Original Research

'I am who I am': Deconstructing orphaned boys' references to God: An application of the post-foundational notion of practical theology

Juanita Meyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1494 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1494 | © 2016 Juanita Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2015 | Published: 23 May 2016

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Juanita Meyer, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa

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This article investigates and reflects on the religious and spiritual aspects inherent in the narratives of adolescent male orphans, affected by HIV and AIDS, poverty and fatherlessness, and more specifically on aspects which tell us about how these boys understand and experience the presence of God within their specific situations. In coming to such an understanding, this article focuses specifically on the various names attributed to God by the coresearchers and investigates the prominence through social construction behind these names and how it influences the coresearchers’ experience of God amidst their unique circumstances. With the use of the perspectives of a post-foundational notion of practical theology and narrative therapy and research, these names and their accompanied significance are deconstructed. The aim of the deconstruction process is to unveil dominant discourses that both inform the use of specific references to God and assist the coresearchers in finding meaning in the use of these names. The larger study employed research methods from the qualitative and case study research design, and included interdisciplinary work based on the post-foundational notion of transversality. Disciplines included in the dialogue were pastoral therapy, critical psychology and social work. This article’s reflections can be useful in all the above-mentioned disciplines and gives insight into understanding the significance behind the phenomenon of naming a deity in one’s personal and public language, and the influence such spiritual affirmations have in the psychosocial sphere of the holistic persona.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The larger study (from which this article originates) is an interdisciplinary study, as to conform to the principles of a postfoundational notion of practical theology and as such supports the assumptions underlying this theoretical framework.

Keywords: Names for God; Postfoundationalism; Practical Theology; Co-Researchers; HIV and Aids; Poverty; Father Absence


Names for God; Postfoundationalism; Practical Theology; Co-Researchers; HIV and Aids; Poverty; Father Absence


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