On Queer Theory and Practical Engagement

Following a recent engagement with an advocate of Queer Theory, I had the opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges that arise in establishing meaningful lines of communication. Although I was not being asked to participant in a dialogue in this specific exchange, the engagement highlighted for me several of the challenges that would present themselves had that been the format.

Queer Theory is an academic lens that is primarily focused on how we know things to be true and what counts as knowledge, both of which are part of epistemology. Queer Theory is indebted to the writings of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, among others, particularly those who identify existing structures of authority as sources of oppression that must be deconstructed.

For example, Judith Butler, in her book Gender Trouble, stresses the need to deconstruct not only gender, which is widely viewed as socially constructed, but also sex, which is widely viewed as fixed and stable aspect of personhood steeped in biology:

Is there a history of how the duality of sex was established, a genealogy that might expose the binary options as a variable construction? Are the ostensibly natural facts of sex discursively produced by various scientific discourses in the service of other political and social interests? If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called “sex” is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all.

Whereas the biological distinction between male/female had been considered rather immutable, as we can see, there are those who wish to recast sex as just as socially constructed as gender.

That topic alone is worthy of extended analysis. However, I want to focus on the practical challenges associated with entering into dialogue with true believers of Queer Theory. In the exchange I am reflecting on, I was struck by how the appeal by proponents to concepts like microaggressions and, more recently, trigger events, function to manage community discourse on topics of genuine theological debate. (Trigger events are those circumstances that could cause symptoms to surface among those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

Before we go further, let me state that I believe microaggressions exist. In fact, my research institute has studied the experiences of same-sex attracted students at faith-based institutions of higher education and documented the occurrence of subtle verbal and nonverbal insults and offenses. Microaggressions are real and should be a topic of study.

But what happens if every rational point of disagreement is referred to as a microaggression?

In a recent exchange a Queer Theorist identified the phrase “Love the sinner; hate the sin” as a microaggression. I found this fascinating because, as I mentioned in the exchange, I take a completely different approach to foster cognitive complexity and empathy. I try to understand this phrase through the mind of those who use it. I find that while I do not encourage the use of this particular phrase, I understand how it frequently functions as a heuristic for traditionally believing Christians who wish to hold two claims simultaneously. The first claim being that same-sex behavior falls outside of God’s revealed will for genital sexual expression. The second claim being that there is intrinsic value and worth and dignity in all persons.

One of my goals in these kinds of exchanges is to understand the views of those with whom I disagree. I can appreciate how the “Love the sinner…” language, being as over-used as it has been, has been a source of great consternation to Queer Theorists and the broader LGBT community.

I have not seen this kind of mutual understanding as the goal of Queer Theorists. Rather, my experience has been that it is strategically necessary to frame any contrary assertion – regardless of rational argument – as a microaggression and summarily dismiss it and (by extension) those for whom it has functioned as a meaningful heuristic.

The same claim was made in response to the traditionally-believing Christian’s view that marriage is founded in the creation story as it depicts a male/female union. In other words, this perspective was also deemed a microaggression. I thought this was incredible at the time. Although I marveled at the Queer Theorist’s consistency, I was struck by how this maneuver functions in public discourse about sexual ethics: It shuts down meaningful discussion. There is little that can be said in response to the assertion that ones rational account of sexual ethics is nothing more than an aggressive and dehumanizing source of oppression.

I think a response that could be worth exploring would be to ask the Queer Theorist what kind of assertion could be made to express disagreement with the lens through which the Queer Theorist views the world. In other words, I know that I can argue my case and the case of those with whom I disagree. Can the Queer Theorist articulate a perspective that is not a microaggression or trigger point but which also stands in clear disagreement with the conclusions the person holds as an adherent of Queer Theory? If so, it may be an argument worthy of analysis. If not, it may be best to retire the notion that this was ever a rational dialogue.

Liberal Democracy & The Christian Citizen

We are up to Chapter 2 of the book, Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft by Francis J. Beckwith. I thought I had missed a couple of chapters due to my travel schedule; however, it turns out we did some other readings and held discussions of various presentations in the interim.

politicsChristiansChapter 2 is titled, “Liberal Democracy and the Christian Citizen.” Beckwith wants to answer the opening question: “What does it mean to be a Christian citizen in a liberal democracy in the early twenty-first century?” He begins by explaining a liberal democracy. The liberal aspect is with reference to “the liberties or freedoms” guaranteed by government, including the freedom of speech, assembly, press, religion, and the right to own property (p. 59). The democracy part is about self-governance (representative government) and equality before the law (treating citizens similarly).

Beckwith goes into some background about the importance of a civil society, the U.S. as a constitutional republic, separation of powers, and other way in which liberal democracies can function (as in the case of our friends across the pond).

Now we get to the Christian citizen. Beckwith draws from and discusses principles he sees in Scripture: (1) Caesar’s coin, (2) doing justice, (3) knowing government, and (4) voting for/supporting non-Christian candidates.

The Caesar’s coin part is interesting, as Beckwith observes that most teaching on this is about the different spheres of authority: the church and the government. The church is to be concerned with the things of God, the things God cares about, especially those things (i.e., people) who bear the image of God. The question is not whether we should care for the poor, clothe the naked, etc., but “What is the best way to achieve success in these endeavors?” (p. 64) In his conclusion to this section, he writes: “So Christians in a liberal democracy, because they have the means to effect change, should be concerned about whether the wider culture and/or their government agencies and institutions (such as public schools) are properly shaping, or at least not corrupting, the character of its young people” (p. 67).

In the section on doing justice, Beckwith discusses how liberal democracies afford Christians an opportunity to elect leaders who will do justice on a larger scale–just as we are to do justice as individuals. There is a fascinating discussion over the range of opinions in our society and among Christians in how “doing justice” is applied to debates on gay rights, including how defending one set of rights may foster a kind of hostility toward another group (e.g., members of religious communities whose moral theology may be intruded upon by the state), citing the example of Catholic Charities not offering children for adoption in Massachusetts because they excluded same-sex couples.

The section on knowing your government reflects on the apostle Paul’s use of his own status as a Roman citizen to “ensure that the gospel could be preached freely” (p. 74). It ends with another fascinating discussion–this time of debates about stem-cell research and philosophical anthropology.

The last section has to do with supporting non-Christian candidates. Part of the discussion here is that “non-Christian candidates may have at their disposal theological resources that, although not shared by Chrstians, may help Christians and other non-Christian citizens see that the principles of liberal democracy are integral to the candidate’s worldview and undersatnding of a just society” (p. 86). The other part of the discussion was about whether Christian or non-Christian candidates view their own theology as knowledge (see The Kennedy Mistake on pages 84-86). Is the religion believed and lived by a candidate really to be made private such that worldview considerations shaped by meaningful theological commitments are held at bay? Or do they inform substantive public dialogue and related policies? Great discussion.

We are reading this book to take us outside of our discipline (psychology and counseling) and to look at how integration is done in another discipline (political science). I think Beckwith does a nice job modeling a balanced perspective in his work here. He wants to avoid the two extremes of (1) arguing for and with reference to any one political group (e.g., Republican or Democratic platforms), and (2) arguing for any kind of theocratic state. He is looking for thoughtful, Christian engagement with politics.

In the end, he wants the Christian to think about which policies best support the common good. He draws on biblical principles to facilitate that kind of reflection–considers what it means to love one’s neighbor; to help those who are on the margins; to pursue justice and condemn injustice; and to foster a “rightly-ordered social fabric” (p. 88). He believes both special and general revelation speak to these kinds of concerns–that there is natural reason for caring about these common goods that can be discussed apart from simply citing Scripture.

I don’t have the time to unpack all of the points of discussion and implications, but I will say this: It is interesting to think about current and future debates about religious liberty. There are a number of arguments being made today that threaten or appear to threaten religious liberty. As one person pointed out, it is ironic that some of the very groups behind these arguments owe their movement to the kind of social context that protected the freedom to express dissenting points of view in the first place. Will those groups likewise protect religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and the right to hold dissenting views? There is a broader need here that has to do with accommodating freedom of conscience, that recognizes that thoughtful people will disagree on matters of conscience, and that society is better when it recognizes and protects the right to do so.

Integration Discussions

Each year our faculty and staff meet regularly for a time of integration reflection, study of Scripture, and discussion. This year as part of that time we are reading together Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft by Francis Beckwith. Here is part of the book description:

politicsChristiansPolitics is concerned with citizenship and the administration of justice–how communities are formed and governed. The role of Christians in the political process is hotly contested, but as citizens, Francis Beckwith argues, Christians have a rich heritage of sophisticated thought, as well as a genuine responsibility, to contribute to the shaping of public policy.

In particular, Beckwith addresses the contention that Christians, or indeed religious citizens of any faith, should set aside their beliefs before they enter the public square. What role should religious citizens take in a liberal democracy? What is the proper separation of church and state? What place should be made for natural rights and the moral law within a secular state?

I’m intrigued by where this might take us. People who know me know that I rarely comment on political issues. I’m not saying that is the best way to respond to the topic (to not speak to it), but I have found that the political reflections I’ve heard have often concerned me. I won’t get into that today, but I’m just putting that out there. It will be interesting to read and discuss the book.

We read the introduction this week (this is the preface to the series on integration – not just to this book), and the series editors discuss seven reasons why integration matters. I highlight a few points that either resonated with me or drew my attention.

  1. The Bible’s teachings are true. I liked this: “If we claim that our Christian views are true, we need to back that up by interacting with the various ideas that come from different academic disciplines. In short, we must integrate Christianity with our major or vocation” (p. 11).
  2. Our vocation and the holistic characteristic of discipleship demand integration. Nice: “Further, as disciples of Jesus we do not merely have a job. We have a vocation as a Christian teacher” (p. 11).
  3. Biblical teaching about the role of the mind in the Christian life and the value of extrabiblical knowledge requires integration. This is important in the field of psychology: “God has revealed himself and various truths on a number of topics outside the Bible. As Christians have known throughout our history, common sense, logic and mathematics, along with the arts, humanities, science and other areas of study, contain important truths relevant to life in general and to the development of a careful, life-related Christian worldview” (p. 13).
  4. Neglect of integration results in a costly division between secular and sacred. I liked this: “…faith is now understood as a blind act of the will…. By contrast, the Bible presents faith as a power or skill to act in accordance with the nature of the kingdom of God, a trust in what we have reason to believe is true. Understood this way, we see that faith is built on reason and knowledge” (p. 15).
  5. The nature of spiritual warfare necessitates integration. Intriguing: “Spiritual warfare is largely, though not entirely, a war of ideas, and we fight bad, false ideas with better ones. That means that truth, reason, argumentation and so forth, from both Scripture and general revelation, are central weapons in the fight. Since the centers of education are the centers for dealing with ideas, they become the main location for spiritual warfare. Solid, intelligent integration, then, is part of our mandate to engage in spiritual conflict” (p. 17).
  6. Spiritual formation calls for integration. “Among other things, integration is a spiritual activity…. integration has as its spiritual aim the intellectual goal of structuring the mind so we can see things as they really are and strengthening the belief structure that ought to inform the individual and corporate life of discipleship to Jesus” (p. 18).
  7. Integration is crucial to the current worldview struggle and the contemporary crisis of knowledge. Love this question: “Do the ideas of Christianity do any serious intellectual work in my field such that those who fail to take them into consideration simply will not be able to understand adequately the realities involved in my field” (p. 20)?

On Warranting Equal Scientific Standing

A recent commentary in USA Today discusses the frustration felt by some folks in the social and behavioral sciences that their disciplines are not treated as though they were as scientifically rigorous as the hard sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry). The author points out two issues that drive the debate: money and politics. First, the money given to one study is funding taken away from another study. So there is a vested interest in limiting who is a viable candidate for limited funds.

Second, research can be political, and academics in the softer sciences are decidedly left of center:

A recent survey by economics professor Daniel Klein revealed that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a whopping 30-to-1 ratio in anthropology; 28-to-1 in sociology; nearly 10-to-1 in history; and nearly 7-to-1 in political science. In economics, which is widely considered “conservative” by other social fields, Republicans are merely outnumbered 3-to-1.

These ratios should get your attention.

A similar discussion takes place in several chapters in the book, Psychology’s War on Religion, edited by three folks, one of whom is Nicholas Cummings, past president of the American Psychological Association. I contributed the chapter on the battle over sexuality, which is on the front lines of the question of bias. I’ll come back to this in a moment. But first let’s discuss philosophy of science.

Several scholars have pointed out that research is value-laden – this is fairly well-established in the philosophy of science literature for the past fifty years or so. From the selection of the topic to the choice and operationalization of variables to the interpretation of data – make no mistake, science is value-laden. It is just clearer to see in the behavioral and social sciences. But that science if value-laden is true across the sciences. Perhaps the potential misuse of science is of greater concern in the behavioral and social sciences in light of the tendency to skew left of center which could keep researchers from holding one another accountable.  “Group think” about entire lines of research (let alone specific findings) can become a problem that translates into policy recommendations under the weight and auspices of “What science says…”

My experience has been that when other perspectives are brought up that go against the prevailing view (what is quickly defended as the “scientific consensus”), that other perspective (the counter-narrative, if you will) is ridiculed outright or simply left die a slow death by exclusion (from the broader “scientific” discourse).

There are plenty of examples to illustrate this point, and I offer several of them in the chapter I referenced above (in the book, Psychology’s War on Religion). One such area is the question: Can sexual orientation change? The answer “Yes” has become acceptable if it means through natural fluidity (among females) as reported by Lisa Diamond in her longitudinal work. If similar data (with more rigorous methodology) suggests “Yes” through involvement in Christian ministries, that line of research is dismissed outright as an outrageous consideration that does not even warrant discussion. It was interesting at the time of the original publication that the initial criticisms centered on who authored it, our institutional affiliations, and that it was published in book form (never mind that several studies have been published in book form and none of the early criticisms were scientific criticisms as such). Now that the study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal (in 2011, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy), it is now facing that counter-narrative of exclusion (i.e., let’s ignore it) I mentioned earlier.

Of course, one study does not prove that change occurs, and we have offered several possible explanations for the findings in an attempt to be fair that multiple interpretations of the data are viable. But the findings themselves open a line of research that could warrant further investigation. I recognize that the question of change is not of interest to the mainstream GLB community, and that it is actually a threatening consideration, but the mainstream GLB community are not the only stakeholders in these discussions, and others are (and have been) asking what the can expect from involvement in Christian ministries. Rather than rely upon competing anecdotal accounts, empirical study can shed light on a question of personal relevance to conventionally religious people. (Now such purported “scientific consensus” is being used to advance legislation about clinical practice. The behavioral and social science community that recognizes that such a bill overreaches beyond the science stands silent or “neutral” on the matter.)

So, to return to the question of whether the behavioral and social sciences warrant equal scientific standing: I am unlikely to shed a tear for my colleagues who lament that the behavioral and social sciences are not seen as equal to the hard sciences. As a psychologist, part of me would like to see behavioral science findings valued, and in many (if not most) cases, this would not be an issue. But I see first-hand how the field functions within political space that warrants the criticisms we have received.

When we get our house in order, we will be able to have a legitimate complaint. Until then, the devaluing of the behavioral and social sciences can function as a corrective if we are open to constructive criticism.

On Being a Christian Scholar

With the start of a new academic year, it seems fitting to reflect a little more on integration. The Emerging Scholar’s Blog recently posted a talk Nicholas Wolterstorff gave titled “Advice to Those Who Would Be Christian Scholars.” He gave the original address at the Veritas Forum in 2009. It is worth reading in its entirety, so check it out here.

On a personal note, I had the opportunity to take the last  class Wolterstorff taught at Calvin College before he accepted the Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology Chair at Yale. A funny memory: he described our class as “pesky.” Until that moment, I had not considered “pesky” a compliment; now I do. (Actually, I tried to describe a cohort in our program this way a few years ago, and they did not take it as a compliment – must be the difference between philosophy and psychology students!)

Wolterstorff has good words that can be applied to Christian scholars in the field of psychology. We certainly see many fads come and go, and we do well to avoid a bandwagon approach, as well as the additive approach (to the exclusion of other considerations). Navigating the various pulls toward these approaches is a challenge in and of itself and worthy of an extended discussion, but let’s press on.

This is what it means to be a Christian scholar, according to Wolterstorff:

To put it in a nutshell, I think the project of being a Christian scholar is the project of thinking with a Christian mind and speaking with a Christian voice within your chosen discipline and within the academy more generally.

I want to come back to the issue of “voice” in one’s discipline, but first let me note that Wolterstorff briefly reflects on the nature of the disciplines. It is interesting to think of a discipline as not having an essence but rather being a social practice that has traditions. I think this is more readily apparent in some fields, and I suspect most folks in psychology (at least applied psychology) can see it right away.

Ok, back to voice. Let me swap out “sociology” for “psychology” in his explanation:

the mode of the Christian’s participation in these on-going, ever-changing, social practices is to think with a Christian mind and to speak with a Christian voice. When engaging in, say, [psychology] with a Christian mind, one will sometimes find oneself critical of what is going on in some part of [psychology]: one will find the assumptions being made about human nature mistaken, one will find the emphasis skewed, one will find the issues discussed unimportant, and so forth. One will then find oneself launching a critique of this part of [psychology], and beyond that, trying to do it differently and better. At other times, when thinking with a Christian mind one will find what is going on in some part of one’s discipline quite OK. Being a Christian scholar requires this sort of discernment.

Wolterstorff identifies a Christian voice as a voice of charity. I agree with this and wish more Christian scholars were able and willing to demonstrate charity in how they engage with others around controversial topics.

Also, he suggests we demonstrate patience, know our discipline, cultivate a Christian mind (through an understanding of Scripture, Christian tradition, and Christian thought reflected in your field), and “nourish” our learning through corporate worship. I love that Wolterstorff would add this last consideration. So often scholarship is thought of as removed from the experience of worship, let alone corporate worship. We do well to heed his advice lest our learning “becomes dry and brittle, easily susceptible to skepticism.”

These are good words for Christian scholars heading into the start of another academic year. Let’s think with a Christian mind and speak with a Christian voice.

What is Integration?

A reader of the blog asked me the following question:

I don’t understand why we need an integration of psychology and Christianity. Can’t a Christian psychologist help non-Christians? Can’t a non-Christian psychologist help Christians? Are you talking about the necessity of a psychologist to be Christian to understand Christians? Then are you advocating that psychologist should only work with patients that match his/her religious background? What about other background characteristics, like wealth, race, gender, etc?

Here was my reply:

I agree with you that a Christian psychologist can help a nonChristian. I hope I’ve done that several times over the years. And, yes, nonChristian psychologists can help Christians. In fact, I recommend competence (in providing mental health services) over religious identification every time. But I do think that Christians in the field of psychology (beyond clinical psychology, but also including clinical/applied) ask different questions than do nonChristians. In other words, they have concerns that come out of being a part of the Christian community that might not be the same concerns that nonChristians have. So a benefit to having Christians in the field of psychology is that they might conduct research on topics that are important to that community. A good example might be research on forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of those key Christian concepts. It is central to Christianity, although nonChristians can certainly appreciate it, research it, and benefit from it in their own lives. But even if no one else was interested in forgiveness (or grace or humility or patience), the Christian psychologist might be interested in it anyway, by virtue of how central it is to Christianity, and how potentially helpful it could be in clinical practice.

Let me elaborate on the question about integration. Part of my reply was to clarify why we benefit from having Christians in psychology. I reached this conclusion over many years but was personally deeply influenced by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantiga, who had written about Christian philosophy in the following manner:

Christian philosophers … are the philosophers of the Christian community; and it is part of their task as Christian philosophers to serve the Christian community. But the Christian community has its own questions, its own concerns, its own topics for investigation, its own agenda and its own research programs. (p. 6)

What I did in my page on integration is substitute “psychologist” for “philosopher” and we have the following:

Christian [psychologists] … are the [psychologists] of the Christian community; and it is part of their task as Christian [psychologists] to serve the Christian community. But the Christian community has its own questions, its own concerns, its own topics for investigation, its own agenda and its own research programs. (p. 6)

By substituting psychologist for philosopher, I want to make the point that Christians in the field of psychology often have our own research interests that may not be shared by the broader field, just as other groups may have their own research agendas. You can think about this by nearly any other demographic characteristic: age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, and so on.

Those who are disabled, for instance, will think about research questions (and design, methods, interpretation of data, etc.) in ways that are not identical to the way those who are not disabled will think about these things. We benefit from having psychologists with disabilities insofar as they help the field think about ability/disability in ways we would not if we did not glean from their experience. I think the same is true for race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.

So… I am a Christian. What I read in the quote from Plantinga is that Christians will have their own questions to ask. Of course, most Christians in the field of psychology are interested in a lot of the same issues nonChristians are interested in. They research cognitive science, motivation, affect, parenting, and so on. But there will be other areas that might be of particular interest to the Christian but not that interesting to nonChristians. I gave the example of the construct of forgiveness. That might be of interest to both Christians and nonChristians, sure, but it is especially relevant to the Christian community as it is a central construct within the Christian religion. Other key constructs included grace, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, humility, and so on.

Of course, a psychologist can have more than one relevant demographic variable as a central part of their identity. An African-American Christian psychologist, for example, or a gay Jewish psychologist. A biblical feminist psychologist; an older adult psychologist with a disability. The multiple aspects of diversity are sometimes referred to as intersectionality, a concept that might be interesting to blog about at some point in the future.

For now, let me write more about being a Christian in psychology. Not only are their key constructs, such as forgiveness or grace to consider. But there are also key topics. For example, my primary research area has been sexual identity. I tend to study how sexual identity develops and synthesizes over time, particularly in the lives of Christians who experience same-sex attractions. In a cultural setting in which the primary script for making meaning out of same-sex sexuality is to form an identity around attractions (e.g., “I am gay”), I am interested in studying the process by which some people form a gay identity while others do not.

I don’t think many of my peers in the mainstream LGBT community of psychologists are particularly interested in studying those who do not form a gay identity. I could be wrong about that, but that is my impression so far. Most are interested in protecting and advancing the interests of the LGBT community.

I can understand that. I feel similarly when I think about the Christian community. But in the overlap between the LGBT community and the religious community, we see the potential for misunderstanding and miscommunication, particularly if you study something of interest to the religious community, such as whether a person can ever experience change in his or her sexual orientation, that might be experienced as threatening to the LGBT community. This, too, is a good topic for a future blog post. Remind me to get back to it.

In the meantime, I hope this elaboration on the question about integration provides some insight into what integration means and has meant to me as a Christian (in general), and as a Christian who conducts research on sexual identity (in particular).

Integration Capstone 2012

We begin the summer session in a couple of weeks. I teach a 5-week intensive called Integration Capstone. I am going to have the students read two books, the first of which is Coming to Peace with Psychology by Everett Worthington, Jr. This is how the publisher describes the book:

Worthington demonstrates how the tools of experimental psychology shed light on human nature and the nature of God. Because people bear the image of God, the findings of psychological science help us understand both people and God more clearly. Psychological science provides new perspectives on theology and can help us address theological controversies and hot topics. Worthington gives recent examples of illuminating psychological findings, examines the distortions of the image of God through the effects of sin and points to ways that psychology assists Christians in living more virtuously.

Here is an endorsement by David Myers:

Everett Worthington–accomplished psychological scientist, biblically rooted person of faith and professional writer–is the perfect person to assist Christians in coming to peace with today’s psychology. With his conversational voice and dry wit, he introduces us to startling findings, differing perspectives, and evidence-based insights on faith and faithful living. Highly recommended!

Here is a blurb from Warren Brown:

Everett Worthington is a significant scholar and researcher in the field of psychology who presents in this book a thoughtful and personal view of the relationship between psychology and Christian faith. In a winsome and irenic style, he argues for a relational partnership between theology and psychology that neither simplistically pits the fields in a struggle for authority, nor inappropriately intermingles their concepts and ideas. Most importantly, Worthington argues for the value of psychological research in this very important conversation about theological and psychological views of the nature of persons.

The second book we will read is Integrating Faith and Psychology: Twelve Psychologists Tell Their Stories, edited by Glen Moriarty. Here is what the publisher has to say about the book:

In this book we hear about the developmental issues, the sense of calling and the early career insights that shaped their paths. They recount the importance that significant relationships had on their understanding of Christian integration, especially noting the influence of mentors. Struggles and doubts are common human experiences, and the contributors openly share the stresses they encountered to encourage others with similar issues. On a day-to-day basis, we see how spiritual disciplines and the Christian community assist them in their work and in their understanding. Finally, each writer offers a personal note with lessons learned and hard-won wisdom gained.

This second book is helpful because it can foster the students’ sense of their training as part of a larger narrative that is being written about their work in the field. By reading about the lives and careers of other Christians in the field, they can learn about what these other folks have found to be most meaningful in their work and lives. Should lend itself to some good discussions.