Science in Christian Perspective



JASA Book Reviews for March 1978

Table of Contents
VALUES AND MORAL DEVELOPMENT, edited by Thomas C. Hennessy. New York; Paulist Press, 1976, 234 pp., $7.95.
SIMPLY SANE: STOP FIXING YOURSELF AND START REALLY LIVING by Gerald G. May, New York: Paulist Press, 1977, 130 pp., $7.95.
PASTORAL COUNSELLING: REFLECTIONS AND CONCERNS, by Samuel M. Natale, New York, Paulist Press, 1977, 117 pp., paper, $3.95
DIALOGUE WITH DEATH by Abraham Schmitt, Word Books, Waco, Texas (1976), 132 pp. $5.95.
CREATION VS. EVOLUTION HANDBOOK, by Thomas F. Heinze, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2nd ed., 1976, 114 pp., $1.25.
ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH by Norman Anderson, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois (1977), Paperback, 130 pp. $2.95.

VALUES AND MORAL DEVELOPMENT, edited by Thomas C. Hennessy. New York; Paulist Press, 1976, 234 pp., $7.95.

This little paperback is a compilation of revised lectures given at the Institute in Moral and Ethical Issues in Education at Fordham University's School of Education during the spring of 1975. Even though the contents are available elsewhere in the behavioral science literature, all but one of the selections were written especially for this book. It has a bibliography (which is not quite inclusive of all authors' citations) but no index. Hennessy has written an introduction to cognitive-developmental theory (Piaget and Kohlberg) but it is so sketchy that the lay reader is not apt to grasp the concepts (e.g., Piaget is summarized in one paragraph) and it is redundant for the informed. However, his preview of the chapters are interesting and accurate, preparing one for what to expect and even building up a few surprises.

Hennessy's purpose is to alert educators to their need for a better understanding of moral development theories and to emphasize the necessity of competent, long-term research before moral education is "tried out" on one's own students. In this sense the book succeeds quite well, mainly because of the format: a paper is presented by a leader in the field, followed by comments of a reactor or two. Issues an author may raise, and even some that he should have but did not, are fortunately drawn and elaborated by the reactors. Herein lies the strength and contribution of the book.

Part One, philosophical bases necessary to understanding moral development, contains only one paper (Clive Beck: "A Philosophical View of Values and Value Education") and three reactions to it. This one paper alone just does not prepare the reader for what follows (Piagetian and Kohlbergian work, for the most part). And nowhere in the book (except by reactors such as Robert Hogan and Wayne Bohannon) is a noncognitive moral development paradigm presented. That is an editor's prerogative and may reflect the nature of most of the research in this field, but it does not air potentially fruitful alternatives in an area so decidedly cognitive.

Part Two (moral development applied to educational and curricular practice) offers interesting, challenging papers by Norman Sprinthall ("A Curriculum for Secondary Schools") and Edmund V. Sullivan ("Values and Issues in Counseling and School Psychology"). Sullivan's paper is particularly critical of school psychologists as unwitting agents of social conformity instead of psychological and educational "advocacy" in service of the student. But he warns that such a psychologist is apt to be at odds with the administration in most school systems.

Part Three is composed of four research papers in moral development and related areas: Harry Kavanagh reports his Ph.D. dissertation (writing about moral dilemmas was more effective than peer-led or counselor-led discussion groups). James Rest describes his empirical "Defining Issues Test" and orientation to moral development as it diverges from Kohlberg's. The reaction by Robert Hogan and Wayne Bohannon captures some of the best critique about cognitive-developmental theory. They are amazed that Rest can still remain in the cognitive-developmental camp because his model, procedures, and findings do not fit that mold.

In another paper Robert Selman describes the educational implications of social perspective-taking as it relates to moral awareness in young children. He characterizes perspective-taking (founded on anecdotal data) but leaves reactor Robert Havinghurst the task of relating social perspectives to moral develoment. Havinghurst also takes the liberty to discuss his own contribution, thereby minimizing critique of Selman's work.

The last article, James Fowler's "Stages in Faith," does not really fit in either moral or value development and appears to be one of those "related areas" mentioned above. From 118 interviews of persons of many ages Fowler develops an elaborate six-stage theory of faith development and describes and integrates five variables that help "precipitate" these stages. It is all seductively appealing and a fine example of how to develop a theory far beyond what the data merit. His astute, critical reactor, Alfred McBride, acknowledges his daring but devastates Fowler on a number of grounds. He summarizes the theory as

an (in) adequate product of developmental psychology a well-informed hunch, articulated into a broad series of unproven assumptions, a veritable library of a priori's that have not been deeply tested in any usual sense of that word. (p. 214).

Why is this issue raised?

I (McBride) feel the need to register this complaint loudly at least for the sake of some of my fellow religious educators who may unwittingly buy this study as a verified developmental package, when in fact it is not. (p. 214)

That sentence could apply, in perhaps a more moderate form, to all educational programs designed to enhance moral development. What is not at all clear, and some reactors raise this issue, is whether the development of moral or value judgments or faith is fostered by these programs and not something else (like the ability to clarify and classify one's own thinking on complex moral issues and communicate more effectively about them).
One last issue that should be discussed concerns reservations about cognitive-developmental theory. That issue can be stated in a number of ways: the adequacy of stages, the gap between scores on a moral development interview or test versus real-world behavior, just to cite a few. On the former issue, Martin Hoffman's extensive review of the moral development literature a few years ago found little conclusive evidence supporting stage conceptions.

One is impressed in this field, and the text reflects it, by the fragmentation of human development into stages of all sorts-intellectual development, moral development, social perspective-taking, faith development -each with its own progression, hierarchy, universality, and of course, qualifications about age variability and so on. Fowler's article is replete with these, and one is hard pressed to understand why he just did not interpret his findings from a social learning or some other continuity position. It would be so much simpler, so much more parsimonious. Might not the proliferation of stage theories fragment human development and destroy human uniqueness as much as the more behavioral positions seem to do?

About the relationship between moral judgment and actual behavior, very little is known. Evidence can be found in either direction. Hogan and Bohannon succinctly capture this problem as it applies to Kohlbergian theory. ". . . will people with Stage Five or Six scores act differently in real-world, moral-choice situations than people with 'lower' scores? On this question the jury is still out, and after 17 years of research." (p. 121)

Does Hennessy achieve his purpose with this book? I think so if it is read by people interested in education with "something more" than the usual academic fare. But it is well to remember that "the jury is still out" on most of the issues. The interested reader can find more on this topic in DcPalma and Foley's Moral Dcvelopment and Graham's Moral Learning and Development. Thomas Lickona's Moral Development and Behavior: Theory, Research and Social Issues is still the best source in this area because of the quality of the papers, the extensive research reviewed, and the scope of its coverage.

Reviewed by David Kapusinski, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Bluffton College, Bitt//ton, Ohio.

SIMPLY SANE: STOP FIXING YOURSELF AND START REALLY LIVING by Gerald G. May, New York: Paulist Press, 1977, 130 pp., $7.95.

Dr. Gerald May, younger brother of Rollo May, feels we work too hard in life. To relax and accept ourselves; to simply be-this is the secret of effective living. "True growth is a process which one allows to happen rather than causes to happen" (pp. 70-71). May has evolved from a Freudian psychoanalyst into an eclectic, then to "sort of an existentialist" and, more recently, a transpersonalist. Still finding himself in transition, he muses: "One sometimes wonders how many identities will have to die" (p. 68).

His ideas reflect an ambivalence towards both psychotherapy and religion. He sees both as interfering, many times, with our quest for wholeness. However, he acknowledges that both are necessary because we wage a continuing battle for control and self-assertion, a battle we cannot win by ourselves. Without particularly depending upon either psychotherapy or religion, we must learn how to deal with feelings like loss of control, disappointment, mediocrity, vulnerability and aloneness. A distinctive tendency is wanting to "fix" an imperfection as soon as we discover it. (Psychotherapists and religionists are inveterate fixers, he observes.) Instead, we should "be aware of the way things are, the good and the bad, and allow that awareness to move through us toward healing" (p. 123).
In a chapter entitled, "Gentle Meddling", May advises and exhorts us. Much, though not all, sounds humanistic: Be yourself, completely. Don't worry about who you are. "Let it all exist, as awful and wonderful as it may seem . . . . Search . . . for anything that is tight and allow it to loosen" (p. 106). Relax; trust the organism; be open; enjoy the simple things; take things less seriously; accept life, for things are there whether we accept them or not (p. 109).
Giving over the controls of our lives requires a submission, in effect, a verbalizing of Jesus' words: "Thy will be done". We work in vain, he insists, to achieve self-control or mastery over ourselves. The matter boils down to being able to lose ourselves, to give up. After surrendering, full appreciation of our being is necessary. Unfortunately, we have been taught to repress or distort our self-expression as much as our sexuality and aggression.May shares a number of worthwhile suggestions as to how we can more creatively actualize life, love, acceptance, work, suffering and responsibility. In essence, we must rest in the midst of these, creatively and unselfishly. Our sanity depends upon our ability to accept anxiety and chaos from a "hiding place" from which we can view our problems without alarm.May's style is informal, rather repetitious and even somewhat rambling at limes. The fragmented sentences may prove distracting at first. Once accustomed to these peculiarities, however, we should be able to respond to his openness and genuine concern for our well-being, and be receptive to the many worthwhile concepts included in the book.

Reviewed by Harold W. Darling, Department of Psychology, Spring Arbor College, Spring Arbor, Michigan.

PASTORAL COUNSELLING: REFLECTIONS AND CONCERNS, by Samuel M. Natale, New York, Paulist Press, 1977, 117 pp., paper, $3.95

Who is the pastoral counselor? What is pastoral in pastoral counseling? How does he/she integrate the secular and spiritual? What is the similarity or difference between secular and pastoral counselor? These are the critical issues posed by Natale, a clinical psychologist and Jesuit-in-training.

The issues are germane. According to a 1972 survey, 62.9% of pastoral counselors seldom or never resorted to theological or ethical sources, while 66% of their eases had no distinctly religious dimensions. A large number of pastoral counselors have been thoroughly secularized. As one former pastor, now private therapist, said to me: "I keep the religious label for income tax purposes!"

A counter movement of "religiosity" counseling has emerged, which propounds a straight out style of counseling by ministers based on "biblical principles." This movement eschews integration, is often hostile to secular psychological concepts, and is to my mind a regressive anti-intellectualism.

On the other hand, the liberal movement toward integration is no less satisfactory, for it is intellectual syncretism. Thus the author approvingly quotes T. C. Oden in concluding that there is no secular psychotherapy, "when we understand that all being and effort exist in covenant and thus in definite relationship with God." Thus pastoral counseling can be apparently noncommittal, for Natale concludes it is effective, "without ever mentioning Christianity at all."

Natale takes on the critical issues only briefly early in the book, seeming to ignore the theological and psychological scholarship that has been done, for his brief references are quite unrepresentative.

The remainder of the book is a valiant effort to describe practical guidelines for parish counseling. But Natale keeps getting caught trying to apply secular clinical modes of private practice psychotherapy to pastoral parish ministry. Natale confuses the role of the clinical therapist with that of the counseling pastor.

The book is an honest struggle with the central problem of the pastoral counselling movement which has tended to convert the pastor into a clinician. Natale tries to return the pastor to his parish, but doesn't quite get there.

Reviewed by E. Mansell Pattison, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California.

DIALOGUE WITH DEATH by Abraham Schmitt, Word Books, Waco, Texas (1976), 132 pp.' $5.95.

He makes you see beauty everywhere. I have never experienced anyone so close to death who came back so alive." These are some of the thoughts expressed by a young mother about her brotherin-law who had recently had a long confrontation with the imminent possibility of his own death. They reflect a dimension of impending death that is either overlooked or ignored today, a dimension of human growth and challenge, a dimension of hope and of promise.

Widely known as a teacher and lecturer on the subject of death and grief, Dr. Schmitt offers a look at death that is both supportive and realistic. He goes beyond the "stages of death;" he bypasses the abstract and focuses on people who have confronted death directly. For several years Dr. Schmitt taught a course on death and dying at the University of Pennsylvania. Included in the program were guest speakers who were often terminal patients with only a few weeks or months to live. Dr. Schmitt shared his experiences as a counselor and the students kept journals in which they recorded their own thoughts and reactions. Out of this series came Dialogue With Death, a unique hook that shares personal thoughts and misgivings and challenges us to take a new look at the terminal event in our physical life.

In the hospital where I work, death is an everyday occurrence, but is mentioned only briefly, often in a somewhat embarrassed tone of voice; we are supposed to heal, to maintain life, and death somehow represents a failure. Dialogue With Death opens a door to an altogether different look at death, one in which death can be a strengthening, a confirmation of life, an experience that intensifies living.

Individuals who are quoted in the book range from young college students with no immediate experience of death to persons with terminal illnesses who are willing to share their thoughts and uncertainties with others. To be challenged for the first time to think deeply about your own death is a sobering experience; many of the journal entries detail the inner wrestling and soulsearching that goes on when a person realizes that death will someday happen to him. Conversely, we see clearly the peace and assurance felt by those close to death who have accepted the reality of the situation and can actually strengthen those who will remain behind after the death occurs.

Central to any consideration of death from the Christian point of view is the question "What comes after death?" Schmitt did not try to secularize his course to make it more "scientific", but gave careful consideration in both his presentations and in the sharing of guest speakers of the Christian outlook and of the hope that can sustain us. In a warm, personal way the sharing of faith and the strength gained from that faith is communicated by many participants who realize their days on earth are short and who look forward to life forever with their Lord.
Dialogue With Death is not a technical book, nor is it a theoretical book; it is an experience, one that can open new dimensions for each of us and enrich our lives.

Reviewed by Donald F. Catbreath, Director of Clinical Chemistry, Durham County General Hospital, Durham, North Carolina 27704.
CREATION VS. EVOLUTION HANDBOOK, by Thomas F. Heinze, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2nd ed., 1976, 114 pp., $1.25.

The title of this book is a good guide to the contents. It attempts to provide a defence of Creation against Evolution. It is directed towards young people and others with little or no scientific knowledge. Since the book is written at an elementary level and lacks technical details, it would be quite useful to high school students, but rather redundant for those already familiar with the issues. Heinze has attempted to show the weaknesses of evolutionary theory and provide evidence for creation. The overall argument of the book is as follows: a) there are only two possibilities for man's origin, atheistic evolution or creation (by which the author means fiat creation), b) there are many weaknesses in the theory of evolution and much data which it does not adequately explain, therefore, c) creation is the only reasonable alternative.

The argument is fallacious, since one can conceive of any number of hypotheses regarding man's origin, i.e. we have no assurance that there are two and only two possible means of man's origin. Theistic evolution (God's creating of the world and man through a gradual evolutionary process) is an obvious alternative that Heinze does not seriously consider. Unfortunately, Heinze has fallen into the same trap as many other commentators on this subject in assuming that if one throws doubt on evolution, one is thereby validating creation. No amount of evidence against evolution proves creation. If evolution is disproved, it simply leaves creation, as Heinze understands it, as one of many possible theories of origins.

However, if one looks only at Heinze's critique of evolution, which takes up about 90% of the book, his presentation could be quite helpful to many readers. He presents the evidence and outlines the arguments which are inconsistent with, or cast doubt on evolutionary theory. His critique is brief, precise, and easily understood, and should be of considerable value to the student who has received a one-sided account of evolution.
This book needs to be read with caution. As a non-technical critique of evolution, it is good; however, as a defence of creation, it is inadequate.

Reviewed by Steven R. Scodding, Deportment of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH by Norman Anderson, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois (1977), Paperback, 130 pp. $2.95.

The author of this survey of issues involved in the sanctity of human life, genetic engineering, artificial insemination, birth control, sterilization, abortion, prolongation of life, transplant surgery, euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment, violence, revolution and war, is none other than Sir J. Norman D. Anderson, recently retired as Professor of Oriental Laws and Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London, who is previously the author of such IVP books as Christianity: The Witness of History, Christianity and Comparative Religion, and Morality, Law and Grace.

The subject matter of this book is, as the author freely admits, somewhat beyond the area of his technical expertise, although his experience with the law makes him particularly sensitive to certain issues that a scientist might not be aware of. It is based on five lectures given as the London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity in 1975. Sir Norman's approach might be caricatured as "extremely moderate." Although this might be taken to be a pejorative assessment, its positive aspects far outweigh the negative aspects that might be associated with the absence of new ground or creative approach. Indeed, the good sense that Sir Norman exhibits can be used as a guide to all those who might be tempted to take extreme positions on any of these issues.

Sir Norman does not avoid problem areas. He even adds an addendum to the discussion of the sanctity of human life on the condition of the dead between death and the day of resurrection. In typical fashion he sets forth four different views frequently held by respected Christians, and then quietly indicates his own non-dogmatic inclination to the fourth of these, namely that our death takes us from space-time into eternity in such a way that to speak of 'time" between death and resurrection may be meaningless.

The book would serve excellently as a text to be used in conjunction with a discussion course or seminar on these topics for non-specialists.

Reviewed by Richard H. Babe, Department of Materials Science
and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.