25: The difference between religion and spirituality and the role of each with Dr. Diane Winston

It’s human nature to believe in something other than one’s self, and doing so can give life meaning.

That according to Dr. Diane Winston, who has made understanding, analyzing and writing about religion in America her career. 

Now as the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California, Diane is a national authority on religion and the media as both a journalist and scholar. Her courses examine religion, spirituality and ethics in relationship to journalism, entertainment media, American history and foreign policy. 

She holds a doctorate in religion from Princeton University along with master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Brandeis University. 

As she explains on today’s show, Religion—like politics, economics, race, ethnicity and gender—is a cultural factor and social force that motivates, explains and inspires. It is key to understanding the world we live in.

And you can’t have religion without spirituality, and vice versa.

Show highlights include:

  • Why is Diane interested in religion in relationship to spirituality, ethics, and journalism? Needs to educate herself and others due to lack of knowledge and roles of other religions.
  • What surprises Diane about representation of religion and spirituality in Hollywood? Digitization and streaming has significantly incorporated and increased interest in concerns.
  • Spiritual Exemplar and Engagement Project: Faith convictions motivate people to make the world better.
  • Social transformation: Part of vision or sense of what world is beyond one’s own skin.
  • Challenges of humanitarian work: Confront failure, strive for change and sustain yourself.
  • “Red Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of The Salvation Army”: What does The Salvation Army actually do?
  • Religion is about beliefs and belonging, it’s important and isn’t going away.
  • Diane’s book in progress: “Reagan, Religion, and the News Media.”

Good words from Dr. Diane Winston in this show:

“I felt it was a big hole in my knowledge because I knew about my religion, but I didn’t know very much about the role of religion in America.”

“There are so many opportunities that didn’t exist when I was a reporter that if you have the expertise, you can really develop a career in writing about religion.” 

“The heart of most religions is spirituality.”

“Religion can be a two-edged sword. It can be a force for great good, and it can be a force for great evil.”

Additional resources:

Download this episode wherever you get your podcasts. Find show notes for this episode and more at Connect with Dr. Diane Winston via the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. 

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