Reading Dr. Jay-Paul Hinds' curriculum vitae opens a window onto the eclectic nature of his mind. With research and teaching interests ranging from black manhood and the black church to Hegelianism to pastoral care, even a certificate in psychoanalysis from the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute seems part of a vast, if not unorthodox, plan.
Yet returning to Princeton Theological Seminary as a faculty member surprises him. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Hinds says. “It is a great honor. It’s absolutely a life-changing experience. The faculty are really committed to their students and to being the best in their fields.”
Most recently, Hinds served as an assistant professor of pastoral care, practical theology, and psychology of religion at Howard University School of Divinity. He earned a PhD from Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion and a Bachelor of Arts in religion at Felician University, a Catholic institution in Lodi, New Jersey. He also served as an adjunct professor of pastoral theology at Princeton Seminary.
This fall, Hinds will teach Care of Self and Care of Congregation, a general introduction to pastoral theology, and The Minister and Spiritual Diagnosis. “There’s a debate among theologians, which has been going on for decades, as to how the theories and the methods of psychotherapy should be used within a congregational setting, or if they even should be,” Hinds says. “Then again, some say that with the problems we’re facing now, psychotherapists have better answers than theology, while there are psychotherapists who say that ministers have something unique to offer that they should be teaching psychotherapists.”
Next spring, Hinds will teach Intercultural Pastoral Care, which will explore non-Western forms of spiritual care, including communal forms, and Transformation of Shame and Transformation of Self.
“Given our current social climate and how much shame is pervasive throughout our culture, especially through social media, it is something that needs to be discussed in a congregational context,” Hinds says.
“All of these courses are interdisciplinary and intercultural, especially the class on shame. From my perspective, I have to discuss the African American and non-Western histories of shame and race.”
He points to African American authors such as James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, who felt that the black church was a place of shaming. “They really rejected the church, sometimes outright, because they felt that they could not let their authentic selves attend the church,” says Hinds, who was ordained in the Pentecostal Church.
Hinds grew up in East Orange, New Jersey, an hour north of Princeton, but as a high school student during the waning years of the crack cocaine era he says he couldn’t have been further from attending college. “My father worked, my mother worked, and they shielded us from a lot of things that were going on in homes around us,” Hinds says, “but I let the environment influence me too much.”
Still, even with less than stellar grades, Hinds found himself at a Felician College (now Felician University) open house. Graduating with honors four years later, he was shocked when one of his professors recommended that he apply to Princeton Theological Seminary. At each stage of his education, he says there were countless challenges that nearly forced him to stop.
“I should have quit,” Hinds says. “I don’t know what it was, but I just decided I’m going to fight it through and keep going.”