African American Clergy Women in Community with "the Self": A womanist pastoral theology study exploring self-literacy and self-relationship utilizing concepts from neuroscience and indigenous spirituality Open Access

Piggue, Bridget

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2801ph23m?locale=en
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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Through the lens of Womanist pastoral theology, selected neuroscientific perspectives and indigenous spirituality, this research explores African American clergy women's health, self-literacy, and self-relationship in correlation to early foundational messages that were received about the body. An examination of the impact of these messages, the early models and influences that informed such messages and the engaged healing practices used to address them were analyzed and appropriated to inform the development of a useful pastoral psychological framework for constructive embodied thought and healing approaches for African American clergy women.

These messages and experiences are examined using the following: Object Relations psychotherapeutic models, particularly related to identity formation and developmental phases; Clinical Pastoral Education methodology, the Action-Reflection-Action model of learning and developing greater self-literacy as a spiritual leader who cares for others; and socio cultural contextual analysis that illumines the "situatedness" and complexity of any experience to be explored. In addition, the dialectical nature of faith and theology draws upon, in this case, the oral tradition and narratives that prefer African American clergy women's voices.

Analysis from research participant responses uncovers the lived experiences of African American clergy women as persons acquainted with their bodies, but unfamiliar with it in significant ways, until negative health outcomes force attention that may have been absent over time. A survey instrument crafted for qualitative interviews yielded findings that support an argument for inclusion of body intelligence and body knowledge in this conversation on health. It holds crucial information for decisions about how African American clergy women engage their health and well-being as well as approaches to spiritual care that make up her "community of the self;" a term adopted to highlight the necessity of the African American clergy woman to tend to the "I," not in exclusion of community, but in embrace of the collective voices of the past, present, family and community that already reside within her. This ‘I' calls for a radical regard for the self, inclusive of the body, mind and spirit in constant communication. Neuroscience in this work, supports the notion that communication is consistent between parts of the body at the cellular level. Consequently, intentionality was found to be key when exploring options for healthy practices that nurture the "I" while still attending work of the spiritual care of others.

In summary, this dissertation reinforces and focuses on the importance of cries from the body, the messages it yields and the necessity of this voice to be heard more clearly and considered equally profound within psychological, socio-cultural and theological discussions about the health and well-being of African American clergy women.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CHAPTER

I. INTRODUCTION

Conceptualizing the Question..................................................................... 4

Literature Review...................................................................................... 14

II. RESEARCH DESIGN..................................................................................... 23

Methodology............................................................................................. 23

Design........................................................................................................ 25

Qualitative Interview Survey Instrument................................................. 28

Introduction of Participants ..................................................................... 33

AFRICAN AMERICAN CLERGY WOMEN SPEAK

III. RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BODY............................................................. 37

IV. CHALLENGES AFRICAN AMERICAN CLERGY WOMEN FACE

IN MINISTRY........................................................................................... 54

V. EARLY MODELS, INFLUENCES AND HEALTH

CORRELATIONS EXPLORED................................................................ 66

AFRICAN AMERICN WOMEN CARING FOR THE ‘COMMUNITY OF THE SELF'

VI. HEALING APPROACHES............................................................................. 82

A. COMMUNITY OF THE SELF DEFINED................................................ 84

B. A PASTORAL PSYCHOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK DESIGN................ 90

C. WHAT SELECTED NEUROSCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVES AND

SOMATIC PSYCHOLOGY OFFER A CONVERSATION ON

HEALING PRACTICE.............................................................................. 98

D. DIVERSE HEALING PRACTICES........................................................ 105

E. A WOMANIST CONSTRUCTIVE EMBODIED FRAMEWORK

MODEL FOR HEALING - "FIERCELY".............................................. 118

F. A WOMANIST THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION - THE

CANNANITE WOMAN ARCHETYPE.................................................. 130

CONCLUSION........................................................................................................ 140

IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY........................................................... 147

APPENDIXES.......................................................................................................... 148

BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................... 173

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