Practical Theology III

Rites of Passage (Kasualien) as Family Celebrations (DFG-project)

Within the context of the proposal: Rites of Passage as Area and Concept of Practical Theology (PAK 876)

Term: October 2014 – September 2017

Staff: Fabienne Fronek

Office: Haußerstraße 43, 72076 Tübingen

Rites of passage are family celebrations. They do not only affect the individuals or couples whose biographical passages are addressed, but also deal with the complex changes in the respective family system. Family members and friends constitute the larger part of the congregation gathered on the occasion of rites of passage. They significantly inform the familial part of the ceremony that follows the liturgical act of blessing.

What 'family' is, in which ways it constitutes itself, and how it understands itself, is orchestrated and symbolized on the occasion of rites of passage. The social change reflected in factual pluralization - foremost in a change of awareness and the value system - poses questions for theology and church; these can be specified using the example of church support of rites of passage.

The central question of our research is which (religious) interpretations rites of passage provide for familial cohabitations. The meaning of family shall be focused on in several aspects:

  1. First, we will empirically describe the familial group which gathers on the occasion of a rite of passage in its social relations.
  2. Secondly, we will document the family celebrations following the services and describe the self-presentations of this family.
  3. Finally, we will analyze the concepts of family and their religious interpretation in the service. Our focus will be on reciprocal communicative referential contexts between the service embedding the rite of passage and the family celebration. Our aim is to be able to describe the capacity for meaning-making of the church rite of passage for the familial cohabitation.