Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Verbum et Ecclesia]]> vol. 35 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>My father's tobacco-jar, Church Square Pretoria and Freedom Park: An autoethnographical exploration</b>]]> Julian Müller, in his advocacy of a narrative theology, has called for an autobiographical theology. In addition to Julian Müller's plea, the author turned to what may be seen as the liturgical and ritual variant of this method, namely autoethnography. Thus he would honour Julian Müller and his tireless commitment to Practical Theology. Autobiographical and autoethnographical theology do not start from well-ordered and systematically arranged knowledge, but from a life as it has developed and as it is developing in its connections with others. Difference is therefore a keyword in the method. Others and other worlds evoke the consciousness of differences, incite reflections on the cracks, fractures and fissures that show themselves to the self and provoke negotiations with the otherness of the other. Never in his existence as a theologian had the author experienced this process more intensely than in his contacts with colleagues and religious practices in South Africa. It was described in the article how the author became acquainted with South Africa and, more particularly, with its liturgical rituals and visual arts since 2001. The different experiences of successive visits to Church Square in Pretoria functioned as a point of reference in the article. It was shown how the self re-negotiated its position in the world through the confrontation with a totally 'other' - in this case, South African liturgical rituals and visual arts. This re-negotiation focused on the Western academic position of the self when confronted with African epistemologies and ontologies. <![CDATA[<b>Demythologising social cohesion: Towards a practical theological vision</b>]]> This article considers the topical issue of social cohesion. It seeks to demythologise the issue bringing it into critical conversation with eight related categories. It proposes that a vision of a socially cohesive society should employ all eight categories as parallel and complementary strategies. Secondly, it proposes a practical theological vision of social cohesion that will not only embrace these eight categories but will root itself in a spirituality of the table, informed by a vision of the oikos of God, seeking shalom in the oikos and doing so through four strategic moments of engagement. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article indicates that social cohesion requires an integrated approach of different strategies, not competing but complementing each other. Social cohesion requires interdisciplinary, intradisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and action. For example, exploring ways in which land redistribution inhibits or contributes to social cohesion requires multiple stakeholders and disciplines discerning together. The proposed practical theological vision implies new categories to be included in curricula and practical theological discourse for it to contribute meaningfully not only to the current debate but also to practices fostering a socially cohesive society. <![CDATA[<b>Panentheism: A functional and inductive endeavour in the dialogue between science and religion</b>]]> Panentheism is an approach that gains more and more popularity in both systematic and practical theology, as well as in philosophy. But what lies at the heart of panentheism? Could panentheism be the key to a valid contemporary understanding of God and creation? This article aims at illuminating the richness of panentheism whilst at the same time exploring whether this construct could enhance the interdisciplinary dialogue. The author of this article departs from the premise that it is the task of systematic theology to understand reality in a collective enterprise, together with other disciplines and even other sciences. A constructive empiricism could, when combined with the notion of social constructionism, lead to an understanding of reality where reality is more than mere idealistically conceived. Truth is therefore to be replaced with a pragmatic but value-laden concept of understanding. Therefore panentheism and both epistemology and ontology have to be reconsidered. It is the opinion of the author that panentheism can enrich both the dialogue between disciplines as well as the interaction between practical and systematic theology. However, panentheism then has to be even more radical and steer clear of the traditional meaning of space and time. <![CDATA[<b>Enhancing ecological consciousness through liturgical acts of doxology and lament</b>]]> The last few decades have been a time of growing interest and concern about our environment. The extinction of plant and animal species, the pollution of our water supply and the depletion of critical resources have generated a new consciousness about our biosphere. The liturgy of the church must seriously engage with the ecological perspective, and the entire life, worship and praxis of the church should include an ecological dimension and vision. Two very powerful elements in enhancing worshippers' ecological consciousness are praise or doxology and the important counterpart of doxology, namely song and prayer of lament as well as confession of guilt. This means that believers celebrate the inalienable beauty and dignity of all living kind and bear witness to God's manifold creation. Believers are also to bear witness to creation's groaning as the ground suffers from deforestation, mountain-top removal, toxic dumping and rising temperatures. Comfort and new possibilities for rectifying the ecological crisis may develop from grief and lament. The liturgical witness will be that God's newness will break the cycles of self-destruction and make new life possible. <![CDATA[<b>God rules: The role of spirituality in the construction of meaning in the context of military peacekeeping</b>]]> The author analysed the interview with a soldier who worked for 12 years as a nurse with the Dutch Military. The Netherlands contributed to the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan between March 2006 and August 2010. The interview took place after his mission which lasted for 5 months. The qualitative analysis found its roots in the hermeneutics of Paul Ricceur and the social constructionism as presented by Kenneth Gergen. As a practical theological research the focus was on the role of spirituality in the life story of the nurse. The analysis brought the entrenchment of life and faith to light. Faith has been an important source of support for this nurse. He is of the opinion that God is the ultimate governor and that he rules everything. Although his faith came sometimes under pressure because of the increasing number of shocking experiences, most of the times it was very helpful to him in order to assuage fear. <![CDATA[<b>The narrative turn in practical theology: A discussion of Julian Müller's narrative approach</b>]]> The importance of narrative for practical theology is today widely recognised, both nationally and internationally. There is, however, disagreement amongst practical theologians regarding the scope and role of narrative in practical theological methodology. The practical theologian Julian Müller made, and continues to make, an important contribution to the methodology of practical theology through his narrative approach. The aim of this article was to contribute to the ongoing methodological discussion about the scope and role of narrative approaches in practical theology. Müller's narrative approach was discussed against the backdrop of the narrative turn in the human and social sciences. It was concluded that Müller's narrative approach reveals some of the key tensions in practical theological methodology. His metaphorical narrative approach, as a representative of the poetic pole in the methodological debate, helps to guard practical theology from losing its transformative orientation and its vital connection with religious practice. Embracing a variety of approaches could help practical theologians to steer between the Scylla of a one-sidedly scientific practical theology and the Charybdis of the triumph of the immediacy of praxis. <![CDATA[<b>Affect then and now: The heritage of Herder, Schleiermacher and William James</b>]]> The heritage of Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and William James (1842-1910) is of significance for practical theology. In present-day pastoral care, affect, emotion, feeling and experience are explored by means of, amongst others, narrative theories. In his aesthetics, Herder linked music and literature. Schleiermacher, in his aesthetics, linked his theology of feeling with biography as narrative. Narrativity is central to present-day are theories and praxis in pastoral care. The variety of forms of affect, namely emotion, experience, feeling and mood, has been explored by present-day psychology and psychiatry. These insights can enrich narrative pastoral theories and praxis. <![CDATA[<b>Reading Robert and beyond: Narrative analysis of the story of a sexually abused Catholic man</b>]]> This article seeks to contribute to the understanding of what is at stake in counselling religious male victims of sexual abuse. We analyse the narrative of 'Robert', a sexually abused Roman Catholic man who later committed suicide. We focus on issues that concern many sexually abused males, such as talking and relationships, agency and responsibility, emotions of guilt, shame and anger, sexual identity, God-talk and God-images. In terms of a triangulating case study, we then confront this narrative analysis with some biographical elements gathered from other sources, from which we complement and critique the analysis. <![CDATA[<b>The church as a HIV-competent faith community: An assessment of Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa's <i>Churches, Channels of Hope</i> training</b>]]> Julian Müller has envisioned the praxis of theology, from a postfoundational point of view, to develop in two movements: engagement in a community that leads to 'real contextual outcomes' and the establishment of new traditions as deconstructed discourses that move beyond single communities. This article assesses the Churches, Channels of Hope (CCoH) training of the Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa (CABSA) in terms of the two criteria laid down by Müller. Firstly, do they successfully train their facilitators to skilfully empower their faith communities to become competent in dealing with people living with HIV? In other words, does the CCoH training lead to 'real contextual outcomes'? Secondly, are the deconstructed social discourses put in place by the CCoH training that focus on the 'new' Christian values of human worthiness and agency able to constitute a contra-culture that will move beyond the boundaries of specific contexts? After the CCoH facilitator's manual and a report on the facilitators' reaction to the training course have been studied, it was found that the CCoH training embodies 'HIV competency' in practices and discourses that can indeed be called 'contextual' as well as 'contra-cultural' although they lack some much-needed skills in reading the Bible from a non-fundamentalist point of view and conducting their impact studies in a more sophisticated and non-reductionist way. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The article wants to make a contribution to HIV discoursing over a wide range of disciplines. The lifestyle changes and spiritual healing of the CCoH training that is assessed here inform the fields of counselling, life skills, law and gender. The proposed contra-culture and alternative discourses at stake touch on the fields of primary, secondary and, indeed, tertiary education. <![CDATA[<b>Identity and dignity within the human rights discourse: An anthropological and praxis approach</b>]]> The theological discourse mostly focuses on the moral and ethical framework for human rights and human dignity. In order to give theological justification to the value and dignity of human beings, most theologians point to the imago Dei as theological starting point for the design of an anthropology on human dignity. Within the paradigmatic framework of democracy, human dignity and human rights have become interchangeable concepts. This article aimed to focus not on ethics but on aesthetics: man as homo aestheticus, as well as the praxis question regarding the quality of human dignity within the network of human relationships. It was argued that human dignity is more fundamental than human rights. Dignity as an anthropological construct should not reside in the first place in the imago Dei and its relationship to Christology and incarnation theology. Human dignity, human rights and human identity are embedded in the basic human quest for meaning (teleology). As such, human dignity should, in a practical theological approach to anthropology, be dealt with from the aesthetic perspective of charisma, thus the option for inhabitational theology. As an anthropological category, human dignity should be viewed from the perspective of pneumatology within the networking framework of a 'spiritual humanism'. In this regard, the theology of the Dutch theologian A.A. van Ruler, and especially his seminal 1968 work Ik geloof, should be revisited by a pneumatic anthropology within the parameters of practical theology. <![CDATA[<b>Development of alternative interpretations: The story of an orphaned boy affected by HIV and AIDS and father abandonment</b>]]> This article elaborated specifically on the research journey in arriving at the development of an alternative narrative, which points beyond the local community, with reference to a broader study which aimed at addressing uncertainties about the type and nature of the relationship between HIV and AIDS and adolescent male orphans affected by this disease and all its aspects, such as poverty, exposure to crime and stigmatisation and lack in parental figures, more specifically the lack of the father figure. Subsequently, this study aimed at dissecting the orphan's life experiences in the midst of HIV and AIDS and how these experiences will influence his sexual and power relations with women and his role as future father and husband, in the absence of a father figure. The researcher wanted to explore ways in which these past and future narratives influence or affect the male orphan's view of and relationship with God and assess whether it is it just this view of and relationship with God that influence and affect his relationship with his past narrative and writing of his future narratives. This article described and explained the research process as it utilised the epistemological viewpoints of a postfoundational notion of practical theology and the methodological tools of the seven movements of a postfoundational practical theology. With the use of the metaphor of Tree of Life and the David narrative, the researcher journeyed with the co-researchers (i.e. the children who took part in this research) in the construction of a preferred alternative narrative, which, in turn, functions as a guiding metaphor, for aspiring to the future and living their lives in a preferred and satisfying manner. This article concluded with an alternative narrative as developed by one of the co-researchers, as an example of how these theoretical viewpoints can be used in praxis in developing alternative narratives which frees the persons from the constraints of a problem-saturated narrative, with special reference and acknowledgement to Professor Julian Müller, who introduced the researcher to the world of possibilities. <![CDATA[<b>Postfoundational practical theology as public Christology</b>]]> This article aimed to provide a critical appreciation of a postfoundational practical theology as developed by Julian Müller and a further exploration of this approach towards a public Christology. The logos of Christology is crossed out, but not erased as it is not a new theory or system or dogma, but rather a spirituality. Such a public Christology was unpacked as a postmetaphysical reformed spirituality in the three publics of academia, society and church. <![CDATA[<b>Understanding Christianity in the history of African religion: An engagement with theological and anthropological perspectives in the pursuit of interdisciplinary dialogue</b>]]> There is ample ground and good motives for interdisciplinary engagement between theology and the 'new' anthropology of Christianity. Theologians can learn much about the character of the church in all its plurality from the often insightful descriptions of anthropologists who have recently started to take a strong interest in Christianity. On the other hand, theologians can help anthropologists come to more complex understandings of the meaning of Christianity. Concerning contrasting anthropological perspectives of anti-essentialism and culture theory regarding the nature of Christianity, this article suggested that the work of missiologists, such as Andrew Walls, might usefully aid the progression of the debate and referred to the historical interplay and conflict between Christianity and indigenous knowledge in southern Africa by way of illustrating this point. The argument pursued in this article hinges on the prioritising of an interdisciplinary approach in theological studies, a cause which Prof. Julian Müller has long championed. Therefore, this contribution sought to honour his legacy by illustrating a further avenue of interdisciplinary engagement. <![CDATA[<b>Perspectives on preaching (in building up missional churches)</b>]]> Preaching is considered to be a core ministry in building up local congregations. Within the Reformed tradition this is even truer. The researcher has, over years, tried to discern certain core 'qualities' of preachers and principles for preaching that will accomplish building local congregations into missional units. Assuming that preachers are serious about leading congregations towards true missionality, the article attempted to focus on a few of these core criteria for both preacher and preaching. In doing so, the article drew mainly on the wisdom of well-known preachers in the USA, wisdom that will be used to guide the researcher's future empirical study of preaching in the South African context. Prof. Müller, who is honoured in this Festschrift, wrote his DD thesis on preaching and I hope that this will reconnect his current work to his original research. <![CDATA[<b>An epistemology of facilitation: A Julian Müller story</b>]]> The article furthered an epistemology of facilitation. It was created through bringing into focus broad movements in Julian Müller's theoretical academic development. Rather than explaining at length the epistemological concepts characterising Müller's theoretical development - rightly because of the importance of narrative in Julian Müller's work - the article sought to link a social psychological dimension of both Müller and the author to these concepts. Resulting from Müller's work, the author regarded a narrative approach, social constructionism and postfoundationalism as important epistemological conversational partners in practical theological facilitation. <![CDATA[<b>Religion in the public sphere and the well-being of the poor: A practical theological perspective</b>]]> This article forms part of my research participation at the University of South Africa in the project Religion, health and well-being in Southern Africa: Practical theological perspectives. All the themes we are addressing in this project are public issues. Therefore the basic question in this project pertains to where and how religion, in this case Christian religion, is involved in public discourses and actions regarding problems in public life in South Africa. The specific research question in this article is: what effects do congregational projects by church members, directed to the poor, have on their experience of well-being? Congregational projects by church members directed to the poor are public actions by people with religious motivation addressing a public problem in South Africa. Therefore, these projects and their effects on the experience of well-being by the poor are religious actions in the public sphere. Firstly, I have conceptualised religion as well as the well-being of the poor in South Africa. The relationship between religion and well-being amongst the poor is then addressed. The conceptualisation has directed the formulation of half-structured interview questions in a qualitative empirical research in a sample from a population of pastors and their congregations who are practicing congregational projects directed at the poor in their vicinities. From the analysis of the contents of the interview, data categories have been formulated, which could then be phrased into a conceptual framework of the effects of these projects on the well-being of the poor. This research is an exercise in public practical theological research. <![CDATA[<b>Markers for a contemporary practical theological ecclesiology</b>]]> Faith communities, especially congregations, are defined and described in a number of ways. Congregations are, for example, more than the working ability of the minister or the financial contributions of its members, but these two aspects are sometimes directly or indirectly used to define a congregation. The demand for a practical theological ecclesiology requires a specific description of a congregation that is more than the abovementioned aspects. The contextualisation of the Christian faith challenge congregations to play a missional role in the community and society. Moral-ethical challenges, the lack of a critical public presence and serious social problems constitute an imperative for the reconsideration of the role of congregations. Empirical research suggests that congregations are mostly working with an 'own' internal agenda. Not enough attention, and sometimes little attention, is being paid to matters beyond the congregational boundaries. Is this a sound ecclesiology? This article aims to propose guidelines along which a relevant contextual and practical theological ecclesiology can be developed. <![CDATA[<b>Love: A philosophy of pastoral care and counselling</b>]]> This article explored the meaning of love as an ethical principle and the aim of providing pastoral counselling and care. The author, inspired by the work of Professor Julian Müller, applied Paul Tillich's notion of love to affirm the value of pastoral counselling as a constituent practice and research focus of practical theology. The focus of the discussion was upon love as the primary witness of the church and motivating factor for offering pastoral counselling and care to those who seek it. Distinctions were drawn between psychotherapeutic counselling and pastoral counselling. Müller's postfoundationalist approach to listening and reflecting upon the work of pastoral counselling and valuing the counselee or co-researcher role as teacher was supported. <![CDATA[<b>Reaching beyond: Blogging a digital autobiographical practical theology</b>]]> Against the backdrop of a virtual existence, this contribution has portrayed the intimate relationship between two practical theologians. Through the use of biographical accounts, the author has not only attempted to indicate the significant contribution of Professor Julian Müller to the field of practical theology, but has also described the influence of this work on his own life and current research practice. In these descriptions of engagement, on the basis of which relevant research accents have been demarcated, a scenario pointing towards relevant future developments has also been indicated. In the mapping of a digital autobiographical practical theology, the author has personally 'reached beyond' in his endeavour to identify new research avenues in the articulation of the autobiographical language of a lived digital religion. <![CDATA[<b><i>Homo viator</i></b>]]> This article investigates the uniqueness of a metaphor. The golden thread throughout this article is the contemplation of a metaphor as a journey. The creative thinking of Paul Ricoeur, Johan Degenaar, Bertie du Plessis and Adelia Carstens on the metaphor is recognised and explored in this article. Julian Müller's use of the metaphor as journey is also discussed. The metaphor as a journey in Homeros, the Old Testament as well as the New Testament is investigated. The binding force of metaphors in language is also considered. The essence and expressiveness of a metaphor are explained by means of several different examples. The destination of this journey finds its conclusion in a poem. <![CDATA[<b>Worship as feast or feast as worship? Re-reading an Andrew Murray prize winner one quarter of a century later</b>]]> The aim of this contribution is to bring the book Die erediens as fees into discussion with the surrounding culture almost one quarter of a century after its publication. The surrounding culture, we shall call, following Martin Stringer and his so-called discourse of globalisation and consumerism, 'the feast as worship service'. Based on this discussion, our research question pertains to the value of Die erediens as fees for the field of Liturgical Studies today. An answer is attempted by, firstly, sketching the liturgical landscape as well as national and international liturgical-scientific developments in our day and, secondly, providing a liturgical-aesthetical exploration and positioning Die erediens as fees within these developments and exploration.