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.