Are we there yet? Probing the notion of contextualizing Practical Theology and pastoral care in a post-COVID glocal African context / Brunsdon Alfred Richard
Brunsdon, Alfred Richard
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The lecture probes the state of contextualising Practical Theology and pastoral care in an African context against the background of persisting Western epistemologies and the decolonisation discourse. A brief historical overview of Practical Theology and pastoral care in South African higher education articulates its European epistemological framework, rendering its appropriateness within the African context questionable. The author introduces the notion of contextualisation which refers to making Theology relevant in a particular context. This approach is chosen above approaches such as Africanisation and indigenisation, as it retains the normative function of Scripture instead of culture. It recognises some of the challenges created by a dialogue between Western and African notions of Practical Theology and pastoral care. It subsequently engages practical theological models aimed at inter-contextual dialogue such as a post-foundational model for doing Practical Theology. It underlines the need for conducting Practical Theology from an ethical stance which is intent on exploring knowledge outside of Western frameworks in search of a more appropriate Practical Theology that can stand in service of pastoral responses that is tilted towards the African context in a more authentic way. While it argues that contextualisation will remain an ongoing process due to the fluid nature of the African context, it also points out that the dawn of the post-COVID era presented urgent agenda points, rendering the journey incomplete. Three areas for future Practical Theological and pastoral consideration are highlighted, namely the consequences of intensified socio-economic realities, implications of the disruption of traditional religious culture and post-COVID challenges to higher education. The lecture concludes that a “glocal” lens, which is mindful of both local and global needs, will be the best way forward for the contextualisation project, recognizing Africa as part of the global village.