Disciplines in Transformation

I am in the process of preparing my significant out-of-print publications for a renewed presence in the internet marketplace. For me it is a time of harvesting and gathering-in, no longer the forest-dweller of Hindu life stages, but not quite the renunciation of the sannyasin either. The tools of our contemporary technology, no matter how vilified or abused, offer writers a chance to preserve their major work for historians, students, or the wandering bibliophiles that still roam our world. I will report on that venture as I move along in the coming months. The first document to reach the light is a slightly revised and extensively re-formatted version of my first book, published by University Press of America in 1979. The cover alone, developed by Sylvia and my graphic arts wizard daughter Aneliese, is worth the price!

Over the past forty years, Disciplines in Transformation: A Guide to Theology and the Behavioral Sciences, which I wrote with T. J. Bachmeyer, has proven to be a helpful resource for people seeking to navigate the intricate relationships between theological disciplines and the behavioral sciences. Tim was my colleague at St. Francis Seminary School of Pastoral Ministry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where we developed an ambitious curriculum in the 1970s that forms the basis for this work. Even after Disciplines went out of print, photocopies circulated in some reaches in the educational universe. It seems to me that it can still provide a unique theoretical framework for approaching these issues. Whether individuals or libraries want to have it for its wealth of retrospective material or for its analytic perspective, it is in easy reach, now listed on Amazon.

In a fairly short compass (one reviewer noted that if it were by a German academic it would have been three volumes), it lays out a typology for ordering the domains of Christianity, personality, and society. It argues that these realms are composed not only of theories but of practices and fundamental commitments, ordered in various ways. It then shows how they can  be knit together into “trilateral” packages to provide a more embracing grasp of the world known through these disciplines. In doing so, it provides a navigational and critical guide to the issues that arise in this interdisciplinary, constructive task.

We were very gratified by the extensive critical analysis of Disciplines that the Roman Catholic theologian Gregory Baum provided in his own journal, The Ecumenist. Here are some snippets from his report and from other reviews.

“…a remarkable ecumenical book on trilateral theological analysis…” “…an excellent introduction, in simple language, into trilateral interdisciplinary research and reflection, a stimulating guide to creative theological thinking, and a useful educational instrument to initiate students to trilateral analysis in the training for ministry.”

Gregory Baum, The Ecumenist. v. 19, No. 5/July-August 1981

“…the reader finds a good deal of helpful information which surely must prove broadening for a lot of social science practitioners.” “…these structures [of trilateral analysis] do stimulate imaginative reflections well worth the time of someone who works on the frontiers of science and religion.”

Paul J. Philibert, O.P., S.T.D., Social Thought, Spring 1981

“For anyone interested in the interchange between theology and the behavioral sciences, this study by Everett and Bachmeyer is essential reading.”

Leonard J. Weber, Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society, Vol. 7, No. 2. (Fall 1980)

“…[a] work of immense breadth and significance.” “…the authors…develop their position with immense care, complexity, and sophistication.” “…this book can function in a remarkably clarifying way for the organization and development of sound interdisciplinary work.” “…this book is certainly a giant step forward toward a more truly comprehensive, accurate, and critical interdisciplinary dialogue between theology and the behavioral sciences—in their practical as well as reflective dimensions.”

Pastoral Psychology

“…a very important book, carefully and systematically executed, providing a framework to make explicit the implicit and undeveloped relationship between these three disciplines.”

Stuart D. McLean, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

“In spite of its broad contents and sophisticated analysis of theology, psychology, and sociology, this book is immensely readable.”

John D. Carter, Journal of Psychology and Theology, 9/1, (Spring 1981).

Disciplines formed the foundational method by which I subsequently constructed my work in marriage and family, religion and public life, ecology, and worship and ethics. It was the first in time, aside from my dissertation on the body metaphor in ecclesiology and society, and it also underlay the rest of my academic work.

 

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2 Responses to Disciplines in Transformation

  1. May the future benefit, Bill. Thanks for including the reviews. I didn’t recall them. I especially liked the “immense benefit” comment plus Baum’s. And hearing from a former student must have been satisfying too.

  2. Ron Spitz says:

    Still have the original from SFS days…sitting next to Sawdust and the Soul. It still keeps me disciplined while reaching out to others.

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