Volume 36
Issue 1
Winter 2013



PCR Call for Papers:
2013 AAR Meeting in Baltimore

AAR Annual Meeting Baltimore, MD November 23-26, 2013

The Group welcomes proposals for the following themes:

  1. Healing and therapeutic practices unmoored from religious origins (e.g., mindfulness, yoga, meditation, sweat lodge, drumming circles, use of ritual in therapy, etc.);
  2. Psychological perspectives on silence in religion and religious practices (e.g., ritual, liturgical, and therapeutic uses of silence and/or punitive, oppressive, and traumatic uses of silence);
  3. For a cosponsored session with the Practical Theology Group, religious experience through the senses (e.g., embodied cognition, dreaming, and other nonrational and “alternative” ways of knowing) and how this is legitimated in the academic environment and/or in practical aspects of research (e.g., fieldwork, case studies, etc.)

Proposals must be submitted through The Program Administration Proposal, Review, Evaluation, and Submission System (PAPERS). Deadline is March 1, 2013, 11:59 PM EST

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Calls from Other Related Groups

Religion and
the Social Sciences Section

This Section invites proposals on the following topics: Social scientific perspectives on the Bible; Catholicism and spirituality; Religious freedom and religious tolerance; The rising number of religiously unaffiliated people, a.k.a. “Nones”; Religion and incarceration. For a potential cosponsored session with the Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group and the Religion and Sexuality Group, critical analysis and/or methodological reflection on sex and sexuality as categories of inquiry in empirical approaches to the study of religion. Possible themes include reading or misreading sex and desire in representations of religion and analyzing ways in which constructed meanings of sex and sexuality have shaped classificatory categories and comparative models across religious studies. Additionally, proposals are invited for a possible cosponsored session with the Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion Group on the meaning of methods — social scientific approaches to religion, theology, and hip-hop. The burgeoning field of religion, theology, and hip-hop has worked hard to expand the object(s) of inquiry beyond a sole focus on rap music. While this expansion has provided form, content, and structure for the making of religion and hip-hop scholarship, less attention has been given to the methodological tools necessary to provide a rigorous account of the ways in which these endeavors are taken up in hip-hop material culture. We seek papers from leading scholars working with various methodologies from fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies for the study of religion, theology, and hip-hop culture. Proposals that address new books in the field, major trends, and issues (e.g., immigration reform, same-sex marriage) relevant in the coming year and other questions in the study of religion and the social sciences are also welcome. All proposals should clearly state their key question(s), methodologies, data, and disciplinary perspective(s).

Practical Theology

This Group seeks papers on the following topics: 1) How to move beyond single identity politics in practical theology. How can theory and practice take into account multiple aspects of identity (a person’s or community’s combination of race/ethnicity, gender, age, religion, etc.), especially where such complexity of identity contributes to the intersectionality of marginalizing factors and oppression? Papers are especially welcome that are based on field research in which claims are tested or exemplified or that in some other way study lived experience. 2) Theological and religious understandings or theories of “change,” especially those that explicitly explore the positive outcome(s) often implicit in the language of transformation or liberation. How are these notions of change helpful and/or limiting in situations where lament may be a more fitting response? Papers should demonstrate how the theory is related to a particular practice and/or be based on field research in which the theory is tested or exemplified. 3) For a cosponsored session with the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Group, religious experience through the senses (e.g., embodied cognition, dreaming and other nonrational and “alternative” ways of knowing) and how this is legitimated in the academic environment and in the practical aspects of research (e.g., fieldwork, case studies, etc.)

Cognitive Science
of Religion Group

This Group welcomes proposals for individual papers or sessions on any aspect of the cognitive science of religion. Topics of particular interest include: Research that tests extant theories in the cognitive science of religion (scheduled either as a regular session or in our Research Forums, publicized to our e-mail list, and possibly cosponsored with the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion; New tools for quantitative analysis of religious texts; Explorations in cross-cultural research; For a possible cosponsored session with the Science, Technology, and Religion Group, critical analysis of the “naturalness of religion versus unnaturalness of science” — claim(s) made in the recent book by Robert N. McCauley, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not (Oxford University Press, 2011); The use of phylogenetic or other mathematical modeling techniques; For a possible cosponsored session with the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Group, religion and conflict; Morality, empathy, and religion; Topics that would be appropriate for a cosponsored session with the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Group.   

Psychology and Biblical Studies Section, Society of Biblical Literature

We always welcome proposals for papers that address Biblical texts, themes, figures and/or readers using the concepts and interpretive tools of any field of psychology.

For 2013, we are particularly interested in papers on the following themes:

  1. The psychodynamics of transformative Bible study. How does or how might psychologically-informed methods of engaging the biblical text enable transformative change in cognition, perception, and/or behavior?
  2. The psychological function of irony. Irony is a popular theme in contemporary biblical interpretation, and it is often difficult to distinguish. What might be the psychological functions of irony and how might a psychological understanding of irony affect a reading of the text?

We also plan a book review session on the Festrschrift honoring Wayne G. Rollins, Psychological Hermeneutics for Biblical Themes and Texts, Ed. J. Harold Ellens (New York: T&T Clark, 2012).

Paper Proposals

Questions? Contact the Chair at psybibs@psybibs.org

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PCR Steering Committee Transitions

At the 2012 PCR business meeting we expressed our gratitude to Lisa Cataldo and Alberto Varona, whose terms on the steering committee have ended. Two new steering committee members were nominated and elected at the meeting: Greg Ellison of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Storm Swain of the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. Many thanks to Lisa and Alberto for their PCR service, and welcome to Greg and Storm! Faculty biographies for Greg and Storm are below:

Dr. Ellison’s research examines the intersections of pastoral care, personality development, theologies of hope, and marginalized populations. His book-in-progress, Cut Dead but Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men (Abingdon), is based on his years of counseling youth and his work with young men transitioning out of correctional facilities. He is an ordained Baptist minister and has served on the ministerial staffs at United Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

Dr. Swain completed a PhD in the Psychiatry and Religion program at Union Theological Seminary in New York, with her dissertation topic “Trinity, Trauma and Transformation: A Trinitarian Pastoral Theology reflected in the experience of the Chaplains at the 9/11 Temporary Mortuary at Ground Zero” under Dr. Ann Ulanov. Dr. Swain's research interests include pastoral formation, trinitarian pastoral theology, disaster spiritual care, the contribution of Object Relations psychoanalytic theory to pastoral ministry, Kohut's transferences in pastoral ministry and pastoral psychotherapy for issues of trauma and complicated grief.

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What Is an Appropriate Theme
for the AAR Annual Meeting?

Soon after the end of the 2012 AAR Annual Meeting in Chicago, the new President-Elect Laurie Zoloth (Northwestern University) announced her plans for the theme of the 2014 AAR Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.  Prof. Zoloth’s letter generated a critical response from Russell McCutcheon (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa).  The contentious issues raised in these two letters go directly to the questions of who we are as scholars of religion and how we understand our involvement with the AAR.  Below are links to Prof. Zoloth’s letter and Prof. McCutcheon’s reply.  I have also included an exchange about these questions between myself and Lucy Bregman (Temple University), with her permission.  If anyone else has comments or observations to offer, please let me know!

Lucy Bregman: I read that e-mail from the next AAR President about the theme for the meeting, and thought it made little sense except for plenary speakers. If AAR wants to have 1 theme for these, that could be ok. But various fields and subfields within religion study have their own internal intellectual agendas, and AAR is one place where we get to pursue these. In other words, Death, Dying and Beyond Group successfully engages with popular culture and diverse religious traditions, to expand way beyond the traditional pastoral care approaches of most religiously--based scholarship. (We did a fascinating session on "Digital Death" last year, for example). This means "climate change" is well outside what the group can currently competently explore, and diverts us from what we are now doing pretty well. It is not that climate change is not important, but it isn't what I'd go to AAR to learn about, nor do I have anything constructive, informed or original to say about it. So, it would squander my AAR time if we were told we had to make our program conform to a theme so far outside where we are currently doing well. I prefer this way to state the problem, rather than a "scholarship vs. activism" issue. I do not want to make a big deal out of this, but I'd hate it if any "theme" were used to judge or exclude programs which otherwise have merit.

Kelly Bulkeley: I don't believe the "presidential theme" is intended to determine any group's program or agenda.  As always, the program units are independent in terms of selecting presentations.  The AAR has in the past offered themes based on regions, e.g., this is "the year of Oceania," and that will influence the selection of plenary speakers and sessions, justify spending money to sponsor international visitors, and PERHAPS suggest topics for the program units to consider in the light of their respective interests.  As far as I can tell, this has been going on for years, with benign effects.  What seems to be different now is that the president-elect is announcing the theme farther in advance, with greater fanfare, and it's a topic of strong political controversy.  So the issue isn't whether this will unduly disrupt the ordinary functioning of the program units—it won't—but whether this is a valid theme for the AAR to address in the annual meeting.  Maybe yes, maybe no!

LB: As I recall, the "this year it's Oceania" approach failed to generate much excitement. Certainly, featuring program contents focused on the city or region where we were meeting worked a little better, and was flexible. The announcement as I read it did seem to hint that we should all be planning to incorporate "climate change" into our programs. If you are right, and I read this wrong, then that is reassuring. Since I rarely attend plenary sessions anyway, I personally may barely notice it. However, and this is something I have to state carefully - I do not believe that a lot of us trained in religion study have the scientific knowledge and background to contribute to that aspect of the current debate, nor to challenge assertions put forth by others. For example, one scenario I've read is that the polar ice will melt, de-salt the northern oceans, and stop the Gulf Stream. The result would be that the climate in northern Europe would become similar to Labrador's, and the British Isles would barely be inhabitable. And this change would happen fast- 5 to 10 years, and be unstoppable. You have probably come across this idea too. I have no clue whether this is a realistic possibility, nor can I really spot a valid arguments one way or the other in favor or against it. I would rather, if AAR picks a content-theme, or a current controversy, have something I felt more directly related to religion, or to anything else I'm trained to think about.  I'm not being modest or humble, I'm being realistic about what I can handle as a scholar of religion, vs. what I can think about or do as a citizen.

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News from PCR Members

Bonnie Miller-McLemore (Vanderbilt Divinity School): “This past year I had two books appear in print, a collection of essays from the past fifteen years, Christian Theology in Practice: Discovering a Discipline (Eerdmans 2012) and a major edited volume, The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology (Wiley/Blackwell 2012), that includes fifty-six authors in four major sections defining the discipline and spheres of practical theology (there was a session on the book at the AAR last year). I also finished a two-year term as president of the International Academy of Practical Theology in July 2011 and the International Journal of Practical Theology is publishing my presidential address in the forthcoming issue along with six respondents. There will also be a volume coming out in 2013 from the 2011 conference in Amsterdam, Desire: Practical Theological Explorations (Lit Verlag), co-edited with Rein Brouwer and Ruard Ganzevorst, the conference hosts."

Bill Barnard (Southern Methodist University): “My book Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson just came out this past December (2011) with SUNY Press.  Hurrah!  (Finally . . .).”  Here is some descriptive text from the book’s Amazon page: “Living Consciousness examines the brilliant, but now largely ignored, insights of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941). Offering a detailed and accessible analysis of Bergson's thought, G. William Barnard highlights how Bergson's understanding of the nature of consciousness and, in particular, its relationship to the physical world remain strikingly relevant to numerous contemporary fields. These range from quantum physics and process thought to philosophy of mind, depth psychology, transpersonal theory, and religious studies. Bergson's notion of consciousness as a ceaselessly dynamic, inherently temporal substance of reality itself provides a vision that can function as a persuasive alternative to mechanistic and reductionistic understandings of consciousness and reality. Barnard closes the work with several "ruminations" or neo-Bergsonian responses to a series of vitally important questions such as: What does it mean to live consciously, authentically, and attuned to our inner depths? Is there a philosophically sophisticated way to claim that the survival of consciousness after physical death is not only possible but likely?

Duane Bidwell (Claremont School of Theology): “I'm happy to announce that my new book, Empowering Couples: A Narrative Approach to Spiritual Care, was released Feb. 1 by Fortress Press. The final volume of the long-running Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series, the book correlates desert spirituality, narrative psychotherapy, and John Gottman's scientific research on effective relationships to propose a short-term model of care that shifts the classical pastoral function of ‘guiding’ toward a practice of empowering couples to address their own problems.”

Jim Jones (Rutgers University) reports that he is on sabbatical this year in England as a Fellow of the Psychology of Religion Research Group at Cambridge University. He is getting out of terrorism research and doing three projects in cognitive science: a trade book on the misuse of cognitive psychology by those who try to use it to debunk religion, a project on embodied cognition and religious experience, and an application of models of cognitive complexity to the science-religion discussion. He says, “Cambridge is a wonderful place. But Kathleen had to remain at work in the US which has made the whole thing very difficult."

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Funny Stuff

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Announcement: International Series
in the Psychology of Religion

The International Series in the Psychology of Religion (ISPR), previously published by Rodopi (Amsterdam), has moved to Springer (New York) and offers possibilities for publication in the psychology of religion (broadly defined) to a wide range of authors. The main features of this unique while international series are:

ISPR will deal with the psychology of religion in all its aspects, allowing authors to write from a variety of perspectives (e.g., related to a specific psychological theory or orientation, a specific religious/spiritual phenomenon, or research approach).

ISPR will include monographs as well as edited volumes, but will not accept manuscripts of textbooks, publish dissertations or texts with excessive technical or statistical information. Striving for the highest psychological scholarship,

ISPR aims to publish readable books that will address not only specialists in psychology, but also practitioners of other disciplines bordering on the psychology of religion, as well as a wider audience interested in psychological approaches to religious and spiritual matters.

ISPR Characteristics

The following characteristics will inform the development of the series: 

Academic Level

ISPR intends therefore to attract attention from a broad variety of readers. Whereas most volumes on psychology and religion speak to only one audience, the ISPR aims to reach out to a wide audience of scholars, researchers and practitioners from psychology, psychiatry, social and cultural sciences, religious studies, philosophy, and to those with a scholarly interest in a psychological approach to religion. Volumes from ISPR will be aimed primarily for a graduate and postgraduate audience but may also be used on in undergraduate education.


Other than the previous series at Ropodi, ISPR publishes volumes in English only. (It allows for translations of books previously originally published in languages other than English.)

Contact information

The Editorial Team consists of:

Jacob A. Belzen (Amsterdam, Netherlands; belzen@hum.uva.nl)
William B. Parsons (Houston, Texas, USA; pars@rice.edu)
Vassilis Saroglou (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; Vassilis.Saroglou@uclouvain.be)
Edward Shafranske (Irvine, California, USA; eshafran@pepperdine.edu)
Jaan Valsiner (Aalborg, Denmark; jvalsiner@gmail.com).

The Editorial Board consists of:

Mario Aletti (Italy)
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi (Israel)   
Don Capps (New Jersey, USA)
Pehr Granqvist (Sweden)
Buxin Han (China)
Nils G. Holm (Finland) 
Stefan Huber (Switzerland)
Lee Kirkpatrick (USA)
Chris Lewis (UK)   
Annette Mahoney (Ohio, USA)
Kenneth Pargament (Ohio, USA)
Bernard Spilka (Colorado, USA) 
David M. Wulff (Rhode Island, USA)
Justin Barrett (California, USA)
Kelly Bulkeley (Oregon, USA)
Michael Carroll (Canada)
Halina Grzymala-Moszczyńska (Poland)
Peter Hill (California, USA)
Ralph W. Hood (Tennessee, USA)
James W. Jones (New Jersey, USA)
Soo-Young Kwon (Korea) 
Kate Loewenthal (UK)
Raymond F. Paloutzian (California, USA)
Crystal Park (Connecticut, USA)
Joao Edenio Reis Valle (Brazil)

Please feel free to contact any member of the Editorial Team or Editorial Board about your submission!

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PCR Members and Dues

We appreciate the ongoing support of members who have contributed generously of their time, energy, and money over the years.  As PCR secretary-treasurer since 1994 (gasp!), I have seen our group’s financial activities narrow to one basic function: Paying the AAR for extra AV equipment during the PCR pre-sessions at the annual meeting.  (We also subsidize grad students at our Friday dinners, but that’s a very small outlay.)  In the pre-digital past, our funds also went to copying and mailing issues of the newsletter and the pre-circulation papers for the conference.  Now, thanks to Andy Kille’s technical expertise, we no longer have to pay for those benefits (though expressions of gratitude to Andy are a valuable currency!).  So by this point, the only reason we have a dues structure is to cover extra AAR expenses. 

I’ve been trying to think of a more sensible system for some time, and in consultation with the PCR steering committee I’m putting together a proposal to the AAR requesting one of two measures:

  1. Waive the extra AV fees for the PCR presessions, in recognition of the tangible value of our presessions for attracting attendees to the AAR annual conference, or
  2. Enable PCR members to donate funds through the AAR membership dues system to cover the presession expenses. 

One way or another, I’m trying to find a way to eliminate our outdated dues structure.  We will keep you posted on new developments in this effort.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

An additional benefit of moving in this direction is changing our membership roster from a list of “paid” members to a list of “committed” members, defined simply as people who express a desire to be part of the PCR group.  That seems truer to the spirit of our academic community and a more accurate gauge of who we really are.

If you are not mentioned in the roster below and want to be, let me know!

Bill Barnard; Kirk Bingaman; Kathleen Bishop; Lucy Bregman; Kelly Bulkeley; Lee Butler; Eileen Campbell-Reed; Pamela Cooper-White; Nathan Carlin; Lisa Cataldo; Margarita Guillory; James W. Jones; Felicity Kelcourse; D. Andrew Kille; Joseph Kramp; John McDargh; Franz Metcalf; Isabelle Noth; Lewis Rambo; Martha Reineke; Lallene Rector; Alberto Richardson-Varona; Gregory Schneider; Phillis Sheppard; Raynard Smith; Storm Swain; Hendrika Vande Kemp; Jessica Van Denend; Sonia Waters; Herman Westerink; Katherine Wiebe; Hetty Zock

Kelly Bulkeley, Secretary/Treasurer, bulkeleyk@gmail.com

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Psychology, Culture & Religion News Volume 36, Issue 1

Editor: Kelly Bulkeley; Layout: D. Andrew Kille

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