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Review: Pastoral and Spiritual Care in a Digital Age

The advancements of technology and social media are changing what it means to be human, yet religious studies rarely tend to intersect with technological and neurological sciences. In Pastoral and Spiritual Care in a Digital Age: The Future is Now (Lexington Books, 2018), Kirk A. Bingaman ventures into how technology informs spiritual care. Himself a professor of pastoral care, Bingaman claims that humans are becoming techno sapiens. Rather than retreating from technology, Bingaman sees the unavoidable development of technology as part of God's ongoing work of "doing a new thing." Consequently, he sees positive means for artificial intelligence that can be embraced in pastoral care. For Bingaman, pastoral and spiritual care in a digital age requires preserving humanity through contemplative spiritual practices, preventing technology from overtaking human identity.

Bingaman's book is important for many reasons. First, he asserts that technological change is unavoidable and, unlike some conservative stances, is not entirely negative. Second, he wisely integrates psychological, technological, and theological research to construct a social-scientific approach to human soul care. Finally, his care strategy put forth in his final chapter, while largely an abstract framework, is targeted toward mindfulness, which is not frequently discussed in pastoral literature. The individual mentality may be concerning in an increasingly postmodern world; nonetheless, Bingaman puts forth a very promising antidote to the grip of technology. This book is very technical and not designed for those new to the field of pastoral care, but for Christian mental health practitioners, pastors, and counselors, Bingaman provides a new way of thinking about being a homo sapien in a world that is changing to techno sapiens.

(A complimentary review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.)

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