Update 3: Spiritual, Not Religious

On to the second and final step of my research! This past week I finished all of my readings, and I have moved on to next part of my research: creating the course syllabus for “Spiritual, Not Religious.” Now that I have gathered knowledge about many aspects of spirituality, my focus is on untangling all of the ideas and putting together a flowing narrative that will guide the class. Although I have been thinking about the narrative of the class throughout the first part while I was doing many different readings, I now have to confront the structure of the course head on. In a little more than a week, I will have a complete syllabus drafted up. This syllabus will include distinct units throughout the course, themes to focus on for each class, and assignments (particularly reading assignments but also other larger-level assignments). In addition to the syllabus, I will be writing a paper describing my syllabus, my narrative, and my intent with the various choices I have made in the structuring of the class. Putting together this syllabus is complex because there are so many ideas and themes and messages across the readings I have done. To separate these entanglements and make these ideas flow from one to another with ease for students is a challenge, because it requires me to deconstruct the tangled image of spirituality I have come through from these somewhat disorganized readings and to reproduce a clearer, more easily understandable picture for students who will be taking the course. Although certainly challenging, I also think this is the most fun part of my research process this summer, as it allows me to fully engage with my creativity as well as integrate all that I have learned more clearly not only for others but for myself. Moreover, I have to put on my “professor’s” hat, thinking about how to portray ideas to make them more accessible to students, what assignments are feasible and worthwhile, what topics will engage them, etc. Overall, a very enjoyable, albeit mentally challenging, experience thus far!


  1. kparmstrong says:


    You sound immensely passionate about your work, and that is wonderful! Just from reading your posts, I can imagine how engaging your course would be. You describe clearly your process for creating the curriculum, but I am very interested in the content of the class as well. How do you define the difference between spirituality and religion? The concrete difference still eludes me.

    Part of my research is focused on the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, so I have been doing readings that address the difference between spiritual and religious. Many of them term spiritual as “post-secular.” What is your take on post-secularity and spirituality’s role in a post-secular world?

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