Acting as Missionaries: The religious Self in Intercultural Practice
Telling stories about ourselves becomes an integral part of our lives quite early. Individuals remember and anticipate their lives, they present and flesh out their selves in stories. These stories deal with the past, the present, and the future, with experiences and hopes, past sufferings and wished-for happiness, real events and things imagined. They recapitulate and assess what was and what is, they imagine what could and what should be. Rational reconstruction and analysis go hand in hand with emotional turmoil and complex evaluations in which thought and emotion, conscious decisions and subconscious relations form a strong liaison. However, this paper presents the analysis and results of an empirical investigation into this matter.These papers focus on how young Protestant believers thematize their own lifes and themselves in the mode of story-telling. Particular interest is given to the psychologically relevant functions of story-telling. (1). It is dealt with narrative biographies to explain and analyze the meanings of actions of thus who are doing missionary work, following a tradition influenced by the symbolic action theory and cultural psychology (2). Because “mission” can mean very different things, furthermore, the concept and reality of mission (3) shows in a culturally diverse world as ours – liberated, pluralized, and open to very individualistic life-styles – an ambiguous picture of the existence and development of religions and worldviews. Thereafter, first, rather tentative results of an empirical research are presented (4). Attention is given to some possible meanings of experiences and actions, the practices and symbolic representations of those who are doing missionary work within intercultural contexts and how important their experiences, hopes etc. are for their life stories and their selves. The paper ends with a discussion about the relationship between thus activities in question and the concept of “intercultural competence” (5).
Straub, J./Arnold, M. (2008): Missionarisches Handeln: das religiöse Selbst in interkultureller Praxis. Handlungs- und kulturpsychologische Analysen autobiographischer Erzählungen von Protestanten. In Plath, I./ Graudenz, I./ Breit, H. (Hg.), Kultur – Handlung – Demokratie. Dreiklang des Humanen. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 135-194.
Straub, J. & Arnold, M. (2009). Acting as Missionaries: The Religious Self in Intercultural Practice. Reading autobiographical narratives by young Protestants through symbolic action theory and cultural psychology. In J.A.v. Belzen & A. Geels (Eds.), Autobiography and the psychological study of religious lives (pp. 319-368). Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi.