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Creative Hope and Imagination in a Practical Theology of Aesthetic (Artistic) Reason

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Practical Theology Theological Seminary University of Stellenbosch 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, 7600 Republic of South Africa

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