“Habitus” in soul care: towards “spiritual fortigenetics”(parrhesia) in a pastoral anthropology
Louw, D. J.
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It is argued that habitus plays a fundamental role in both a practical theological and pastoral-anthropological approach in order to focus on the “wholeness” of the human soul (soul as a qualitative and relational entity). It is hypothesized that a spiritual understanding of fortigenetics and the emphasis on a positive growth model can help pastoral theology to develop a theological theory for the empowerment of the being functions of human beings. In this regard, the theological notion of parrhesia can play a decisive role. The article proposes a paradigm shift from pathogenic thinking to growth thinking within the parameters of hope care. The core issue in pastoral care is without any doubt the question of how we view human beings and from which perspective we approach the human person. Within the tradition of cura animarum, pastoral care claimed to be “soul care”. Immediately in theory formation, the quest for a pastoral anthropology becomes vital and fundamental. What is meant by “soul” in a pastoral anthropology? Is “soul” a substantial issue or not? Is there a difference between “soul” in psychology and “soul” in theology? These questions cannot be avoided in theory formation, which claims to be academic and scientific. Theory formation is the main endeavour in any form of scientific research and academic enterprise1. It is the task of the academic researcher to design and produce the “tools of the mind” (paradigms and theories) necessary for scientific research and methodological questions. Inappropriate theory leads to inappropriate models, projects and ministerial practices. The reason for this assumption resides in the fact that theories are carriers and containers of the human mind in its attempt to grasp the meaning of daily living. Theories are designed to translate life experiences into patterns of thinking (rational constructions). Theories represent the rational categories of understanding (paradigms) within the scientific endeavour to schematise ideas and to link them with the realities of the existing world. Reader (2008: 6) aptly points out that the clerical and official paradigm has dominated the field of practical theology for many decades. Since the advent of the Aufklärung (Enlightenment), the impact of positivistic and secular thinking, as well as the dominant role of the empirical model for scientific research, practical and pastoral theology has been overtaken by ideas emanating from the fields of psychology and sources of secular therapeutic knowledge. In the meantime, the “hermeneutical model of pastoral engagement” (Reader 2008: 6) surfaced and is putting new challenges before practical and pastoral theological reflection. The “monogamy of space” of the earlier modern age has been transformed into the “polygamy of space” (Reader 2008: 11), while the categories of rural and urban made room for the categories of local (integration) and global (fragmentation). With reference to the notion of “reflexive spirituality”2, Reader (2008: 73- 80) probes for a self-awareness that is engaged in the issues of a global society such as “green spirituality” and the “rise of the new economy” with its paradigmatic framework based in knowledge-based information (the information technology revolution), global activities of production and consumption, and networking competition (Reader 2008: 103-104). The point is that spirituality has become an important topic3 in current practical theological reflection. One can even say that the realm of spirituality demarcates the field of pastoral theology. How could the category of spirituality then contribute to identity formation and a sense of being affirmed and empowered within a pastoralanthropological approach? In terms of the tradition of pastoral care as a Christian enterprise, the concept cura animarum sets the anthropological boundaries for pastoral care as an academic endeavour. In this field, from an anthropological point of view, the object of research is the realm of the “human soul”. With reference to Christian spirituality, the underlying assumption is that the functioning of the “human soul” is closely connected to the human quest for meaning. A second assumption is that Christian spirituality, as a theological category, inter alia refers to a vivid and acute awareness of the presence of God (coram Deo). This kind of awareness implies that knowledge entails more than mere rational reflection. Knowledge implies also a true discernment regarding what really counts in life and how meaning is embedded within the dynamics of relationships and the quality of human beings’ commitments (the realm of faith and belief systems). The challenge in an academic approach is how to work within the healthy tension between scientia (knowledge of the mind) and sapientia (wisdom of the heart). Therefore, the academic and theological endeavour is to develop appropriate constructs and conceptual designs that are adequate to interpret the reality of existential and cultural contexts, but at the same time, to be fit and appropriate to link the human quest for meaning to the spiritual realm of life and the content of the Christian faith.