"Psychic Viewpoint" July 31st, 2014
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Calvin Mercer, PhD teaches religious studies at East Carolina University, where he recently received a university Scholar—Teacher award. Most of his research (4 books authored or edited, 25 articles) is in religion and culture and biblical studies, with an emphasis on the role of the Bible in modern culture.
He is trained in clinical psychology and practiced professionally part-time for over a decade. He was known as the "go-to" therapist for clients where religion was a factor in their mental distress and/or behavioral dysfunction. In both his teaching and clinical practice, he has worked extensively with fundamentalists. He gives public lectures on this topic based on his recent book, Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind. With a foreword by Martin Marty, the book provides a novel—and controversial—psychological analysis of fundamentalism. Although the book is focused on Christian fundamentalism, the insights are valuable for understanding extreme religion in all traditions and especially so in our post 9-11 climate.
Dr. Mercer is the originator of The Monastic Project, a comprehensive program used by professors around the country that speaks to a deep yearning many people have for substantive religious experience that goes deeper, offers more, and requires more than either fundamentalism or the easy, quick, sensual froth offered up by much contemporary religion. The Monastic Project, with guidelines drawn from various monastic traditions, yields results transformative beyond religious experience, such as improved mental and physical health, clarification of life goals and purpose, improved relationships, increased awareness, and better sleep.
Now used in religion and other courses around the country, The Monastic Project is an individual and experiential exploration of the monastic path, closely directed by a coach/professor. Broadly conceived, the goal is to experience in some small measure the discipline, purification, and concentration often facilitated by a monastic context.
While it is not the explicit goal of the Project, many participants report results transformative beyond religious experience, such as improved mental and physical health, clarification of life goals and purpose, improved relationships, increased awareness, and better sleep.
The challenging goal is to have participants understand, as much as possible, experientially and empathetically, the monastic context in general and, specifically, contemplative and ascetic disciplines. The greatest challenge is doing the Project against the drift of culture and in settings, like educational institutions, that are certainly not monastic.
Dr. Mercer's speaking engagements include public lectures on fundamentalism, the religious implications of radical life extension science, and The Monastic Project. Additionally, Dr. Mercer combines his thirst for knowledge and passion for teaching with a dedication to community and service. His efforts as a City Councilman have netted several multimillion-dollar projects for his area.
For more information about Dr. Calvin Mercer,
please visit his webpage at http://www.ecu.edu/religionprogram/mercer/.
For your convenience, we are listing Dr. Mercer's books that are available at Amazon.com.
Be sure to pick up one or more of these fascinating books right now to read for yourself or to give as a thoughtful gift.