The Postmodern Life Cycle: Challenges for Church and Theology

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Title: The Postmodern Life Cycle: Challenges for Church and Theology


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Schweitzer's goal in this book is to explore what postmodernity actually means for theology and how theology and the church may respond to its challenges. He focuses on the life cycle as it is changing with the advent of postmodernity, looking sequentially at segments of the life cycle using different lenses: modernity, postmodernity, and responses from church and theology. Schweitzer concludes with a theology of the life cycle.


Chapter 1. Introduction

  • ... this book is based upon my work of twenty-five years of studying and researching the human life cycle with a special emphasis on religion in various stages of the life cycle..."
  • "... the life cycle is not an anthropological given that can never change. Our contemporary situation makes us aware of how flexible the lice cycle really is or, at least how flexible it has become.

Chapter 2. Born into a Plural World

  • It was through one of the most influential psychologists and psychoanalysts of the twentieth century, who, through his work in the human life cycle, gave the idea of the positive role of childhood religion new meaning and importance. This psychologists view was, of course Erik Erikson, who described the corresponding psychological processes in terms of basic trust, of childhood identification , and of the family as the first basis of group identity. According to his account of psychosocial development during childhood, the trustworthy relationship between mother and infant is the origin of religious longing and hope. It is in the mother's face that the infant comes to know herself, and that face becomes the precursor of God's face.
  • "... when the mother does not live up to this ideal (which, in reality will be the case more often than not), the danger of early religious trauma is imminent. A "not good enough" mother becomes responsible for the child's future alienation from faith.

Chapter 3. In Search of One's Own

Chapter 4. Religious Affiliation and Distancing in Postadolescence

  • I will consider not only within the life cycle but also effects related to changes of the life cycle itself...

Effects of Cognitive Development

  • Sometimes life-cycle effects and developmental effects are taken to mean the same. For the traditional type of developmental psychology, which assumed that all developments mainly depended on age, this was certainly true. Yet, for the more recent understanding of development, we have to distinguish clearly between and and developmental achievements. While a given age may often be statistical presupposition for a certain developmental level, no such level can be predicted from age alone.

Chapter 5. Church, Individual Religion, Public Responsibility Images of Faith between Modern and Postmodern Adulthood

Chapter 6. Between Adulthood and Old Age The Question of a "Third Age"

Chapter 7. Theological Demands on Postmodern Life: Toward a Theology of the Life Cycle

Epilogue: Still a Life Cycle?

  • Does all of this lead to the conclusion that we should drop the whole idea or image of a life cycle in order to replace it with a symbol of discontinuity and pluriformity?

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