Saving Face: Enfacement, Shame, Theology, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Saving Face

Enfacement, Shame, Theology, 1st Edition

By Stephen Pattison


216 pages

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Paperback: 9781409436928
pub: 2013-08-30
Hardback: 9781409436911
pub: 2013-08-30
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315607634
pub: 2016-04-01
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Faces are all around us and fundamentally shape both everyday experience and our understanding of people. To lose face is to be alienated and experience shame, to be enfaced is to enjoy the fullness of life. In theology as in many other disciplines faces, as both physical phenomena and symbols, have not received the critical, appreciative attention they deserve. This pioneering book explores the nature of face and enfacement, both human and divine. Pattison discusses questions concerning what face is, how important face is in human life and relationships, and how we might understand face, both as a physical phenomenon and as a series of socially-inflected symbols and metaphors about the self and the body. Examining what face means in terms of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary human society and how it is related to shame, Pattison reveals what the experience of people who have difficulties with faces tell us about our society, our understandings of, and our reactions to face. Exploring this ubiquitous yet ignored area of both contemporary human experience and of the Christian theological tradition, Pattison explains how Christian theology understands face, both human and divine, and the insights might it offer to understanding face and enfacement. Does God in any sense have a physically visible face? What is the significance of having an enfaced or faceless God for Christian life and practice? What does the vision of God mean now? If we want to take face and defacing shame seriously, and to get them properly into perspective, we may need to change our theology, thought and practice - changing our ways of thinking about God and about theology.


Featured in a roundtable review in Practical Theology:

'Every now and then a book comes along that opens up whole new ways of seeing the world. This is certainly one of those books … This is a book that invites us to see humanity and God more clearly.' – Stephen Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Modern Theology, University of Chichester, UK

'This is a remarkable book … which merits re-reading and deep reflection, full of insights which will remain with the reader for a long time.' – Manon Ceridwen James, Director of Ministry, Diocese of St Asaph, UK

'… a remarkable and generative work of practical theology.' – Andrew Todd, Coordinator for the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality and Programme Leader for the MA in Christian Spirituality, Sarum College, UK

'Pattison could not write a dull book should he ever wish to try and, with its surprising byways and challenging propositions, this is perhaps his most creative yet. It is a work rich in theological ideas.' – Graeme Smith, Professor of Public Theology and Head of the Department of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Chichester, UK

'Pattison’s book is, I think, one of the three great contemporary Christian works on the sanctity of the face' – Melissa Raphael, Professor of Jewish Theology, University of Gloucestershire, UK


'The issues discussed by Pattison are relevant to us all, offering novel perspectives on faces and the ways we relate to them. His accounts of people with facial differences and difficulties give a literal sense of shame as the self-in-the-eyes-of-the-other… Scientists are likely to find themselves having a worthwhile dialogue with the book; readers in the humanities may learn about peculiar properties of faces; Christians may reconsider the divine face… [A] complex and valuable contribution, and I urge you to read the book.' – Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University, UK

'This is a book that synthesises theology, praxis and the physical reality of our enfaced existence. …you will mine a rich seam of theological and pastoral enquiry.' – Regent’s Reviews

'While the preliminary nature of some of the ideas and analysis here is tantalizing, the book is conceptually fascinating, and represents an important addition to an under-theologized area.' – Theology

About the Series

Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology

Theological reflection on the church’s practice is now recognised as a significant element in theological studies in the academy and seminary. Routledge's series in practical, pastoral and empirical theology seeks to foster this resurgence of interest and encourage new developments in practical and applied aspects of theology worldwide. This timely series draws together a wide range of disciplinary approaches and empirical studies to embrace contemporary developments including: the expansion of research in empirical theology, psychological theology, ministry studies, public theology, Christian education and faith development; key issues of contemporary society such as health, ethics and the environment; and more traditional areas of concern such as pastoral care and counselling.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Theology