Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Healing Social Violence: Practical Theology and the Dialogue of Life for Taraba State, Nigeria
by Komboh, Donald Tyoapine, Ph.D., St. Thomas University, 2017, 243; 10635687
Abstract (Summary)

Abstract This work advances a practical theology of relationships that attend to the narratives, struggles, and needs of Christians caught in ethnic and religious violence in Taraba, a northeastern state in Nigeria. The study re-visions dialogue, in particular, the 'dialogue of life' which leads to fostering inter-community relations, advancing lasting peace in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. This work utilizes the praxis method that is interpretive and dialogical. It builds on John Baptist Metz’s categorical Method and incorporates the praxis aspects of the Cardijin method (see, judge and act). The purpose of the praxis is to transform difficult pastoral situations into life flourishing situations. The study seeks to motivate a re-examination of the design and governance of conflicting communities and contribute towards developing an inclusive, interreligious and ecumenical ecclesiology. The research describes the reality of social context in order to discern conflicting cultural and religious understandings that inform the use of social medium for dialogue. Granted there are challenges of social violence across contemporary Nigeria, and the impact of ethnic and religious crises that have led to so many ruptures in Nigeria, in particular, Taraba State the church can be an effective instrument in rebuilding these relationships and fostering reconciliation.

As dialogical research, this study adopts a method of practical theological reflection that builds on three categories of Metz’s method that explores the “judging” portion of the work in order to engage both African tradition and Catholic theological wisdom. In this way, a deeper consideration of the impact of violence both interpersonal and structural is brought forth. Notably, evidence from contemporary social science in terms of analysis of the people involved in Taraba State and similar conflicts show that the social psychological dimension of violence is long-term stress that ultimately destroys both personal and social relationships. Knowing that identity and social experiences are shaped by relationships Christians are called to understand their interpersonal social relationships in the light of scripture and tradition. God's self-revelation can only be in relationship since God reveals God self as a Trinitarian community of persons. This is well expressed in the experience of the Eucharist which further reveals a profound sense of relationship where divine narrative intersects with human narrative.

Finally, this study explores narratives as another critical category in the theological reflection on violence in Nigeria and the “dialogue of life” as a Catholic response. The study examines the African understanding of community, which itself builds on narratives and relationships. Ultimately, the understanding of community also shapes everyday ecclesiology. When these categories are, therefore, taken together, they confirm the value of connecting magisterial teaching regarding a “dialogue of life,” developed in the context of interreligious dialogue, with magisterial social teaching.

The strength of this work is its major contribution to method which builds on Metz’s categorical method utilized here in relationships, narratives, community and the dialogue of life. It is hoped that the work brings reconciliation in Taraba State, and leads to healing among warring communities both within and without Nigeria. The journey begins with the daily Christian practices of community living surmised here as the ‘dialogue of life.’

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Froehle, Bryan T.
Commitee: Cortes, Ondina A., Holland, Joe
School: St. Thomas University
Department: Practical Theology
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theology, Peace Studies, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Companionship, Compassion, Connectedness, Dialogue of life, Interruption, Violence
Publication Number: 10635687
ISBN: 978-0-355-48206-5
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