Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Tradition-Based Integration: A Roman Catholic Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Tradition-Based Integration: A Roman Catholic Perspective

Article excerpt

Tradition-based integration refers to the intentional and explicit articulation of the ways in which particular theological traditions and commitments inform and influence the professional life of psychologists. This paper presents a Roman Catholic perspective of the ways in which theology and psychology may have reciprocal and mutual influence on professional and vocational life. Part I includes an overview of key theologians past and present, central doctrines, and unique features of the Roman Catholic tradition. Part II includes an application of a Roman Catholic perspective to teaching/mentoring, research/writing, clinical practice, and service. Tradition-based integration is as unique as each individual person because of the particularity of experience, context, and other variables that influence the unique way theology may be learned, experienced, and applied to professional life and vocation in all its forms. Tradition-based integration is an idea and endeavor that will enlarge the conversation about relating psychology and theology to include the full breadth and depth of Christian theology and experience.

I am working on this article at a writers' retreat hosted each year by my university for faculty who need some dedicated time in an inspiring setting to focus on creating or completing a scholarly product. The inspiring setting is Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California, a Spanish-style compound named in honor of Blessed Junípero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan Friar who founded 9 of the 21 missions that stretch along El Camino Real from San Diego to San Francisco.

This afternoon we were encouraged in our efforts through a brief talk entitled "Road to Guadalupe: Scholarship as expectant participation in Christ's kingdom." (Kevin S. Reimer, personal communication, July 8, 2014). The first part of the title refers to the narrative of a woman who made a pilgrimage to Guadalupe with members of two L'Arche communities. Her story is one of intermingled suffering and blessing. The author of the talk, Dr. Kevin Reimer, Director of Research and Grants at APU, used the narrative to illustrate a principle that the unexpected twists and turns of our pilgrimage through life reveal more deeply and clearly the ways in which God is imminently and actively involved in the affairs of everyday life. Kevin was inspired to this recognition in part during a seminary course on Ephesians taught by Eugene Peterson, who challenged his students to shift their focus from relying on human agency to accomplish ministry (or other life) goals, to prayerfully perceiving, aligning with, and participating in, what God is already doing in and through circumstances and situations in their individual and community life. Participation is less about agency and more about receptivity.

Kevin applied this paradigm shift to our approach to scholarship, inviting us to release the familiar pressure of academic life to be creative and productive (in a more ex nihilo fashion), to receive the much lighter yoke of being attentive to the already active and moving Spirit of God, and to become an expectant participant in the unfolding of the Kingdom of God in and through us as we interact with our respective disciplines in the world. I received this timely and inspiring word with gratitude and could not have crafted a more meaningful beginning to a reflection on integration.

Adapting Kevin's inspiring charge to this endeavor, I humbly submit that for myself as a Catholic, integration is about expectant participation in the unfolding Kingdom of God. It is about prayerfully and attentively perceiving what God is already doing in the world, joining in with these redemptive movements, and finding a voice to speak about them as best I can understand from within my particular context.

In this special issue, Brad and Ron have invited us to reflect on integration from the perspective of our particular theological tradition. Through this special issue they seek to deepen and enlarge the conversation about integration. …

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