Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jacob W. TorbeckLoyola University Chicago TURN NOT THINE EYES: HOLY FACES, SAVING GAZES, AND THE THEOLOGY OF ATTENTION Theoretical Theologies and Practical Theologies have historically been contrasted with one another as distinct but connected disciplines, a contrast with roots in the figures of Plato and Aristotle, or Mary and Martha. Over the centuries, with the increasing ability of theologians to specialize, theoretical theologians have accused practical theologians as ignoring spiritual realities, while practical theologians have accused theoretical theologians of ignoring material realities. This dissertation puts forward a theological exposition of the notion of contemplative attention that demonstrates the unity and harmony of each approach in an enacted contemplative practice. By juxtaposing a traditional mystical itinerary from Nicholas of Cusa with the concerns of 20th and 21st Century philosophers and theologians advocating for justice for the oppressed, I show that this theology of attention offers a paradigm for understanding the work of contemplation and action as inextricably linked. This theology of attention contributes to the field through (1) Demonstrating the contemporary facility of mystical itineraries, especially Nicholas of Cusa’s, for Christian ethics, (2) elucidating thoroughgoing historical theological themes of kenosis and “unselfing” in the ethical practice of attention, (3) drawing notions of mystical space into conversations about social and geopolitical space, and (4) putting “attention” forward as theological action with valences that reach into contemporary discussions of creation care, distraction, and spirituality.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.