A Different Touch speaks of the challenges of religious life today where the essentials of Christian living and union with God are still sought via a different touch."
Reflecting on the history of religious life since the nineteenth century, Sr. Judith Merkle, SNDdeN, asks such questions as: What makes this different touch? How do vows shape the ongoing adult development of a religious? What relevance and witness do vows have in our world today? She then examines core theological understandings which underlie vows and uses recent studies in ecology, evolutionary thought, and psychology to address questions in religious life in the broader paradigm of Church and culture. She suggests directions for the future, yet also encourages religious to articulate their way of life in society and the Church.
A Different Touch looks at the relationship of Christian lifestyle and the place of religious life in the matrix of Christian living, and then comments individually on the traditional vows of religious life to show how they shape the development of a religious. A section on "New Times" for poverty, obedience, and celibacy relates each vow to current cultural and socio-political issues.
A Different Touch will be helpful to formation programs and to religious orders with programs in theological renewal and study of vows. It can be used as a university textbook on courses in Christian life or religious life. Individuals will find it stimulating for personal reflection or ongoing formation.
Religious life is a different touch, a distinctive lifestyle in the Church. It is also a "way" on the common road of conversion undertaken by the entire people of God. A Different Touch invites readers on a journey of understanding along this way.
Part I is "Cultural Questions." Chapters are "Lifestyle Issues," "Which Way Is Ahead?" "Beyond Progress: Ecological Wisdom," and "Toward a New Vision." Part II is "Theological Foundations." Chapters are "Freeing Freedom," "Getting Direction From Heaven or the Human Heart?" and "The Reach of Salvation." Part III is "Foundations of the Vows." Chapters are "A Different Touch," "Touched by God," and "A Framework for Loving." Part IV is "History." Chapters are "Hearts for a New Age," "New Forms of Energy," and "Towards a New Synthesis." Part V is "The Vows." Chapters are "Poverty: The Transformation of Desires," "Poverty: Beyond Isolation," "New Times for Poverty," "Obedience: An Affair of the Heart," "Obedience as Affective Bonding," "Obedience: A Path of Becoming," "New Times for Obedience," "Celibacy: From Ambiguity to Integrity," "Faces of Sexual Integration," "From Cost to Consolation," and "New Times for Celibacy." Judith A. Merkle, SNDdeN, PhD, teaches religious studies at Niagara University, New York. A graduate of the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto, Canada, she is a frequent lecturer to religious congregations and writes on religious life. Among her writings is Committed by Choice: Religious Life Today, also published by The Liturgical Press.