Pamela Ebstyne King, Susan Mangan, Rodrigo Riveros
In this chapter, we draw on positive developmental psychology, psychology of religion and spirituality, and developmental neuroscience to explore how youth religiousness and spirituality contribute to thriving through the process of meaning-making. Thriving involves the individual, relational, and aspirational development necessary to pursue a life purpose that is meaningful to the self and one’s surroundings. Meaning-making is the process of constructing and internalizing abstract beliefs (about oneself, the world, and one’s priorities) into salient values that contribute to the moral development necessary to thrive. When youth consider abstract ideas in the context of their actions, transcendent emotions, and the broader world, then their meaning-making can result in values-based goals and behaviors. Adolescents are naturally motivated to explore identity-related issues of meaning, values, roles, and belonging. In particular, meaning-making occurs when youth are given the opportunity to reflect in an enriching dialogue with caring adults. In more ways than most youth contexts, religion and spirituality provide young people with opportunities to seek and form meaning by being prompted to process transcendent beliefs and emotions through the narratives, intergenerational relationships, and transcendent experiences that religion and spirituality often provide.
Religion as Fertile Ground
Abstract An extensive body of research points toward spirituality and religiousness as resources for promoting human thriving. People with strong connections to the transcendent and religious meaning in life often view morals and values as central to their self-concepts. Although moral identity theory and contemporary views of virtue development emphasize the importance of narrative identity for habituated moral action, the two are often discussed in isolation of each other. In this chapter, the authors highlight how their commonality is particularly evident when examining the potential of religion to provide a transcendent self-narrative that leads to virtue formation and moral action…
How diverse beliefs shape the experience of transcendent gratitude
Author: Jeane Nelson, Susan Mangan, Rebecca Ann Baer, Jeff V. Ramdass, Pamela Ebstyne King Abstract: As a novel contribution, this study considers transcendent gratitude (e.g. gratitude towards non-human benefactors such as God, Science, or Karma) across diverse belief systems. The sample included 619 participants (M age 37.5, 52.6% female) across the U.S. with beliefs across three distinct categories: a) Theistic; 38.4%), b) Spiritual but not theistic; 26.4%, and c) Non-theistic/Non-spiritual (Other); 35.2%. Across the three belief systems, we tested the associations between gratitude and theistic predictors (e.g. feeling comfort or anger towards God, fidelity, interaction with God, attachment to…
Spiritual Formation in Theological Education: A Multi-case Exploration on Seminaries and Student Development
Author: Wang, D. C., Reed, A., Greggo, S., Bowersox, L., Drennan, A., Strawn, B., King, P., Porter, S. L., Hill, P. C. Abstract: In recent decades, theological schools have demonstrated increased interest in educational models that not only transmit knowledge and skill to students, but also prepare them to have the character and virtue dispositions needed to successfully navigate the moral challenges that await them in future ministry settings. This shift is reflected in the most recent 2020 accreditation standards of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), which highlight the importance of “personal and spiritual formation” as a key facet…
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