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Title: From celebration to a "culture of lament" : a practical theological study of responses to suffering through the lens of a "secular congregation"
Author: Cross, Katerina P. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 6191
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the problematic nature of theodicy (theological explanations for suffering). It questions what kind of meaning-making might occur in place of theodicy in societies which are undergoing a change in attitude to religious belief and practise. In doing so, it looks to shed light on how the Church might respond to instances of mass suffering (referred to as 'ground-zero' events) and other traumatic experiences in the current social context. Drawing on a practical theological methodology, and employing ethnographic tools of investigation, this thesis includes data collected via interviews (thirty in total) and observation with the Sunday Assembly. This burgeoning global movement is not religiously affiliated, yet it draws on the structures and practises of the Christian Church to the extent that it has been referred to as an 'atheist church' (and, laterally, a 'secular congregation.') Data gathered at communities in London and Edinburgh provides a critical basis for theological reflection on the group's responses to suffering. The key finding of this thesis concerns the Sunday Assembly's adoption of a philosophy of celebration, which, in practise, can lead to the 'passing over' of suffering on both a global and individual scale. In response, this thesis concludes with a reflection on the Church's propensity to also avoid discussion of suffering, and suggests that churches resist this by constructing a 'culture of lament' in which suffering might be acknowledged and addressed. This practise is intended to prevent Christian communities from evading traumatic events, or else reverting to potentially harmful theodicies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities ; AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theodicy ; Secularization (Theology) ; Mourning customs