Call for Submissions: Worship, Ritual and Theory

Practical Matters is now seeking submissions on the theme of Worship, Ritual and Theory. Practical Matters is an online, multimedia, transdisciplinary journal designed to ask and provoke questions about religious practices and practical theology.  Practical Matters is funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation, Inc. and supported by Candler School of Theology and the Emory University Graduate Division of Religion. The journal contains both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed content.

The seventh issue of Practical Matters will center on the work of scholars and practitioners from all religious traditions at the intersection of worship, ritual and theory. Scholars of religious performance, sacred music, homiletics, religious anthropology, and liturgical theology have long brought myriad theories from allied disciplines to bear on their respective academic projects. Such scholars and practitioners have recognized that allied disciplines can shed fresh light on religious practices—opening up new avenues of discourse and challenging systems of thought and praxis. The aim of this issue of Practical Matters is to create a venue for expanding such conversations by spotlighting the ways in which theory informs, challenges and opens worship and ritual studies to generative proposals vis-à-vis religious practices and practical theology.

We welcome submissions that draw the study of worship and ritual into conversation with philosophical, anthropological, psychological, sociological, or theological theories that forge new channels of dialogue for worship and ritual practices. Submissions may draw these practices into conversation with a particular theorist outside of the guilds of worship and ritual studies (e.g., Cixous, Derrida, Geertz, Jackson, Jung,) or with a particular theoretical tradition (e.g., performance studies, critical theory, hermeneutics, post-structural theory, psychoanalytic theory). We welcome submissions from theologians, anthropologists, philosophers, and practitioners of religion broadly defined.

We hope to feature work that engages a broad spectrum of questions and themes, such as ...

  • How is a particular field of worship or ritual studies challenged, enlivened or met with greater scholarly precision by engagement with theories external to the field? How has this guild attended to theory or failed to attend to theory and what are the implications of this engagement/oversight?
  • How is a particular practice within worship/ritual studies (e.g., the invocation, Eucharist, Pūjā, scriptural embodiment, meditation, zakat) impacted by attention to theory? How does theory, or the work of a particular theorist, help scholars and practitioners interrogate this practice from a new angle of vision? How is this significant?
  • Conversely, how might worship or ritual studies contribute to philosophical, anthropological or psychological theories? For example, how might the act of reading sacred texts across religious traditions inform philosophical hermeneutics? Or, how might the faith commitments of scholars challenge ethnographic methods within the field of anthropology?
  • How are religious rites of passage, festivals, ceremonies surrounding death and dying, etc. impacted by philosophical, anthropological or psychological theories? How might such practices learn from these allied disciplines?
  • We welcome “notes from the field” (in multiple forms including audio, video and photos) in which those leading worship/ritual practices in communities of faith are bringing theory to bear on aspects of faith and praxis. How are on-the-ground experiences of religious practitioners engaging theory and how have such theoretical offerings been received in communities of faith committed to certain religious practices?
  • How can theory enrich or disrupt the teaching of worship and ritual practices, both in the academy and in religious communities?

Specifically, we are looking for submissions intended for peer-review in Analyzing Matters, as well as for the non-peer-reviewed categories of Practicing and Teaching Matters:

1. Submissions for Analyzing Matters on the theme of Worship, Ritual and Theory will be submitted for peer-review;

2. Submissions for Practicing and Teaching Matters on the theme of Worship, Ritual and Theory will be reviewed by the editors. We welcome reflections by practitioners, essays, pedagogical reflections or field notes concerning worship and ritual practices or other issues of concern for scholars, theologians, teachers and practitioners.

Practical Matters is an academic journal with a diverse audience. We encourage those considering submission to think broadly, creatively, and experimentally about form and content. Submissions in any form (e.g., film, text, audio, images) may be eligible for peer-review; however, the peer-review process is not mandatory for all submissions. We especially encourage non-U.S. submissions as well as multimedia and interdisciplinary pieces of original scholarship.

Issue 7 of Practical Matters will be published in three installments—May, August and December of 2014. The submission deadlines are April 1st for consideration in May, July 1st for consideration in August and November 1st for consideration in December.




Practical Matters is a multimedia, online journal interested in submissions that investigate the broad topics of religious practices and practical theology, past or present, in any context or tradition. We are interested in work that is relevant to a particular, pre-announced theme or themes.

Practical Matters is aimed at scholars, religious leaders and practitioners, teachers, students, journalists, and the general public. Submissions from various disciplinary perspectives are also encouraged. This includes (but is not limited to) work originating in religious studies, theology, anthropology, literature, cultural studies, sociology, psychology, history, political science, philosophy, media studies, the arts, journalism, or the sciences.  We encourage submissions from those both inside and outside the academy as well as work about and from diverse religious traditions.

Practical Matters publishes three general categories of content for each issue:

1. Peer-reviewed scholarship, both text and multimedia, to be published in the section Analyzing Matters.

Our process for peer review is rigorous. Peer-reviewed submissions should be of current interest, should relate substantively to the issue theme, should demonstrate familiarity with relevant literature on the subject, and should be clearly and persuasively written and constructed. Multimedia scholarship might include submissions in the media of film, video, soundscape, audio, new media, photography, art, or performance. Further information about peer review for Practical Matters can be found below.

2. Non-peer reviewed content (personal reflections, pedagogical experiences, essays by practitioners on experiences in the field, etc.).

In each issue, we are committed to publishing both practitioner and pedagogical reflections. Practitioners, religious leaders, teachers, and activists are encouraged to submit work on their engagement with the issue’s theme, religious practices, and practical theology. Teachers of various forms might reflect on how they have introduced or would like to introduce their students to these topics. If accepted, submissions focusing on teaching and pedagogical experiences will be published in the category Teaching Matters and those focusing on practitioner experiences will be published in the category Practicing Matters.

In addition to these specific reflections, the journal encourages a wide variety of engaging and creative submissions. This might include extended topical review essays, art, syllabi, curricula, or field notes. Submissions might also be video, audio, or new media pieces not produced with specific scholarly aims in mind. If you have other ideas, please feel free to contact the issue editors for the particular issue to which you wish to submit your work.

3. Reviews of recent books, films, or conferences on the topic of religious practices or practical theology for the section Matters Under Review.

We do not accept reviews as submissions; however, reviews are regularly assigned to qualified scholars and practitioners for each issue. Those interested in reviewing material for the journal are invited to contact the Reviews Editor or to consult the Reviews Policy below.

General Submissions Instructions:

  1. Every submission, including multimedia submissions, should include a 150-word abstract of its content.
  2. Please note in your email if you are submitting your work for peer review, or if your submission is intended to be a non-peer reviewed reflection on pedagogy or practice or some other category of submission.
  3. We will respond to those who submit, but please be patient.
  4. Practical Matters seeks to engage a wide audience.  Therefore, we are interested in submissions that are accessible and comprehensible beyond disciplinary boundaries.
  5. Submissions should not be currently under review by another journal or have been published in another venue.
  6. Authors, understood to be the creators of content in media and genres, retain copyright for content published in Practical Matters, with publication rights granted to the journal. Any reproduction of original content from Practical Matters must a) seek copyright from authors and b) acknowledge Practical Matters as the site of original publication.

About Text Submissions:

  1. As a general rule, text submissions for peer review (articles and critical essays) should be between 3,000-7,000 words long, although we will consider those that fall outside of this range. Non-peer-reviewed content, such as pedagogical and practitioner reflections will most often be shorter, often under 3,000 words.
  2. Text submissions should be submitted by email attachment to this address:, subject line Submission. If possible, please provide your submission as both a Microsoft Word file (.doc NOT .docx) and as a PDF. The abstract should be included in the same document as the submission itself. Please note in your email if you are submitting your work for peer review, or if your submission is intended to be a non-peer-reviewed reflection on pedagogy or practice.
  3. No files over 5 MB will be accepted as email attachments. If your submission includes photographs or visual components, please take care that your submission is under this size requirement. If your submission is larger than this, you must either post it on a personal web site without identifying information, or send it to us via CD or DVD.Note: if an emailed file is too big, it is possible we will never receive it due to institutional size restrictions on email attachments.
  4. Authors are encouraged to indicate if there is a photograph, graphic or potential visual component to their manuscript, and include that in their submission if possible.
  5. Because the peer review process requires anonymity, please do not include information that identifies the author(s) by name in the content of your submission.
  6. Text submissions should conform to The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. Please use endnotes with full bibliographic information and no separate bibliography. Reference examples can be found here.

About Multimedia Submissions:

  1. Multimedia submissions may also be attached by email attachment if file size permits. Visual images should be submitted as JPEGs, video submissions should be submitted as Quick Time movies, and audio tracks should be submitted as MP3 files. If it is possible for you to put your submission on a personal web page, you may also submit by providing a working URL.
  2. No files over 5 MB will be accepted as email attachments. If your submission is larger than this, you must either post it on a personal web site without identifying information, or send it to us via CD or DVD. Note: if an emailed file is too big, it is possible we will never receive it due to institutional size restrictions on email attachments.
  3. If it is not possible to conform to these guidelines for the kind of submission you intend, or if you have questions about the format of your submission, please email the Editors for Peer-Reviewed Content at least two weeks in advance of the submissions deadline.

Submissions deadline for Issue 7.1: April 1, 2014
Submissions deadline for Issue 7.2: July 1, 2014
Submissions deadline for Issue 7.3: November 1, 2014




Submissions to Practical Matters intended for peer review, in both text and multimedia formats and genres, are subjected to a rigorous process designed to assure a high standard of excellence, as judged by researchers who have expert knowledge in pertinent fields.

Upon submission, scholarship proposed to Practical Matters is screened for conformation to the journal's Submissions Guidelines. After determining that the submission's format and content are appropriate for the journal, proposed scholarship is then reviewed by two reviewers selected by the Editorial Board. This process is double-blind: names of reviewers will not be released to authors and reviewers will not know the identities of authors whose work they review.

Reviewers are asked to evaluate the submission with respect to the journal’s guidelines. Factors to be considered include the work's currency, relatedness to the theme, engagement with the latest literature and debates in the respective field(s), conclusions, clarity of writing and structure, and overall presentation (including the use of audio-visual and web-based materials when available and pertinent). Practical Matters editors may forward questions from reviewers to authors for clarification.

After the double-blind review process has been completed, the editorial staff will use reviewers’ assessments to decide whether to accept, reject, or ask for revisions to a submission. If revisions are requested, authors may review shared comments; they have the option of re-submitting or withdrawing their submission from consideration. The Issue Editors will keep authors informed as to the status of their submissions throughout the process.


Practical Matters reviews material that pertains to the study of religious practices and the discipline of practical theology. The journal values scholarly inquiry across a broad range of media including (but not limited to) traditional print essays, articles, books, film, video, audio, soundscape, new media, photography, art, and performance. We are committed therefore to reviewing the same.

Reviewers are chosen among scholars, practitioners, and others who have expertise in the above fields. Practical Matters does not accept unsolicited reviews.  However, the journal welcomes suggestions for materials to be reviewed. Those who are interested in reviewing material or who have suggestions for review material are invited to contact the Reviews Editor. For those interested in reviewing material, please indicate areas of expertise and include a curriculum vitae or resume.

Practical Matters features work by and for scholars, practitioners, and teachers. With this diverse audience in mind, a review should explore and evaluate material in terms of its primary themes as well as its contribution to the study of religious practices and practical theology. Reviews typically range in length from 500 to 1,500 words.

Practical Matters will from time to time publish review essays. These projects are developed in consultation with the Reviews Editor.

The Reviews Editor works with reviewers toward the submission and publication of reviews, including editing for stylistic and substantive content, formatting, and submission deadlines. Practical Matters retains final editorial discretion over the content and publication of reviews.