We now turn to two related terms that people often associate with religion–asceticism and mysticism. You many not be familiar with these technical terms, but once you read about what Bernadette McNary-Zak has to say about them, I imagine that their meanings will be familiar to you. We’ll take a look at some basic vocabulary and a couple of discussions from psychology. Then I want do dive into some conceptual questions in preparation for the week’s activities.

Define the following terms and try to come up with an example familiar to you that will help you key in on the term.



William James on Asceticism

M. Scott Peck on Asceticism

Whirling dervishes at Mausoleum of Mevlana, Konya, Turkey.
Whirling Dervishes

McNary-Zak approaches mysticism and asceticism as cross-religious phenomena. From a Religious Studies perspective, this ubiquity raises a number of question:

(1) What do asceticism and mysticism accomplish for the communities we associate as religious and what does that tell us about religion? (150 words)

(2) Do all religions do asceticism and mysticism? Defend your answer. (150 words)