Jake Bouma has cancer. That sucks. He’s hoping to parlay that cancer into some good conversation, however, by hosting a Cancer and Theology series at his blog. He’s recruited folks like David Fitch, Brian McLaren, Martin Marty, Carol Howard Merritt, and yours truly. He describes the series thusly (and if you click through to his blog you’ll see an old picture of me in a purple shirt!):
The guest bloggers I have assembled (listed below) will be doing what Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke call deliberative theology or deliberative theological reflection. In their book How To Think Theologically, Stone and Duke define deliberative theology thusly:
“Deliberative theology is the understanding of faith that emerges from a process of carefully reflecting upon embedded theological convictions. This sort of reflection is sometimes called second-order theology, in that it follows upon and looks back over the implicit understandings embedded in the life of faith.”1
I’ve specifically requested that the guest bloggers not reflect on my personal experience with cancer, but rather on cancer generally speaking, as a common human (and therefore religious) phenomenon. Should they choose, I’ve provided them with prompts such as “What is the relationship between cancer and God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?” and “How is God present during the ‘process’ of cancer (sickness to diagnosis to treatment to recovery)?” and “Can/does God work through medical technology and advances in medicine in general?” These and other questions will be considered by the guest bloggers below over the course of the next several months. This is the first and primary objective.
The second objective of the Cancer & Theology series is to look at what Stone and Duke call embedded theology or first-order theology and examine how embedded theologies relate to individuals’ responses to cancer and the people who have it. Think of embedded theology is the theology that we carry with us in our subconscious, or the theology that has not yet been critically examined.