Profile Sheet | "Permanently Normative?"-Project
Jun.-Prof. Dr. theol., chair of practical theology with focus on pastoral care, Theological Seminary, Heidelberg University.
Trained psychotherapist (cognitive behavioral therapy)
Scientific director of the Center for Pastoral Care (Zentrum für Seelsorge), Protestant Church in Baden, Heidelberg
Course management for trainings in pastoral care during the vicariate (training phase for pastors)
The project interests me from several perspectives, but first and foremost the practical-theological one with reference to poimenics. From my current projects, some references can be made that could be interesting for further reflections and collaboration.
Empirical research on religion and values and general (more systematic) reflections on (religious) values: I am particularly interested in the theory of lived religion and how it is reflected in values. In this respect, (religious) values could be understood as concrete translations of religious cognitions, which are prerequisites for (professional) action. Especially in professional contexts, the mediation of theology as reflection on practice on the one hand, and self-awareness as reflection on concrete practice (for instance, very important in pastoral care) on the other hand, should be considered.
Research on religion/spirituality in pastoral ministry: I examine current pastoral-theological approaches and perspectives for their understanding of spirituality and the relation to parish ministry in the diversity of office, person, profession. This includes the relationship between theology and lived spirituality, but also questions about the normativity / standardization of certain religious attitudes, beliefs, which are action-guiding and can sometimes be set absolute (fundamentalism vs. pluralism). What is difficult here is that these basic religious attitudes can remain implicit without the services of theological reflection of concrete spirituality and thus have a "permanent normative" effect, and at the same time a separation of theology and spirituality takes place. This also affects questions of training for the pastorate (including the teaching profession) and the handling of various forms of spirituality, both in studies and in the vicariate and further training.
Values in Caring Communities: Another current project investigates (also empirically) the values and motives of actors in caring communities. It examines which values (in religious and non-religious contexts) are named by the actors, especially volunteers (also in pastoral contexts), and how they orient actions. Values such as common good orientation, solidarity, justice or charity form the basis for action oriented toward others and their needs.
In pastoral care training, I am concerned with the question of (implicit) norms and values, for example, with regard to political, religious, cultural, and lifestyle beliefs. Regularly, more or less strong emotions function as a detector for the approval or rejection of values and attitudes articulated/demonstrated by the other person. The concept of otherness (Fremdheit) and empathy plays a role here, but also, very fundamentally, attitudes (Haltungen) in pastoral care. Ways to deal with this is reflection in the protocol meeting (verbatims) and self-awareness, which is offered to some degree (mostly as an offering in individual counseling or in guided group sessions) in the vicariate. In pastoral care trainings in the narrower sense they are part of the standard (DGfP, German Society for Pastoral Psychology).
Ethics and pastoral care in a clinical perspective: Right now I am working on a new project that explores the lines of connection between ethics and pastoral care. It is about hospital chaplaincy and the ethical foundations that are particularly relevant for ethical conflict situations at the end of life, but also for other existential situations. Of interest here is the necessary development of a professional ethic. On the one hand, chaplains should be enabled to recognize and reflect on their personal, spiritual, value-related norms and attitudes. On the other hand, pastoral practice also shows that normativity and value conflicts can arise in ethical evaluation, e.g. between professions or in encounters with patients. I could well imagine that a bridging between disciplines could be established here, exploring the meaning of norms / values in pastoral care (not only in the clinical setting).
I wish all participants a great exchange with each other that brings together many perspectives and generates joint projects and ideas (without publication pressure). I would very much like to be there and hope to pick up on one or two threads of thought after the conference, and to be able to get involved when we meet in Heidelberg in fall 2023.
I could well imagine continuing to work in smaller topic-centered groups. I am particularly interested in the perspectives and topics mentioned above, but I am certainly open to new projects and perspectives that arise during the workshop. Unfortunately, I myself cannot be there, since my children are still too small for such a long journey. But I hope that I can continue to contribute. I have already spoken with Mikkel Christoffersen and Christoph Wiesinger about the details. For me, the perspective of pastoral care would be important, but also religious research or psychology of religion, which I would like to further strengthen, hoping to add something to the project context.