Return to Mennonite Life home page

December 2005
vol. 60 no. 4

In this issue

In this issue we feature a dialogue on the relationship between theology and therapy. In October 2005, Gordon D. Kaufman, Mennonite theologian, was the speaker at a conference at Prairie View, a regional behavioral and mental health institution at Newton, Kansas. The conference topic was “God as Creativity in Clinical Practice and Personal Life.” Conference participants read in advance Kaufman’s book, In the beginning . . . Creativity (Augsburg Fortress 2004). A goal of the conference was to foster dialogue between theologians and therapists.

In the spirit of dialogue, this issue includes the responses of four mental health therapists to Kaufman’s theology and its implications for their work, as well as Kaufman’s rejoinder on the following day. The responses were not scholarly papers, but rather attempts to raise questions and prompt further dialogue on an exciting frontier. We present them here substantially as they were presented at the conference.

Gordon Kaufman noted that the conference format, if not unprecedented, was highly unusual. It was gratifying for a theologian to be taken seriously by a community of therapists. In the vision of Elmer Ediger, Prairie View’s founding administrator, one goal was to contribute to new understandings of the relationship of religion and psychology. Nevertheless, the October 2005 conference was the first time that a bona fide theologian has been a main speaker at a Prairie View forum or conference.

Among the most innovative and interesting books of fiction about Mennonites and Amish in recent years is Evie Yoder Miller’s historical novel Eyes at the Window (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003). This issue includes a three-part forum on that novel. Phyllis Bixler, a frequent contributor to Mennonite Life, shares her interview with author Miller. David Sprunger of Concordia College reviews the novel as a work of art. Marion Bontrager, who grew up in an Old Order Amish home in Indiana, evaluates the book for its accuracy and faithfulness to actual Amish ways of living.

Mennonite theologian Thomas J. Finger contributes to our ongoing series, “How My Mind Has Changed.” Finger’s new book Anabaptist Theology: Biblical, Historical, Constructive (2004) is the most ambitious and comprehensive recent attempt to set forth the theology of Anabaptists/Mennonites.

In addition, read book reviews by Raylene Hinz Penner, Stanley Bohn, and Brad Born.

Gordon Kaufman/Prairie View forum

Eyes at the Window forum

How My Mind Has Changed

by Thomas Finger

Book Reviews