« Spiritual Autobiographies to Choose | Main | McFague Notes and Discussion Questions »

Spiritual Memoir Report - Project #2

Spiritual Memoir Report – Due in class Dec 10

Length: 6-8 pages, typed, double-spaced.

Format: use 12-point font; no extra lines between paragraphs; 1 inch margins.

References: use a short reference format with the author’s last name and the page number for any quoted material OR any material you are summarizing from a text. For the book you have chosen and for any additional reading you are referencing (background information about the author, etc.), also add a bibliographical listing at the end of the paper. You do not need to do formal bibliographical entries for books assigned for the class. An example in in-text citation from Buber’s I and Thou would be (Buber, p. 43).

For this project, pick a single book from the list on the class Web site. Some of the choices will be of individuals who situate their spirituality within a religious tradition, and some choices will be individuals who don’t. Included are individuals whose primary spiritual sustenance has been in contact with or study of nature.

In addition to reading the book, do some minimal research on the author and book (this can be done on-line – look for book reviews, even the short ones available on Amazon.com. Open the link on the book’s title, then go down to “See more product details.?) Also use the data bases available through Metro to search on the book title and to search on the author, and do a GOOGLE search and see what you find.

Include these emphases:
(1) Use this book to discuss some of the central themes of the course, not just to summarize the person’s story. You do not need to connect with each and every course theme but should discuss several themes in some substantial way where they connect to the material you are reading.
(2) Make connections to course readings, videos, and discussions, where this additional background illuminates features of the individual’s experience. Don’t just mention authors or books we have read, but show how the book you are reading connects in meaningful ways with those texts/videos/discussions.
(3) Discuss what your book reveals about living a spiritual or religious life in contemporary times (see below for a partial list of issues and concerns that contemporary people wrestle with – there are certainly more than these).

Course Themes
Here, for your convenience, are the themes again:
• naming and discerning the divine
• ritual and practice
• transcendence and immanence
• ethical and social concerns
• nature and the sacred
• gender in religious language, experience
• false self and authentic self
• metaphor, symbol, and myth
• individual and community
• spiritual path or progress on the journey

For this project, pay particular attention to the theme of “spiritual path or progress on the journey,? using the following questions as prompts:
(1) For this individual, what have been the important points of spiritual growth and new understanding or insight as the individual matured spiritually?
(2) What were the events or discoveries that enabled this growth or new understanding?

Contemporary Issues

As mentioned above, what does it mean that this individual’s experience has been in the contemporary setting – what have been his or her experiences with the challenges and opportunities of 20th century life? Some features of the contemporary situation might include these (and many others that you will find in your books):
- global contact, bringing new ideas and alternative ways of understanding religion;
- environmental changes with increasing urbanism and the impact on nature of industrialism;
- mass media and mass consumerism;
- Western emphasis on individualism;
- mobility, and the fracturing of families;
- women’s and men’s changing roles;
- changing views of gender and sexuality;
- separation of religious and secular arenas in public life, with education largely secularized;
- generally accepted world view of scientific materialism;
- and a rise of alternative spiritualities, outside traditional religious structures).

Annotated Bibliography assignment (via e-mail or e-mail attachment)

For the annotated bibliography summary of your paper, please send the following (aim for no more than one page) to my e-mail address (mary.shaw@metrostate.edu):
- Title of book, author
- Publisher, date
- A very short author bio
- A short summary of the book's purpose
- A brief description of the book's content
- Why would someone want to read this book?
You might consider posting your brief review out on Amazon.com for others to read as well!

In-Class Presentation on December 10

For your in-class presentation (you will have around 5 minutes, so – practice!), cover the points above (very briefly) and add a response to these questions:
- According to the author in this book, what is involved in living in the best way (both in terms of our ethical responsibilities and in terms of helping us to advance on our spiritual journey)?
- What is the goal of our spiritual journey?