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Empirical Considerations In Religious Praxis And Reflection In The Teaching Situation: A Conceptual Map

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Chapter Summary

This chapter first describes an exercise that the author had used with first-year ministry students in a course called Practical Theology and Public Ministry. It then describes the continuity between that classroom exercise and the twelve-year long Religion, Culture, and Family research project administered by the author at the University of Chicago. The chapter also summarizes what the author had gleaned from these teaching and research situations for the role of the empirical in practical theology. One can easily recognize the theoretical frameworks behind this exercise. It draws heavily on the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and the use of this perspective in the hermeneutic sociology of the widely read book titled Habits of the Heart by Robert Bellah and his colleagues. Because Ricoeur sees narrative as an unavoidable aspect of praxis, religion itself can easily fit into his model.

Keywords: ministry students; Paul Ricoeur; practical theology; praxis; public ministry; Religion, Culture, and Family research project; University of Chicago



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