The Fifteen Elements of the Philosophy {Section B:4}

The Fifteen Elements of the Philosophy

 

1 Pastoral Care in the Community Modern pastoral care in the community is a unique caring modality with characteristics not necessarily found in associated modalities, such as counselling, therapy, social work and community work. Pastoral care as a discipline arose within church life in the West, and was expressed in society as chaplaincy. However, the origins and principles of pastoral care are universal and present in all personal community of which the family is the primary example. These same principles undergird church and religious organizations in their personal life together, and modern pastoral care in the community as proposed here is an extension of this type of care into our modern, general and secular society. This is its unique generic relationship with 'religion'.

 

2 Tradition and Understanding Interpreting the meanings of what people are saying is at the heart of interpersonal communication; this phenomenon is central to pastoral care. We attempt to understand the Other and his tradition more fully, and in so doing we can come to understand ourselves and our own tradition more fully also. At the same time we seek a sense of the objectivity or reality of what we are saying and hearing, and the degree to which it helps or hinders our engagement with the world.

 

3 "The Form of the Personal" as the basic paradigm Thinking of the Self primarily as an Agent constituted as an 'I-You', and not only as an isolated 'I', allows a third logical form to emerge, alongside the mathematical form of identity and the organic form of dialectic that structure our inorganic and organic apprehensions of the world. The form of the personal structures all aspects of personal life, from seeing the universe as material, organic, and personal, to culture as constituted by the sciences, the arts and religion, to persons in community as an 'I' a 'You' and a 'He, She, It', to understanding the Self as a person who acts, feels and thinks, to the individual as an 'I, Me and Myself'. We can think of the Self from three different but integral perspectives, the first, the second and the third personal perspectives.

 

4 The Motives that Drive Our Lives The form of the personal can be applied to the formation and structure of our feelings and motives, differentiating between those feelings that are formally negative and those that are formally positive; one is the basis of necessarily egocentric behaviour and actions that constitute the first and third personal perspectives of the Self, the other the basis of heterocentric behaviour and actions that constitute the second person perspective. The movement between them, paralleling the movement between action and reflection, is identified as the rhythm or pattern of withdrawal and return, a fundamental aspect of our engagement with the world at all three levels, especially the personal. Knowledge and understanding at the level of the personal is the goal of pastoral care, to best inform our pastoral actions.

 

5 Friendship The crucible of friendship is in the relationship between mother and child, and in the complex movement between self interest and interest in the other, egocentricity and heterocentricity. Friendship takes us to the very heart of the human condition. Friendship of the good or primary friendship is the intention and goal of pastoral care, and the outcome of true religion, formally speaking.

 

6 Religion and Pastoral Care A unique capacity of the human person is the ability to objectify the world in reflection and to understand and engage it rationally. Whereas our culture tends to think such objectivity and rationality belongs only to our capacity to think, which finds an ultimate if not absolute form in science through the scientific method we can and need to be equally objective or rational in our feeling and acting functions. Macmurray called this capacity for objectivity self transcendence, which finds its fullest form at the personal level in the capacity to act empathically in the interest of another person. Whereas a scientist self-transcends in his relationship with the physical and material world, and an artist in relation to the world of form and organism, a religionist self-transcends in relation to personal life in community. He or she is an expert 'non-expert' in helping and supporting human community, and enabling its members to live together positively. This is pastoral care.

 

7 Religion as Outward and Inward Processes Religion can be thought of as having both an outward and an inward emphasis. The outward arises within the external relationships we have with others, including cultural and religious heroes some of which we may consider divine. But these figures can also be internalized as relationships we carry within ourselves; this constitutes the inward emphasis of religion. Pastoral care within religious organizations tends to focus more on the outward rather than the inward; modern multifaith pastoral care in the community on the inward. However as we change the locus of pastoral care to the community life of our institutions, multifaith pastoral care has the potential to also facilitate the outward processes as well.

 

8 The Structure of Our Inner Life The structure of our souls or inner life at the personal level is formed through our relationships with other persons or objects that we imbue with personal meaning. These relationships, which are internalized as inner self object relationships, can be analyzed according to the form of the personal. The pastoral care practitioner becomes skilled at relating to this inner structure within pastoral conversation, because it constitutes a person's inner resourcefulness and resilience, and conversation imbued with this positive feeling in a relationship where the carer shows genuine regard and interest can completely alter their capacity to cope with their situation.

 

9 Belief and Religious Identity This has traditionally played an important role in our understanding of 'who we are', but often worked defensively in helping us to know 'who we are not'. The emphases of different forms of religious belief can be analyzed according to the form of the personal, just as can the different types of belief. Primary belief is about what we know in interpersonal relationships, secondary belief and tertiary belief in what we apprehend through feeling and thought respectively. Primary belief is largely expressed through action; secondary and tertiary belief is reflective and hence problematic and is validated through action. Tertiary belief about the world is what James referred to as 'over-belief'; both science and theology are forms of over-belief. It does not play a large role in interpersonal activity except where the belief lies close to our sense of self and identity. Pastoral care seeks to be expert in primary knowledge, and in relating to the personal meanings a person may place in their over-belief.

 

10 Illusion and Religion Illusion and delusion are important forms of belief. Overcoming illusion in life is the way to personal growth and self transcendence. This is Macmurray's understanding of illusion. It is an inevitable part of the rhythm of withdrawal and return, entrapping only if we are unable or unwilling to test our beliefs formed in reflection through action in the engagement of the real. This understanding stands in contrast to Freud's, and is closer to the views of Kohut and Winnicott. Pastoral care practitioners need to be skilled in managing illusion in their own practice, and in appreciating how it might be at work within those they visit.

 

11 The Inner Conversation Internalized self object relationships that carry positive feeling form the positive structure of the soul, and are the basis of inner resource and resilience. We can talk inwardly to such figures as we might talk to ourselves, and we can talk outwardly as if they were there with us. This is the basis of prayer as real everyday activity and not just a formal aspect of some people's lives. Internalized second person perspective relationships in which there is a degree of idealization are more likely to become conversational or prayer partners, ranging from people we know to cultural figures who traditionally embody accepted values and virtues, such as Christ, the Buddha and God. Even atheists will have internal figures they have inner connection with, if only an idealized sense of themselves.

 

 

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13 The Pastoral Carer in Reflection Learning to reflect on a pastoral visit after the visit is over, and drawing others into that reflective process, namely a supervisor and a supervisory peer group, is the basic method of Clinical Pastoral Education. Learning to think from the standpoint of action and agency alters the focus of this reflection to what is known of the patient by the carer, what is known of him or herself, and what is known of the relationship between the two; and how that knowledge can be checked for error and increased by reflection, so that the carer can return to visiting having learnt more about all three points of attention, increasingly able to use that knowledge while they are actually acting.

 

14 Reflection- and Knowledge-in-Action The central skill in good pastoral care is being able to reflect-in-action that makes knowledge-in-action available while in the act of visiting. This capacity grows out of the practice of withdrawing to reflect as described in chapter 13, and in learning to let the reflection process go on within so that we are paying attention primarily to the patient, secondarily to what is happening in ourselves, and thirdly to what is happening in the relationship between us; all on the run as it were.

 

15 Self Revelation in Pastoral Care Pastoral care as intentional friendship, unlike other caring modalities, subordinates the impersonal to the personal. Self revelation is then an essential aspect of the skill base of the pastoral carer, but always within the intention to care and act in the interest of the other or patient. The relationship intends freedom and equality, and this finds expression in the carer not being caught up in needing to 'fix up' the patient, but to befriend them, letting them go as much and as easily as joining them for the moment in their life's journey.

 

End of 4 Philosophy Pages

 

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