Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Marginality and coping: A communal contextual narrative approach to pastoral care with Korean American Christians
by Lyu, Jaesang, Ph.D., The Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver, 2009, 265; 3366196
Abstract (Summary)

Focusing on Korean American experiences of racism, sexism, and intergenerational conflicts related to the acculturation process, this dissertation examines the social reality of marginality and constructs a communal contextual narrative approach to pastoral care. Current approaches to pastoral care in the Korean American church encourage a deferring style of religious coping that maintains the status quo—the internalized status of marginality—without activating self agency for the fulfillment of one’s own selfhood within the communal life of religious communities. A communally grounded sense of self agency is described in terms of three aspects of Korean indigenous culture: (1) uri (we-ness), (2) jeong (communal empathic connection), and (3) han (the experience of suffering from interdependent injustice).

A communal contextual narrative approach challenges the limitations of passive (deferring) ways of coping that disengage personal narratives from biblical narratives. This approach encourages a collaborative coping style, which emphasizes the partnership of human agency with divine agency in the context of the faith community. Asian (Korean) American feminist theologies, along with theologies of divine marginalization are used to describe a process of deconstructing dominant and destructive narratives and reconstructing alternative liberating narratives based on biblical stories about marginalization. In elaborating how to implement this model of pastoral care, this dissertation draws upon (1) narrative therapy approaches developed by White (1990, 2007) and other narrative therapists; (2) the “biblical narrative model” developed by Wimberly (1994, 2003, and 2008); and (3) the indigenous practice of han-pu-ri as a process of change. Four steps are outlined: (1) evoking sacredness, (2) naming and externalizing the problem, (3) re-authoring one’s story, and (4) re-membering and reconnecting with the community and God.

Finally, this dissertation proposes a vision of the Korean American church as an Uri community that continues to weave the human narratives with biblical narratives, in which person, community, and God collaborate as partners for authoring life-giving stories that reflect the full potentiality of life. By reframing negative experiences of marginalization within the larger narratives of both the Uri community and biblical narratives of marginalization, this dissertation challenges Korean immigrants and their families to move from social marginality defined by oppressive narratives to authentic marginality defined by preferred narratives about God.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Doehring, Carrie
Commitee: Graham, Larry, Jones, Arthur
School: The Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver
Department: Religious and Theological Studies
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Theology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Christians, Coping, Korean-Americans, Marginality, Narrative therapy, Pastoral care, Pastoral care and counseling, Pastoral theology, Religious coping
Publication Number: 3366196
ISBN: 978-1-109-26985-7
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