Scottish Independence and Practical Theology Focus Groups
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What is this research project?
Practical Theology is a way of thinking through what Christians do. It’s often described as a means of reflecting on practice – something familiar in professions such as teaching and counselling.
I am currently researching the contribution of Practical Theology to Scottish public life. I have recently convened a few small focus groups in different parts of Scotland. The format at each was the same; a facilitated discussion using Practical Theology as a framework. [Click for a description of the framework].
These were not campaigning events but rather were spaces in which lightly-guided conversation encouraged people to explore the question of independence from a number of angles. Some had already made up their mind on the referendum question – other had not. I made no assumptions as to people’s stance nor was there any requirement that they reveal it.
Each group lasted six hours – which meant participants giving up a summer’s Saturday to talk through the independence issue in the light of many factors, not least being their diverse Christian perspectives.
Those who took part have been promised anonymity so I have used pseudonyms where I am quoting them.
I am making one or two observations from the focus groups more widely available at this stage so that a wider audience can have access to this method of thinking through the topic in advance of the 18th September – the referendum day.
I will be publishing some academic papers on this project at a later stage. As commenting on a blog is to put your views in the public domain I may draw on your posting(s) as part of my research. I will be moderating comments to ensure that what is made public is in the spirit of thoughtful, respectful discussion. This isn’t the place to campaign for one position or another; but that doesn’t mean that you need to be neutral or impartial.
During August I’ll post a series of blog entries that follow the same sequence as the focus groups. Hopefully, a practical theology approach will help you consider your decision from not only a social or political perspectives but also from your Christian theological and biblical traditions. I’m sorry if focusing on the Christian traditions excludes you but a discussion that drew in other faiths would be beyond this project.
Posts will appear to this schedule:
- 4th August – ‘Focusing in’
- 9th August – ‘What’s going on?’
- 14th August – ‘Why are we seeing it this way?’
- 19th August – ‘Where can we go in the Bible?’
- 24th August – ‘What’s the Bible saying to the debate and what’s this debate saying to the Bible?’
- 29th August – ‘How might we respond?’
I am grateful to The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Crown Terrace Baptist Church, Aberdeen and a Church of Scotland Parish Church in Renfrewshire for sponsoring this research project.