Scottish Independence and Practical Theology Focus Groups
I facilitated conversation in the focus groups by following a widely recognised way of practical theological reflection. In this case it is one that is close to that presented by Thomas Groome. (See his Sharing Faith: A Comprehensive Approach to Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry – the Way of Shared Praxis. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.)
Phase One – ‘Naming what’s happening’ in which we offer our perspectives on how we see the Independence debate going, any experiences we have of being in other countries with similar aspirations (or that have secured independence). We’re trying to bear in mind what we gain from listening to how others are assessing the situation.
Phase Two – ‘Reflecting on what’s happening’ in which we start asking ourselves why we see things as we do, what assumptions do we have, and what cultural influences might be shaping us.
Phase Three – ‘Bringing in the Christian story’ because we’ve consciously held back on that in the first couple of phases. In this phase we bring the passages of Scripture that we think bear upon the Scottish Independence Debate. There isn’t a set text for us to consider – we each bring a passage (or two).
Phase Four – ‘Our stories and the Christian stories’ in which we talk about what the previous phases have affirmed and/or challenged in our approach to the topic. Where might the Scriptures challenge the notion of Scottish Independence; where might the political, cultural, social, economic or any other dimensions of Independence challenge the way we have been reading the biblical texts?
Phase Five – ‘How do we respond?’ not in terms of how we will each vote in the referendum but pondering together what sort of responses we might need to make personally, in association with others and perhaps at a broader political level too.