Whipp, Margaret Jane
Speaking of faith at work: towards a trinitarian hermeneutic.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis presents a theological exploration of the problems and potentialities of speaking about Christian faith in the context of working life. It is based on a qualitative investigation of the experience of Christians working in secular institutions. The argument is that the discursive interface between work and worship raises critical questions of identity, of power and of language which challenge the integrity of Christian discipleship. The practice of articulating faith-talk in the working context is analyzed in the light of a trinitarian hermeneutic.
The thesis addresses the practical theological question: How may a Christian speak adequately and appropriately of their faith at work? This question is explored through an integration of qualitative-representational analysis and theological-evaluative critique. An ethnographic method is developed, based on extended immersion in the field of secular work, and focused in a series of research conversations and reflective meetings. Analyzed from the perspective of a Christian woman who has struggled and continues to struggle to forge an adequate and contextual articulation of faith in workplace settings, the problematic is described through the metaphor of ‘a life in two languages’. A faithful resolution of the problem is approached through the contextual discovery of three trinitarian practices: of engagement, fluency and communion.
The thesis makes a contribution to academic knowledge in the practical theology of working life. By addressing the communicative dimension of working life, and exploring the experience of Christians in the workplace using the resources of cultural theory and discourse analysis, the thesis presents a contemporary and practical perspective on work. In a field which attracts a large volume of popular and motivational writing, the study contributes a sustained and critical reflection and offers a creative map for interpreting the challenge of Christian witness at work in the light of a trinitarian understanding of faithful practice.
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