The Individual and His Religion: A Psychological Interpretation

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Reviews the book, The Individual and His Religion: A Psychological Interpretation by Gordon W. Allport (1950). Professor Allport's psychological portrayal of the religious sentiment in personality-structure is a much needed work. Its reading by any conscientious inquirer should provide a salutary antidote to oversecularized college curricula, to calcified ecclesiasticism, to spurious amalgams of psychiatry and religion, and to magisterial positivism, psychoanalysis, dialectic materialism, and naive naturalism, and to those social theories wherein the individual is a passive recipient of acculturation. The reader will be richly rewarded not only by the author's analysis of the central theme but by his comments on supplementary topics which can only be mentioned here: the religion of youth, the psychology of religious intention, referential doubting or the apparent conflicts of scientific and religious discourse, and the relationship between psychotherapy and religion, to which Prof. Allport devotes a chapter rich in explication and suggestion. In the course of his discussion concerning the complexity and variety of the religious sentiment, he anticipates the uncongenial reception which his book will probably elicit from some scientists, historians, sociologists and churchmen. He rightly maintains that disinterested scrutiny of his position will ultimately benefit psychology, social science and theology. Should his hopes prove illusory, Prof. Allport might find bracing respite in Samuel Johnson's challenging, “I have found you an argument, but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.” He will, however, most likely continue, following Plato, to remind men of what is implicit in their lives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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