Stephen Pattison: The importance of face in Theology 

Professor Stephen Pattison talks about his research into beliefs and values in the health service, Muslim chaplains and the importance of face in Theology

Duration: 2:11

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I’m Stephen Pattison, I’m Professor of Religion, Ethics and Practise here at Birmingham, and also H.G. Wood Professor of Theology. I’m a practical theologian which means I’m interested in the relationships between theory and practice – peoples beliefs, what they do and how they interact together. I’ve got several areas of research I’m interested in.

One is about beliefs and values in the health service and with healthcare managers and healthcare providers, and that comes under the heading of values in professional practice. A second area is in chaplaincy and inter-religion relations. I’m presently involved in a project where we’re talking to Muslim chaplains – why they became chaplains, what they do and why they do it. That’s proving very interesting as we’re finding out how Islam is affecting chaplaincy and how chaplaincy os affecting Islam, so that it’s actually becoming a different kind of religion in some ways as it has to come to terms with British secular life.

A third area of interest at the moment is thinking about the significance of face and its relationship to theology. Strangely enough, not many people have thought about face and why it’s important. Ever since Freud, people have tended to think about people as texts and things that are to be understood through words, that’s why psycho-analysts make people lie down. But in pastoral care and pastoral theology we’ve neglected the face and its significance. If you think about it faces are really important to people, that’s why I’m talking to you face to face now. So any theology that doesn’t take into account face and has no idea how, for example the face of God or the image of god relates to human faces, is likely to be a rather inadequate theology. So I’m hoping this is going to produce a very interesting book “Saving Face” that will change the way we think about, both about people and about God