4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a book that I was almost guaranteed to love, and it did not disappoint. Among the authors are some of my favourite practical theologians from my seminary days (Miroslav Volf and Dorothy Bass, Craig Dykstra, Serene Jones, Kathryn Tanner, and L. Gregory Jones) as well as some voices who were new to me, but have are very welcome additions to my ongoing theological education. I am a firm believer that education should never stop; just because I have finished seminary does mean that I should finish reading, exploring, and learning new things - in fact, I feel exactly the opposite; because I no longer have the guidance of professors and fellow classmates, it becomes all the more imperative that I find the resources with which to continue. This book is one of those resources.
Dorothy Bass is the editor of the very first book I read in seminary: 'Practicing Our Faith'. That book is a collection of essays about specific Christian practices, and it is on my regular 're-read' list (this was not too difficult to accomplished, as I helped teach in the class that uses that book at my seminary, so almost each year I would end up reading the book again with the new class). This book has a similar feel to that book, but approaches things in a more theologically reflective manner. While the former book approached practices from a standpoint of how they could be incorporated into a Christian lifestyle, they did not delve deeply into the underlying beliefs or processes by which one comes to understanding and identify practices as being authentic, appropriate and worthy of incorporation.
This book does that task well. It looks theological methods and process from a variety of levels, and from a variety of voices. All of the contributing authors have a stake in the academic education process, but all also recognize the importance of making their meaning applicable and accessible to those outside the halls of seminaries and universities. Practices such as healing, hospitality, discernment and building community are all involved as theological frameworks such as liberation, feminist theology, and other forms are explored.
Dorothy Bass begins her introduction with the same question that Miroslav Volf begins his essay - it is a question that resonates with me both in my own life and in my teaching: 'What does that have to do with real life?' I am very familiar with this question because I got that question repeatedly in the theology classes I taught (as well as the algebra classes I tutor at the local community college). This book is an excellent guide toward connecting what we do as practices with the underlying questions of why we do what we do and what difference it makes, not only that we do what we do, but our understanding of what we're doing when we do it.