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Article to use for the assignment. Zinnbauer, Brian, et al. “Religion and Spirituality: Unfuzzying the Fuzzy.” Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 36, no. 4, 1997, pp. 549-564.

Other instructions on how the work should be done or is expected.


Here is your template for your first essay, due Monday 9/16.

Please look through it now, and paste it into a word program to use for your paper. Yes, you will need to retain the headings! (but erase directions for final paper).This is the most updated version, so please use it over anything else posted.

Please use the frame/headings and keep them in bold. Heading are:

Intro and Thesis:

My Experience:




Just copy off the form and direction details below and go through them one step at a time as you write your paper (and of course erase the directions for the final paper – but keep the headings!)


Introduction and Thesis: Offer 2-3 sentences of introduction in a personal voice, then end with the thesis.

The thesis is best placed at the END of an introduction of a few sentences. A thesis follow the formula “I think…….., because……”

You need to share a personal opinion here, so don’t quote anyone at this point. Make a strong statement based on your view of the subject. Note that this type of thesis must have 2 parts: The first part share what you think, and then you add a comma to add the next part saying why you think this way.(Many students forget the “because” part, or don’t add the comma, but you need the comma and the second part of the thesis statement).

My experience: Here, share some of your personal background that has shaped your view of religion and spirituality. Include little stories from childhood, school, work, or anything other that makes sense to include that discusses the topic. Some may talk about growing up in a church, or learning yoga and meditation. Whatever you do, pick one or two stories and detail them rather than offering a listing. (Length should be at least 1-2 paragraphs). This is an essay so don’t hesitate to use the word I as you share some about your life story.

Analysis: You will need 2-3 paragraphs of Analysis. The usual order for Analysis per paragraph is:

  • Claim- use a personal tone as this is an essay, not a report. Yes – use the word I for the claim; this is a mini-thesis.
  • Evidence – quotes Zinnbauer and class materials, and include in-text citation
  • Reasoning and Grounded Examples – just like you do in discussions. Share your idea about the quote, why it makes sense/doesn’t, etc, and then offer a a life example

[note – the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning should not be labeled; they are paragraph writing directions, not headings.]

Conclusion: In your own voice, summarize what you discussed in detail in the essay, and then re-state your thesis in view of what you discussed. (1 paragraph). Some students have used phrasing like “I proved that…” This is not a science paper, so the idea is not to prove anything, but share your view. So simply summarize your view.

Bibliography: List all sources contacted for writing this paper, using correct formatting.

This is all in Writing Specifics, with a little update and editing. You can check sample papers through this link.

The main tip I think helps many is to remember to use the word “I”. An essay is about your perspective, so share it. You still have to look at quotes in analysis, but the idea is to relate life and learning. While in discussion we focus first on class materials, in the papers you first outline your view and perspective, and then dig into outside materials.

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