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Growing Down
Theology and Human Nature in the Virtual Age

By Jaco J. Hamman

Growing Down
Hardback, 252 pages $39.95
Published: 15th July 2017
ISBN: 9781481306461
Format: 8.5in x 5.5in

Subjects: All Theology

Growing Down explores the theological and psychological implications of humanity’s fascination with technology. Author Jaco Hamman examines how our virtual relationships with and through tablets and phones, consoles and screens, have become potentially addictive substitutes for real human relationships. At the base of the technological revolution, as Hamman shows, are abiding theological questions—questions about what it means to be and to become a person in a technological world.

Hamman argues that the appeal of today’s communications technologies, especially the need to be constantly connected and online, is deeply rooted in the most basic ways humans develop. Human relationship with technology mirrors the holding environment established between young children and their primary caregivers. The virtual world plays upon humanity’s deep yearning to reestablish that primary life-giving environment and to recall those first loving and caring relationships. By handling a phone and engaging online, humans revisit the exhilaration, fear, relief, and confidence of belonging, discovering, and gaining knowledge. Technology affords a space where the self can play, feel alive, and be real.

Growing Down draws together theology, anthropology, neuroscience, object relations theory (especially the work of D. W. Winnicott), and empirical research to identify necessary intelligences for human flourishing in an increasingly virtual world. Humans can flourish in the face of the continued onslaught of rapid technological advances—even if they must grow down to do so.


1. Self Intelligence: Toward a Theology of Being an “I Am”

2. Relational Intelligence: Toward a Theology of “Being With”

3. Transitional Intelligence: Toward a Theology of Illusion

4. Reparative Intelligence: Toward a Theology of Care

5. Playground Intelligence: Toward a Theology of Play

6. Technological Intelligence: Toward a Theology of Discovery and Devices


"In this beautifully crafted book, Jaco Hamman guides readers on a journey to become more fully who we are in an age when technology offers the tantalizing allure of becoming someone else. Hamman helps us reach into ourselves and cultivate innate intelligences, even as we reach outward to connect with others in civic and social life. Hamman provides both the theoretical framework and practical suggestions to assist readers in mindful rather than mindless use of technology. As a skilled theologian and counselor, Hamman prompts readers to engage in reflective philosophical, psychological, and theological questions in order to navigate with courageous wisdom through the thicket of life-giving and deal-dealing choices available at the flip of every technological switch."

—Michael S. Koppel, Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Pastoral Theology & Congregational Care and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Wesley Theological Seminary

"In this important, rich, and needed book, Jaco Hamman, using the wisdom of psychology, philosophy, and theology, considers what it means to be human in a technologically dependent and driven world—an era when many people use and are used by technology. Hamman argues that these new technologies can impede our ability to grow down, to deepen and broaden our lives. The timely wisdom of this book will benefit readers regardless of whether they are religious or not."

—Ryan LaMothe, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, St. Meinrad School of Theology

"Growing Down answers the question we all face, whether we know it or not: how can one form and maintain a self in an age of ubiquitous communication technologies that are reframing the meaning of human relationships? Hamman answers with a masterful summation of D.W. Winnicott’s thinking on the importance of becoming a ‘grown-down.’ For those willing to think counter-intuitively, here is a feast of insights in support of Hamman’s claim that ‘growing down anticipates moving towards one’s wounds and revisiting the truth of one’s childhood and life.’"

—Brad A. Binau, Academic Dean, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Jaco J. Hamman is Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he is also the Director of the Program in Theology and Practice. In addition, Hamman is Extraordinary Professor of Practical Theology at The University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 252 pages
 8.5in x 5.5in

  COM057000, PSY000000, REL067020
 Baylor University Press

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