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Invitation to Practical Theology: Catholic Voices and Visions.

Invitation to Practical Theology: Catholic Voices and Visions. Edited by Claire E. Wolfteich. New York: Paulist, 2014. Pp. xi + 386. $24.95.

This volume is an important contribution to the burgeoning discipline of practical theology. It is the first edited volume on practical theology that focuses exclusively on the voices of Catholic theologians in the United States in a field historically considered the purview of Protestant theology. Wolfteich brings together eighteen scholars from various fields, including moral, philosophical, and systematic theology. The collection is essentially dialogical: it demonstrates the symbiotic relationship of pastoral practice and theology, and it advocates for a mutual and significant relationship between Catholic practical theology and Catholic theology more generally. W. also emphasizes the need for collaboration among the academy, church, and society.

In the first section, Kathleen A. Cahalan and Bryan Froehle show the historical contexts of Catholic practical theology. This is juxtaposed with the exploration of epistemological considerations relating to the discipline (Colleen M. Griffith) and the merits of a revised correlational method within practical theology (David Tracy). In the second section, attention turns more explicitly to practice and context, with emphasis placed upon everyday experience and concrete practice as sources for practical theology. The various areas include ecclesiology and practices of dialogue, family ethics, Latino/a popular religion, missiology, and spiritual direction. A final section focuses on teaching and research, describing pedagogical practice and research methodology. In addition to delineating the contours of Catholic practical theology, the book's contributors establish a practical theological lexicon. For example, M. Shawn Copeland describes "practical theological agency" (129-31) referring to the formation of African American Catholic laity and their engagement in cultural issues and praxis within faith communities. This term may define other practical theological endeavors that seek to empower participants, especially the marginalized.

The book's essays mine the rich seams of the Catholic tradition--including the Catholic imagination, the importance of beauty and aesthetics, liturgical experience, and mysticism--and complement ecumenical work in the practical theology arena. This volume will be of value to students, those engaged in pastoral practice and formation, and scholars alike, and will advance the work of practical theologians in the USA and worldwide.

DOI: 10.1177/0040563915619978

Deborah Ross

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

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Author:Ross, Deborah
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2016
Words:374
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