Women Choosing Silence: Relationality and Transformation in Spiritual Practice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women Choosing Silence

Relationality and Transformation in Spiritual Practice, 1st Edition

By Alison Woolley


260 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138574601
pub: 2019-01-31
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Silence is long-established as a spiritual discipline amongst people of faith. However, its examination tends to focus on depictions within texts emerging from religious life and the development of its practices. Latterly, feminist theologians have also highlighted the silencing of women within Christian history. Consequently, silence is often portrayed as a solitary discipline based in norms of male monastic experience or a tool of women’s subjugation. In contrast, this book investigates chosen practices of silence in the lives of Christian women today, evidencing its potential for enabling profound relationality and empowerment within their spiritual journeys.

Opening with an exploration of Christianity’s reclamation of practices of silence in the twentieth century, this contemporary ethnographic study engages with wider academic conversations about silence. Its substantive theological and empirical exploration of women’s practices of silence demonstrates that, for some, silence-based prayer is a valued space for encounter and transformation in relationships with God, with themselves and with others. Utilising a methodology that proposes focusing on silence throughout the qualitative research process, this study also illustrates a new model for depicting relational change. Finally, the book urges practical and feminist theologians to re-examine silence’s potential for facilitating the development of more authentic and responsible relationality within people’s lives.

This is a unique study that provides new perspectives on practices of silence within Christianity, particularly amongst women. It will, therefore, be of significant interest to academics, practitioners and students in theology and religious studies with a focus on contemporary religion, spirituality, feminism, gender and research methods.

Table of Contents

1 Beginnings in Silence

2 Silent Threads: Explorations of Silence from Interdisciplinary Perspectives

3 Learning to Hear: Developing Methods for Listening to Women’s Experiences of Silence

4 Mapping Silence

5 Silence and Relationality with God

6 Silence and Relationality with Self

7 Silence and Relationality with Others

8 Silence in Transformation

About the Author

Alison Woolley completed her PhD at The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education through The University of Birmingham, UK. She combines her role as Director of Seeds of Silence, offering training, workshops and advice in both developing and supporting people’s spiritual discipline of silence with her work as a spiritual accompanist and music therapist.

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 / General
RELIGION / Christian Rituals & Practice / Worship & Liturgy
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General
RELIGION / Sexuality & Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies