New book by ACU theologian uses music to explore doubtful faith

Theologians throughout history have written about the necessity of questioning the Christian faith to better know and understand God and religion, but are there other useful modes of investigating doubt?   

According to Australian Catholic University theologian, Dr Maeve Heaney VDMF, music can be the ultimate tool where words fail to express the fullness of Christian truth.

In her new book, Suspended God: Music and a Theology of Doubt, Dr Heaney explores 12 key issues, doubts, or questions that present a challenge to Christian faith or a person’s image of God.

These questions are addressed in two ways – through the eyes of a Christian thinker who responded to that question, and through an original song by Dr Heaney from her album, Strange Life: The Music of Doubtful Faith.

Secretary for the Dicastery for Culture and Education, Monsignor Paul Tighe, officially launched  the book at ACU Rome on September 27, 2022.

From Karl Rahner to Teresa of Avila, Dr Heaney weaves the life and thoughts of a great Christian thinkers with the universal language of music, arguing that together words and music help make better sense of life.

Suspended God: Music and a Theology of Doubt is built on the conviction that good theology is born of convinced believers who are willing to take their questions, and their doubts, seriously,” Dr Heaney said.

“It presents the thoughts of significant theologians in the recent story of the church who have taken real questions and thought through answers that have enabled us to live out our faith more honestly.

“And the book does this with both words and music, since we all make sense of life with more than words.”

While the book makes a strong case for theologians to consider the importance of music in and as theology, academics and researchers, Dr Heaney said her book had wider implications.

“For ministers and pastors, it offers avenues of theological formation in a way that is accessible to those they serve and lead, presenting the lives and thought of eleven significant theologians through the lens of a question they grapple with and respond to,” Dr Heaney said.

“For theology students, it makes thinking theologically clear, accessible, and creative.

“And for those with big questions about everything to do with faith, it opens a space to find God in and through them.”

An accompanying musical resource to the book can be accessed here.

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