Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Facing Feelings in Faith Communities

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Facing Feelings in Faith Communities

Article excerpt

Facing Feelings in Faith Communities. By William M. Kondrath. Herndon, Va.: The Alban Institute, 2013. xiv + 186 pp. $18.00 (paper).

In Facing Feelings in Faith Communities and its accompanying ebook collection, Congregational Resources for Facing Feelings, William Kondrath argues that developing greater emotional literacy and affective competence is good for individuals and congregations because it allows for deeper relationships and more effective work in community. We become emotionally literate, he says, as we learn to read our feelings accurately, and affectively competent as we respond appropriately to the messages they send.

The book draws upon theory, especially the theory of substitutton of feelings whereby we are socialized to ignore undervalued feelings (for example, anger) and to express more acceptable ones (for example, sadness) in their stead. But it is primarily a practical book, intended to be used by individuals and groups who wish to better understand and strengthen their emotional capacity. Kondrath analyzes six feelings: fear, anger, sadness, peace, power, and joy.

Each chapter is devoted to one feeling and follows the same format. Each opens with a line drawing (created by Kondrath's daughter Rachel) conveying the feeling. Next follow several quotations, poems, and scripture passages-as many as a dozen-intended to evoke it. Kondrath encourages the reader not to treat these chapter components as mere epigraphs but as an important part of a total reading experience that engages the affect as well as the intellect. Kondrath then briefly outlines the feelings "schematic," that is, the psychological pattern connecting its stimulus, the feeling itself, its message, and its associated need or response. He considers the feelings relationship to the body, to gender, and to interpersonal connection. He discusses how the feeling operates at the community level. Each chapter concludes with a list of resources and reflection questions.

Since there are many other books devoted to the study of individual emotions and theories of emotions, the virtue of Kondrath s book is its comprehensive and creative look at several of them. I found myself nodding and underlining my way through some chapters while becoming stuck in others: precisely, I suspected, an effect that Kondrath would anticipate. As he writes, "The greatest benefit from the book will come when you can experience in your body what the text suggests" (p. …

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