I have written books on loss and bereavement, anxiety, and the psychological, social, and spiritual lives of boys and men. I have edited  books of collected essays on fatherhood, the spiritual life, and the transition from seminary to one’s first years in ministry.

My most recent book is Converging Horizons: Essays in Religion, Psychology, and Caregiving (Cascade Books, 2015)

Click on a book cover below for more information and reviews!


Converging Horizons

Cascade Books, 2015


This collection of essays considers topics in pastoral theology, pastoral care and counseling, pastoral leadership, and social work, and attends to challenges and opportunities pertaining to the support and care of persons in need. Of interest to ministers, chaplains, pastoral counselors, and social workers, these essays focus particularly on human experiences, needs, or concerns that relate to matters of mental health and religious faith or spirituality. Converging Horizons demonstrates approaches to integrative work that draws on multiple fields of theory and practice in service to the goal of providing a range of caregivers with ways to both conceptualize and engage their important work.

“Cole, dually trained as a pastoral theologian and a social worker, has recently accepted an academic post in a school of social work after having serves as academic dean of a theological seminary. He is, therefore, uniquely qualified to offer insights on the converging horizons of religion, psychology, and caregiving. This book is a gift to all those interested in the work of caring for persons and groups.”

NATHAN CARLIN, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX

“Converging Horizons offers a compelling witness not only to the vast range of subject matter of interest to pastoral theologians but to the generous expanse of Allan Cole’s mind in addressing it. In this collection of essays he accomplishes the impossible, at once offering a sweeping overview of a field of study that defies simple definition while attending with unparalleled sensitivity to the plights of ordinary individuals weary from loss and grief. This book will find its place not only in survey courses in pastoral care and social work but in doctoral seminars on the history and methods of pastoral theology.”

ROBERT DYKSTRA, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ

Fathers in Faith: Reflections on Parenthood and a Christian Life

Edited by Allan Hugh Cole Jr.


Drawing on their experiences as fathers, eleven men share what they have learned about parenting, living a Christian life, and the relationship between the two. As fathers to children ranging in age from the very young to adults, contributors reflect on some of their joys and successes as fathers but also on their questions, concerns, mistakes, sorrows, and hopes – for themselves and for their children. They invite all parents to reflect on and learn from their own parenting experiences. This kind of reflection fosters wisdom, perspective, and, in solidarity with other parents, gratitude, confidence, and hope in the parenting life.

Advance Praise:

"Fatherhood is a distinctive vocation for Christians. Those of us who are called to the ministry of fatherhood need all the help we can get to fulfill our parental responsibilities. In this great collection of essays, a team of some of our best Christian communicators gives us fine insights into fatherhood in the faith. All of us who (are) Christians and fathers will be strengthened and encouraged by this book."

Bishop William Willimon, Duke University Divinity School

"The eleven men assembled here have written courageously, poignantly, even tenderly about the struggles, challenges, and unanticipated joys of fatherhood…. All are inspired by the conviction that they have conferred upon their sons and daughters the paternal blessing that their fathers, in their own ways, have conferred upon them …. Readers of these reflections will find their desire to emulate the authors irresistible and will be inspired to speak and write about their own efforts and struggles to be faithful fathers."

Donald Capps, Princeton Theological Seminary

"One of the earliest forms of theology in the church is a younger monk asking an elder, ‘Abba, may I have a word?’ These abbas, fathers, all offer wise words from across the theological spectrum on a topic far more often ignored or misused than wisely commented upon. Abbas, thank you for your words."

Jason Byassee, Boone United Methodist Church

"In vivid first-person narrative, Fathers in Faith provides a wealth of insight. Seasoned fathers honestly confess their foibles and generously share their wisdom. It’s just the kind of support parents need today to ease anxiety, spark ideas, and send us back to our own families with less guilt and a whole lot more compassion."

Bonnie Miller-McLemore, Vanderbilt Divinity School

The Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys

co-authored with Donald Capps and Robert C. Dykstra; Westminster John Knox Press, 2012 (in press)

Advance Praise:

While The Faith and Friendships of Teenage Boys is written by authors who teach in Protestant seminaries, I see the book as written for both a Christian and broader audience.  It draws from scripture very well, but also includes powerful information from psychology and other human sciences.  I learned a lot from this book.

Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and co-author of Following Jesus: A Heroic Quest for Boys

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, David and Jonathan, and Damon and Pythias are all paradigmatic of the deep bond of friendship between adolescent males. Dykstra, Cole, and Capps explore the role of companionship along the adolescent male's journey toward faith, addressing the value of both same-age friendships and of mentoring by more mature males.

Philip Culbertson, The University of Auckland, Australia; author of The New Adam: The Future of Male Spirituality

The authors of this book argue that for male adolescents, religion has much to do with one’s friends. Yet Christianity often joins society in fearing male intimacy and condoning antipathy toward women. With personal wisdom and pastoral insight, the authors challenge such distortions and provide guidance for those in ministry and all who yearn to understand the boys in their lives or even the boy within themselves.

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University; author of Let the Children Come: Reimaging Childhood from a Christian Perspective

A Spiritual Life: Perspectives from Poets, Prophets, and Preachers

Westminster John Knox Press, 2011

“Don’t look for a traditional approach to faith or a unified voice in this diverse collection. You can, however, count on graceful prose and an honest, reflective search–and that, I found, was enough to make my own pilgrimage seem more authentic and less lonely.”

Philip Yancey, author of What Good Is God? and Prayer: Does It Make a Difference?

“In A Spiritual Life, Allan Hugh Cole, Jr. has assembled an impressive group of twenty-four “poets, prophets, and preachers” to write about that elusive thing called their spiritual life. What emerges is not a tight and tidy definition of the spiritual life but a glorious topographic collage of the ways in which people infuse their lives with God. These two dozen compelling writers expand not only our notion of the depth and breadth of the spiritual life, but maybe even our understanding of God.”

Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God

“Too often Americans think of “spirituality” and “the spiritual life” in ways disconnected from the quotidian challenges of our daily lives. This rich collection offers a powerful and poignant counterwitness, displaying the complexities of engaging God in the midst of the ordinary. You will be stimulated, comforted, and challenged by these wonderfully gifted writers.

L. Gregory Jones, Duke University, author of Embodying Forgiveness

“A spiritual banquet, prepared by some of America’s finest writers and thinkers. If you’re looking for a fresh wind to blow through your life of faith, look no further than this gem of a book.”

Philip Gulley, author of If Grace Is True and the Harmony novels

“These meaty essays, generously spiced with personal stories, provide valuable food for thought about ministry, preaching and everyday life in Christ. What a rich feast! Savor this book.”

Lynne M. Baab, author of Sabbath Keeping and Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World

“One of the great gifts of my work is that I often get to ask the question of friends and folks I’ve only just met, “What is God up to in your life?” There are few things I’d rather do than listen to an honest response to that question. Here is a book full of responses by folks who write both honestly and well. Like so many of the folks I’ve listened to face-to-face, these authors give me hope that the Spirit is stirring to bring new life, even in the most unexpected of places.”

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of New Monasticism and The Wisdom of Stability

The Life of Prayer: Mind, Body, and Soul

Westminster John Knox Press, 2009


The Life of Prayer is a wonderful guide to prayer both for beginners and for Christians hoping to deepen their prayer lives.  Straightforward chapters explain what prayer is and describe its spiritual and physical effects.  The author also demonstrates different kinds of prayer, helps the reader find ways to pray in various situations, and provides sample prayers.  He also suggests practical ways of approaching scriptural prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms, contemplative prayers such as open prayer and centering prayer, prayer within the traditions of the church, and prayer using the language of worship.  Questions to encourage reflection are presented at the end of each chapter.

“The most complete tutorial on the basics of Christian prayer I have ever seen.”

Phyllis Tickle, author of Prayer is a Place and The Divine Hours

“This practical, discerning book on prayer challenges and reassures, and offers prayer as a habit that permits a very different way of life.”

Walter Brueggemann, author of Great Prayers of the Old Testament

"In this engaging book, Alan Cole leads the reader into thinking about prayer in a way that is both substantial and accessible.  The book not only helps the reader to understand prayer, but, even more importantly, to pray with deeper understanding."

Michael Lindvall, Senior Pastor, Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City

Losers, Loners, and Rebels: The Spiritual Struggles of Boys

co-authored with Robert C. Dykstra and Donald Capps; Westminster John Knox Press, 2007

"An important examination of the spirituality of boys...Many men will find the book's insights and frank honesty enlightening."

Publisher's Weekly

Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls

Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008

"A beautifully constructed, interdisciplinary work…Pastors, seminarians, and pastoral theologians will find that it provides an invaluable perspective for understanding anxiety and those for whom anxiety is a distressing reality of life."

Donald Capps, Princeton Theological Seminary

"To see this subject addressed so openly, with both frankness and gentleness, is rare indeed. A must-read for all those engaged in pastoral care and a should-read for parishioners as well."

Harold G. Koenig, M.D., Duke University Medical Center

"Fear not, Allan Cole insists, in the face of a plight that plagues all of us to varying degrees. He locates relief in age-old faith practices that realign our thinking and feeling with the promises of faith. His book will empower pastors in their ministry with the dispirited and will inspire readers in general to see the value of dialogue between modern psychology and Christianity."

Bonnie Miller-McLemore, Vanderbilt Divinity School

"An informed, astute explanation of a human malady that, framed by the cross of Christ, can be a divine gift. Any pastor must care for disquieted souls and those who suffer because of anxiety. Allan Hugh Cole deepens our understanding of this phenomenon using both psychology and theology, but mostly theology. Anxiety is more than a psychological condition to be healed; it is also a typical component of discipleship. This is an eloquent, very helpful book."

William H. Willimon, Bishop of the United Methodist Church, North Alabama Conference

"Gripping. In a deeply personal way, Allan Cole shows how parish pastors may take care of anxious persons-‘disquieted souls’- in our confusing and hectic world. A creative synthesis of theological and psychological thinking on anxiety, the book is written fluently in a clear and vivid style, using beautiful, evocative imagery and true-to-life illustrative narratives…More than just a book on anxiety, Be Not Anxious is an excellent introduction to pastoral care giving in an insecure time."

Hetty Zock, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

From Midterms to Ministry: Practical Theologians on Pastoral Beginnings 

(Editor) Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008

"It would be hard to imagine a finer assembly of authors to comment on the fragile and vital transition from seminary to congregation...This volume deserves a place on the bookshelf of all new leaders in ministry. It is a gem."

David Lose, Luther Seminary

"A fine reader for the newly ordained pastor...Any new pastor reading this book will be surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses."

David A. Davis, Senior Pastor, Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, NJ

"There is something here for everyone concerned about pastoral ministry in America today."

Fred R. Anderson, Senior Pastor, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY

Good Mourning: Getting through Your Grief

Westminster John Knox Press, 2008

“In GOOD MOURNING, Allan Hugh Cole wisely and gently guides the person who has suffered loss, first through grief, and then through  mourning.  There are no evasions of hard reality, there is no  sanctimonious rhetoric; the book is true throughout.  It will prove a gift to many.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff
Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology
Yale University

“For those who would not even have thought that there is a good way to mourn, Allan Cole’s book will be a pleasant surprise.  For those who have thought that there is a good way to mourn, but haven’t known how, Allan Cole’s book will be an educational treat.  Many books on grief promise to provide straight talk about grief and specific strategies for coping with loss. If God could declare to Jeremiah, “I will turn their mourning into joy,” Good Mourning is tailor-made for those who have the desire to do what they themselves can do so that God can make good on this astounding promise.  Good for Allan Cole, and good for Westminster John Knox Press for providing this destined-to-be a classic for those who are struggling with loss and the consequences of losing.”

Donald Capps
William Harte Felmeth Professor of Pastoral Theology
Princeton Theological Seminary

"This wonderfully concise and thoughtful book offers an array of down-to-earth steps to guide the hard labor of grieving. Especially appealing are concrete suggestions on prayer, scripture reading, and worship as essential to healing. These and other insights will help those with hearts heavy from loss tap into the well-spring of God's love known through community and tradition."

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore
Carpenter Professor of Pastoral Theology
Vanderbilt University Divinity School

“This wise and compassionate book offers sound, practical help for the often difficult journey through loss.  Dr. Cole helps us understand what experiences of loss involve, how they affect us, and what we need in their wake.  He also shows concretely how we may draw on the best practices of bereavement counseling, and of religious faith and spirituality, to encourage “good mourning.”  Providing a fresh look at a timeless and universal human experience, this is a must read for those who have suffered a significant loss and for anyone who seeks to support them.”

Harold G. Koenig, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Associate Professor of Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, North Carolina

“Military chaplains and all ministers who serve congregations affected by war will want this book. This one volume is essential as both a gift to the bereaved and also for Bible study groups.  Allan Cole provides a masterful perspective on how to mourn and how to interpret suffering.  His spiritual practices for those who mourn is a must read for all pastoral care providers.”

Lieutenant Colonel David Scheider, Episcopal Priest, AAPC Diplomate  

“Good Mourning is a must read for anyone who has experienced a  significant loss. This book is a valuable resource for every social  worker and pastoral counselor to use with the bereaved.  In this easy  to read book, Dr. Allan Cole provides a sound conceptual framework  for understanding grief and mourning and the blue prints for how to  cope with common emotional and behavioral reactions experienced  during loss. Good Mourning is filled with practical strategies and  experiential exercises that guide readers on how to rebuild their  lives during the mourning process.

This book is most impressive. It combines the best resources from  both behavioral sciences and theology to help people cope with grief  and loss and to transform their lives during times of significant loss.”

Cynthia Franklin, PhD, LCSW, LMFT
Stiernberg/Spencer Family Professor in Mental Health
The University of Texas at Austin
School of Social Work

"Both sane and spiritual, this book is a God-send for those who are experiencing grief--and for all those who love or work with them."

Greg Garrett
Professor of English, Baylor University

All materials © 2018 Allan Hugh Cole, Jr. Web site by Websy Daisy.