Edited by Christian Scharen and Aana Marie Vigen
June 2011- Continuum [ISBN: 9781441155450]
In response to a variety of critical intellectual currents (post-colonial, post-modern, and post-liberal) scholars in Christian theology and ethics are increasingly taking up the tools of ethnography as a means to ask fundamental moral questions and to make more compelling and credible moral claims. Privileging particularity, rather than the more traditional effort to achieve universal or at least generalizable norms in making claims regarding the Christian life, echoes the most fundamental insight of the Christian tradition—that God is known most fully in Jesus of Nazareth. Echoing this “scandal of particularity” at the heart of the Christian tradition, theologians and ethicists involved in ethnographic research draw on the particular to seek out answers to core questions of their discipline: who God is and how we become the people we are, how to conceptualize moral agency in relation to God and the world, and how to flesh out the content of conceptual categories such as justice that help direct us in our daily decisions and guiding institutions.
"This engaging collection is a helpful foundation for exploring the use of ethnography in Christian ethics and theology. The authors provide thoughtful and probing challenges to how social scientists and theologians do our work-encouraging us to question and alter some of the basic assumptions of our work so that we do it with genuine rigor rather than with unexamined normative commitments or using the social sciences as lax sources for theological reflection. The challenge is genuine and I encourage us to read and learn from this fine collection."
- Emilie M. Townes
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, Yale Divinity School
"A powerful affirmation of the human lives that animate theological reflection and practice. This timely and compelling book is a must read for all concerned with the creative interface of anthropology and theology."
- João Biehl
Susan Dodd Brown Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University
June, 2008 - Eerdmans Publishing
Christian ministry is deeply concerned with proclaiming the transforming power of God's gift of faith in the daily lives of disciples. How is it, then, that Christian faith so often fails to be an orienting force that impacts every aspect of our lives?
In Faith as a Way of Life Christian Scharen articulates a vision of pastoral leadership grounded in substantive faith language. He examines other powerful languages in our culture -- emotion-driven therapeutic and results-driven managerial models of leadership -- and shows how their domination leads to faith becoming a weak sibling. Highlighting concrete examples of excellent pastoral leadership in action, Scharen offers creative practical theological reflection on how faith can truly inform our family life, our work, our politics, our leisure -- literally all of life -- and how pastoral leaders of all kinds can foster faith as a way of life.
April, 2006 - Brazos Press
U2 is widely hailed as the greatest rock and roll band in the world, and lead singer Bono is often seen in the media touting humanitarian goals. Now Christian Scharen provides a thoughtful look at the driving force behind the band. Bono and other band members are marked by the Christian faith of their Irish backgrounds. Scharen reflects on how U2 "fits within the longer Christian tradition of voices that point us to the cross, to Jesus, and to the power of God's ways in the world" as he explores the music's honest spiritual questioning. Music lovers, pastors, and anyone on the path to God will value this book.
Read Review in the Christian Century.
June, 2004 - Pueblo Books
In a time of increasing cultural pluralism and vast religious restructuring in the United States, Christian social ethics must take account of how values and commitments shape Christian communities. In Public Worship and Public Work Christian Scharen examines theological claims about the relationship of worship and ethics by means of ethnographic study of the life, worship, and work of three vibrant congregations.Public Worship and Public Work moves beyond two caricatures of the relationship between worship and social ethics. Rather than resolute portrayals of the Church as a reflection of its culture and context and causal accounts of the Church’s liturgy forming a Christian witness over and against culture, this book lifts up congregational identity as an area of dynamic interaction between worship, social ethics, and culture.
Read Review in Catholic Books Review
August, 2000 - University Press of America
Married in the Sight of God is a case study into the contemporary sexual ethics debates in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Christian B. Scharen analyzes the origin, rhetorical use, and institutionalization of the Lutheran "orders of creation" theology used to exclude gays and lesbians. In addition, this study shows that the Lutheran tradition holds neglected possibilities for an affirming theological and ethical position that blesses the lives and leadership of people -- homosexual or heterosexual -- who make life-long promises of love and fidelity one to another.
Read review in The Journal of Value Inquiry