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.
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.
The interplay between unity and diversity is about co-existence. Different options for co-existence are explored. The paper advocates for an intercultural accommodation which operates along the lines of mutual respect, interdependence and the creative setting of new goals for co-existence. In order to safeguard 'unity' from artificial unification and the ideology of centralization, the notion of communality and ubunthu in terms of an African spirituality is introduced. To promote the process of interculturality, two basic skills are needed: interpathy and transspection. It is argued that in the light of the quest for an ethical common ground, an integrative factor which can transcend the limitations of culturality, ethnicity and difference is needed. In this regard, a practical theological ecclesiology can play a decisive role with the condition that the power of the church is reframed in terms of God's vulnerability. The ethos of sacrificial love is proposed, as well as a redefinition of the unity of the church in terms of a corporative identity (koinonia, communion) which is geared towards the restoration of our human identity and dignity.