The Care of Souls: Psychology and Religion in Anthropological Perspective

Volume 11
Summer 1983
The Care of Souls: Psychology and Religion in Anthropological Perspective

The adversarial quality of the psychology-theology relationship, as found in recent contributions to the literature on pastoral counseling, may begin to disappear when one'€™s perspective is widened (made "€œanthropological"€) enough to include several centuries and foreign cultures. The "€œshepherd of souls"€ is anyone whose occupation is the "€œcare of souls,"€ whether affiliated with a church (a "€œpastoral counselor"€) or not (a "€œpsychotherapist"€). The care of souls is a "€œreligious"€ occupation whenever it deals with an interlinking set of symbols, explanations, and behaviors which refer to ultimacy. Shepherds who assist souls to find ultimacy in the religion of the main-stream society may be said to operate in the "€œpriestly"€ mode. Those who refer to ultimacy in an alternative community operate in the "€œmediumistic"€ mode. Those who find ultimacy in the individual'€™s own existence, independently of social reference, operate in the "€œshamanic"€ mode. Generally speaking, the mode of "€œshepherding"€ ought not be selected in advance by any soul-shepherd, regardless of affiliation; for souls become lost in different ways and require different kinds of direction to find their way. In all cases soul-shepherding ought to lead the individual first to the experience of "€œhaving a soul,"€ the experience whereby one'€™s life is appreciated in part as a function of a creative agency which is "€œwithin"€ one and yet does not wholly "€œbelong"€ to one. To have a soul is to have an eternal meaning, identity, and destiny. Partisans of each of the three modes of shepherding go astray insofar as they ignore the integrity and requirements of the individual soul.

Dr. J.R. Haule
108 - 116
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