Stories from the Street

A Theology of Homelessness

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  • David Nixon, University of Exeter, UK
  • Stories from the Street is a theological exploration of interviews with men and women who had experienced homelessness at some stage in their lives. Framed within a theology of story and a theology of liberation, Nixon suggests that story is not only a vehicle for creating human transformation but it is one of God's chosen means of effecting change. Short biographies of twelve characters are examined under themes including: crises in health and relationships, self-harm and suicide, anger and pain, God and the Bible.

    Expanding the existing literature of contextual theology, this book provides an alternative focus to a church-shaped mission by advocating with, and for, a very marginal group; suggesting that their experiences have much to teach the church. Churches are perceived as being active in terms of pastoral work, but reluctant to ask more profound questions about why homelessness exists at all. A theology of homelessness suggests not just a God of the homeless, but a homeless God, who shares stories and provides hope. Engaging with contemporary political and cultural debates about poverty, housing and public spending, Nixon presents a unique theological exploration of homeless people, suffering, hope and the human condition.
  • Contents: Foreword; Preface; Prologue: encounter; Part I Methods and Mapping: New clothes for an old story? (1); New clothes for an old story? (2); Collecting stories. Part II Results: Homeless narratives in context; Life histories of homeless people; Themes from homeless lives: biography; Themes from homeless lives: emotions; Themes from homeless lives: spirituality; Themes from homeless lives: reading the Bible together. Part III Conclusions: Towards a theology of homelessness: the story we're in; Towards a theology of homelessness: a new telling of the story; Stories of a homeless God; Epilogue: occupy; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: Revd Dr David Nixon is an Anglican Parish Priest in Plymouth. His interest in social exclusion/inclusion began during a curacy in the same city, working with charities and local organisations concerned with housing, homelessness and community development. As a part-time research fellow at Exeter University, he also worked with the No Outsiders research team investigating education and sexualities in primary schools, and has published widely in academic journals in this area.
  • Reviews: ‘…it is the stories themselves which are the most powerful aspect of the book. They are raw, memorable, heartbreaking and sometimes funny…I hope that the book will attract the broad range of readers it deserves.’
    Janet Dyson, RE Today, UK

    'For any person, homelessness is complex and never a single issue. David Nixon has listened and analysed people’s stories and made good sense from them. His wise and insightful use of their stories and his analysis is the best sort of Practical Theology from which we can all learn. It will help Christians meet and respond to the needs of homeless people.'
    Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, UK

    'This is a fascinating and important study. It is an exercise in listening to the voices of those who are rarely heard. Written with clarity and elegance, it is a life-changing exploration of the narratives of faith and the journey of life. This is a pioneering text, which will interest American scholars who are seeking to connect a liberationist perspective with the journeys of those who struggle in a prosperous nation. There is nothing quite like this remarkable book.'
    Very Revd Dr Ian Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA

    'What sense can Christians make of the experience of homelessness? Listening to homeless people’s stories David Nixon invites us to understand them in the light of Scripture and of the ongoing Christian call for social justice. What emerges is a chapter in British liberation theology which calls us not simply to empathise but to change the way we think about homelessness.'
    Professor Tim Gorringe, University of Exeter, UK

    'Stories from the Street not only provides a fascinating insight into the lives of people who are often overlooked, but understands that they also have a contribution to make. The theological reflections should remind the Church about where its real focus lies - not just in caring for the dispossessed but in questioning why they are dispossessed in the first place.'
    Ben Bradshaw, MP

    'This book contains stories of homeless people and suggests that this marginal group may have much to teach the Church. This rather unusual work of contextual theology deserves a wide readership. As Ben Bradshaw points out, it can remind the church not only of the need to care for the dispossessed but also of the importance of learning from them and asking why they became homeless in the first place. Highly recommended.'
    The Church of England Newspaper

    'This book would be a good resource for a study group…'
    Church Times

    ‘The interviews are absorbing, thorough, dispassionate and very honest. Indeed, honesty is a feature of the whole project. …The survey of literature is impressive. The author has done a very healthy trawl through contemporary theologies of story, and has a good understanding of the contemporary political and churchly understanding of poverty, social dislocation and housing issues.’

    ‘Nixon’s study is laudable in pointing the way not just to a theology of story but to understanding the brokenness of our human condition. It encouraged me to confront the accuracy of the privileged lens of accountability I impose on my homeless brothers and sisters. The study is a gateway into further future insights into how human brokenness and theological reflection can shape various aspects of healing that the gospel promises God will one day bring about.’ Themelios