Conundrums in Practical Theology


In this landmark volume, internationally recognized scholars address key intellectual and practical conundrums that not only trouble practical theology but also reflect biases and breakdowns in the construction of theological knowledge in academy and religious communities at large. With critical facility and unheralded honesty that includes reflexivity about their own lives in the academy, the authors tackle complex issues that refuse easy solutions— racism, hierarchy of theory over practice, devaluation of small case studies, risks of interdisciplinarity to scholarly identity, inequities between Christian traditions, unreflective Christian-centrism, and tensions between the production of scholarship and public service. Outcomes of these issues will have serious implications for the discipline and the study of theology for years to come.

Contributors include Tom Beaudoin, Eileen R. Campbell-Reed, Faustino M. Cruz, Jaco Dreyer, Courtney T. Goto, Tone Stangeland Kaufman, Joyce Ann Mercer, Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, Phillis Isabella Sheppard, Katherine Turpin, Claire E. Wolfteich.

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Joyce Ann Mercer, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at Yale Divinity School, is editor of Religious Education and author of multiple articles and monographs including Girl Talk, God Talk (Jossey-Bass, 2008), and a forthcoming study on church conflict.

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University and author of several monographs, including Christian Theology in Practice (Eerdmans, 2012).

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore and Joyce Ann Mercer

Why Does Practice Matter Theologically?
Tom Beaudoin

The Power and Danger of a Single Case Study in Practical Theological Research
Eileen R. Campbell-Reed

The Tension between Scholarship and Service
Faustino M. Cruz

Knowledge, Subjectivity, (De)Coloniality, and the Conundrum of Reflexivity
Jaco Dreyer

Writing in Compliance with the Racialized ‘Zoo’ of Practical Theology
Courtney T. Goto

From the Outside, Within, or Inbetween? Normativity at Work in Empirical Practical Theological Research
Tone Stangeland Kaufman

Interdisciplinarity as a Practical Theological Conundrum
Joyce Ann Mercer

The Theory-Practice Binary and the Politics of Practical Knowledge
Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore

Raced Bodies: Portraying Bodies, Reifying Racism
Phillis Isabella Sheppard

The Complexity of Local Knowledge
Katherine Turpin

Reframing Practical Theology: Catholic Contributions and Conundrums
Claire E. Wolfteich



Scholars and post-graduate students in theology interested in the study of religious practices, intersections of academic theology and everyday practices, and structures and curriculum of theological education.
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