Fragments from within the Pandemic: Theological Experiments in Silence, Speech, and Dislocated Time

Katie Cross*, Clare Louise Radford, Karen O'Donnell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article is a methodological experiment in ‘live’ theology. We reflect on the difficulty of creating theological meaning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. This paper stages an interaction between trauma theology, disability theology, and autoethnographic and ethnographic reflections. We explore a particular ‘double bind’ between silence and speech: the pressure to ‘theologise’ during times of crisis, and the awareness that words and theory can cause deep damage in the midst of unfolding trauma. While hurried speech can foreclose meaning and mourning, silence risks concealing existing injustices that have been intensified by covid-19. We pay particular attention here to intersections of race, class, poverty, disability, and legal status. Examining the tensions between overwork and inactivity in pandemic time, we draw on the work of Shelly Rambo and Karen Bray, and consider dislocated time as resistance to hasty solutions, the rush towards resurrection hope, and modes of redemptive productivity. We confront the desires of practical theology to be found useful in times of trauma and crisis. Instead, we suggest theological practices of remaining in dislocated time, and of fragmented speech. These are practices that resist being rehabilitated into unjust systems in times of global trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-158
Number of pages15
JournalPractical Theology
Issue number1-2
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • silence and speech
  • trauma
  • crip time
  • Inequality
  • autoetnography


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