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Uncovering Spiritual Narratives

Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry

by Suzanne M. Coyle

Publication Year: 2014

All cultures use story as a way to make sense of life experiences. Yet for many, particularly in the western world, only a single story line is seen as the “real truth.” Using narrative therapy as a caregiving approach can help individuals uncover multilayered narratives that are far more complex and liberating. Coyle contends that not only are these more complex narratives more helpful in giving our lives meaning, they also critique the cultural discourses in which they arose. Drawing on both theological approaches and real life experiences, Coyle creates a contextual pastoral theology that helps caregivers find the power of God in people’s stories.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

“Books are your friends,” my mother told me as she read to me from the Bible storybook and the Childcraft books. They held stories that, as an only child, I embraced and cherished as my friends. Such has been my fascination with stories. I love listening to and telling stories. I love reading stories. So, imagine my joy when I discovered narrative therapy that honored stories to enrich personal identity...

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1. Storying Spiritual Narratives

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pp. 1-16

When is a story just a story? When is a story much more than a story? When is the story we think we know obscuring a much richer story? These questions and more lay at the root of my lifelong quest to understand the power of story. Growing up in a southern rural community, I learned the art of storytelling from my family and neighbors. I often heard with some admiration, “She sure is a good storyteller.” I also heard with disapproval, “He sure can tell some big stories!” ...

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2. Voicing Narrative and Liberation Practices

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pp. 17-32

Spiritual narratives, as identified in the previous chapter, draw from both an explicit and implicit theological grounding as well as from insights of narrative practice. Providing a multivoiced conversation between narrative therapy and liberation theology is essential in laying both theological and practice focused foundations for uncovering those spiritual narratives...

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3. Pastoral Caring through Spiritual Narratives

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pp. 33-48

Pastoral care often quietly listens to the grief of people having lost loved ones, confronts in the face of addictions, supports steadily when illness arrives. Pastoral care also celebrates with the start of coupled life, blesses new life, congratulates job promotions. The minister is privileged to join with people in their seasons of life through pastoral care...

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4. Narratively Ministering to Congregations and Communities

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pp. 49-64

Contemporary congregations and community ministries run the gamut from those that do not seem to have left the stereotypical 1950s to communities that seem never to use the words Jesus or even God in their mission statements. Determining what a congregation or ministry is can even be difficult. The growing pluralism and multiculturalism in our society has broadened the criteria for community ministries that qualify as nonprofit organizations...

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5. Storytelling as Spiritual Practice

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pp. 65-80

Spiritual narratives as discussed so far have the capacity to thicken a believer’s faith story. That people’s personal stories directly affect their faith journey is a foundation for these principles. Stories are understood as a telling of life experience in a form that can be repeated and modified over time. The telling and retelling of the stories as a process itself affords another experience that with the historical events the person is telling both affects and forms his or her identity...

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6. Spiritual Narratives of Place

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pp. 81-94

Uncovering stories of our lives that richly develop our spirituality so far has focused on those stories that live within our memories of the past and our hopes for the future. These stories are often populated by those relationships, values, and hopes that give meaning to our lives. Re-storying or re-authoring asks us to consider the effects of these stories on the people in our lives as well as on our hopes and dreams...

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Epilogue: Future Storying of Spiritual Narratives

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pp. 95-96

Narratively leading, teaching, worshipping, and caring join together in an understanding of liberative narrative ministry. It endeavors to find “unity through diversity” by recognizing the individual and collective expression of spiritual narratives with the witness of a faith community. The pastoral leader of a particular faith community seeks to be a storyteller of hope in which he or she does not abdicate responsibility but listens attentively to the stories that believers privilege for their own lives...


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pp. 97-114


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pp. 115-120

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781451438680
E-ISBN-10: 1451438680
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699291
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699297

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2014