Catholic Theological Society of America

Catholic Theological Society of America

Call For Papers

Practical Theology Topic Session

Administrative Team:

Brett Hoover (convener)
Colleen Griffith
Ted Whapham

Convention Theme: Identity and Difference, Unity and Fragmentation

Session Description:
“What Is a Catholic to Do?” Colliding Catholic Identity Practices in a Diverse Church
Catholic theologians have long recognized that Catholic identity is as embedded in practice as it is in belief or doctrine. Certain habitual embodied activities seem almost emblematically Catholic—the sign of the cross, the Hail Mary, Lenten Friday abstinence. Yet practices that mark Catholic identity arise (and sometimes fall) in particular cultural, ideological, and historical contexts. Catholic practical theologians desire to understand how such practices nevertheless belong to the ongoing process of traditio.

As our 2014 convention addresses identity and difference, unity and fragmentation, the practical theology topic session hopes to trouble our understanding of practices signaling Catholic identity. Do practices seen as reinforcing Catholic identity collide with one another in a diverse society such as our own? Do practices felt as “common sense” in one context get misunderstood in a different context? What happens when one cultural group’s identity practices (popular religion, embodied liturgical styles, production and use of material culture, means of prayer) are de-legitimized by another group? Do different generations of the same cultural group engage in wildly different or even contradictory faith practices? What happens when clergy or theologians publicly deconstruct beloved practices? How do identity practices become fodder for ideological debate? How do asymmetries of power impact colliding notions of practice?

The practical theology topic session seeks proposals presenting case studies exploring Catholic identity practices that exist in tension with different groups’ perspectives on Catholic identity. We hope to demonstrate the pluralism of practices reinforcing Catholic identity but also to better understand their relationship to the ongoing normative process and experience of tradition.

Please submit proposals to Brett Hoover at on behalf of the practical theology leadership team.  Successful proposals will examine specific practices of Catholic identity in their cultural and historical context, attending to how such practices may exist in tension with the practices or understandings of Catholic identity of other cultural, generational, or ideological groups.  They will also show how colliding practices shed light on theological interpretations of identity and difference, unity and fragmentation. 

Information to be Included in Your Proposal:

  • Your paper proposal should be not more than 250 words.
  • You should also include a 100 words précis that will be posted on the CTSA website should your paper be accepted.
  • Please provide your name and institution and contact information, including e-mail.
  • Indicate whether you will be requiring A/V equipment.

Eligibility for Submitting Paper Proposals

  • CTSA guidelines require that those making proposals ordinarily be associate or full members in good standing with their dues paid up.  Anyone with an associate or full membership application on file can also submit a proposal if they expect to be accepted for membership in the upcoming June convention. 
  • No member may present a paper/respond to a paper/participate on a panel more than once at a given convention. An exception is made for members of under-represented groups. Presentations made to the Women’s Consultation on Constructive Theology are included in this rubric.

Deadline: September 1, 2013.  Please submit proposals to:  Brett Hoover,

You will be notified by e-mail whether your paper has been accepted by September 14, 2013.