TH541 Journaling as a Spiritual Practice

3 credits

Instructor: Gail Schultz, M.Th



Please use my email address to introduce yourself. Tell me something about your background, any ministry you are involved with or preparing for, share the reasons you are taking the course, and your time expectations for completing this course. This course is best done over a minimum of 8 weeks so that you have sufficient time for regular journaling. Time limit for course is 9 months, extended to 12 months upon request.

Course Description

This course will assist the student in using various methods of journaling for greater self-awareness, spiritual growth, and for realizing a deeper relationship with the Divine presence in all aspects of life. Although some of the texts reference Christian language and thought, they are easily applicable to any seeker's journey regardless of religious heritage.

Required Texts

 Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing

Helen Cepero, InterVarsity Press, IL, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8308-3519-5

 Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest

Christina Baldwin, Bantam Books, NY, 1991. ISBN 0-553-35202-4


Adventure Inward: Christian Growth through Personal Journal Writing

Morton Kelsey, Augsburg Publishing, MN, 1980. ISBN 0-8066-1796-9

Course Goals

1.To become familiar with various styles and methods of journaling

2.To understand the value of journaling for spiritual and other personal growth

3.To learn to be an observer of ego-self through the increased awareness gained from regular journaling

4.To integrate journaling into your prayer life, meditation, relationships, ministry, and movement toward authenticity in following your own unique path


Course Methodology

During the length of this course, the student is asked to keep a spiritual journal by sitting down at least two or three times a week to write for 10 minutes or more on the life experiences, spiritual insights, questions, awareness, doubts, etc. that have arisen since the last journaling session. The basics of getting started will be covered in the first book, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice. You will not be submitting your journals - they are private and sacred for your eyes alone. You will be writing four reflection papers, each 5-7 pages in length during this course. There will be one each on selected topics from the three texts, and a final summary paper based on your experience of journaling over the months of study for this course.


Assignment 1

Read the introduction and chapters 1-3 of Journaling as a Spiritual Practice before starting your own journal. From this point on, discipline yourself to journal regularly until the end of the course. Read the rest of Journaling as a Spiritual Practice, then write a reflection paper using any of the following ideas, or any of your own that made an impact on you:         


·What does "listening beyond words” mean to you?

·Chapter 10 talks about dialogue journaling- if you haven't used this method yet, try it and describe your experience.

·Was it easy or difficult to begin a journaling practice? Any roadblocks- physical or spiritual/mental? How did you overcome them? What would you recommend to others?

·Which chapter(s) or ideas did you most enjoy, or disagree with?

·Chapter 4 tells us to "honor your own meet your particular life and befriend it” through journaling. Do you approach this task willingly or with trepidation?

·The "Re-orienting in the Present” chapter suggests drawing a compass on a large sheet of paper and using it to figuratively look north, east, south and west, adding artwork, clippings, writing, etc. to record what you notice. What happened for you during this exercise?


  Upload for 1st Assignment

Assignment 2

Read Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest. One of the valuable attributes of this book is that the text is only every right-hand page, and the left pages are filled with questions and ideas for journaling related to the text. This book will help develop your journaling and self-exploration skills to a much deeper level. Try to use as many of the exercises on the left-hand pages as possible as subjects for your journaling as you read through this book. Your second assignment is to write a 5-7 page paper on what you learned by doing these exercises- about the process of journaling, about yourself, about your spiritual journey as a result of your journaling efforts. It may be helpful to identify those exercises that created the most inner response and movement for you, and use those as a basis for your paper.


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Assignment 3

For the third assignment you will only need to read selected chapters of Adventure Inward, but you are certainly welcome to read the whole book. Please read the following chapters:

            Ch. 5   The Process of Spiritual Growth

            Ch. 6   The Dangers of Journal Keeping

            Ch. 8   Journaling in Depth

            Ch. 9   The Power of the Imagination

            Ch. 10 The Benefits of Journal Keeping


Your third paper will be a response to each of these chapters including how the information affected your own journaling practice.


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Assignment 4

Each of the authors you've read for this course approached journaling from a different perspective after many years of recording their own experiences of spiritual struggle and growth. The last assigned paper will be a summary of what you have learned in this course from your perspective, how regular journaling during this period has affected you on the levels of mind, body and spirit, and whether or not you will continue journaling as a spiritual practice.


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Course Evaluation

Your input is very important to us, therefore we urge you to submit a Course Evaluation as follows:

· Download the course evaluation document below

· Copy and paste into your word document

· Complete the form

· Save file as Evaluation followed by your last name, last name of instructor, and course number, for example,                  Evaluation-Smith-Schultz-TH541

· Email to Dr. Joseph Ruane, Dean of Academic Affairs,

· Evaluation FormPage