A Group of the American Academy of Religion

February 1997; Volume 20, no. 1

Kelly Bulkeley, Editor; D. Andrew Kille, Layout

PCR Reauthorized!

1997 Call for Papers

Business Session 1996

E-mail List Coming

News from Members

Steering Committee

How to Join PCR

Book Note

PCR: Who and What

Send us information for upcoming issues

PCR Has Been Reauthorized!

After a very thorough review process the AAR Program Committee has agreed to renew the PCR Group for another five-year term (1997-2001). Many PCR members made valuable contributions to the reauthorization process, but special thanks are due to Greg Schneider, who put together an extremely impressive report on the Group's past history and future goals. Next time you see Greg give him a hug, a pat on the back, a high-five, or some equivalent expression of appreciation. The Group also owes deep gratitude to Ann Taves, the designated reviewer from the AAR Program Committee who attended all the PCR events at the New Orleans meeting. Not only did she help us reflect on the Group's dynamics from a fresh perspective, but she actively contributed to the discussions in several PCR sessions, and she ended up joining the Group as a dues-paying member. Welcome to PCR, Ann!

A description of PCR taken from Greg's report can be found below.

1997 Call for Papers

The PCR Group is announcing the following calls for papers for the 1997 AAR Meeting in San Francisco. Please send proposals to Sandra Lee Dixon, chair of the PCR steering committee.

  1. Anthropological Psychology of Religion. We seek papers that assess the usefulness of anthropological theories that are also psychological--e.g., culture and personality, cross-cultural psychology, psychological anthropology, cultural psychology--for the study of religion. Please specify your definition of "culture." Special interest centers on the field of "cultural psychology" (see Richard A. Shweder, Michael Coles, etc.). Papers are especially welcome that discuss particular religious groups, individuals, or practices in order to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of particular approaches.
  2. Spirituality in Contexts: Further Explorations. Papers are invited that examine how spirituality appears differently in various cultural contexts, religious traditions, and clinical settings. The rationale for the designation "spirituality" should be clear. Papers are particularly encouraged to address the often-neglected elements of darkness and suffering which frequently accompany spiritual experience.

Papers selected for either topic must be received by S.L. Dixon by October 15 for circulation prior to the meetings.

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PCR Business from the 1996 Meeting

Two particular issues came up for discussion at the 1996 PCR business meeting. The first regarded the composition of the steering committee. The terms of several committee members end next year, meaning the Group needs to start thinking now about nominees to fill those committee slots. If you have any suggestions for possible nominees for the PCR steering committee, or if you'd be interested yourself in being on the committee, please contact Sandy Dixon as soon as possible.

The other business item regarded the desirability of having copies of PCR presentations pre-circulated a month or so in advance of the annual AAR meeting. After last year's raise in annual dues from $10 to $15 the PCR coffers are in pretty good shape, so the Group decided to include a full set of pre-circulated papers as a privilege of membership. So if you pay your dues for 1997, in early November you'll receive copies of the papers to be presented at the upcoming PCR sessions during the AAR Annual Meeting. This will hopefully add extra vitality and depth to the discussions at our sessions.

E-mail List in the Works

The excitement and interest generated by our "Works in Progress" session each year and the "News from Members" section of the newsletters may soon get a boost, thanks to an experiment now being tried by the AAR. A limited number of AAR groups are being offered the opportunity to develop electronic discussion lists hosted by the AAR.

An e-mail list enables list members to share information and enter into group discussion. E-mail messages sent to the list address are automatically duplicated and sent to all subscribers. Members then have the option of responding to messages and carrying on dialogue within the whole group, or of responding privately to individual messages. The list will be moderated; messages will be screened before being posted to the list in order to keep communication on track and cut down on irrelevant traffic.

If all goes well, the list should go online within the next month or so. If you might be interested in being a part of a PCR maillist, send a note with your e-mail address to Andrew Kille at revdak@netcom.com. We will send you the list announcement when it is ready.

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News from PCR Members

David Morris, former PCR steering committee member, passes along the good news that he has taken a position with Guideposts: "I'm an assistant editor on the acquisitions team for the Book Division of Guideposts. I work with publishers to market their published materials to the Guideposts mailing list. It's a great organization with a solid reputation, and they have been very excited about me coming on board (they were very interested in my academic background, among other things)."

Michael Willett Newheart (Howard University), along with his wife Joy Newheart, want to share with PCR members the celebration of the birth of their daughter Anastasia Michele Newheart on October 16, 1996.

Judith Van Herik (Pennsylvania State University) announces the publication of the first title in the new book series of which she is General Editor: "Penn State Studies on Lived Religious Experience." The book is El Camino: Walking to Santiago de Compostela, by Lee Hoinacki, and it relates the story of a modern pilgrim's 500-mile journey to the medieval Spanish shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

Jim Jones (Rutgers) has just published a new book, Religion and Psychology in Transition: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Theology (Yale University Press). He also recommends for PCR members Jeffrey Rubin's book Psychotherapy and Buddhism: Toward an Integration (Plenum Press), calling it the best book currently available on that subject.

Charles Simpkinson (Common Boundary Magazine) relates that Common Boundary will publish a book through HarperCollins in November 1997 to be titled The Field Guide for Spiritual Seekers. He also announces the Third Annual Common Boundary "Green Dove Award." The award "honors outstanding projects that communicate the interdependence of ecology, psychology, and spirituality." For award guidelines and an application, write to Common Boundary, Green Dove Award, 5272 River Road, Suite 650, Bethesda, MD 20816.

Michael J. Christensen (Drew Theological School) is currently teaching courses on Jung's contribution to pastoral care and counseling; exegesis of youth culture; apocalypticism; and pastoral care in communities in crisis. He has an article in the Nov. 1996 issue of the Wesleyan Theological Journal, titled "Theosis and Sanctification."

Homer Jernigan is working on issues of spirituality and aging; preparation for retirement in the church; aging and the local congregation; and the impact of cultural change on patterns of courtship and marriage (in this country, but also in Taiwan and Singapore). He recommends Growing Older Together: A Couple's Guide to Understanding and Coping with the Challenges of Later Life, by Barbara Silverstone and Helen Kandel Hyman (Pantheon Books) and Aging: God's Challenge to Church and Synagogue, by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. and Donald F. Clingan (Discipleship Resources).

Robert C. Smith's book The Wounded Jung: Effects of Jung's Relationships on His Life and Work (Northwestern University Press) was named an Outstanding Academic Book of 1996 by Choice, the library and booksellers review source.

Martha Robbins (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) has recently been installed in the newly inaugurated Joan Marshall Chair of Pastoral Care.

James Dittes (Yale Divinity School) notes two books he published this past Fall, both by Westminster John Knox Press: Driven by Hope: Men and Meaning and Men at Work: Life Beyond the Office. Of the first book, Walter Brueggemann has said, "Dittes dares to suggest that the notable features of masculinity so often treated as unbearable faults--restlessness, drivenness, unsettledness, endless 'on time' duty--may indeed be a part of manly vocation rooted inescapably in biology..." And of the second book, Jim Nelson has said, "...a gripping invitation into the core of men's lives."

J.A. Belzen (University of Amsterdam) is a new PCR member who attended several of our sessions in New Orleans. He describes himself as follows: "As a full professor I teach psychology of religion (within a Faculty for Human Sciences, department of Religious Studies) at the University of Amsterdam. My research is mainly in the field of cultural psychological approaches to religion, and has a strong emphasis on both the historical branches of cultural psychology as well as on the history and foundations of the psychology of religion as an academic discipline."

Douglas Witcher (C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich), offers this update: "It was nice to have completed my Ph.D. before reaching the age of forty. My dissertation, accepted in October, spans a portion in my life during which I married, helped parent two girls, moved twice internationally, started my practice twice from scratch, divorced, married another woman with two girls, and translated six books. I am lucky to have had an advisor who stuck with me through all of these changes, which were reflected in my unsystematic thinking on the nature of empathy. In the end I can say it was worth waiting for a document that had seasoned with my life."

David Wulff (Wheaton College) has just had his book Psychology of Religion, Classic and Contemporary (John Wiley and Sons) come out in a second edition. In response to the question of how the second edition differs from the first, he says, "The old Chapter 1 has been divided into two chapters. The new introductory chapter now explicitly addresses the pluralisms in religion and psychology and, in conjunction with them, introduces the postmodern/constructivist outlook, which was already implicit in the book. This chapter also documents the growing preference for the language of spirituality over that of religion. Chapter 2 is now a separate chapter on the historical development of the three main traditions--the Anglo/American, the German, and the French--and it briefly brings the field up to date in relation to other literatures as well, including the Russian and Scandanavian literatures. The chapter on the correlational approach to religion has been substantially revised, especially to incorporate references to the considerable body of research on religion and health. Included in this section is a review of some research on "ecclesiogenic neurosis"--church-caused neurosis--a notion gaining increasing circulation in the German literature while remaining virtually unknown in the English-language literature. Cited here, too, is the growing literature on conservative religion and abuse, especially of females."

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PCR Steering Committee

Sandra Lee Dixon
University of Denver
2150 S. Race St., Fl 3
Denver CO 80208
Lucy Bregman
Dept of Religion
Temple University
Philadelphia PA
Lee Butler
1360 E. 58th Street #1
Chicago, IL 60637
Kelly Bulkeley
226 Amherst Ave
Kensington CA 94708
D. Andrew Kille
160 Maro Drive
San Jose CA 94127
Christopher Ross
Dept. of Religion & Culture
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Mary Ellen Ross
Department of Religion
Trinity University
San Antonio TX 78212

How to Join PCR

Time for 1997 Dues!

$15.00 Regular Membership; $10.00 Student Membership (with copy of student ID)

Checks should be payable to Person, Culture, & Religion Group. Send to: Kelly Bulkeley, Secretary/Treasurer, 226 Amherst Avenue, Kensington CA 94708; Phone: 510-528-0226; Fax is same; E-mail: 76633.1555@compuserve.com

Your dues get you three copies of PCR News, goodies at the Friday pre-session, advance copies of the papers for PCR sessions, plus the warm glow of knowing that you're helping us distribute PCR-related information to scholars, clinicians, and clergy members interested in our work.

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Book Note

Jesus the Healer: Possession, Trance, and the Origins of Christianity.

By Steven L. Davies. New York: Continuum, 1995. Pp. 216. $22.95.

Taking issue with the common view among scholars that Jesus was primarily a teacher, Davies argues that Jesus as healer works better as a ruling metaphor for understanding the four gospels. The literature on spirit possession is utilized to posit that the historical Jesus developed an affirmative dissociative alter-persona--the "spirit of God"--which gave him access to otherwise unavailable unconscious potentials. Davies proposes that Jesus chiefly healed individuals with conversion disorders, i.e., somatic expressions of psychological conflicts, and exorcized alter-personae ("demons") developed as a result of childhood abuse or trauma. This fresh approach to the historical Jesus offers new insights for pastoral care, and yet is not hostile to a mystical interpretation of spirit possession. Despite his claim to the contrary, however, Davies' theory seems no more "factually verifiable" than others concerning Jesus' life. Recommended for those interested in application of a psychological methodology to biblical studies.

Kelley Raab, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE 68504

Read a good book lately? We welcome (brief) reviews of books that might be of interest to PCR members. Send them to the Editor.

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The Person, Culture, and Religion Group: Who and What

This description of PCR was adapted from Greg Schneider's report to the AAR as part of the application for re-certification.

The Person, Culture, and Religion Group is an informal association of scholars and practitioners in the fields of religion and psychology broadly defined, who share common interests in the relationship between religion, psychology, and contemporary cultures. Working at the intersections of religion and psychology, the group enables participants to contextualize religious studies in relationship to the theory and practice of psychotherapy and pastoral counseling. PCR's location on the boundary of academic study and applied professions like clinical psychology and pastoral psychotherapy results in rich, varied, and stimulating inter-disciplinary conversations of a kind uncommon in the AAR generally. Elements of the dialogue have included modern and post-modern developments in psychology, counseling, cultural and social anthropology, sociology, feminist studies, critical literary theory, and other forms of interpretive theory.

Participation by practitioners and theorists alike has brought together "real-world" political, social, and personal issues with careful and rigorous academic reflection and sensitivity to interpersonal processes in an atmosphere of friendly, constructive, and supportive cooperation. Among the group's traditions are AAR Annual Meeting sessions in which members have the opportunity to reflect upon the multiple identities and locations they occupy in academy, clinic, and church. These truly interdisciplinary and "inter-professional" conversations are one of the practices that make PCR so effective as an intellectual community. Many participants continue to remark on these sessions as a welcome variation on standard academic fare.

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Contribute to PCR News

We welcome contributions to the newsletter from members and interested people. Please use our submission form for suggestions of the kinds of material we need.


Maintained by D. Andrew Kille
Last revised July 28, 1999