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Many seminary courses examine theological perspectives of various realities. This course takes a unique vantage point on spiritual and religious realities by examining them from a psychological perspective. Topics considered include spiritual and religious experience in childhood and adulthood, death, conversion, mysticism, and prayer as well as social and political dimensions of faith experience. A central dimension of the course is the sharing of faith vignettes by members of the class. Opportunity is also given to explore the cultural dimensions of religious experience.

This seminar looks at the memoirs, speeches, and other writings of authors like David Walker, Mary Antin, and Malcolm X to understand how American Christianity has appeared to America’s social outsiders. American evangelists, and other insiders of America’s Christian tradition, have historically perceived of the Christian message as “good news.” They have testified that Christian communities and symbols provide hope, joy, and peace for all. Despite missionary appeals to the goodness of Christianity, some spectators remain unconvinced of, or even offended by, the gospel message. Often, these spectators—from political, racial, and religious margins—report that, instead of bringing good news, American Christian communities, and symbols, have inflamed despair, anger, and anxiety in the lives of marginalized people.

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