Reversers and restorers of religion: Mourning and meaning in contemporary psychological portraits of religious leaders
Parsons, William B.
Doctor of Philosophy
After reading in psychology of religion and pastoral theology for several years, I began to notice that a certain strand, which might be described as iconoclastic or subversive with regard to traditional religion, runs through both fields, and characteristic of this strand often includes what I call a dynamic of reversals and restorations. That is, pastoral theologians and psychologists of religion, from Oscar Pfister to the present, often use psychological methods to critique (reverse) and then to rebuild (restore) religion. Here I explore this strand as it exists in the present by examining three recent psychological portraits of religious leaders---Donald Capps's portrait of Jesus, James Dittes's portrait of Augustine, and William Bouwsma's portrait of Calvin---in light of each author's own personal experiences. What I find is that this strand can be understood fruitfully in light of Peter Homans's writings on, and William Parsons's elaborations of, mourning religion.
Pastoral counseling; Theology; Psychology; Personality