Practical theology

October 8, 2015

Mark and Empire: Feminist Reflections, by Laurel K. Cobb. Laurel Cobb interprets the Gospel of Mark from the perspective of three decades of work in international public health and social welfare programs. Weaving themes of poverty, health, and justice work through recent scholarship on Mark and empire, she offers a moving and challenging practical theology of discipleship.

The Divine Art of Dying: How to Live Well While Dying, by Karen Speerstra and Herbert Anderson. Longtime friends and colleagues, Karen Speerstra and Herbert Anderson offer a rare glimpse into the journey of someone who intentionally makes a turn toward death and finds abundant life, beauty, gratitude, and most of all love. Filled with stories of Karen’s experience with cancer, personal and theological reflections, pearls of wisdom, and practical direction, this volume provides valuable guideposts for people who choose palliative care and for those who accompany them.

Theological Reflection across Reli­gious Traditions: The Turn to Reflective Believing, by Edward Foley. Catholic theologian Edward Foley probes the complexity of communicating one’s beliefs and practices with honesty and respect. Drawing on models of reflection that have often been engaged without question, he shows their contributions and limitations. Foley’s turn to “reflective believing” poses relevant questions and provides helpful signposts for moving theological conversations forward in faith communities, classrooms, and pastoral relationships.

Teaching for a Culturally Diverse and Racially Just World, edited by Eleazar S. Fernandez. Experienced and diverse educators engage the thorny dynamics of race and difference in classrooms and institutional settings. Packed with personal testimonies and rich examples and case studies, the book speaks to the perennial anguish of race in higher education and the promise for addressing it. The examples and suggestions for changes in teaching style, subject matter, and institutional life are offered for formal teaching settings but are equally applicable to other  environments.

Exploring Practices of Ministry, by Pamela Cooper-White and Michael Cooper-White. The authors offer a fresh view of key practices of ministry: proclamation, worship, individual and communal care, education, and administrative leadership. With careful attention to the diverse contexts of ministry, they ground these practices in theology and offer wise directives for discerning faith-filled patterns of ministry.

The Future of the African American Church: An Invitation to Dialogue, by Ralph Basui Watkins and Justin G. West. “What does it mean to be church?” “Is the black church dead or alive?” Ralph Watkins and Justin West engage these questions from a number of angles as they seek to create dialogue across generations, cultural expressions, and lines of thought. The inclusion of womanist voices is welcome, and the volume is supported by a series of videos to help foster conversation.

Uncovering Spiritual Narratives: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry, by Suzanne M. Coyle. Suzanne Coyle has broadened and deepened the understanding and use of narrative theory, theology, and therapy to more fully connect pastoral theology to public theology. In “liberative narrative ministry,” individual stories are viewed in relationship to cultural, contextual, and collective narrative practices.

Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction, edited by Kathleen A. Cahalan and Gordon S. Mikoski. This book offers a comprehensive map of the discipline and practices of practical theology. The contributors are experts from multiple faith perspectives, from Roman Catholic to evangelical. Feminist, liberationist, and contextual points of view are also engaged as these authors bring faith and practice into conversation with their respective settings.

Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives: Only One Is Holy, edited by Cláudio Carvalhaes. What does it mean for today’s communities of faith to invoke the holy in liturgies and rituals of worship? The 22 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim contributors to this volume raise critical questions about connections between liturgies and the social relationships within which they are practiced. They invite reflection and conversation on the deep pain in communities, as well as on the promise of human renewal.

Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leader­ship and Awakening Com­munity, by Leah Gunning Francis. Leah Gunning Francis, a seminary professor, activist, and mother of two African-American sons, brings passion to this compelling volume of stories gathered from clergy and young activists on the street in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder. The stories will break your heart, inspire you, and motivate you to become involved in the burgeoning new civil rights movement.