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Title: Priests in the making or priests already? : life stories of candidates for ordination in the Church of England
Author: Williams, Anthea Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 4365
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2010
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At a time when the Church of England was encouraging a greater variety of forms of professional ministry, but still retained selection criteria reflecting earlier organizational norms, my diocesan work with ordination candidates became a journey of exploration worth taking whatever the outcome. In this context, I collected rich life-story narratives using the Biographic-Narrative Interpretive Method, twenty-one of which later became the raw material for this study. As I began my research, I noticed in Michel Foucault's 1981-2 lectures at the College de France, published as The Hermeneutics of the Subject, significant correspondences between his concern with the relationship between the subject and truth, and the narratives of those with whom I had worked in the ministerial vocational context. I asked the central research question: Do these narratives of religious subjects show signs of a concern for the relationship between the subject and truth - of the subject progressively aligning itself with the truth that it thinks? I argued that, in spite of Foucault's assertion in his lectures that Western theology is fundamentally inimical to the survival of that 'spirituality' he sees as the progressive alignment of the self with truth, his extension of the term 'spiritual exercises' used by Pierre Hadot opens the way for a new theological appreciation of philosophy as a way of life. I found, by posing to the narrative material six questions designed to test the presence of 'spirituality' in the lives of ordination candidates, that the idea of the progressive alignment of the self with truth seemed to be alive and well in vocational theological discourse. This conclusion was reinforced at the institutional level by my discourse analysis of a vocational publication, Ministry in the Church of England. Having conducted semi-structured interviews with my subjects, which confirmed my findings further, I then discovered, in a detailed narrative analysis of all the interview material provided by four selected subjects, evidence for the self-constituting capability of narrative as a 'spiritual practice of the self'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available