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Head Librarian & Professor
The Rev. David T. Gortner, Ph.D., the Associate Dean of Church and Community Engagement and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership, recommends the following books as part of the Bishop Payne Library’s monthly series highlighting a faculty member’s “picks”:
Warm greetings, all! It is indeed plenty warm here in Alexandria summer during the doctoral program session. Here are some books we have been using in my doctoral courses, and in our Lilly-funded Thriving in Ministry initiative.
Befriending Our Desires, by Philip Sheldrake (Wipf & Stock).
Drawing on classic mystical and monastic theologians as well as more recent and contemporary writers, Sheldrake provides a rich tour of desire as part of human life and divine life. Sheldrake (a Jesuit) has been a leading force in the emergence of Christian Spirituality as its own distinct academic discipline. His tour includes desire in God, prayer, sexuality, choice and decision, and change. I have found this enriching in my own Ignatian-oriented prayer life, and helpful in my doctoral course on theology and psychology of human development.
Discussing the Undiscussable: A Guide to Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace, by William Noonan (Jossey-Bass).
This book accompanies Anita Farber-Robertson's Learning While Leading (Alban) very well as a guide for changing interaction- and communication-culture in an organization. The shift is from a routinely defensive and mutual blame-shifting atmosphere that includes hidden and untested presumptions, to healthier patterns that assume people's capacity to engage in courageously and vulnerably honest examination of their own thinking processes, invite such honest exchange through a combination of modeling and invitation, respect and expect people's analytically thoughtful input, and open untested ideas and assumptions to allow for healthy testing and confrontation. The book comes with a DVD that show role-played examples from meetings. Together, they are a great training resource with vestries, staff, faculty (including seminaries!) and organizational leaders. These books take Chris Argyris's lifetime of work and offer some direct ways of working on subtle, challenging issues that take time to change.
The Cycle of Excellence: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Supervision and Training, edited by Tony Rousmaniere, Rodney Goodyear, Scott Miller, and Bruce Wampold.
Our staff and advisory team for the "Thriving in Ministry" initiative have been diving deep into this book. The core question of the book is, "Why does professional development tend to level out and even begin to decline after the first couple years post-licensure?" Or, "Why does impact or effectiveness level off, and why does it not improve with continuing education programs?" The answer posed is that professionals – across fields, and in their focal field of psychotherapy – stop pushing themselves to develop, begin to assume they are better than they actually are, do not receive regular and immediate feedback, and do not engage in the essential ingredient for improvement: deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is the focused effort of improvement in areas specifically identified for closer work – taking apart a broad "skill" area, focusing on some specific behaviors or thinking patterns, and working (with a mentor's and peer community's feedback) to stretch and develop more adept approaches. This is the kind of communities of continuing development that we are seeking to create with clergy in our "Thriving in Ministry" initiative. It is worthwhile reading with an eye on clergy formation and development overall!
For more Prof's Picks see the 'Useful Links' box here:
Just a reminder that Alums retain borrowing privileges with the Bishop Payne Library and can request these as well others in the catalog be sent at no cost. Alums do pay the shipping costs for the books’ return.