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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experiences and meanings of adults who were raised in and later departed from evangelical fundamentalism : a descriptive phenomenological inquiry Cameron, Malcolm Paul


In this descriptive phenomenological inquiry, I explored the experiences and meanings of five adult research participants who were raised in and later departed from evangelical fundamentalism in some measure. Life Review, a structured guided autobiographical group-based adult learning model designed to assist people in organizing life events, was utilized to explore the research participants' experiences and meanings of being raised in a religious fundamentalist orientation. As a result of participating in Life Review, the research participants generated thirty descriptive written narratives that served as the primary source of data for this inquiry. For the purpose of this inquiry, the research participants attended eight Life Review sessions. Sessions one and eight focused on group formation and closure, respectively. Sessions two through seven focused on assigned topics. In this regard, the research participants prepared six two-page single spaced narratives via a word processor describing their experiences and meanings specific to: 1) choosing to participate in this study, 2) major branching points in life, 3) family of origin, 4) parenting practices, 5) the effects of being raised in evangelical fundamentalism, and 6) the meaning of life. During Life Review sessions two through seven, the research participants read their respective narratives aloud to the other participants. A time limited reflective group discussion followed the reading of each narrative. A phenomenological data analysis model was applied to the research participant's narratives. The analysis of the data culminated in the emergence of themes that revealed the essence of the lived experience and meanings of being raised in and later departing from evangelical fundamentalism. The themes included the experience and meaning of: 1) unresolved pain, 2) unfulfilled longing, 3) coping strategies, 4) identity formation, 5) God and church, 6) being a Parent, 7) crippling fear, 8) engaging culture, 9) departing, and 10) finding home. These emergent themes described the essence of the research participants' life worlds specific to having been raised in and later departing from evangelical fundamentalism. The significance of the emergent findings and their relevance to evangelical fundamentalism, the psychology of religion, counseling psychology, and continued research were addressed, as were the limitations of the study.

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