Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Loriliai Biernacki

Second Advisor

Dr. Deborah Whitehead

Third Advisor

Dr. Lucas Carmichael

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ricardo Stephen

Abstract

Running is generally considered to be a form of health maintenance, understood in the context of a secular practice, yet personal testimonials and various studies may suggest a spiritual component. In this thesis, I investigate running as a form of spiritual experience.

Considering the current context of religion in the United States, with a small decline in traditional measures of religiosity yet with many people still finding religion to be important in their lives, this work looks toward new forms of engaging with and experiencing religion and spirituality. Throughout this thesis, I analyze larger themes such as the relationship between science and religion, finding that these two have many areas of overlap, and the relation of spirituality to secular practices, like sports. I also address the complex interaction between the mind and body, highlighting the importance of the physical action in altering mental states. Through the use of personal testimonials, discussions in popular culture, scholarly study, and an analysis of scientific studies, I argue that running can be described as a form of spiritual experience.

This investigation is rooted firmly in the metamodern context, which emphasizes the attempt of the Millennial generation to create space for the sacred in the secular. Analyzing running as a form of spiritual experience is one example of many new forms of religious and spiritual experience that can all be considered in the context of metamodernism.

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