Miller Center

Stephanie Muravchik

History, University of Virginia

New Creatures in Christ: American Faith in an Age of Psychology

Muravchik photo

Stephanie Muravchik is Associate Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

Muravchik’s research has focused on twentieth-century American religion and the way self and community have been historically constituted in the United States. 
Her first book, American Protestantism in an Age of Psychology challenges the claim that psychology has been used to weaken American religion, virtue and community. It shows how major psychospiritual movements since World War II, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and The Salvation Army, innovated a practical religious psychology that nurtured participants’ faith, fellowship, and responsibility. And by fostering community and responsibility among some of America’s most disaffected citizens, psychospiritual movements helped cultivate the kind of society that bolsters our liberal democracy.

In her dissertation, Muravchik explores how after World War II, though they did not realize it, Christians began a successful project of redeeming millions of alienated Americans by fortifying pastoral care, fellowships, and evangelism with secular ideas and techniques adapted from psychology. They thereby shepherded millions of the nation's most disaffected citizens – especially the homeless, addicts, the sick, and the dying – into faith's fold. Muravchik traced their efforts and its effects in three contexts: the psychiatric training of ministers, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and The Salvation Army rehabilitation centers. She ultimately argued that the model of selfhood developed in these settings, by merging individual happiness and self-determination with transcendent and communal relationships, could support an American democratic culture in the latter half of the 20th century.

Fellowship year: 2006

Mentor: Gary Laderman, Emory University

Selected Recent Publications

American Protestantism in an Age of Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

The Cultural Contours of Parenthood: A Bibliographic Review.Hedgehog Review 15(3) 2013: 54-61.

“‘Be the Love of God Rather than Talk About It’: Pastors Study Psychology.History of Psychology 15(2) 2012: 145-160. 

← Return to Fellowship home