Defending the post-pastoral: A Response to Michael Winter

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We are grateful to Michael Winter for both his detailed and thought-provoking comments on our original submission, and for developing these in his response. We agree that there is more need for studies of religion in rural settings, and hope this exchange will prompt more work. Winter’s comments serve as a reminder that institutions develop frameworks – often theologically-grounded – for responding to change, and that there is often considerable organization and deliberation to (re)conceptualize lay roles. However, these roles also depend on lay-people willing to give their time and efforts to contribute toward various activities. While we agree that engagement with theology is to be welcomed as part of a multi-faceted and truly multidisciplinary understanding, we caution that engagement with religion should not be limited to theology. As Davie (1994) and Heelas and Woodhead (2005) have argued, there is a clear trend of incorporating diverse spiritual positions into individuals’ world-view, if not religious and/or spiritual identity. While not necessarily a ‘pick-and-mix’ approach, there is a suggestion that denominational boundaries are becoming permeable. While theological approaches are important in informing the top-down institutional responses, they do not necessarily capture the fullness and diversity of contemporary religious and spiritual identities. We wish to respond to Winter’s comments in regard to three aspects: the need to consider diverse experiences beyond those of (Anglican) Christianity; the pastoral (rather than priestly) element; and the material and performative significance of buildings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2016


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