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of service in interpreting the broader differences of
sects and religions. To forestall misunderstand-
ings, it may be well to state at this point that the
phrase "religious dynamics" is not intended to
convey, and cannot properly convey, any metaphys-
ical meaning. The problem concerns the concomi-
tance of certain groups of phenomena and nothing
more. The question of divine influences in the mind
of man and in history must stand in exactly the
same position at the end of such a study as it does
at the outset. Anyone who prefers to do so is at
liberty to interpret every result as a description of
the mode of God's working in the world. Nothing
in the study itself has any logical tendency to under-
mine this belief.

1 A Hterican Journal of Psychology , ix, no. a //>/</., Si.

108



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

Method of the Present Investigation.

Our task consists in looking for coordinations be-
tween specific inner states and tendencies and specific
external circumstances. We are confronted at the
outset with the problem of how to secure adequate
data. In previous studies in the psychology of re-
ligion reliance has been placed upon the question-
naire method, which consists in securing from many
persons written answers to printed questions regard-
ing their experiences. This is doubtless a satisfac-
tory method of securing certain facts, but our in-
quiry calls also for information which the writers of
such papers ordinarily do not and cannot possess.
Accordingly, my question list was so constructed
and the answers so used as to make the latter not
merely a record of certain facts, but also a reflection
of the personality of the writer. These answers
were also supplemented in various ways : First, per-
sonal interviews were had with a large proportion
of the persons examined. The cross-questioning
which these interviews made possible not only cleared
up doubtful points in the papers, but also elicited
many new and important facts. Second, a large pro-
portion of the subjects were placed under careful
scrutiny by myself and others, with a view to secur-
ing objective evidence as to temperament. These
observations were guided by a carefully prepared
scheme of temperamental manifestations. Third,

interviews, based upon the same scheme, were had
8 109



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

with friends and acquaintances of certain of the per-
sons under examination. Finally, in order to get
at the facts of suggestibility, hypnotic experiments
were made upon all the important cases that were
accessible. Fuller description of some of these meth-
ods of gathering data will appear later.

The number of persons examined was 77. Of
these, 52 were males and 25 females. Nearly all are
college students who are healthy in both mind and
body and have had the advantage of positive moral
and religious training. Nearly^all are just past, or
are just passing out of, the adolescent period. The
average age of the men was 24.8, and of the women
(one case, 65 years of age, being excluded), 22.
Though this narrows the range for the observation
of temperament chiefly to the formative years, it
brings these compensating advantages : the nearness
of the chief religious experiences, the habit of intro-
spective analysis specially characteristic of adoles-
cence, and the naive and spontaneous expression of
personal facts. Again, a large majority of the subjects
were brought up under the influence of the Metho-
dist Church, which lays great stress upon personal
religious experiences. The opportunity to study the
effects of suggestion was therefore excellent. In
general, in spite of some limitations of the field of
observation, the differences in type of religious ex-
perience and type of mental organization were many
and great. The accessibility of the material, more-
no



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

over, and the opportunity to observe, ask questions,
and experiment repeatedly these easily outweigh
all the limitations. It is, indeed, not easy to see how
a more satisfactory set of cases could be secured.

Let us now turn to the variations in religious ex-
perience from individual to individual. The chief
one, and the one with which this study is occupied,
is in the degree of abruptness n-f rplicriniis changes.
One person reaches a higher plane of the religious
life by a process of development scarcely ruffled by
excitement; another attains the same state by pass-
ing through a mental cataclysm. Some elements of
the explanation lie on the surface. For instance, the
striking changes occur chiefly among denominations
that definitely aim to secure them. Furthermore,
these denominations have discovered many of the
conditions favorable for producing such changes,
such as a particular type or particular types of
preaching and appeal ; the use of music, particularly
of certain kinds; intense social feeling fostered by
meetings; the provision of external acts, signs, or
instruments such as rising for prayers, or to indi-
cate decision, going forward, the altar, the mourn-
ers' bench all of which evoke expression of the
inner state and thereby intensify it ; and, finally, the
fitting of all the conditions together so as to produce
a climax or a series of climaxes. What we need to
determine next is the mental mechanism to which

all this appeals, and also the reason why it fails of its

in



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

result in many cases in which the conditions give
hope of success ; for it is a matter of everyday knowl-
edge in revival churches that of two persons brought
up in the same manner, and apparently meeting the
same conditions, one may experience a brilliant con-
version while the other may experience no such

ites at all.

In order to secure definite ground for an hypothe-
sis on this point, the persons under examination were
divided into two groups : those who had experienced
a marked transformation, and those who had not.
The fact that religious changes show all degrees of
rapidity and of emotional intensity made it necessary
to draw this line with great care. In every case,
therefore, which the papers left in doubt a personal
interview was had. Striking transformation was
defined as a profound change which, though not
necessarily instantaneous, seems to the subject of it
to be distinctly different from a process of growth,
however rapid. As soon as the subject grasped this
definition he was requested to classify himself, and
his decision was accepted as final.

In the second place, a cross division was made on
the basis of predisposition of the mind toward such
experiences. Let us call this basis "expectation of
transformation." A careful study was made of the
home influences, the general Church environment,
and the specific circumstances surrounding the reli-
gious awakening. Here, again, much had to be

112



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

drawn out by personal interviews. A considerable
number of the subjects were taught that one who
has been religious from childhood does not ned a
^marked conversion. Others indicated that their
thoughts were never turned strongly in the direc-
tion of conversion. All such were classed as not ex-
pecting a transformation.

Combining these two modes of division, we se-
cure two positive classes for minute study: those
who expected a transformation and experienced one,
and those who expected but failed to experience. In
the working out of this scheme a third division was
found necessary in order to tabulate cases in which
these two classes overlap; for a number of persons
who experienced a marked transformation were un-
satisfied, and sought for something more without
securing it, while others were satisfied but sought for
a still higher experience in vain.

To do justice to the case it is necessary to note the
caution that was exercised in making the classes. For
example, in the class of those who expected but failed
to experience there are included none who did not
distinctly declare that they sought an experience
without finding. Most, if not all, of them had sub-
sequently learned how to be religious in spite of this
disappointment, yet the struggle in a large propor-
tion of the cases had been acute.

From theology the suggestion may come that pos-
sibly these persons did not really surrender them-

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THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

selves to God. But an a priori assertion, or rather
guess, like this ought to have little weight as against
thefollowing : All the evidence of the facts goes to
show that those who were disappointed had put
themselves in the same attitude of will as the others ;
furthermore, a large majority of the disappointed
ones are now living positively religious lives in the
evangelical sense of religious.

Temperament as a Factor in Striking Religious

Transformations.

These two classes were next examined with re-
spect to temperament. This was a laborious and
perplexing undertaking, both on account of the un-
satisfactory treatment of temperament by writers on
psychology, and because of the complexity of the facts
to be observed. It is easy for any psychologist to
give a classification of temperaments that can be bril-
liantly illustrated from history, but it is quite another
thing to devise a method for grouping the persons
one comes in contact with. At the present day two
classifications are employed. The first, represented
by Wundt 1 and many followers, is based upon the
fact that one's mental processes may vary in both
rapidity and strength. This basis yields four tem-
peraments which correspond fairly well with the tra-
ditional fourfold division. The rapid-strong tem-

1 Grundzuge der Physiologischen Psychologic, Leipzig, 1893, ii, sigff. See also
Lotze, Microsmus, vol. ii, book vi, chap, ii ; and Ladd, Flements of Physiological
Psychology, New York, 1897, sjaff.

114



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

perament corresponds to the choleric, the rapid-weak
to the sanguine, the slow-strong to the melancholic,
and the slow-weak to the phlegmatic. 1 On the other
hand, French writers for the most part adopt a quali-
tative basis, that is, classify according to the faculty
or function that predominates. This is true of
Ribot, 2 Queyrat, 3 Levy, 4 and Fouillee. 5 Perez, how- 1
ever, retains liveliness and intensity as the basis. 6
This is not the place to discuss the general topic of
temperament, or to go into the merits and defects of
these classifications. It is sufficient to remark that
a practical scheme must provide at least a fairly defi-
nite mode of describing any and every person whose
individuality is sufficiently marked to be noticeable.
Wundt's scheme was first employed, but it quickly
proved itself inadequate to give a genuine character-
ization of many distinctly marked individualities.
This was especially true when Wundt's classes were
interpreted as if they were identical with the tradi-
tional four temperaments. The qualitative plan was
next tried, but, while it supplemented the other, it
proved inadequate taken by itself. In the interest of a
workable scheme, therefore, it w r as found necessary to
combine the two modes of division. The result was
not a new classification of temperaments, but what

1 For a brief description of the four temperaments, see pp. 2o6ff., 226f., 23if.

2 Psychology of the Emotions, London, 1897, 388ff.

3 Les Caracteres^ Paris, 1896, s6ff.

* Psychologie du Caractere, Paris, 1896, iSaff.
8 Temperament et Caractere, Paris, 1895, 2off.
6 Le Caractere^ Paris, 1892.



THE- SPIRITUAL LIFE

we may call a scheme of the constituents of tempera-
ment. The mode of procedure now consisted first
of judging whether sensibility, intellect, or will was
the most prominent faculty; next, of finding the
second in prominence; then, of estimating the place
of each of the three faculties in respect to promptness
-and intensity. For each subject, in the end, there
were three descriptive designations, as, for example,
prompt-intense intellect, prompt-weak sensibility,
prompt-weak will, and these three were arranged in
the order of prominence.

The sources of evidence for temperament were the
same as those employed by the writers just named,
namely, permanent modes of action, of speech, and
of point of view ; permanent interests ; likes and dis-
likes; habitual social interactions, etc., whether ob-
served and recorded by the subject himself or by
other persons. The data were secured by the fol-
lowing methods : First, by inserting in the question
list mentioned in Chapter I, and reproduced in Ap-
pendix A, a number of questions concerning likes
and dislikes, laughter and weeping, anger and its
effects, habits of introspection, moods, promptness or
its opposite in decisions, ideals, the effects of excite-
ment, habits with respect to physical activity, etc.
A particularly fruitful interrogation was the follow-
ing : "If you were obliged to spend a whole day alone,
felt at perfect liberty to follow your inclinations, and

had the means to do so, what would you do?" At

116



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

no point in the questions was temperament or dis-
position mentioned.

The second method was by observation of the gen-
eral tone of the papers. The question list, it may be
remarked, was very lengthy. It included approxi-
mately two hundred specifications, all planned with
reference to the evoking of memories rather than the
securing of categorical replies. Its length precludes
its presentation here. The responses were*corre-
spondingly extended, and not the least remarkable
thing about them was the amount of information
they imparted between the lines. It was obvious that
they were not merely a record of phenomena, but
also a body of original phenomena. Sometimes what
they purported to be as a record had to be offset by
what they were as new facts. Thus, in response to
the question, /"Do your friendships last/ 1 nearly
every writer gave an affirmative answer./Here it is
probable that the ideal of the writers rather than
their actual experience comes to expression. These
answers have value, therefore, as evidence of the
nature of the social instinct, but hardly as evidence
of actually existing social relations. Occasionally
the manner of responding to a question revealed
more than did the content of the response. Intel-
lectual interest stood out in one, strenuous serious-
ness or passionate earnestness in another, while the
chattiness of a third revealed a type of impression-
ability strongly contrasted with both.



"UN



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

A third method was objective observation as
already described. The scheme of questions un-
derlying thife part of the investigation was also
extended. 1 / It included among other topics the fol-
lowing: -The habitual state of the muscles, par-
ticularly the face, whether tense or relaxed; one's
carriage and motions, whether quick, jerky, irregu-
lar, or more slow, free, and pendulum-like; one's
mode of speech and the quality of the voice ; the ex-
pression of the eyes, and any other signs that show
whether the subject is wide-awake to his surround-
ings ; whether one is more given to the reception of
impressions or to active effort to control surround-
ings ; readiness to laugh and cry ; specific manifesta-
tions of anger; characteristic moods; persistency;
social self-assertiveness of various types ; intellectual
habits ; religious habits.

The data obtained by all these methods were com-
pared, and thus the final judgment was based upon a
really wide range of facts. Furthermore, in most
cases, independent judgments were formed by dif-
ferent observers, and these judgments were finally
checked off against one another. As soon as a defi-
nite and comprehensive mode of procedure was dis-
covered the facts began to fall into place with the
sort of inevitableness that inspires confidence in one's
method. The amount of agreement reached by ob-
servers independently of one another was another

1 See Appendix B.

118



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

evidence of the trustworthiness of the method. If the
lack of precision and of quantitative determinations
should seem to impair the value of the results, two
considerations might be offered in defense. The first
is that all the knowledge of temperament possessed
by biographers and historians and by literary work-
ers, and nearly all that possessed by psychologists
themselves, has been gathered by methods analogous
to this, though rarely, if ever, by methods so sys-
tematic and comprehensive. Dependence has not
been placed upon any general or casual impression,
but only upon large masses of data each item of
which has been carefully scrutinized. The other
consideration is that a manner of learning men sim-
ilar to this, though far less comprehensive, is one of
the bases of the world's successful business. Indeed,
a large part of the practical interests of life hang
upon our ability so to observe temperamental mani-
festations as to be able to predict the general quality
of one's reactions in different sets of circumstances.
Of course this is not a sphere in which claims to sci-
entific infallibility become even plausible; neverthe-
less, the thorough and systematic analysis employed
may fairly entitle the results to some degree of con-
fidence.

The temperamental classification of the members
of the three groups concerning whom adequate in-
formation was obtainable yields the following re-

suits :

119



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE



RELATION OF STRIKING TRANSFORMATION TO
TEMPERAMENT.



Classification According to the Three
Faculties.


Sensibility
Predom-
inant.


Intellect
Predom-
inant.


Will
Predom-
inant.


GROUP I. 17 persons who expected a trans-
formation and experienced it


12


2




GROUP II. 12 who expected but did not
experience


2




i


GROUP III. 5 others who belong to both
the above classes


2


2


i



Classification
According to
the Four
Temperaments.


Sanguine
(Prompt-Weak).


Melancholic
(Slow-Intense).


Choleric
(Prompt-Intense) .


Phlegmatic
(Slow-Weak).


GROUP I


8


6


i


2


GROUP II


2


3


7





The most marked contrast in these tables con-
cerns the relation of the two main groups to intellect
and sensibility. Where expectation is satisfied,
there sensibility is distinctly predominant ; but where
expectation is disappointed, there intellect is just as
distinctly predominant. To appreciate the strength
of this conclusion it will be well to remind ourselves
once more of the range of facts upon which it is
based. In only three cases in Group I and one case
in Group II was it necessary to rely solely upon the
subject's paper. A second interesting result is that
those whose expectation is satisfied belong almost
exclusively to the slow-intense and prompt-weak
varieties, the temperaments approaching most nearly
those traditionally known as the melancholic and
sanguine. On the other hand, those whose expecta-
tion is disappointed belong more largely to the

120



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

prompt-intense variety, or the choleric temperament,
though the distribution between the choleric, melan-
cholic, and sanguine is not markedly uneven. Again,
comparing the two main groups with respect to
promptness and intensity, each by itself, we find that,
on the whole, Group II exceeds Group I in both
promptness and intensity. Finally, some slight con-
firmation of the representative character of these re-
sults is found in the heterogeneity of the cases in
Group III. The full significance of these results
concerning temperament, however, will not appear
until we have examined the same subjects with re-
spect to automatisms and suggestibility.

Relation of These Experiences to Mental and Motor

Automatisms.

Careful inquiry was made, both in the question
list and by personal cross-questioning, for evidence
of mental and motor automatisms. The inquiry
divided itself into these heads: Striking dreams in
connection with religious awakening; hallucinations
in connection with religious transformation; hallu-
cinations occurring at other times; motor automa-
tisms occurring at the time of religious transforma-
tion, and similar automatisms occurring at other
times. The purpose of the inquiry did not make it
necessary to render these various classes rigorously
precise. Accordingly, when it was difficult to decide
whether a given phenomenon was to be classed as a



121



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

dream or as an hallucination, I followed the impres-
sion of the subject. If he insisted that he was awake
at the time, the experience was classed as an halluci-
nation. Similarly, the group of motor automatisms
contains some cases that fall near the boundary line ;
but, in general, it is believed that the list which fol-
lows is a full and substantially accurate census. It
contains all the facts of these classes discovered in
the entire investigation.

Striking Dreams in Connection with Religious
Awakening.

Dreamed of being cast into hell. Suffered all tor-
ments of the damned that he had ever heard about.

Dreamed of being cast out of heaven.

Dreamed of a heavenly procession which he could
not join.

Dreamed of taking an examination on fitness to go
to heaven.

Hallucinations in Connection with Religious Trans-
formation.

Streaks of light shone down.

A somewhat bright, diffused light just above the
eyes. Occurred twice.

Seemed to observe the joy in heaven.

Saw a vision of the broad way and the narrow
way, with many persons in the former and few in
the latter.

122



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

Other Hallucinations.

Saw a light spring up from a tomb in a cemetery.

Used to hear his name spoken when he was about
to commit some sin.

Had just retired after private devotion. Saw a
dim, diffused light above the eyes.

Was touched by an absent friend.

Saw a dog that was not there.

Heard deceased grandfather's voice.

Heard mother's voice when she was far away.

Heard the voice of a friend.

Felt the presence of an absent friend. It seemed
to be an objective fact and not a mere impression.

Heard music different from any he had ever lis-
tened to.

Heard angels sing.

In the midst of a public speech twice saw a scene
he was describing.

Childhood fear of the dark has persisted. The
feeling that a fiend is just behind and ready to spring
upon him sometimes becomes so intense that self-
control becomes impossible.

An inner voice which expresses approval at times
of perplexity by saying, "Fear not, I am with you."

God tells her where things are that she is looking
for. Also tells her things before they come to pass.

Voices and visions just before sleeping at night.
Has often gone to the window or out of doors to see

where the music came from.

123



THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

Up to the age of thirteen used every night to see
figures in the room.

When praying had a vision of an absent friend
who gave just the information that was desired.

Waked one night and saw a great luminous eye in
the ceiling. Thought it was God's eye.
. Has repeatedly seen his deceased mother's face.

Saw a scene from his past life.

Saw Christ hanging on the cross.

Saw Christ transfigured.

Saw a vision of the judgment.

Motor Automatisms at the Time of Religious Trans-
formation.

Uncontrollable laughter for fully five minutes.

A powerful thrill through the whole body.

Sudden clapping of hands before any change of
feeling came.

Tobacco habit broken without effort or even seek-
ing.

Other Motor Automatisms.

Automatic laughter.

At times something very holy seems to be dictat-
ing his thoughts.

Has always felt himself under two influences, one
good and one bad, and neither of them any part of
himself.

Surprising and incomprehensible outburst of de-
124



RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS

fiance to God. Age, about ten or twelve years.
Shook fist at the sky and told God he hated him.

"The Holy Spirit often fills me so that I feel light,
and it's no trouble to walk and not feel tired." (A
lady well advanced in years.)

Talking, singing, whistling to one's self. This
seems, at times, to become an automatic, subcon-
scious performance. A parent affected in the same
way sometimes lets out secrets by this means.

Let us now ask how these phenomena, exclusive
of the dreams, are distributed among the three
groups. Of 1 8 persons in Group I, 1 8 have had
either hallucinations or motor automatisms. Of
the 6 persons in Group III, 5 have had similar ex-
periences. Hence, of 24 persons who have had a
striking religious transformation 13 have also ex-
hibited these automatic phenomena. But of the 12
persons (Group II) who sought a striking religious
transformation in vain only one has had either an


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Online LibraryGeorge Albert CoeThe spiritual life : studies in the science of religion → online text (page 7 of 16)