On the Shelves...

...features book recommendations from a variety of Princeton Seminary faculty and staff, with the hope that these suggestions will help alumni/ae choose books that will contribute to their personal and professional growth:

From Ellen T. Charry, the Margaret W. Harmon Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Psychology As Religion, by Paul C. Vitz. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994 (second edition). Ever since Philip Rieff wrote The Triumph of the Therapeutic in 1965, lone voices have been calling for an assessment of the role of secular psychology in the life of the church. In 1977, Paul Vitz, a professor of psychology at New York University, published the first edition of his text Psychology As Religion. The revised edition takes account of shifts in the culture since that time; thus, the book is, if anything, now more to the point than when it originally appeared. Vitz's central point is that the major psychological theorists of the '40s through the '60s ( Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Rollo May‹among others) turned psychology into an ideology of the goodness and autonomy of self that he calls "selfism," which advocates feeling good about yourself and manipulating the environment to satisfy hedonistic desires. Further, he maintains that this "selfism" has led society astray. Citing existentialism, values clarification, the self-esteem movement, and parent-bashing, Vitz calls for a Christian critique of some "treasured" assumptions.

Children of a Greater God, by T. W. Glaspey. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1995. Here is a book for Christian parents who hope that their children will survive the cacophony of the dominant culture. Some readers may be put off by the evangelical tone of the work, but there is more to it than Christian indoctrination. Glaspey talks about helping children become sensitive to the world outside of themselves and develop skills necessary for a mature, even refined, adulthood. Don't scour the "high-brow" bookstores searching for this one, though; I picked it up at the supermarket check-out counter (which is where it belongs). Still, this is a thoughtful little book that many could benefit from reading.

From Robert C. Dykstra, assistant professor of pastoral theology

The Child's Song: The Religious Abuse of Children, by Donald Capps. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995. This book poses disturbing questions concerning ways that Christian religious doctrine and education have served to justify the physical and psychological abuse of children. Donald Capps, the William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Seminary, draws on diverse sources to argue his haunting theses in this compellingly redemptive plea on behalf of children. Among these are the writings of psychotherapist Alice Miller, an ardent critic of culturally sanctioned but child-damaging parenting practices; Augustine's Confessions, in which the mature bishop labors theologically to justify his boyhood beatings and shaming; the biblical narrative of Abraham and Isaac and the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews, in which religious sacrifice comes to legitimize corporeal punishment; and even musings on the childhood of Jesus, whose theological perception of God as loving Father may have emerged from shame and confusion concerning the circumstances of his birth and the identity of his human father.

Driven by Hope: Men and Meaning, by James E. Dittes. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1996. In this profound and lyrical contribution to the burgeoning literature on men's spirituality, James Dittes of Yale Divinity School finds men from Adam to the present inherently yearning for what more God has in store. Men's seeming drivenness exposes instead their commitment, their controlling reflects rather their solicitous caring, while their withholding demonstrates a profoundly justified spiritual caution about affording undue allegiance to unworthy objects. A stunning penultimate chapter on sonship reflects the depths of seasoned wisdom of a distinguished pastoral theologian.

Copyright 1998 Princeton Theological Seminary
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