Pastoral theology: creating new spaces

Philo, Mary (2007) Pastoral theology: creating new spaces. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The social sciences, in particular sociology and psychology, have played an important role in the development of practical theology as a discrete discipline. They have also provided the organisational tools which practical theology has relied upon to maintain credibility within academia. Those who deploy the methods of the social sciences believe that they provide us with a reliable account of reality, justified by their scientific and empirical standards. The use of such methods does, however, carry with it very specific conceptions of the nature of human action and what it is to be human. In practice, practical theology has (in some areas) been compromised by such methods. Within the discipline, there has been a reduced emphasis on the Divine and the Spirit. Many practical theologians express discomfort at the use of theological and religious terminology. Some practical theologians have sought to justify their presence in secular academia by becoming purveyors of moral science or practical wisdom, which leads to an inevitable narrowing of the remit of the discipline. Excluding the spirit leaves practical theology as just another subsidiary of sociological and cultural studies - offering similar explanations of the human condition. In this thesis, with reference to contemporary practical theologians, it is shown how the spirit is largely excluded from the discipline. Thereafter, it is argued that a new consideration of the work of theorists such as Schleiermacher and Deleuze can overcome this exclusion. Schleiermacher's conception of the historical and finite spirit and his theology of absolute dependency are used to develop an aesthetic approach to practical theology. This provides an understanding of the human condition that is not just phenomenological but includes the spirit. This approach is illustrated using examples from the works of three artists (Barbara Hepworth, Tacita Dean and Zoe Leonard) plus a reflective Midrash from feminist theologian Heather Walton. Each of these provides a unique aesthetic approach to the human condition that makes it possible to expand the realm of the pastoral and create new spaces in which individual lives can transcend their particular circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Pastoral theology, Christianity.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Walton, Dr. Heather and Eldridge, Prof. John
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-71444
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2021 09:10
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.71444

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