AuthorsBull, Robert D.
AdvisorsBaker, Christopher T. H.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractEnglish Cathedrals have an established and valued place in their respective locations. Their central role is to provide “the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission”. The contention is that whilst there may be clarity about mission in terms of worship, education and interpretation of the building, there is less clarity about where the energy should be focused in terms of a wider missional role. Recent reports have sought to measure the social and economic impact a cathedral has in terms of its local environs and its reach in terms of social and spiritual capital. The cultural context suggests a rapidly changing religious landscape where the movement, in a consumer society, is away from obligation and traditional forms of religiosity towards a more open understanding of spirituality with freedom to explore, to sample and to choose what to consume. This research approaches mission from a spiritual perspective. It creates also an outer/inner approach from which to establish its empirical work. As such it is concerned with the construction of theory; it follows an inductive approach, though is openly disposed to an inductive-deductive interaction where appropriate. It provides an in-depth methodology based on a case study scenario utilising the qualitative techniques of focus groups and semi-structured interviews through which to collect the data. There are four data-sets each presenting an outer/inner perspective. Of unique interest was the appearance of a sizeable Occupy camp, occupying the site outside the case study cathedral for fourteen weeks raising fundamental questions about economic and social inequality at a time when austerity measures were beginning to take effect. This critical incident drew the cathedral into a more public engagement with the big questions that impact upon our daily lives. A key finding from the empirical work in the case study is that alongside its ecclesial focus the perceived core priority must be its mission to the city through its invitation and welcome but also through its outreach. I use social capital theory to engage with aspects of ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’. Beyond the functionalist approaches, cultural and symbolic capital enables a more reflexive understanding of institution and cathedral habitus. This moves the analysis from the horizontal to the vertical axis by which ‘linkages’ are made with mechanisms of power and issues of justice and care. This facilitates further dialogue with global flows and their impact on daily life which integrates with the critical incident that was Occupy. Further analytical methods were incorporated to engage with these macro themes. The theological investigation emanates from within three spiritualities, ‘ecclesial’, ‘mystical’ and ‘prophetic’. It seeks to focus on the spirituality of the community, the community’s engagement with the consumer-led ‘spiritual turn’ and its bridging/linking role in the wider community. As a theological device I use a typology taken from the reading of the psalms to convey orientation, disorientation and new orientation. It coheres in particular with themes of disenchantment and the search for deeper meaning. This thesis contributes to the field of knowledge and the corpus of literature by proposing a model of cathedral mission that draws upon its spiritual and social capital to engage within the liminal spaces of emergent spiritualities, and the contested spaces of disorientation and disenchantment recasting fresh theological moorings to engage meaningfully with issues of justice and care. The outcome is reflective, dynamic and strategic, “creating new understandings of existing issues” and interacting with “disparate concepts in new ways”.
CitationBull, R. D. (2015). Reterritorialised spirituality: a study in cathedral mission (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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