TPD pp94-95: How not to run a conspiracy from a university

Today’s post is a bit lighter: it’s just generally bad writing. Marshall and Bernice are talking things over back at the Clarion.

“Ah, so [Hank and his church] do have troubles.”

“But totally unrelated to ours, and I’m glad.”

Hah, it’s funny because it’s not true. What a laugh riot. People’s lives are falling apart at the seams but it’s amusing because we don’t realize it’s all the same problem.

Careful not to go too far with that, Peretti. You might start getting into a moral about how one man’s problem is everyone’s problem because we are all connected to each other in a circle, in a hoop that never ends. Next thing you  know, you’re jumping off cliffs for communism!

‘Introduction to God and Goddess Consciousness and the Craft: the divinity of man, witch, warlock, the Sacred Medicine Wheel, how do spells and rtuals work?’

That, my friends, is one of the ugliest sentences I’ve seen since Twilight. How on earth was that formatted in whatever Marshall’s reading it from?

Introduction to God and Goddess Consciousness and the Craft

The Divinity of Man, Witch, Warlock, the Sacred Medicine Wheel, how do spells and rituals work?

Ugly as sin. The first bit before the colon is long and unwieldy for a university course; compare to the following, from my undergraduate alma mater’s psychology department:

318 Belief in “Weird” Things (3:3)

GE Core: GRD. Pr. grade of at least a C- in PSY 121

Psychological research on belief in extraordinary, “weird” phenomena, including, but not limited to, the paranormal, superstition, divination, projective tests of personality, alternative healing practices, and unconscious mind control and repression.

Much snappier of a title, and a description that would be a sentence if you added “This course covers” or similar to the beginning. It covers psychological research on belief in extraordinary  “weird” phenomena. This includes, though is not limited to, the following: the paranormal, superstition, divination, projective tests of personality, alternative medicine, and mind control and repression. That makes sense.

Langstrat’s class covers the following:

  • The divinity of man

okay, that makes sense.

  • Witch

Is this a continuation of the prior? Is this “Langstrat’s class covers the divinity of witch”? Or is it meant to be read as “Langstrat’s class covers witch”? That makes no sense, so let’s assume for the moment that “the divinity of” is meant to apply to each term in the list.

 The divinity of the Sacred Medicine wheel seems redundant, but carry on

  • how do spells and rituals work?

Lolwut? The divinity of how do spells and rituals work? Langstrat’s class covers how do spells and rituals work? There’s just no way to make that make sense. Seriously, what the flying fuck?

Also absent from real syllabi: forcing students to accept and practice the teacher’s personal religious beliefs. That’s seriously frowned upon, unless of course it’s Christianity, in which case it’s actually a secular non-partisan celebration of patriotism and not religion at all.

Other classes taught by Langstat:

Pathways to Your Inner Light

Meet your own spiritual guides, discover the light within […] harmonize your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual levels of being through hypnosis and meditation

How to Enjoy the Present by Experiencing Past and Future Lives

[no description given]

In the Beginning Was the Goddess

[no description given]

These are awful names for courses. They’re great names for self-help books, but no university approves titles like that. Seriously. I had a class about religious terrorism once; on the books it was

109 Religion and Contemporary Culture (3:3)

Understandings of religion as shaped by contemporary social institutions, the arts, politics, and philosophy.

Which the professor explained meant “I get to talk about whatever the hell I want, and this year we’re covering terrorism.” Langstrat is the worst at being covert, seriously.

The example I pulled earlier is the only psuedo-religious topic in the psychology department. Langstrat’s earlier classes sounded more along the lines of this:

462 Social Cognition: Perceiving and Thinking in a Social Context (3:3)

In-depth analysis of how we think about ourselves and others. Topics include impression formation, attribution, affect and cognition, social judgement, stereotyping and the self in social context.

463 Psychological Perspectives on Personal Relationships (3:3)

In-depth examination of current theories and empirical research focusing on psychological perspectives of personal relationships. Includes topics related to relationship forms and processes such as intimacy and power.

483 The Psychology of Thinking (3:3)

Research and theory on human problem-solving and reasoning. Topics include classification, categorization, decision-making, rational thought, and a discussion of awareness in thinking.

Which are all perfectly valid psychology topics. But now she’s starting to sound more like the following:

104 Religion, Ritual, and the Arts (3:3)

A study of how myths and stories are used in ritual and the arts. The specific traditions treated will vary.

111 Non-Western Religion (3:3)

Comparative study of non-Western religions and their contributions to modern religious self-understanding, focusing critically and evaluatively on such patterns of expression as myth, ritual, and social forms.

252 Ritual Studies (3:3)

Inquiry into ritual through the consideration of the relations among ritual experience, practice, and theory. The specific traditions treated will vary.

Which are all taken from the Religious Studies department. Wouldn’t she be more at home in that department?

Oh yeah, and there’s a conspiracy, and everyone denies knowing everyone else.

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3 Responses to TPD pp94-95: How not to run a conspiracy from a university

  1. Jarred H says:

    Ah, but Peretti doesn’t want to diss religion. He wants to tarnish non-Christian practices and the field of psychology. This was a very common practice when this book originally came out, so the ideas were often linked in the minds of spiritual warfare types.

    No, it doesn’t really make sense, but there you have it.

  2. inquisitiveraven says:

    Those class names sound like something you’d find at at New Age store, not a university. I should know; I’m a college grad and I used to own a New Age store and it did teach courses like that. You’re right though that they don’t look like psychology classes in any case.

    I do wonder though, how much experience either Peretti or his target audience has with actual college classes. Those class descriptions sound like the professor actually believes that this pseudo-Wicca that Peretti is no doubt imagining is the Real True Religion or at least wants her students to believe that’s what she thinks, while the descriptions of actual Religious Studies classes are carefully neutral so as not to privilege one belief system over another.

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