American Protestantism in the Age of Psychology by Stephanie Muravchik

By Stephanie Muravchik

Many have anxious that the ever present perform of psychology and psychotherapy in the United States has corrupted spiritual religion, eroded civic advantage, and weakened neighborhood lifestyles. yet an exam of the historical past of 3 significant psycho-spiritual hobbies because global warfare II - Alcoholics nameless, The Salvation Army's outreach to homeless males, and the "clinical pastoral education" circulation - unearths the other. those teams constructed a pragmatic spiritual psychology that nurtured religion, fellowship, and private accountability. They accomplished this through together with non secular traditions and religious actions of their definition of treatment and by means of placing clergy and lay believers to paintings as therapists. less than such care, religious and emotional development strengthened one another. because of those ideas, the 3 events succeeded in achieving hundreds of thousands of socially alienated and religiously disillusioned americans. They verified that faith and psychology, even supposing antithetical in a few eyes, will be mixed successfully to foster neighborhood, person accountability, and happier lives.

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39 Or rather they saw these quests as intertwined and inseparable. They did not imagine that a soul who inhabited a cracked psyche could be saved. And they saw in nurturing another toward wholeness a microcosm of God’s tender 34 35 36 37 38 39 Oliver Frank, “Spring Quarter Evaluation,” 1961, RG 001, ser. III, Box 138, folder 2099, Pitts. George Black, “Confidential Report on Student [Oliver Frank],” December 27, 1960, RG 001, Box 138, folder 2099, Pitts; Jacob Fothergill, “Council for Clinical Training, Confidential Report on Student [Oliver Frank],” Spring Quarter 1961, RG 001, Box 138, folder 2099, Pitts.

For those inclined to push it back to the Puritans, often the height from which American religious declensionist narratives begin, see Hall’s fascinating account of how Puritans actually lived and experienced their faith, rather than how their erudite leaders formally wrote about it. Also, it makes more literary than historical sense to begin with the Puritans, rather than with the irreligious middle colonists, see Albanese, America: Religions and Religion; Finke and Stark, Churching of America; Hall, Worlds of Wonder.

As a paradigm that balanced the freedom of individual choice with transcendence and fellowship, this older ideal suited a democratic culture. The three histories examined here were chosen because they all appeared to be “hard cases” that represented diverse expressions of the same phenomenon. Since the individualistic doctrinal and institutional structures of Protestantism have been seen as particularly vulnerable to the atomizing tendencies of the therapeutic,84 I chose cases that emerged from the traditions of American Protestantism.

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