The Basis of Relationships {Section B:2}

The Basis of Relationships


"Intentional Friendship", A Philosophy Developed by David Oliphant, lays a foundation for reframing of the most widely used training method for chaplaincy and pastoral care, Clinical Pastoral Education.

For all the difference in belief and practice that is found between the different religious traditions in our society, there is a common commitment to values that enable human community to form and function, and love and care are two of those values. So a theory of multifaith pastoral care can immediately assert a central and unifying commitment to acts of love and care that can give it focus, regardless of tradition. Thus 'friendship', considered philosophically, adequately carries the sense of this common commitment of love and care, but not only as a happy circumstance between individuals; rather as an 'intentional' commitment by specific people, namely in this case chaplains and pastoral carers, in their emotional, spiritual and religious support of struggling individuals and communities.

People who relate together positively form friendship. Friendship is the relationship closest to the relationship of care and love we enjoyed with our parents, but in its most developed form it requires that the friends feel free and equal toward each other while intending the good interest of the Other in their actions. This is primary friendship or friendship of the good. The other major forms of friendship derive from this and follow the form of the personal, a central concept in this philosophy; friendship of pleasure and friendship of utility. These two forms are dependent on their mutuality and reciprocity to be sustainable, because they are friendships in which the underlying motive is ultimately egocentric. Only friendship of the good has genuinely positive motive and leads to genuinely heterocentric actions which are not calculated on an ultimate return to the Self; primary friendship in fact contains and is constituted by the other two in a genuine mutuality that does not have the strain that friendships built only around pleasure or utility can have. Pastoral care in this thesis is founded in primary friendship.

Even a well functioning family needs the intention of positively motivated actions and friendship to be present, at least within the parents, to enable the personal community of the family to cohere, and have the ways and means to stay together positively. To say that pastoral care is intentional friendship is to say that pastoral care intends the actions that enable personal community, that enables open personal engagement between people, which necessarily includes all that those people bring to those engagements, the pain and hurt and misunderstanding that has negatively shaped their lives by their becoming entrapped in withdrawal from relationships, along with the joys and triumphs and the gathering of inner resources that have helped them cope.


» Next: {Section B:3} "Enabling Pastoral Care": A Philosophy of Pastoral Care