Since the days of Aquinas, students of theology have been seen as the dorks of the religious world, scholars who'd rather calculate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin than think about the messy problems of living a life informed by faith. But the editors of this rich collection of essays take pains to differentiate "pastoral" or "practical" theology from the more academic, arcane variety. What it means, they say, is finding ways to link religious teaching to everyday practice, to move from being a student of the Gospels to teaching, living and working guided by its teachings. The book is at its best when addressing the theological problems which confront the modern minister: how to grapple with issues of sexuality and relationships, how ministers should deal with therapists and the mental health community, how clergy should approach politics, what to think about business writers who cite the Bible. The book is most useful for those who play a leadership role in their religious communities, but anyone who cares about linking the abstractions of faith to life in the world should find it worthwhile.
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