                                                          Abraham Maslow, pp. 195-220 in                                                                                            Psychological_Theories





Dec. 4                          SUMMING UP


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                              FINAL  EXAMINATION  - Thursday, Dec. 11,  12 Noon – 3 PM


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