Religious Development and Conversion Interview
For this assignment you will be required to bring together the material on both religious development and conversion that we have covered in class and the readings. You will need to choose someone who would be willing to be interviewed by you about their religious “conversion” and their religious development. This may be anyone, although it may be more difficult to take a more “objective, psychological” perspective toward someone with whom you are very close (such as a parent or romantic partner). Also, choosing someone older often creates a richer interview because their more extensive life experience provides more material for analysis. Please use your own judgment when choosing a person to interview.
When you interview the person you will need to cover all relevant material to be able to analyze their conversion and their development. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you make yourself familiar with the material on conversion and religious development before the interview. You should draft a list of questions prior to the meeting that you will cover in the interview. Here are some sample questions and hints.
Use the following as a guideline for writing your paper. However, people’s experiences are unique and your interviews and analyses might lend themselves to a different format than the one below. I encourage and respect your efforts to present the interview material in a way that most clearly reflects your understanding and learning. Use the following as a resource and guide, but don’t allow it to box you in.
Part One: Demographics
Include information about the person that would provide some context and background. You should consider including: Gender, Marital Status, Age, Current (and past) Religious Affiliation(s), Occupation, and any other pertinent information that will arise in the body of the report.
Part Two: Conversion
In this section you should describe this person’s religious conversion. Provide information from their life and analyze their reported experience with material from the reading and class (e.g., type of conversion). I will be looking primarily for three components in this section: 1) evidence that you gathered useful, detailed, and relevant information, 2) evidence that you understand the basic theories about conversion, and 3) that you applied your knowledge to the experience of the individual in a logical and thought-out way.
Part Three: Development
In this section you will be covering information on the person’s development. Theories on religious development abound (as you have seen or will see in the readings and class). Choose the one theory that best illustrates and describes the religious development of the person you interviewed. (You may use components of a few theories, if that seems more useful for your analysis.) Use that theory to describe the person’s religious changes and growth, development and transitions, throughout their life. Again, it will be important to demonstrate 1) your understanding of the person, 2) your knowledge of religious development theory, and 3) your ability to analyze the other’s experience with established models of development.
Part Four: Synthesis and Conclusion
In this last section, use what you have learned from the person’s story and from the analysis of the story to synthesize (take many different ideas and concepts and draw out general conclusions) the material on conversion and development. You should NOT simply summarize what you have already said in the paper. Instead, take what you have already written and answer the question “so what?” What can be learned, understood, or known as a result of this analysis? What is left unknown? Use this section to briefly explore the thoughts, questions, or ideas that arose as you were writing the first 3 parts of the paper.