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Title: Pastoral theology : creating new spaces
Author: Philo, Mary
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2007
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral