Affect Theory, Shame, and Christian Formation

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Stephanie N. Arel
  • London, England: 
    Palgrave Macmillan
    , November
     206 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Alvaro Tejada forthcoming.


This book addresses the eclipse of shame in Christian theology by showing how shame emerges in Christian texts and practice in ways that can be neither assimilated into a discourses of guilt nor dissociated from embodiment. Stephanie N. Arel argues that the traditional focus on guilt obscures shame by perpetuating the image of the lonely sinner in guilt. Drawing on recent studies in affect and attachment theories to frame the theological analysis, the text examines the theological anthropological writings of Augustine and Reinhold Niebuhr, the interpretation of empathy by Edith Stein, and moments of touch in Christian praxis. Bringing the affective dynamics of shame to the forefront enables theologians and religious leaders to identify where shame emerges in language and human behavior. The text expands work in trauma theory, providing a multi-layered theological lens for engaging shame and accompanying suffering.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Stephanie N. Arel is currently a fellow at the Institute for the Bio-cultural Study of Religion at Boston University. She serves on the Intercontinental Academia on Human Dignity, hosted jointly by Hebrew University, Israel, and Bielefeld University, Germany. She holds a certificate in trauma modalities for clinical treatment from the New York Institute for the Psychotherapies. Her research focuses on trauma, shame, and Christian formation.

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