CHATTANOOGA – DECEMBER 2015 – This fall, Dr. Timothy A. Sisemore published his eighth book, entitled The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out. The textbook, destined for undergraduate courses in the ever-expanding field of the psychology of religion, has met with high praise from scholars in the discipline, including Kenneth I. Pargament and Mark R. McMinn.
Sisemore’s text looks at psychological research regarding religious practices worldwide to reflect on the ways in which our belief systems shape our lives in both positive and negative ways. Topics discussed in the book range from the historical roots of the psychology of religion to the biological impact of faith and the psychological character of near-death experiences. The book does not stop with conventional faith systems and practices, however: even serpent-handling is examined. Other topics include conversion experiences, spiritual development across the lifespan, the relationship between religion and culture, and clinical application of the research of psychology of religion.
Sisemore takes a mixed methods approach in the textbook, offering a survey of the empirical literature but also integrating qualitative stories from persons of faith across the globe, including Africa, Lebanon, Iran, and China. This affords the text a unique and effective balance of data presentation and phenomenological experience. The textbook also features practical material, such as healthy and unhealthy ways to pray. For example, Sisemore explores the phenomenon of individuals attempting to use God for wish fulfillment.
While Sisemore’s stance is pro-faith, he refrains from slanting the text to the extent possible, which he considers one of his chief struggles during the text’s composition. “How do you stay neutral in a discussion of religion?” he asks. Responding his own question, Sisemore garnered stories from all major faith traditions, including atheism. While it is the author’s hope that the message of faith shines compellingly through The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, his focus is squarely on his audience and showing respect to each faith system that will inevitably comprise it. Sisemore aims throughout the text to demonstrate the beauty of faith and its positive effect on most lives.
The title will be released on December 21, 2015.
“Up-to-date, comprehensive, informative, engaging, and easy to digest – this is the text of choice for undergraduate psychology of religion courses. Sisemore has done a wonderful job capturing the psychology of religion and spirituality in its richness and complexity. His approach is fair-minded and scholarly, yet always sensitive to the experience of religion and spirituality ‘from the inside out.’ A marvelous contribution to the field.”
Kenneth I. Pargament, Ph.D.
Bowling Green State University
Editor-in-Chief, APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Vols. 1 and 2)
“In The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Dr. Sisemore has crafted a remarkable volume that is simultaneously concise, thorough, and accessible. I heartily recommend this book for undergraduate psychology of religion courses and expect it will be used in a number of postgraduate programs as well.”
Mark R. McMinn, Ph.D., ABPP
George Fox University
Former President of American Psychology Association’s Division 36,
Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
“Dr. Sisemore’s book is one of the most interesting I have ever read! He provides a clear survey of psychology of religion and spirituality, addressing a variety of issues – including controversial ones. Dr. Sisemore’s background in both psychology and theology gives him a unique perspective. Therefore, I highly recommend this great book for students in psychology and related disciplines, but also to researchers, colleagues, professionals, and all who have an interest in the topic.”
Mojtaba Dalir, Ph.D.
Lecturer at Islamic Azad University, Tehran Branch
Member Board of Directors, Iranian Association of Social Psychology