Religions2015, 6(1), 139-145; doi:10.3390/rel6010139 - published 5 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this article, I explore a pedagogical strategy for teaching Augustine’s Confessions to undergraduate students, which involves a final essay assignment. In the assignment, students compose their own “confessions” at the end of the term that employs Augustine’s Confessions as a roadmap for rigorous self-reflection. Like Augustine, they must employ a creative literary frame, without duplicating his rhetorical technique of framing his autobiography as a prayer to God. Moreover, they must reflect on the salient questions, key people, pivotal moments that have shaped them, and analyze their shifts in worldviews. The assignment aims to demystify Augustine and to reinforce the evolving nature of the self as it moves through time and absorbs new ideas and experiences, as well as helping students begin to formulate a coherent and constructive life narrative.
Religions2015, 6(1), 122-138; doi:10.3390/rel6010122 - published 4 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper situates Sikh identity, spirituality, and recovery from alcohol addiction within a nexus of complex social, psychological, and cultural factors. The way in which affected people in Sikh communities in Britain are able to locate and utilize unofficial recovery trajectories, often successfully alleviating suffering, presents both academic research and service provision with potential puzzles. While Sikh communities have been long settled in the UK, there is still a dearth of extensive, multi-method, and analytically rich research investigating the role of spirituality and Sikh identity. We present existing models of recovery process and locate them against an individual psychological and sociological backdrop, so that through the use of spirituality, recovery along this route is interpreted as having both otherworldly as well as materially grounded formations. It is this duality, we argue, that is prominent socially, culturally, and psychologically as important in the recovery from addiction. The multi-factorial nature of this mechanism of change raises important questions for not only addiction recovery, but also notions of continuity and change in Sikh identity. We aim to contribute to this growing body of work in order to re-situate the role of spirituality and identity in alcohol addiction recovery.
Religions2015, 6(1), 113-121; doi:10.3390/rel6010113 - published 25 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The article describes a series of pedagogic exercises developed to help students in a General Education course at a Jesuit university to engage fruitfully with Augustine’s Confessions in a way that will facilitate and deepen their understanding of a classic text of the Western tradition and, at the same time, promote their personal formation in keeping with the goals of Ignatian pedagogy.
Religions2015, 6(1), 107-112; doi:10.3390/rel6010107 - published 16 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Students in Mercer University’s Great Books program read Augustine’s Confessions in the third semester of a seven-semester sequence. Their previous reading of Greek and Roman epics and philosophical treatises as well as Biblical material equips them with a solid foundation for reading and discussing Augustine. This essay reflects on that preparation and models ways that instructors can use opening discussion questions related to those earlier readings to guide students into substantive reflection on the Confessions.
Religions2015, 6(1), 92-106; doi:10.3390/rel6010092 - published 2 February 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Norwegian health authorities buy one third of their addiction treatment from private institutions run by organizations and trusts. Several of these are founded on religious values. The aim of the study was to investigate such value-based treatment and the patients’ experiences of spirituality and religiousness as factors of meaning-making in rehabilitation. The study was performed in an explorative qualitative design. Data were collected through focus-group interviews among therapists and in-patients at a religiously founded substance misuse service institution. The analysis was carried out by content analysis through systematic text-condensation. Through different activities and a basic attitude founded on religious values, the selected institution and the therapists facilitated a treatment framework which included a spiritual dimension and religious activity. The patients appreciated their free choice regarding treatment approaches, which helped them to make meaning of life in various collective and individual settings. Rituals and sacred spaces gave peace of mind and confidence in a situation that up to now had been chaotic and difficult. Sermons and wording in rituals contributed to themes of reflection and helped patients to revise attitudes and how other people were met. Private confessions functioned for several patients as turning point experiences influencing patients’ relations to themselves and their surroundings. Spirituality and religious activity contributed to meaning-making among patients with substance use disorder and had significance for their rehabilitation.
Religions2015, 6(1), 82-91; doi:10.3390/rel6010082 - published 30 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Book I of Augustine’s work On Free Choice (De Libero Arbitrio) offers a helpful introduction to some of the most important themes of political philosophy. The paper makes a case for teaching this text in introductory courses on political thought, theology of social life, and similar topics, alongside or even in place of the more usually assigned excerpts from City of God. The text is written as a dialogue in which Augustine seeks to introduce a student of his to reflection on the ways in which our moral outlook is profoundly shaped by our political citizenship. It invites all of us, whether Christian or non-Christian citizens, to enter into the dialogue ourselves as Augustine’s students and so to reflect on the moral significance of our own citizenship.