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Title page for ETD etd-07212011-110912

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Wigg-Stevenson, Natalie Louise
URN etd-07212011-110912
Title Faith in My Bones: An Exercise in Ethnographic Theology
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ellen T. Armour Committee Chair
Graham Reside Committee Member
John Thatamanil Committee Member
Paul DeHart Committee Member
Ted A. Smith Committee Member
  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • Loic Wacquant
  • Mary McClintock Fulkerson
  • Kathryn Tanner
  • ecclesiology
  • Baptist Studies
  • adult education
  • Southern Baptist
  • identity
  • agency
  • habitus
Date of Defense 2011-06-15
Availability unrestricted
In this dissertation, I endeavor to bring to life Kathryn Tanner’s way of framing theology as a cultural practice within which ad hoc, context specific modes of Christian discourse (everyday theologies) and more specialized, coherent, systematic modes (academic theologies) compete and cooperate with each other. To bring this model to life in practice, I develop a form of self-implicated ethnography, grounded in the reflexive ethnographic methods of Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant. This self-implicated form of ethnography offers a complementary alternative to the traditional ethnographic modes of participant observation that have typically been used by theologians. In particular, I contrast my theological ethnographic methods with those employed by Mary McClintock Fulkerson.

The form of self-implicated ethnography I develop here deployed a loose, performative integration of my own competing and cohering roles as both minister and academic theologian within my community of study (First Baptist Church, Nashville). Specifically, in order to perform this loose integration of my competing and cohering roles, my fieldwork primarily consisted in teaching two adult education theology courses: “Topics in Theology: Jesus Christ and Salvation” and “Topics in Theology: God as Trinity.” By teaching these two courses, I sought to guide a process by which everyday and academic theologies were brought together in a shared conversational process. And this conversational process was comprised of a community of people speaking various theological fluencies in order to pursue wisdom together.

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