Posts

Tangential Thinking about “Faith-Based Organizations”

A Response to Erica Bornstein on “Beyond ‘Faith-Based Organizations’: Religion and NGOs in Comparative Perspective”

By Chika Watanabe

Read more

‘Religious’ and ‘Spiritual’ Struggles: Now in ‘Nonreligious’ and ‘Nonspiritual’ flavors!

The fact that not only do religious believers sometimes question, struggle with, or even doubt their beliefs, but that resolving these issues can lead someone to a greater level of acceptance and understanding of their faith has been embodied in the form of quest-orientation for some time (Batson & Ventis, 1982). But recently, researchers studying the psychology of religion and spirituality have become more interested in how these spiritual stuggles might also lead towards distress as well (Exline, Pargament, Grubbs, & Yali, 2014). But are these struggles only experienced by the ‘religious’ about ‘religious’ beliefs? Or could people, even nonbelievers, also experience analogous struggles which impact their lives, for both good and bad.

In this podcast, psychologist Dr. Julie Exline talks about her work in developing the Religious and Spiritual Struggles scale, where the original ideas came from and how they interacted with her previous work surrounding anger towards god (Exline, Park, Smyth, & Carey, 2011). She then goes on to describe how some interesting findings within her previous work led her to be interested in whether or not nonbelievers experience similar ‘spiritual’ struggles, if they could be measured and compared to believers’ struggles, and how to measure them in a way valid for both believers and nonbelievers. She also gives a brief overview of some of her current work and interests in the area of nonbelief and secularity more broadly.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us (but only if you enjoyed it, please). And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, non-academic texts, arcane grimoires, miscellaneous intellectual paraphernalia, and more!

This is our last podcast until September 2015… but don’t forget that you can keep up with the RSP on Martin will be featuring podcasts from the archive on the homepage throughout the summer, and that there will be the occasional feature to keep you entertained. Thanks for listening!

References

  • Batson, C. D., & Ventis, W. L. (1982). The religious experience: A social-psychological perspective. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., Grubbs, J. B., & Yali, A. M. (2014). The Religious and Spiritual Struggles Scale: Development and initial validation. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), 208–222. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0036465
  • Exline, J. J., Park, C. L., Smyth, J. M., & Carey, M. P. (2011). Anger toward God: Social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(1), 129–148. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0021716

Faith Development Theory

Within the field of psychology, extensive research has explored a variety of themes related to development theory from humanism to cognitive. Much of research focuses on graduated stages which indicate a change in complexity both in behavioral as well as cognitive growth.  Other theories of development have even focused on ethical development as related to the individual and their community. James Fowler’s Stages of Faith is an excellent example of the convergence of a variety of developmental theories and models into a single theoretical paradigm of faith. Fowler believed that individuals change and grow in their faith much like they develop in learning or behavior. He suggested six stages of development which can be applied to people. The earlier stages are related to learning and relationship with one’s inner community while the later stages speak to the issues of ethics and social awareness. Fowler’s work has been celebrated by theologians, religious educators, and professionals as a milestone in the study of faith and religion.  Fowler’s work also serves as a template upon which to structure the education of youth and the tailoring of ministry programs in the identification of their faith development.

For all accounts, many see Fowler’s work as a classic text, however, it is not without controversy.  Within some circles of psychology of religion and religious studies, Faith Development has been all but abandoned. The work utilizing Fowler’s stages appears mainly in theological empiricism or pastoral care. There are some exceptions however. Enter Heinz Streib of Bielefeld University. Over ten years ago, Streib saw applicability to Fowler’s stages, but not in their typical empirical application. Heinz realized that Fowler’s descriptions had descriptive utility in how individuals structure and formalize their belief, but he also recognized that the graduated method of “stages” was empirically and culturally problematic. Particularly, some individuals seek a defined and close knit group identity within their religious tradition and would likely not be concerned with the social justice for others of different faiths. Moreover, from a cognitive perspective, such individuals are also just as happy with simplistic forms of meaning and an authoritarian theological tradition. For Streib, these systems of meaning were not passé or scant in any way, only different. Streib proposed “styles of faith” based in Fowler, but with the fluidity for individuals or progress and digress, faith becomes a much more dynamic process. This podcast explores Dr.  Streib’s work on Faith Development, Faith Styles, and his current research in the field of Psychology of Religion.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. And if you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us, or use our Amazon.co.uk link to support us when buying your important books etc.

Heinz Streib is Professor for Religious Education at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. There he has established the Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion. He received his Ph.D. from Emory University, Atlanta in 1989, with a thesis on Hermeneutics of Metaphor, Symbol and Narrative in Faith Development Theory (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1991) and in 1995 he completed his Habilitation at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universtät, Frankfurt/Main with a thesis on Entzauberung der Okkultfaszination (Kampen: Kok, 1996). He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Archive for the Psychology of Religion/Archiv für Religionspsychologie.

Streib’s more recent books include Deconversion: Qualitative and Quantitative Results from Cross-cultural Research in Germany and the United States of America (Research in Contemporary Religion)

(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht 2009) and Jugend und Religion (Weinheim: Juventa Verlag, 2011). He also has edited Religion Inside and Outside Traditional Institutions (Empirical Studies in Theology)

(Leiden: Brill, 2007) and Lived Religion. Conceptual, Empirical and Practical-Theological Approaches Leiden:Brill, 2008).

Streib’s research interests focus on biographical-reconstructive and psychometric assessment of deconversion, fundamentalism, xenophobia and the semantics of “spirituality.” His engagement in the psychology of religion includes in a revision of faith development theory in terms of religious styles and schemata, which has lead to the development of the Religious Schema Scale (The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 20(3), 151-172).

Email: Heinz.Streib@uni-bielefeld.de

Podcasts

Tangential Thinking about “Faith-Based Organizations”

A Response to Erica Bornstein on “Beyond ‘Faith-Based Organizations’: Religion and NGOs in Comparative Perspective”

By Chika Watanabe

Read more

‘Religious’ and ‘Spiritual’ Struggles: Now in ‘Nonreligious’ and ‘Nonspiritual’ flavors!

The fact that not only do religious believers sometimes question, struggle with, or even doubt their beliefs, but that resolving these issues can lead someone to a greater level of acceptance and understanding of their faith has been embodied in the form of quest-orientation for some time (Batson & Ventis, 1982). But recently, researchers studying the psychology of religion and spirituality have become more interested in how these spiritual stuggles might also lead towards distress as well (Exline, Pargament, Grubbs, & Yali, 2014). But are these struggles only experienced by the ‘religious’ about ‘religious’ beliefs? Or could people, even nonbelievers, also experience analogous struggles which impact their lives, for both good and bad.

In this podcast, psychologist Dr. Julie Exline talks about her work in developing the Religious and Spiritual Struggles scale, where the original ideas came from and how they interacted with her previous work surrounding anger towards god (Exline, Park, Smyth, & Carey, 2011). She then goes on to describe how some interesting findings within her previous work led her to be interested in whether or not nonbelievers experience similar ‘spiritual’ struggles, if they could be measured and compared to believers’ struggles, and how to measure them in a way valid for both believers and nonbelievers. She also gives a brief overview of some of her current work and interests in the area of nonbelief and secularity more broadly.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us (but only if you enjoyed it, please). And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, non-academic texts, arcane grimoires, miscellaneous intellectual paraphernalia, and more!

This is our last podcast until September 2015… but don’t forget that you can keep up with the RSP on Martin will be featuring podcasts from the archive on the homepage throughout the summer, and that there will be the occasional feature to keep you entertained. Thanks for listening!

References

  • Batson, C. D., & Ventis, W. L. (1982). The religious experience: A social-psychological perspective. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., Grubbs, J. B., & Yali, A. M. (2014). The Religious and Spiritual Struggles Scale: Development and initial validation. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), 208–222. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0036465
  • Exline, J. J., Park, C. L., Smyth, J. M., & Carey, M. P. (2011). Anger toward God: Social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(1), 129–148. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0021716

Faith Development Theory

Within the field of psychology, extensive research has explored a variety of themes related to development theory from humanism to cognitive. Much of research focuses on graduated stages which indicate a change in complexity both in behavioral as well as cognitive growth.  Other theories of development have even focused on ethical development as related to the individual and their community. James Fowler’s Stages of Faith is an excellent example of the convergence of a variety of developmental theories and models into a single theoretical paradigm of faith. Fowler believed that individuals change and grow in their faith much like they develop in learning or behavior. He suggested six stages of development which can be applied to people. The earlier stages are related to learning and relationship with one’s inner community while the later stages speak to the issues of ethics and social awareness. Fowler’s work has been celebrated by theologians, religious educators, and professionals as a milestone in the study of faith and religion.  Fowler’s work also serves as a template upon which to structure the education of youth and the tailoring of ministry programs in the identification of their faith development.

For all accounts, many see Fowler’s work as a classic text, however, it is not without controversy.  Within some circles of psychology of religion and religious studies, Faith Development has been all but abandoned. The work utilizing Fowler’s stages appears mainly in theological empiricism or pastoral care. There are some exceptions however. Enter Heinz Streib of Bielefeld University. Over ten years ago, Streib saw applicability to Fowler’s stages, but not in their typical empirical application. Heinz realized that Fowler’s descriptions had descriptive utility in how individuals structure and formalize their belief, but he also recognized that the graduated method of “stages” was empirically and culturally problematic. Particularly, some individuals seek a defined and close knit group identity within their religious tradition and would likely not be concerned with the social justice for others of different faiths. Moreover, from a cognitive perspective, such individuals are also just as happy with simplistic forms of meaning and an authoritarian theological tradition. For Streib, these systems of meaning were not passé or scant in any way, only different. Streib proposed “styles of faith” based in Fowler, but with the fluidity for individuals or progress and digress, faith becomes a much more dynamic process. This podcast explores Dr.  Streib’s work on Faith Development, Faith Styles, and his current research in the field of Psychology of Religion.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. And if you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us, or use our Amazon.co.uk link to support us when buying your important books etc.

Heinz Streib is Professor for Religious Education at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. There he has established the Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion. He received his Ph.D. from Emory University, Atlanta in 1989, with a thesis on Hermeneutics of Metaphor, Symbol and Narrative in Faith Development Theory (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1991) and in 1995 he completed his Habilitation at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universtät, Frankfurt/Main with a thesis on Entzauberung der Okkultfaszination (Kampen: Kok, 1996). He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Archive for the Psychology of Religion/Archiv für Religionspsychologie.

Streib’s more recent books include Deconversion: Qualitative and Quantitative Results from Cross-cultural Research in Germany and the United States of America (Research in Contemporary Religion)

(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht 2009) and Jugend und Religion (Weinheim: Juventa Verlag, 2011). He also has edited Religion Inside and Outside Traditional Institutions (Empirical Studies in Theology)

(Leiden: Brill, 2007) and Lived Religion. Conceptual, Empirical and Practical-Theological Approaches Leiden:Brill, 2008).

Streib’s research interests focus on biographical-reconstructive and psychometric assessment of deconversion, fundamentalism, xenophobia and the semantics of “spirituality.” His engagement in the psychology of religion includes in a revision of faith development theory in terms of religious styles and schemata, which has lead to the development of the Religious Schema Scale (The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 20(3), 151-172).

Email: Heinz.Streib@uni-bielefeld.de