In order to take Kant's third question seriously, practical theology should respond methodologically to the question: What may we hope? The hypothesis is argued that practical reason needs to be supplemented by aesthetic reason in order to deal with 'the absurd logic of hope' (Ricoeur). The latter can prevent a practical theological hermeneutics falling prey to a positivistic stance and an empirical model which makes little room for the spiritual dimension of the sublime and personal experiences of transcendence. While the theoretical reason posits 'the other' as object (analysis and objectification), aesthetic reason establishes between God and human beings a personal relationship of identification (synthesis and interconnectedness) which is sensitive to awe and surprise. Furthermore, it is argued that aesthetics is a vital component in liturgy. Art describes a dynamic relation between form and content, celebration and faith, and belief, experience and transcendence. These dynamics are established through imagination and creative hope. Applied to the problem of God-images, aesthetic reason should deal with the 'beauty of God' in terms of vulnerability (deformation) as depicted in the notion of a suffering God. To instil hope, the metaphor 'God as Partner for Life' is proposed.
Under the pressure of deconstruction, criticism within the gender discourse, and the fading away of the traditional patriarchal male role functions, male identity is in a crisis. Due to the impact of the mass media, masculinities are currently mostly determined by the healthiness, body-image and achievement ethics of a market-driven economy (marketplace masculinities). It becomes closely associated with the instant need-satisfaction of a consumerist society. As a public issue, maleness is moulded by power, six-pack fitness, wealth, success, money and phallus. Plastic instant masculinity is shaped by the ancient old symbol of phallus, the post-modern Zeus: Rambo, and the leisure idol of playboy. This article considers the extent to which the Christian spiritual notion of phronesis within inhabitational theology can reframe masculinities, and argues that from a spiritual perspective males can grow into compassionate men. The article concludes that patriarchal headship should be transformed and replaced by the theological public of servant-hood and the trans-cultural notion of an eschatological identity.