Item 1541 - From magic to faith: religious growth in psychological perspective

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CA ON00389 F4-9-1-1541

Title

From magic to faith: religious growth in psychological perspective

Date(s)

  • September 27, 1967 (Creation)

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1 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: From Magic to Faith: religious growth in psychological perspective, published in National Catholic Reporter, 27 September, 1967, p. 7. In this article Nouwen examines the growth or not, of religious maturity beginning with the new baby and ending with the adult man (sic). A. In the section covering the first five years the author identifies several stages: becoming aware that we are not the center of our world and that there are objective realities outside us that we cannot control; the formation of language in which we discover that our first words ‘give us a mysterious power over things which can in later life be part of our use of religious prayer in a magical and not mature way; a ‘third step out of the magical world is the formation of our conscience. This is formed in our contact with others and here the author relates some questions from Freud about our identification of God with our father. B. In the section covering school years 6 – 12 Nouwen identifies this time as one in which the child is exposed to a larger world, new and different values and new interests. The mature religion resulting from this he suggests will be ‘integral in nature…flexible enough to integrate all new knowledge within its frame of reference. …essential for a mature religion is the constant willingness to shift gears’. C. Here are discussed the adolescent years. These the author describes as a time of a more complicated inner and outer world with many conflicts; a time of facing and accepting or not, the shadow part of each person and the effect on the maturity of religious growth. D. This is the stage of the young adult. This is the time of leaving the family atmosphere and going away to study. ‘As we enter college we take with us many religious concepts and ideas which seemed obvious, and which we never questioned. The question is, whether or not we have the courage to put question marks behind many things; if we can allow ourselves to doubt without losing all ground.’ E. In this final section Nouwen discusses the adult man (sic). ‘One facet of adulthood which has special significance for our religious attitude is that the mature adult mind is characterized by a unifying philosophy of life’. Without this unifying philosophy Nouwen suggests that boredom may characterize life. He describes boredom as ‘the isolation of experience’…’every day seems to be just another day, indifferent, colorless and bleak’. Mature religion’s unifying power fulfills here a creative function. Nouwen states finally, ‘We started folded in our mother’s womb, one with the world in which we lived. We slowly unfolded out of the magical unity into autonomous existence in which we discovered that we were not alone but stood in a constant dialogue with our surroundings.

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Published in The National Catholic Reporter, 27 September 1967, p. 7.
Article has been hole-punched.
The article includes a photograph of a head-shot of Nouwen.
The article was published in Nouwen, Henri J.M. Intimacy: Pastoral Psychological Essays. Notre Dame, Ind. : Fides Publishers, 1969 as Chapter 1.
Also available as an offprint (The National Catholic Reporter 3, no. 47 (September 27, 1967 - 2 located with item in file.)

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2000 02

Location

Box 294

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