Rev. Dr. Herbert Anderson

Pastoral Care and Practical Theology in the Lutheran Tradition

Books I’ve (co)written or (co)edited

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The Divine Art of Dying - How to Live Well While Dying (co-authored with Karen Speerstra)

Winner of the 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in the category Body, Mind & Spirit of Adult Nonfiction

 The Divine Art of Dying explores the unique moment when seriously ill people choose to turn toward death. Combining personal stories with solid research on palliative and hospice care, it provides a well-integrated look at the spiritual dimensions of living fully when death is near. Filled with insights from the world's great wisdom traditions along with references from literature, movies, and current culture, it helps identify the life decisions the dying one and his or her loved ones must make, and what their caregivers can expect.  Available from

Jacob's Shadow: Christian Perspectives on Masculinity

Jacob’s Shadow: Christian Perspectives on Masculinity.  Louisville: Bridge Resources,  2002.    Buy from (with reviews) or available for free download (29MB) (or use the tab at the top right of the page).

Sample review:  "Herbert Anderson's honesty and well-honed ability to tell stories makes Jacob's Shadow a book both men and women need to read. It will help women better understand their own partners, fathers and sons, and it surely will benefit male readers who are open to wrestling, as did Jacob, with their own weaknesses and their own wisdom to learn how to better handle disappointments, acknowledge their vulnerability, deal with aggression and violence, express feelings and learn to keep on promising. Readers will also learn how to pay attention, how to nurture, how to make and keep friends, how to grieve and how to share power. ...Buy it as a gift for those you love. Those you truly love."

Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals

Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving the Human and the Divine with Edward Foley, SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998.    Buy from    Description from Jossey-Bass

Sample review:  "If taken seriously, this book could mark a significant means for giving life and direction to an otherwise gray field. The book is not only rich in its use of a wide range of scholarly research, but also in its depth and maturity of thought. . . . This is a significant and groundbreaking work with enormous possible implications for the revitalization of our field. It deserves from us deep reflection, storytelling, and new ritual." (Religious Education)

The Family and Pastoral Care

Originally published in 1984 and available as a free PDF download:  The Family and Pastoral Care (50MB).

From the Series Editor's "Foreward" (by Don Browning):

"What Professor Anderson gives us here is not a theology of the family but a theology/or the family—a broadly based theology that is relevant to life as a whole but especially pertinent to the particular needs of family life in the modern context. Working principally from the doctrine of creation, he celebrates the qualities of change, interdependence, and diversity of life as a whole and of the family in particular. And within this theological context he sets forth an engaging and highly useful theory of the five stages of the family life cycle.

At the more practical level, Professor Anderson works primarily out of a systems approach to family care, counseling, and intervention. Strong and healthy families are those with flexible roles, consistent and fair rules or maxims, and integrating rituals. Helpers need to concentrate on the entire family system, not just on individual members, recognizing circular as well as linear causality. They need to identify with the family while clearly remaining outside the system, be a genuine presence, have skills in redefining the problems that face the family, and understand ways of altering destructive alliances within the family.

Here is an unusual book that moves easily from theological interpretation to the details of practical intervention. It will go far to shape both our theological understanding of the family and our actual practice of supporting and strengthening this crucial social institution."

All Our Losses, All Our Griefs,  (with Kenneth R. Mitchell).  Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.  

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Dutch translation:  Omgaan met verlies en rouw (1985)

Faith's Wisdom for Daily Living (co-authored with Bonnie Miller-McLemore)

From the jacket cover:

"This book is profoundly wise. With honesty and care, with deep human sympathy with genuine theological responsibility and with a gracious humility the authors enable us to think again about the ideas of sin and sacrifice, while avoiding their pitfalls, and lead us to practices of paradox and wonder that connect with ordinary daily life right now. For the formation of your own life and thought your own soul – read this book."

 – Gordon W. Lathrop (Professor Emeritus, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia)

"Writing with insight, appreciation, and honesty two seasoned pastoral theologians lead readers into the theology at the heart of everyday Christian living, showing how complex doctrinal concepts come alive right in the midst of messy real-life situations—and how experience in these situations can also help the church to understand central Christian doctrines."

– Dorothy C. Bass (Director of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith, Valparaiso University)

Leaving Home (Family Living in Pastoral Perspective) 

Leaving Home  (Family Living in Pastoral Perspective) with Kenneth R. Mitchell Louisville: Westminster/John Knox  Press, 1993.
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Sample review:  "I own Anderson's entire Family Living in Pastoral Perspective series (Leaving Home, Becoming Married, Regarding Children, Promising Again, and Living Alone), and I refer to them frequently.  Each book focuses on a different transitional event and the family tasks that event brings into focus. Anderson and his co-authors deal sensitively with the pastoral issues involved....All of the books are well-written and...have added texture from the many personal examples shared by the authors (both their own and examples others have shared with them).  Every book in the series deserves an honored place on any religious professional's shelf. Except, you may find them so valuable they rarely make it back to your shelf."

Becoming Married

Becoming Married  (Family Living in Pastoral Perspective) with Robert Cotton Fite.         Louisville: Westminster/John  Knox Press, 1993. (Trans into Korean)
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Sample review:
"Herbert Anderson has some great approaches to pastoral ministry to those who intend on marrying! I am engaged and have learned so much about what it means to become married. I have given a copy to my pastor, and also to my mother! It is a book all should read. Anderson has some great pastoral excercises for pre-marriage work all pastors should read. It is a quick, easy to understand read!"

  • Regarding Children: A new Respect for Children and Families

    In this important and timely book, Herbert Anderson and Susan Johnson examine issues pertinent to the successful rearing of children. Written to empower parents and others who care for and nurture our children, this book will also greatly enhance the ministry of the church on behalf of and for the sake of families with children and for our society at large. 

    "Regarding Children begins with an examination of society's indifference toward childhood and the proposal of a new theology of childhood. The authors then examine the changes children evoke in families, the ways families can effectively care for children, and the problems families can have. Finally, they examine the roles that society and churches can play in helping or hindering the care of children." (Amazon review)

    Booklist review:  "This imaginative, well-documented essay addresses how to raise children, how to identify what they need, what families must provide for their children's sake, and the kinds of support church and society should provide. Anderson and Johnson wish to transform how adults regard children, exchanging attitudes fostered by a current "culture of indifference" and contempt for those of a culture that recognizes children as fully human beings possessing potential that has yet to be realized. Accordingly, they propose a theology of childhood that sees children's integrity as beginning at birth and does not regard children as incomplete, depraved, or as property. Further, they regard the Christian injunctions for family living--hospitality, compassion, justice, and recognition--as providing a vision for community life in our times. Their thoughtful exploration of themes crucial to the future of children in an increasingly violent and preoccupied world ought to be fundamental reading for those concerned with ethics, social policy, families, or even the daily minutiae of child rearing."


    Promising Again, by Herbert Anderson, David Hogue, and Marie McCarthy

    Promising Again  with David Hogue and Marie McCarthy, S.P., Louisville:    
            Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995 
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    Living Alone (co-authored with Freda GardnER)

     Living Alone with Freda Gardner. Louisville: Westminster/John  Knox Press, 1997
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    The Family Handbook

    The Family Handbook edited with Don S. Browning, Ian Evison,and Mary Stuart van Leeuwen, eds.,  Louisville: Westminster/John Knox  Press, 1998. 
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    Mutuality Matters: Family, Faith, and Just Love

    Edited by  Herbert Anderson, Edward Foley, Bonnie Miller-McLemore, and Robert Schreiter 

    The contributions to this volume reflect seven recurring and inter- weaving themes in Anderson’s work: 

    • The family is a human system that has a life of its own that must be understood in terms of ever expanding contexts of mutual influence. The family has a history that is best understood as a life cycle with predictable transitions and unpredictable crises.

    • Paradox is not only a central theological concept; it is an unavoidable family dynamic that necessitates holding in tension multiple sides and contradictorytruths.
      Enactment is a term that points to the actualization of internal states in human interaction between thought and action, feeling and be- havior, myth and ritual.

    • Justice, especially in gender and spousal relations, challenges us to rethink traditional patterns of family.
      Empathy is a vital necessity for all forms of human community and particularly in the family. It is a virtue in short supply in modem so- cieties and one that needs to be more consciously employed in a plu- ralistic world.

    • Being separate together is the paradoxical connectionbetween auton- omy and community that is at the core of every vital human system.

Copyright © 2019, Herbert Anderson. All rights reserved.