Welcome to the summer 2020 newsletter. We are living in tumultuous times, with COVID-19 mitigation efforts continuing and the ever-pervasive reckoning the U.S. must do about its history and current racial injustices. Div. 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) (SPRS) can offer a framework for these uncertainties, with our consideration of spiritual and religious support networks, meaning making, and ritual.
I began Pascha (Easter) with my husband in the small entryway to my own home, at 11 pm. We held candles and knocked on our own door while watching an ancient ritual, the Hajmat, live stream on my phone. We printed an icon of Christ on computer paper and laid it on a small hallway table with candles. Objectively, this version of the liturgy was small and quiet compared to a typical celebration with hundreds of people shouting and carrying candles through the street near our church and the great, gilded golden icons on the sanctuary’s iconostas.
This spring, it would have been easy to lose track of the hours and days. It would have been easy to drop all pretense of normal eating patterns and to withdraw. And I admit there were times that I did all those things. But the ritual of religious and spiritual practice and community kept a frame for a new, bizarre life. The same was true for many who marked Passover and Ramadan alongside other holy days.
Having a source of consistency was healing. Not surprisingly, many of our colleagues have risen to this challenge of COVID-19 and other collective anxieties with the knowledge that the psychology of religion and spirituality is an opportunity to understand, to connect, and to empower. This newsletter largely features their work.
A few announcements:
- Our midyear conference has been launched as an online conference. If you are a presenter, there is still time to add your materials. Please contact Kevin Harris for more information.
- Information about APA’s virtual programming for the 2020 annual convention is forthcoming.
Recent book publications:
- Mark Yama’s "The Spirit Transcendent: Exploring the Extraordinary in Human Experience," (MacMillan) based on the spiritual experiences of his clients and knitted together by the plot of a skeptical psychologist who is confronted with evidence of a spiritual reality.
- Benny Beit-Hallahmi’s "Flesh and Blood: Interrogating Freud on Human Sacrifice, Real and Imagined" (Leiden: Brill).
We always welcome submissions from members at all stages of their careers. This can include reactions and responses to previously published pieces. If interested, please contact Stephanie Winkeljohn Black.