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Title: The implications of theories of gender for Christian pastoral practice and theological formulation
Author: Graham, Elaine
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1993
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The influence of feminist theology upon Christian pastoral practice and theological discourse has been growing in significance since the late 1960s. The critical impact of feminism has been to challenge many of the received traditions and conventions as sectional and androcentric; and its reconstructive impetus has exposed neglected areas of pastoral need, generated novel patterns of ministry, and articulated more inclusive models of religious language and theological metaphors. However, such practices and debates are also conducted within a social context of relations between women and men, and concern the experience of inhabiting a culture as a gendered person. Thus theological reflection on pastoral practice cannot pursue its deliberations in isolation from wider debates concerning questions of gender ontogeny, gender relations and the cultural representations of women and men. This thesis, therefore, considers the significance of theories of gender for Christian pastoral practice and theological formulation. It begins by interrogating a comprehensive selection of material from a wide range of disciplines in the human and social sciences. This reveals a model of human nature, agency and self-understanding that is necessarily self-reflexive; gender emerges not as an ontological category, but as the product of human practices by which culture and social relations are constituted. Cultural values relating to the nature of human ontology, epistemology, subjectivity, agency and teleology construct the norms by which such practices are organized. Christian pastoral practices are also embodiments of values and truth-claims. Historical and contemporary writings in pastoral theology exhibit a diversity of sources and norms by which models of pastoral practice have been directed and informed. If human experience as gendered renders the core truth-claims of purposeful human practices as contingent, contextual and provisional, then the articulation and evaluation of the normative principles of purposeful pastoral practice must rest upon forms of practical reasoning generated by the intentional community itself. The work of several social theorists is examined in order to construct critical criteria for a model of phronesis sufficient to reflect the contingency of human experience without collapsing into self-absorption or relativism. By regarding practical knowledge as positional, relational and embodied, communities may affirm the specificity and integrity of their own truth-claims, whilst recognizing the alterity at the heart of human identity. Part Three concludes by proposing a new disciplinary identity for Pastoral Theology; in the light of the preceding engagement with theories of gender, it is to be characterized as a critical phenomenology of pastoral practice. Pastoral practices sensitive to human experience as gendered will aim to build communities which resist the foreclosure of gender hierarchy and ontological difference, and see to realize a community grounded in the shared humanity of women and me. Such practices are theologically disclosive, too, in that a recognition of the 'Other' beyond the boundaries of our own particularity points to the possibilities of a transcendent, divine dimension amidst, and beyond, the immediacy and concretion of the pastoral encounter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Feminist theology