Bibliotherapy: Poetry Therapy or Therapeutic Story-telling

The Family Relations journal is available online by remote access, and on campus access, to E.M. White Library patrons. In the most recent issue, Vol. 70, Issue 2, of the journal there’s an article on Bibliotherapy, which may be of interest to students and faculty studying grief and loss. Here are two quotes from it. To read the article, just use the DOI link in the citation (remote access login will open first).

Bibliotherapy (also referred to as poetry therapy or therapeutic storytelling) is a creative arts therapy modality (see http://www.nccata.org) that involves storytelling, the reading of specific texts or writing with the purpose of healing. This brief report discusses the use of stories drawn from literary resources (poetry, memoir, fiction, drama, song lyrics, vignettes from film clips, and related sources) as powerful prompts for reflection and validation (see McCullis, 2012). These stories also are presented as catalysts for discernment of options useful when on the cusp or moving through thresholds that include losses.

Bowman, T. (2021). Lessons From the Field. Family Grief Care and Bibliotherapy: A Call for Models and Studies. Family Relations 70 (2): p. 402-407. https://doi-org.lpts.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/fare.12539

For this Lesson From the Field report, I write as a family and grief educator to advocate for greater attention to bibliotherapy by family scientists, therapists, and educators. Bibliotherapy (also referred to as poetry therapy or therapeutic storytelling) is the use of literary resources, storytelling, or writing with the purpose of healing.

Bowman, T. (2021). Lessons From the Field. Family Grief Care and Bibliotherapy: A Call for Models and Studies. Family Relations 70 (2): p. 402-407. https://doi-org.lpts.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/fare.12539

I The mourning dove in the photo is one of a pair in our Garden of Grace. The doves return every Spring to lay eggs and hatch babies in our garden. Once upon a time, when I was grieving, I even wrote a parable about the garden and its critters. You can read The Economy of Grace on One Church, Many Voices. My very own bibliotherapy!

New Print Books — May 10 2021

Open Access Titles Added to Atla in April

On April 27, 2001, Atla announced the addition of three new full-text, open-access journals:

  • Al-Fikr al-islāmī al-muʿāṣir [Contemporary Islamic Thought] by International Institute of Islamic Thought
    As stated by the IIIT, the aim of this publication is to: “(1) Facilitate methodological reform in Muslim thought by introducing and developing the concept and practice of ijtihad (creative intellectual reasoning on the basis of Islam’s principle sources) as a decision-making tool for the betterment of life in general; (2) Promote awareness, research, and education in Muslim societies; and (3) Formulate critical academic methodologies, tools, and policies which respond to the ongoing breakthroughs in human knowledge as a whole and which support and drive the revision and investment of Islamic knowledge.”
  • Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
    This primary publication of the DBTS seeks to address an array of theological, exegetical, and missional concerns facing the 21st-century church and its leaders. Offerings are intended to be of interest to prospective students, seminarians, pastors, missionaries and scholars.
  • International Journal of Cultic Studies by International Cultic Studies Association
    This publication seeks to advance the understanding of cultic phenomena in their relationship to individuals, families, and society, notably in their psychological, social, legal, educational, religious, and cultural dimensions.

To see a complete list of all of the new additions to the Atla suite of research finding aids, visit the Atla blog post for April 27, 2021.

New Books

Henson, Maria Rosa, Toshiyuki Tanaka, and Cynthia H Enloe. Comfort Woman: A Filipina’s Story of Prostitution and Slavery under the Japanese Military. Second ed. Asian Voices. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Maria Rosa Henson was forced into slavery and prostitution as a “comfort woman” during Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Rosa recalls her upbringing as an illegitimate child, working for the Huk guerrillas, wartime, and a marriage that left her a single mother. Through Rosa’s riveting accounts and reflections, we are led on a journey of violent experiences and triumphs that she endured throughout her life. This autobiography is a staple in bring forth the violence experienced by women. Summary provided by MAR student Megan Reed. https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/961183366

Shelf location: D 810 .C698 H47 2017

Cimperman, Maria, and Roger Schroeder, eds. Engaging Our Diversity: Interculturality and Consecrated Life Today. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2020.

Renowned practitioners, theologians, and psychologists engage in the conversation of intercultural living and ministry today. They dive deep into spiritual concepts, explain related terms, and provide practical tools to help us understand and accept our cultural diversity. The insights presented in this book will be essential to those wanting to strengthen intercultural relationships and advocate for inclusivity as they minister to individuals, communities, and the church. Summary provided by MAR student Megan Reed. https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1114555098

Shelf location: BX 2435 .E45 2020

Langtree, Karen, and Natalia Moore. Heaven’s Big Secret: The Easter Story. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2020.

Two of the smallest angels, Alfie and Alia, are determined to find out what the big angels in heaven are whispering about. As they journey to Earth in curiosity, they meet many furry friends ad discover the story of Easter. This exciting tale allows for children to engage with the story of Easter through relatable characters and bold, colorful pictures. Summary provided by MAR student Megan Reed. https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1140154321

Shelf location: BT 481 .L364 2020

Alexander, Cecil Frances, and Jean Claude. All Things Bright and Beautiful. SPCK, 2020.

Based on the classic hymn “All things bright and beautiful,” we get to experience and celebrate creation through this eye-catching colorful book. As ‘bright’ and ‘beautiful’ as the illustrations are in this exceptional children’s book, all readers will come to understand the essence of the creation that surrounds us. Summary provided by MAR student Megan Reed. https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1130638949

Shelf location: BT 695.5 A44 2020

Sloan, Michelle, and Summer Macon. Extraordinary Women of the Bible. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2020.

Let’s learn about the incredible women in the Bible! Deborah, Ester, Prisca, and Rahab are a few important women with great contributions in the Bible. In this meticulous and diverse children’s book, we journey with these extraordinary women through their struggles and triumphs and how their stories intertwine within the Bible. Summary provided by MAR student Megan Reed. https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1140165481

Shelf location: BS 575 .S538 2020

New EBooks – March 2021

In March, the following ebooks requested by faculty have been added to the library. If you are off campus, login with remote access credentials.

Bal, Mieke. Narratology : Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Fourth edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1003284695

Cochrane, Steve. Asia’s Forgotten Christian Story : Story of the Church of the East Monastic Mission in Ninth-Century Asia. Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2019. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1134148565

Fodor, Jim, and Mike Higton. The Routledge Companion to the Practice of Christian Theology. London: Routledge, 2015. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/904799130

Klawans, Jonathan, and Lawrence M. Wills. The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1201532520

St. Clair, Raquel A. Call and Consequences: A Womanist Reading of Mark. 1517 Media, 2008. JSTOR, Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1241558763

Law, David R. Historical-Critical Method : A Guide for the Perplexed. Guides for the Perplexed. London: Continuum International Publishing, 2012. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/793996912

Tobin Anthony Siebers. Disability Theory. Corporealities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008. Permalink: https://lpts.on.worldcat.org/oclc/608299067

ATLA’s Focus on Asia

ATLA (the American Theological Library Association) lists diversification as one of its key goals for inclusion of titles in its Religion Database: “Expanding in geographic coverage, content areas, and languages are three prongs of this strategic work.” At present ATLA includes more than 220 titles “relevant to Asian content.” As of February, these include the following full-text publications:

  • Journal of Sufi Studies
  • Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture
  • Journal of Religion in Japan

To see the full list of titles added and for more on ATLA’s efforts to diversify its research offerings, see the Focus on Asia: Atla Continuing Content Expansion blog post.

As chance would have it, ATLA posted its Focus on Asia blog post on February 22, 2021. Reflecting on this post in light of the recent shootings in Atlanta and the way that this event exposed a deep rooted racial bias against Asian people in the United States, it seems almost prescient. It also feels bitter-sweet to read this now as any reference to Asia brings a pang to my stomach and rush of sadness. I take some comfort in knowing that anti-Asian sentiments are not shared by all and that there are organizations and people working to alleviate the scourge of racism.

Open Access Additions to ATLA – March

ATLA — the American Theological Library Association — just announced additions to the Atla Religion Database including two new full text journals:

  • The Biblical Annals from the Institute of Biblical Studies, Faculty of Theology, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland.
    + Overarching aim is to present the research of Polish scholars focusing on problems and methodologies current in contemporary biblical studies, with articles published in Polish, English, Italian, French, and German.
  • Journal of Religion & Society from Creighton University Center for the Study
    + Covers the social, rather than theological aspects of religion, with a particular focus on Western religious traditions in a Western and American geographical context.

These, and the additional titles that are now indexed in Atla Religion database, are open access meaning that some, if not all articles published by these titles, are available to anyone with access to the internet. [See SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Coalition) for an authoritative and thorough definition of Open Access] On the one hand, this is an easy add for ATLA, as the content is free. On the other hand, this is a win for Open Access publications that can languish due to a lack of exposure to those not immediately involved. In addition to more eyes on content, being indexed in ATLA lends credibility for open access journals that face a slowly diminishing but lingering sense that they are less scholarly or have lower standards.

For a complete run down of all of the new additions for March, please see the Atla Additions Blog post.

Trauma, Teaching, and Learning

The one year anniversary of the global pandemic is upon us. We’ve survived COVID19, but few of us, no matter how well we’ve pivoted, adapted or accomplished and productive we may have been, can claim to be thriving. The constant ambiguity has become exhausting.

The AAR’s Spotlight on Teaching this month is thus most timely with its focus on trauma. Written by theologian educators Trauma-informed Pedagogies in the Religious Studies Classroom has 11 articles and a Compiled List of Resources that provide “a basic definition and description of trauma, introduce the features of a trauma-informed approach, and present the core values guiding a trauma-informed pedagogy.” The discussions are candid about what is happening in classrooms and communities and for what we must become prepared. Trauma is also a spiritually disruptive experience. Trauma-informed approach to education needs the whole institution to be a community of support, and faculty must collaborate with other staff on campus (e.g. student services, housing, etc.). The articles present practical strategies and invite theological, pastoral care, and counseling educators to help students understand their own context and trauma, build intercultural awareness, make the classroom a liberative space, and create honest experiences. Educators must have the emotional intelligence and honesty to rise above the prevailing ‘western’ mode to treat ourselves and students as humans. We model good self care and embrace learning as ‘do no harm’ and ‘health’ in many different forms.

Simply put, psychological trauma is the result of an experience that is too much to handle.

Darryl Stephens, What is Trauma-informed Pedagogy. Spotlight on Teaching, Religion Studies News. March 2021.

Trauma is not the event or experience but the after effect – the wound that remains.


In classroom teaching, what is most evident are the effects of trauma. Tendency to miss a lot of classes•Challenges with emotional regulation•Fear of taking risks•Anxiety about deadlines, exams, group work, or public speaking •Anger, helplessness, or dissociation when stressed •Withdrawal and isolation •Involvement in unhealthy relationships

A trauma-informed approach requires not only knowledge of trauma but also commitment and action. “The foundation for effective trauma-informed classroom practice is the educator’s grasp of how trauma impacts students’ behavior, development, relationships, and survival strategies.”35 However, subject matter knowledge is not the essence of trauma-informed pedagogy.

Darryl Stephens, What is Trauma-informed Pedagogy. Spotlight on Teaching, Religion Studies News. March 2021.

“Trauma from exposure to gender-based violence is ubiquitous in our society and among our students. Any course on gender and/or sexuality, even if not related to Islam and Muslims, will have to contend with the presence of such trauma in our classrooms.”

Juliane Hammer, Gender-Based Violence and Muslim Communities: Trauma Processing through Art. Spotlight on Teaching, Religion Studies News, March 2021.

The educational experience must be about authenticity in process, in practice, and in performance. We must tell the truth about the academic world we have made homes within, about what information lands where and transforms people for the better. We must be honest about whether our work matters in any way outside of fortifying the delusion tiers of “intelligence” out-of-touch Western voices have created. We must be honest. Hierarchy is not that creative.

Oluwatomisin Oredein. We have to tell the truth: A liberative approach to trauma-informed pedagogy. Spotlight on Teaching, Religion Studies News, March 2021.

Download the entire issue or read Editor Jessica Tinkerberg’s Introduction summary.

About the American Academy of Religion

The American Academy of Religion is “the largest scholarly society dedicated to the academic study of religion, with more than 8,000 members around the world.” The AAR “mission is to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.” Learn more about AAR here.

Religious Studies News is the web magazine of the American Academy of Religion and is designed as a platform for students and professionals in the field to report on research trends, issues in religious studies and higher education, and apply the academic study of religion to broader public conversations. RSN also examines critical issues in education and pedagogy (especially through Spotlight on Teaching and Spotlight on Theological Education), as well as topics especially relevant to minority scholars in academia. In addition to serving as a resource for people studying in an academic environment, RSN is also intended to be a public face of the scholarly study of religion. It is published throughout the calendar year with new content about every two weeks. Learn more about RSN here.

Spotlight on Teaching is a major teaching and learning initiative of the AAR and its Committee on Teaching and Learning. Over the last several years, it has become a principal venue for exploring opportunities and challenges in teaching and learning about religions. Each issue focuses on a particular theme, concern, or setting.