Further Information: Barbour: Religious Conversion
Texts: For about $63 you can purchase these four books new. If you wish you can also find them used through bookfinder.com for much less. The instructor will send pdf files of the short readings.
Augustine, Confessions (Hackett Publishing Co. edition) ISBN: 0872208168
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (Penguin) ISBN: 0140390340
Hugh Kerr and John Mulder, eds., Famous Conversions (Eerdmans Publishing Co.) ISBN: 0802840655
Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain (Da Capo Press) ISBN: 0306818361
The instructor will be using these editions, and it will help us quickly locate passages for analysis if students are using the same book. However, if you can find a cheaper version of a text that is another edition, feel free to purchase that instead. There are many editions of Confessions and The Varieties.
Reading assignments for each week:
1. Biblical passages: Amos 7; Isaiah 6: Psalms 6, 10, 13; Acts 9; Galatians 1:11-17; John 3:1-15.
In Kerr, Famous Conversion: Constantine
Augustine’s Confessions, Books 1-3
2. Augustine’s Confessions, Books 4-7
Encyclopedia articles on conversion in New Catholic Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception.
3. Augustine, Confessions, Books 8-10
A sociological perspective: Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, chapters 1 and 9
4. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, chapters 4-7
In Famous Conversions, selected 16th, 17th, and 18th century narratives by Ignatius, Baxter, Pascal, Fox, Bunyan, Wesley, and Whitefield
5. James, Varieties, chapters 8-9
In Famous Conversions, 19th century narratives by Barton Stone, Charles Finney, Sojourner Truth, John Henry Newman, and Therese of Lisieux
James White, “Frontier Worship”
6. James, Varieties, Chapter 10 and Conclusion
In Famous Conversions, 20th century narratives by Billy Sunday, Sergius Bulgakov, C. F. Andrews, Albert Schweizer, and Dorothy Day
Wayne Booth, “The Rhetoric of Fundamentalist Conversion Narratives”
7. Stretching the paradigm: non-religious conversions, deconversion, intensification and other kinds of radical change.
John Barbour, Introduction to Versions of Deconversion: Autobiography and the Loss of Faith
Lewis Rambo, Understanding Religious Conversion, Preface, Introduction, and chapter 1
Nancy Mairs, “In Which I Am not struck Blind on the Road to Damascus” from Ordinary Time
Susan Jacoby, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, Introduction and chapter 21
8. An ambiguous case of (maybe) conversion:
Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain