In the past several decades, many countries around the world have undergone dramatic economic and social change. Globalization and rapid modernization often collide with traditional cultural values and people face the pressure and challenge by adapting complex strategies and responses. As I had opportunities to travel to Thailand, Turkey, South Korea, and China to work with missionaries and scholars, I realized my personal and professional journey had prepared me to have a better understanding of the cultural and psychological challenges and complexities faced by many people around the world. If there is one call, I hope I can do my part to convey the message that science in the Western tradition needs to recognize that culture and religion are often so entangled that they cannot be disentangled. That is, if we cannot take the religious beliefs seriously as naturalism would dictate, then we cannot begin to understand the cultural other.
Building culturally robust and intelligible theories capable of responding more effectively to complex problems faced by a rapidly changing world calls for openness in methodological diversity. Deeply rooted in a hermeneutic tradition, cultural psychology has challenged the appropriateness of seeking reductive knowledge because higher mental processes such as religious beliefs, values, and choices are bound by historical and cultural context. As greater interdisciplinary integration and methodological innovations are necessary to keep psychology of religion relevant, narrative inquiry has emerged as a promising integrative paradigm.
Pak, J. H. (2020). Integrating psychology, religion, and culture: The promise of qualitative inquiry. Brill Publishers.
Pak, J. H. (2020). Towards understanding psychology of emotion, indigenous spirituality, and Christianity in Korea. In A. Dueck (ed.), Indigenous psychologies of spirituality: In my beginning is my end (pp. 203-225). Palgrave Macmillan.
Pak, J. H. (2017). Cultural psychology of religion and qualitative inquiry. Research in Scientific Study of Religion, 28, 163-187.
Pak, J. H. (2006). Korean American women: Stories of acculturation and changing selves. New York: Routledge.