ERA

Department of Theological Studies (St. Stephen's College)

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a gateway program in the theological disciplines, broadly understood, which may be taken either as a stand-alone degree, or to lay the foundation for further, advanced theological study.
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  1. Could I Have This Dance? [Download]

    Title: Could I Have This Dance?
    Creator: Christine Elizabeth Welch
    Description: This integrative study is based on heuristic self-inquiry. Through storytelling I explore the significance of the journey to know God as one of spiritual awakening and reflect on what is understood about God at various stages in the journey. Chapter One sets the stage for the integrative study. I share experiences that provide background to the story and explore the questions at the heart of my writing. Chapter Two begins with a personal life review. The focus of the chapter is to provide a life span and literature review, recording the understandings about God that surfaced at various stages in my journey. I record mystical experiences, draw upon insights from journal entries throughout the years, from papers written at various phases of my journey, from conversations with Colin, my spiritual teacher, and from books on spirituality in both Western and Eastern traditions. In Chapter Three authors Diarmuid O’Murchu and Gretta Vosper are interviewed. They are invited to share their journeys of faith. Each interview is recorded and open ended in nature. The commonalities and differences within each person’s story are identified. Chapter Four identifies common patterns that emerged from the personal life review, the interviews with the authors and the literature review. Insights gleaned from the integrative study are synthesized within this chapter and a summation is given.
    Subjects: Mystical consciousness, , spirituality
  2. Humanity: Intrinsically Artistic [Download]

    Title: Humanity: Intrinsically Artistic
    Creator: Ilona Marilyn Noble
    Description: This paper was written to celebrate the human propensity for creating art in its broadest sense, of living life in artistic ways. The definition of ‘art’ for this paper did not refer to that which is produced on a full-time basis or to provide a living. Instead it meant that everyday people approach daily life with creative ideas for enriching their physical surroundings, and the people around them. Since prehistoric times it is evident that humans have felt moved to represent daily life in two- and three-dimensional forms. The artistic inclination appears early in a child’s development and deserves recognition and encouragement. Becoming alert and sensitive to the people in one’s surroundings yielded overwhelming evidence of creativity and artistic endeavour. Living ‘artfully’ is not limited by age, gender, or circumstances. A large portion of the paper specifically highlighted the innate musical sense people have. Many examples are cited which indicate that most people possess musicality, whether tonal, rhythmic or harmonic. Several original compositions formed the last section of the paper. It was fascinating that simply becoming more aware unlocked the writer’s appreciation of the rich abundance of creativity in everyday life.
    Subjects: innate musical sense, artistic awareness
  3. Making a Spiritual Connection Through Jewelry [Download]

    Title: Making a Spiritual Connection Through Jewelry
    Creator: Marlene Joy Salmonson
    Description: Are people still experiencing the presence of the holy in today’s world? If they are, through what means are they making this connection? Jewelry is a reliquary of personal and spiritual memory. It is through conversations about their jewelry that I enter into my participant’s important beliefs and experiences. My thesis focuses on the results from conversations with five adult participants; from diverse backgrounds, ages, sexes and spiritual paths, centering on the topic of the spiritual connection, which they have with their jewelry. This is a narrative phenomenological study. The narratives cover four themes: jewelry as a vow; jewelry as a touchstone of spiritual story, and an invitation to relationship; the symbolic character of jewelry, which connects the individual experience to a larger tradition of meaning, and jewelry as a connection to the trauma and grace of past experience. The participants are shown making meaning of life in an individual way, while often drawing on their own spiritual heritage. The results inspire hope in the resilience of the human spirit, and humankind’s ability to find the face of God in the world of object. Theologians Rudolf Otto, with his profound ideas of the experience of the holy, and John MacQuarrie, who speaks to the spiritual practices of believers, provide the theological basis for my work. I also draw on the theories of Eithne Wilkins, who in her book The Rose-Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayer-Beads describes the “presence” of the rosary, which embodies a “spiritual potency” waiting to be activated by the believer. This “presence” is revealed in unique ways by my participants, both through their thoughts and their interactions with their jewelry
    Subjects: experiencing the presence of the holy in jewelry, Spiritual connection with jewelry
  4. Evolving Symbols - Evolving Ministry: An Exploration of Diaconal Symbols in The United Church of Canada [Download]

    Title: Evolving Symbols - Evolving Ministry: An Exploration of Diaconal Symbols in The United Church of Canada
    Creator: Sharilynn Gail Upsdell
    Description: This thesis is an exploration of how uniforms, pins and other symbols of diaconal ministry evolved, and how their evolution continues to impact the understanding of diaconal ministry in The United Church of Canada. Theological lenses of incarnational creativity, identity, and faithful response, shape reflection in a two-part process using a mixed methodology of historic and narrative research and writing. First, a narrative history of Deaconess uniforms and the introduction of badges and pins, from early times, through remission, resurgence in Europe, into Great Britain, the United States, and Canada, reveals the connective heritage for uniforms and pins of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and after 1925, United Church Deaconesses. The evolution of United Church uniforms, pins, and other symbols sets the historic context for the second section, the narration of the development of a new pin and coloured logo for Diakonia of the United Church of Canada in 2011. The new pin process and design reveal vital themes of diaconal identity: connection to the United Church, dynamic life-giving theology, action/reflection analysis, creative ministry on the margins, and, accountability to the diaconal community which embodies justice.
    Subjects: diaconal symbols, United Church of Canada
  5. A Woman's Passage: Negotiating an Extraordinary Transition in Mid-Life [Download]

    Title: A Woman's Passage: Negotiating an Extraordinary Transition in Mid-Life
    Creator: Elizabeth Helena Short
    Description: When a major life change occurs, we can find ourselves in uncharted territory or transitions. Old assumptions no longer hold true, but our new reality has yet to be discovered. This study looks at difficult transitions for women in mid-life. This, potentially, is a time in a woman’s life where many predictable changes are already calling into question, “who am I?” This work examines how women have coped with a difficult and unpredicted change. The qualitative research method of narrative inquiry was used. Four women, who had experienced different challenging mid-life transitions, joined me as co-researchers. They took part in three group discussions and one individual interview. These women were chosen because they had successfully negotiated their transition and had the ability to be articulate and thoughtful about their experience. The research drew from literature pertaining to both transition and women in mid-life. As well I drew upon my own experience of a challenging mid-life transition. Within the study it was necessary to define transition, and this was derived from the works of William Bridges. The purpose was to move from a definition to look at ways women have been successful in negotiating the experience of transition, looking at resources drawn upon, external and internal. Weaving its way throughout the work was the theological thread. I have shared my personal theology which is transitional in nature and examined how faith had played a role in the co-researchers’ transitions and how their transitions had affected their faith. The goal of the study is to learn ways in which to encourage others going through difficult life transitions.
    Subjects: faith and theology, Woman in mid-life transition
  6. Vatican II: Alive at Fifty [Download]

    Title: Vatican II: Alive at Fifty
    Creator: Nancy Joan Quan
    Description: This integrative study paper explores three documents from the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Gaudium et Spes Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World and Dei Verbum Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) from the perspective of a practicing Roman Catholic woman and professional spiritual care provider. A brief history of the Council is presented followed by a literature review of the documents and personal reflection on the integration of relevant theological themes from these documents in the author’s personal and professional life. The guiding principles of Aggiornamento, Ressourcement and Development are examined for how they influenced the spirit of the council. Some of the theological themes addressed are the church as a mystery and the universality of the church, social justice, the common good, revelation of God, the dignity and uniqueness of each person, the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and one’s moral conscience. It was concluded that the documents have had a positive and profound effect on the person and professional practice of this spiritual care provider.
    Subjects: Roman Catholic church, Second Vatican Council, spiritual care provider
  7. The Heart Way of Knowing: A Narrative Review of Contemporary Mystical Experience [Download]

    Title: The Heart Way of Knowing: A Narrative Review of Contemporary Mystical Experience
    Creator: Heather Mattson McCrady
    Description: Mystical experiences are often dismissed in the western Christian tradition, where objectivity has taken precedence over personal experience of union with the divine. This research explores the questions: “What is the experience of spiritual seekers today of the ‘heart-way of knowing’? How does mystical experience impact one’s ‘knowing’, faith, and personal expressions in the world? Through a narrative form of inquiry, the contemporary spiritual experiences and journeys of four women and three men were explored. Key elements of their experiences and resulting impacts on their faith journey were synthesized from personal interviews. Allowing these key elements to resonate with the mystics of the past and current authors has provided a unique opportunity to witness and bring to words the contemporary nature of what I have called, ‘the heart way of knowing’. Mystical experiences, while uniquely personal, are similar across time. They are transformative moments resulting in significant personal shifts in understanding of self, relationships, faith, commonly held beliefs and societal constructs. Faith communities are challenged to grow in their capacity to recognize and nurture the personal, communal, social and cultural nature of mystical experience. Having these experiences validated and allowed to resonate in our lives is important.
    Subjects: knowing, Mystical experience, faith journey
  8. …Whereas I am Trying to Think Theologically: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Hidden Dialogue with Carl Schmitt on Representation: A Theological Response to A Jurisprudential Challenge during a Political Crisis [Download]

    Title: …Whereas I am Trying to Think Theologically: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Hidden Dialogue with Carl Schmitt on Representation: A Theological Response to A Jurisprudential Challenge during a Political Crisis
    Creator: Karola Susanne Radler
    Description: Dietrich Bonhoeffer responded with his theological interpretation known as discipleship in responsible, mature representation of Christ (Stellvertretung) in a hidden dialogue to Carl Schmitt’s jurisprudential, ideological “political theology” of mythical totalitarian leadership (Repräsentanz), developed during the early 20th century in Germany. In an interdisciplinary investigation of mainly primary literature sources is laid open a hitherto overlooked perspective on Bonhoeffer’s theology and the relevance of Bonhoeffer’s and Schmitt’s intellectual encounter for the world of the 21st century. Bonhoeffer, due to his close access to professor of constitutional law Gerhard Leibholz, his brother-in-law, was aware of jurisprudential thought as well as of Schmitt’s theories and pointedly used juristic concepts within his theology. He confronted Schmitt’s system of ‘Identity of Oneness’ with a ‘Triangular Relationship’ which incorporated aspects of Leibholz’s opposition to Schmitt. The structural elements of Domain, Unity, Sovereign, and Grounding revealed that legal individual rights granted by a worldly authority can be manipulated and repealed by using mythical identities but that the personal freedom to responsible decisions and actions given by the ‘original’ authority is irrevocable. Contemporary situations showed that their intellectual dialogue on representation transcends the context of its origin. Bonhoeffer’s theological response of Stellvertretung to Schmitt’s jurisprudential challenge of Repräsentanz receives renewed vigour whenever and wherever a human-made organizational framework of ‘life together’ is in a socio-economically and politically unstable situation of transition in which the balance between jurisprudential and theological interpretations is renegotiated.
    Subjects: discipleship, Schmitt, political theology, Bonhoeffe, numerical growth in church congregations
  9. God Don't Make No Junk: A Look at Making Art and the Theology of Desire [Download]

    Title: God Don't Make No Junk: A Look at Making Art and the Theology of Desire
    Creator: Patricia Catherine Worthingham
    Description: This integrative study provides an historical review of humankind’s relationship with desire as regarded by philosophers and theologians of western civilization. It examines desire as reflected in the characteristics of our culture and the societies we have built since early history; then highlights which desires, according to Dr. Steven Reiss’ research into what motivates and makes life meaningful, we chose. This study’s main focus is mystical consciousness and speaks to this in a heuristic account of altered consciousness and the ‘feeling of oneness’ while making art, resulting in a deeper relationship with God and the development of my own theology of desire. Selected pieces of art created during this process are included. The concept of ‘body, mind, spirit connection’ appears as a theme throughout this study, as my source of wisdom and knowledge for making art. In the section devoted to Theological Reflection, an integrated methodology based in Kinast and Underhill’s approach to reflection and mysticism is used and frames my discussion on the desire for a career change. Questions are posed, a thorough discussion ensues, examining the notion of betrayal, the debilitating effects of judgment and inertia on my relationship with desire, how my senses, perception, and consciousness influence my experience and understanding of desire. References from psychology, quantum physics and cosmology help to further develop my theology. This study has been a journey into my heart’s desire.
    Subjects: Mystical consciousness, spirituality, art-making, theological reflection
  10. The Role of Clergy in the Intervention and Prevention of Elder Abuse [Download]

    Title: The Role of Clergy in the Intervention and Prevention of Elder Abuse
    Creator: Norma J. Godbold
    Description: This thesis examines The Role of Clergy in the Intervention and Prevention of Elder Abuse. Elder abuse is a complex issue that is prominent in today’s society but does not receive the attention that it deserves. This paper provides appropriate and effective intervention and prevention strategies to serve as a guide for clergy to help eliminate the crime of elder abuse and neglect. Through personal experience, and literature review, the initial chapters examines the definition, signs, symptoms and patterns of mistreatment that define elder abuse and provides the foundation for this paper. Chapter Three considers interventions for the caregiver. The following section sets the theological foundation and emphasizes the significant role of clergy. It further identifies the role of the abuser and the association to mental health issues and other forms of abuse. The concluding segment investigates multidisciplinary approaches and provides models for effective prevention. Success in addressing this complex problem will require the combined efforts of people from many disciplines. With further understanding, we must move forward to continue to engage in strategies for change, and build a society where seniors are respected as valued members. With hope we trust that this goal may be achieved.
    Subjects: theological strategies addressing elder abuse, Elder abuse,