PCR Program: 2014 AAR Meeting in San Diego

PCR Pre-Sessions:

Friday, November 21, 2014
Omni-Grand Ballroom A

1:00 - 3:00 pm
P21-213: Panel Discussion of Lucy Bregman's The Ecology of Spirituality: Practice and Virtues in a Post-Religious Age (Baylor University Press, 2014)

3:15 - 4:45 pm
P21-215: Depth Psychology and Black Church/Religion: Creative Appropriations, Continuing Challenges and Future Directions

5:00 - 6:30 pm
P21-317: Honoring the Work of Ann Belford Ulanov

7:00 - 9:30 pm
PCR Dinner

La Fiesta Restaurant
628 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

- - -

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Convention Center 28D

9:00 am-11:30 am
A22-130: Business Meeting/Works in Progress

Regular Sessions:

A22-231: Saturday, November 22, 2014
1:00 -3:30 PM, Hilton Bayfront-Sapphire E

Mindfulness, Contemplation, and the Clinic:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Hetty Zock, University of Groningen, Presiding

Kirk A. Bingaman, Fordham University
Ira Helderman, Vanderbilt University
Ann Gleig, University of Central Florida
David McMahan, Franklin and Marshall College

A23-209: Sunday, November 23, 2014
1:00 - 2:30 pm, Convention Center 9

Psychological and Sociological Perspectives on Multiple Religious Identities

Joint session with Religion and the Social Sciences Section

Pamela Cooper-White, Columbia Theological Seminary, Presiding

Ryan Williams, University of Cambridge
Religious Hybridity Reconsidered: Social and Cognitive Processes in Interfaith Contact

Dennis Kelley, University of Missouri
The Red Road to Sobriety: American Indian Approaches to Healing from Alcohol Addiction

Myounghun Yun, Vanderbilt University
Cultivating the Self: A Comparative Inquiry into Kohutian and Neo-Confucian Selfhood


A23-326: Sunday, November 23, 2014
5:00 -6:30 PM; Convention Center 33B

Rethinking Chaplaincy in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Joint session with Religions, Medicines, and Healing Group

Eileen Campbell-Reed, Luther Seminary, Presiding

Daijaku Judith Kinst, Graduate Theological Union
Revisioning Chaplaincy: Contributions from Buddhist Chaplaincy Graduate Education

Andre van der Braak, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
The Rise of Buddhist Chaplaincy in an Interfaith Context, and its Implications for the Reframing and Revising of Clinical Pastoral Education

Beth Glover, Fordham University
Shaking the Foundations: Reimagining Clinical Pastoral Education in Light of Personal and Cultural Trauma in a Global Society

Change of leadership in PCR

New Chairs and Steering Committee Members

At the upcoming AAR in San Diego, PCR will have to decide on several vacancies. First, we will need new chairs. Kirk and I are stepping down, our two terms are up. We are extremely glad that we have two excellent candidates as successors: last year, at the  Baltimore meeting, Eileen Campbell-Reid and Kelly Bulkeley were nominated as future chairs, and we will propose to ratify that choice at the PCR business meeting on Saturday morning. Second, there will be two vacant slots in the steering committee: Phillis Shepherd and Eileen Campbell-Reid, both of whom are in the last year of their second terms. Nominations for new steering committee members are very welcome.

Kirk and I greatly enjoyed being chairs and helping organize the PCR sessions and presessions. Apart from the inevitable organizational problems (money, AV and planning – no serious problems, but often a pain the ass…), it was a real pleasure to work together with the steering committee in putting together the yearly programme. We did good teamwork, gathering ideas for sessions, reviewing the proposals and settling all sorts of things, from unexpected programme changes to the location of the PCR dinner. We had numerous email conversations. Thank you, steering committee! Further, we could not have done without the support of Kelly Bulkely and Andy Kille, for putting together the PCR newsletters and the website. Finally, we are very glad that PCR members continuously remain involved and enthusiastic, that the attendance of PCR sessions is growing, and that we have been able to welcome new members – especially graduate students! – to our meetings. We are also pleased that PCR has been able in recent years to build on its psychodynamic base to explore other emerging areas of research.

Please think about who you would like to nominate as new steering committee members, and let us know by email in advance. 

Looking forward to see you all in San Diego,
Hetty Zock (t.h.zock@rug.nl) and Kirk Bingaman (bingaman@fordham.edu)

An Open Letter on the Future of AAR

The Future of American Academy of Religion:
An Open Letter to the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Group

Joseph M. Kramp, Ph.D.

Organizations only remain viable, relevant, and keep their cultural prestige to the degree
that they are able to integrate as many interested and qualified prospective members as possible into the overall services and mission of the group.  My involvement in American Academy of Religion only occurred over the past four or five years and during that time I only served in one leadership position, as chair of the psychology and religion group of the Mid-Atlantic region.  However, during that time I noticed that candidates running for leadership positions in AAR significantly wounded their chances of being elected to a position if they made it a point to address the lack of academic jobs in religion and the need to integrate talk of alternative careers into AAR meetings and life.  At some point I lost track of counting how many candidacies were denied where this was at least one of the major platforms the candidate was running on; I acknowledge this could simply be a coincidence.  As a scholar in the social scientific study of religion, I am always reluctant to assume clear causation mechanisms and I am acutely aware of how frequently false cause fallacies come into play in our everyday reasoning. 
Nevertheless, I have also studied extensively and become acutely aware of the ways in which organizations rise and fall in prominence; additionally, I observe the ways in which growth is necessary and yet is also capable of impeding upon the original mission of the organization.  I see AAR as an organization whose growth over the years has made it impossible to stay current with the realities being experienced by scholars and students in its own ranks.  It is an organization that also functions much like the human psyche, reluctant to acknowledge the full extent of trauma being experienced within its own ranks and all too happy to attempt to forget about the trauma by engaging in unproductive and costly behavior choices.

So much of the past needs to be mourned, but the act of doing so would cull forth to the front of the mind realities of which are far too difficult to bear in waking life.  We see this not only in dream interpretation, but also in the way organizations like AAR structure themselves in gross contrast to the truths of the realities in which they operate.  Roughly twenty percent of all college faculty have full time jobs.  Depts. of religious studies have borne a particularly devastating blow caused by the perpetually depressed and volatile global market.  Higher education in general, and graduate education in particular, are increasingly suspect of being unuseful to the larger society.

AAR therefore finds itself at a crossroads, I believe.  It can continue to remain a large organization, paying its salaried employees (who do a great job, in my opinion) to put together these massive meetings, keep up a great website that only paying members can fully access, and do all the things that paying members have come to expect.  Or it can face up to the fact that to continue on this path would be to wholly abdicate the essence of its mission. 

AAR has other choices it can make besides being efficient, bureaucratic and costly, just as depts. of religious studies do.  I look to be a part of academic organizations and depts. of religious studies that bear qualities similar to what the current Roman Catholic pope calls for in his church—gritty, willing to risk, abandon discourse and behavior patterns that are isolating and that make people think we are snooty or irrelevant.  We lose respect for each other and for ourselves if we do not engage with the realities that confront our discipline and our “queen” organization of AAR.  No academic discipline needs a queen organization anymore—culture has violated her and the discipline to the point of unrecognizability and AAR is making a huge mistake if it willingly chooses not to recognize that and engage with the realities of those consequences.  AAR buys into the culture’s perception of religious studies as a fading star when it insists on being a highly bureaucratized, efficient, and costly organization that only the rich and tenured may participate in.  It advertizes to the world that the discipline of religious studies has lost its edge and its soul.

I recently had dinner in Fort Myers, FL (where I live) with a newly minted small college president in the Southeast.  This man and I happen to be pretty close friends, have known each other for over a decade and I have seen this man’s career grow from being a residence hall supervisor at another small college in the Midwest to where he is today.  I will give him the fictional name of John.  John and I spent our dinner talking about higher education and some of the issues mentioned here in this essay; I found myself pleased to see that John completely agreed with my perspective on the deterioration of higher education; this was why he chose to be president of a very small, struggling college in the rural Southeast.  John talked about the community that surrounds the school and holds it up, as well as the pleasure he gets and challenges he enjoys of working for a school that most people don’t know of or care much about.  Neither one of us were able to come up with many immediate or magical answers for how to save higher education as a whole or exactly what it should look like when it is inevitably transformed.  But we both completely agreed that the starting point and the desirable place to be is with groups and persons living on the fringe, struggling to cut their bread and also get the liberal education that should be the birthright of every American. 

AAR could have a community somewhat similar to John’s campus.  Instead of using convention centers, perhaps we could meet out of people’s houses/apartments/RV’s?  Or find some other creative way to slash costs, so as to encourage attendance by even the poorest of adjuncts and students?  Perhaps we could use Skype or Gmail chat technology to bring people into the meeting who otherwise cannot afford to come on an adjunct’s/youth minister’s/bartender’s/bouncer’s wage?  The bottom line is that those with stable positions in the academy must realize their positions will become increasingly unstable the more they ignore and deny the pain and suffering being encountered on the fringes of the academy and on the literal streets where our colleges and communities reside.  To not do so is not only comical, but encourages self loathing and the lack of respect we feel for each other that surfaces in failed interpersonal interactions, failed working relationships, and ultimately crumbling organizations who fail to innovatively live in accord with their noble mission.

Paypal coming soon to PCR

We are in the process of establishing a Paypal system for PCR dues and payments to the AAR.  Our hope is this will simplify and streamline the group’s finances, which consist of paying for pre-session room rentals and A-V costs at the annual meeting, plus grad students at the Friday group dinner.  A Paypal button will soon appear at the top of the PCR website, and by clicking on that button members can pay dues directly into the PCR account, which will then be applied to our costs at the annual meeting.  Members will need a Paypal account, which can be set up here: www.paypal.com/

Let me know if you have any questions about what this will involve.  (bulkeleyk@gmail.com).  

Other AAR/SBL Sessions of Interest



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Psychology and Biblical Studies Section at SBL

See the Psybibs website for updates: www.psybibs.org

S22-236: Ritual, Psychology, and the Bible

Saturday, November 22, 2014, 1:00 to 3:30 PM
204 B (Level 2 (Indigo))

Barbara Leung Lai, Tyndale University College and Seminary (Ontario), Presiding (5 min)

Jeffrey Stackert, University of Chicago, Respondent

Business Meeting

S23-240: The Contribution of Daniel Merkur’s Relating to God
to Psychological Biblical Interpretation

Panelists review and discuss Daniel Merkur’s Relating to God: Clinical Psychoanalysis, Spirituality, and Theism” (Jason Aronson, 2013) as it offers insights into psychological Biblical criticism.

Sunday, November 23, 2014, 1:00 to 3:30 PM
Room 21 (Upper level)

Heather McKay, Edge Hill University, Presiding

Dan Merkur, Respondent

S24-240: Shame and Shadow in the Hebrew Bible

Monday, November 24, 2014, 1:00 to 3:30 PM
314 (Level 3 (Aqua))

Heather McKay, Edge Hill University, Presiding

Tiffany Houck-Loomis, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Respondent