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ACPE Pre-Conference Workshop GOD IMAGES AND SPIRITUAL CARE MATTHIAS BEIER, M.DIV., PH.D. Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care & Counseling Director, M.A.

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Presentation on theme: "ACPE Pre-Conference Workshop GOD IMAGES AND SPIRITUAL CARE MATTHIAS BEIER, M.DIV., PH.D. Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care & Counseling Director, M.A."— Presentation transcript:

1 ACPE Pre-Conference Workshop GOD IMAGES AND SPIRITUAL CARE MATTHIAS BEIER, M.DIV., PH.D. Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care & Counseling Director, M.A. in Mental Health Counseling Program Indianapolis, IN, USA MAY 15, 2013

2 WhatWhat HowHow WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care? How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care? What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

3 Pam is a 35-year old Asian-American woman who is on the heart unit of a regional medical center. Her heart muscle has weakened dangerously after the recent birth of her baby son. She feels chronically weak and experiences occasional shocks due to irregular heart-rhythm. Cardiologists strongly recommend that Pam have a heart transplant. Without it, she would likely not see her son grow up. Pam feels torn about the decision whether or not to go on the waiting list for a heart transplant. She and her family of origin belong to a nondenominational church which is against organ transplants. In chaplaincy visits, Pam struggles between theological fatalism (God gives each of us only one heart and thats it) and theological hope (the knowledge that enables us to do transplants is good and God-given). All of her family members, esp. her father, advise her against a transplant, except her mother, who has no opinion. Why is Pam concerned about what God wants? Why does she have the images of God she has? Why do we provide spiritual care? WHY DO WE CARE – AT ALL? WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care?

4 WhyWhy

5 Laetoli footprints of two upright-walking hominids side by side WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care? Walking together … … about 3.6 million years ago.

6 WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care? Burials First evidence 300,000 ya (Spain) Oldest ritual burial 100,000 ya, a double burial of mother and child (Qafzeh, Israel), ritual use of red ochre Emerging hope for life after death Practiced by Neanderthal and homo sapiens (possibly homo erectus) The idea of God emerged from a belief in spirits, which in turn derived from a belief that ancestors or loved ones would not just die but would continue to exist in some way Origin of Images of God: love against death

7 i carry your heart with me e. e. cummings i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care?

8 WhatWhat HowHow WhyWhy How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care? What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

9 The news that she needs a heart transplant scares Pam. What if she makes the wrong decision. Church: do what God wants, what is right, not just what you want. Father disapproves of the heart transplant option. Sees God mainly as one making demands on her; like father. She is very anxious about breaking the rules, doing the wrong thing. Pam worked hours/day, to compete with mother, always felt she fell short. Wants to be independent, not rely on others. Pam shares she feels quite anxious: about death; about her performance; that son would reject her because she cant do anything for him right now. How does Pam experience God? How do we assess whether these God images will have healing or harming effects? How do we assess whether our God images may have healing or harming effect in spiritual care? HOW DO WE ASSESS SPIRITUALITY – AT ALL? HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

10 Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Shaver, P. R. (1990). Attachment theory and religion: Childhood attachments, religious beliefs, and conversion. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29(3), HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

11 Spirituality can be part of the solution and a part of the problem. Kenneth Pargament Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy, p. xi. HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

12 Attachment Styles (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main) Types in infants Secure Insecure – Avoidant Insecure – Ambivalent, Resistant Disorganized/Disoriented (Traumatic) (Main) Types in adults (Hazan & Shaver) Secure Dismissive-avoidant Anxious-preoccupied Fearful-avoidant HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

13 HowHow Model of Attachment to God. Adapted by permission from Bartholomew and Horovitz (1991) and Griffin and Bartholomew (1994) in Okozi, Innocent F. (2010). Attachment to God: Its Impact on the Psychological Well Being of Persons with Religious Vocation. Ph.D. diss., Seton Hall University.

14 Correspondence model Secure attachment in current relationships : God image more loving, less distant and controlling; view of relationship with God as stable and emotionally close (Brokaw, B. F., & Edwards, K. J. (1994). The relationship of God image to level of object relations development. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 22, Hall, T. W., Brokaw, B. F., Edwards, K. J., & Pike, P. L. (1998). An empirical exploration of psychoanalysis and religion: Spiritual maturity and object relations development. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(2), Hall, T. W., & Edwards, K. J. (2002). The Spiritual Assessment Inventory: A theistic model and measure for assessing spiritual development. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2), ) Anxious/preoccupied attachment in romantic relationships : anxious attachment expressed in view of relationship to God (Beck, R., & McDonald, A. (2004). Attachment to God: The Attachment to God Inventory, tests of working model correspondence, and an exploration of faith group differences. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32, Rowatt, W. C., & Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2002). Two dimensions of attachment to God and their relation to affect, religiosity, and personality constructs. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), ) HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care? Compensation model Avoidant/dismissive attachment in relationships : sudden religious conversion and relationship with God in adolescence or adulthood ( Granqvist, P. (1998). Religiousness and perceived childhood attachment: On the question of compensation or correspondence. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(2), Granqvist, P., & Hagekull, B. (1999). Religiousness and perceived childhood attachment: Profiling socialized correspondence and emotional compensation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 38(2), Kirkpatrick, L. A. (1998). God as a substitute attachment figure: A longitudinal study of adult attachment style and religious change in college students. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(9), Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Shaver, P. R. (1990). Attachment theory and religion: Childhood attachments, religious beliefs, and conversion. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29(3), ) Anxious/preoccupied attachment in romantic relationships : greater religiosity and new relationship with God (Beck, R., & McDonald, A. (2004). Attachment to God: The Attachment to God Inventory, tests of working model correspondence, and an exploration of faith group differences. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32, Rowatt, W. C., & Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2002). Two dimensions of attachment to God and their relation to affect, religiosity, and personality constructs. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(4), )

15 The problem with much of God image research is: It assumes that God or the God image is just another object, comparable to early caregivers. And that research on the spiritual dimension basically parallels that on the psychological dimension – except for the difference in objects. It does not see a difference in spiritual and psychological structures of the human mind. It neglects the and goes straight to the HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care? HowHow WhyWhy

16 Eugen Drewermann, b in Germany,author of more than 90 books, translated intoa dozen languages. Former Catholic priest and faculty. Recipient of the 2007 International Erich-Fromm Prize & the 2011 Albert-Schweitzer Prize Prominent public figure in Europe Calls on Christianity to see itself primarily as therapeutic for psyche, spirit, and community Alternative of fear vs. trust as the tool to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy uses of religion. HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

17 Self-awareness, death, and the experience of infinity Imagine spirits capacity for self-awareness as two opposing mirrors, creating infinite reflections. Spirit can infinitize our awareness of life, leading to hope, or of death, leading to despair. HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

18 The Human Spirit (Kierkegaard/Drewermann) Finitude/Temporality Freedom Necessity Reality Possibility Moment Infinity/Eternity Drewermann relies on Kierkegaards Sickness Unto Death (Source: Eugen Drewermann, Sünde und Neurose: Versuch einer Synthese von Dogmatik und Psychoanalyse [Sin and Neurosis: Attempt of an Integration of Dogmatics and Psychoanalysis [1978] In: Psychoanalyse und Moraltheologie, Vol 1: Angst und Schuld. 10 th printing. Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1991, pp ; see M. Beier, A Violent God-Image, 2004) HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

19 Spiritual Despair & Psychodynamics Despair of Finitude Schizoid DynamicsDespair of Necessity Possibility Obsessive CompulsiveHistrionic Dynamics Dynamics Despair of Infinity Depressive Dynamics HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

20 Obsessive Compulsive/Despair of Necessity & Violent God Image suffers from the lack/fear of possibility; despairs of necessity; suffocated by compulsion; reduces reality to necessity in necessity no desire, no wanting, no sense of permission to be endless fight against self in the name of duties greatest fear: to face the truth of the non-necessity of our existence; defense: try to create necessity through perfect action; do absolutely flawless and important work limitless sadism against the Other, esp. what is good in other; sees Other as competitor for ultimate recognition HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

21 Obsessive Compulsive/Despair of Necessity & Violent God Image Obsessive God Image God as taskmaster, judge God as the supreme moralist Self has to be as perfect as God latent: feeling that he may only exist based on a self-earned having to exist doesnt give self real choices HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

22 Obsessive Compulsive/Despair of Necessity & Violent God Image OCD God Transference expect spiritual caregiver to be perfect, to fix client turn caregiver into God May see spiritual caregiver as ultimate competitor absolute anxiety when possibilities open HowHow How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care?

23 WhatWhat HowHow WhyWhy Why concern ourselves with God images? Why with spiritual care? How do we assess whether God images heal or harm in spiritual care? What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

24 Can God give only one heart? ( questioning onesided emphasis on pole of necessity) Is Gods will always opposed to our will ( questioning heteronomous, adversarial God-image) Shared Ez. 36:26 NRSV: A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ( Psychospiritual heart transplant) What can we do in spiritual care in terms of Pams images of God? WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP BALANCE THE SPIRIT – AND REVERSE ONE-SIDED FEARFUL REDUCTIONS OF LIFE? WhatWhat What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

25 Obsessive Compulsive/Despair of Necessity & Violent God Image Healing: when she learns to think and feel that she may exist even if she is not necessary. be wanted and accepted prior to all doing by someone who can justify his existence at his very foundation learn to be good enough WhatWhat What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

26 Healing Through Trust Depressive: trust that he is justifed to exist as a finite being because God justifies Schizoid: trust that the infinite outside of herself is not a threat to the self because God values her infinitely Obsessive: trust that she has a right to exist prior to all doing even though she is not necessary because God wants her Histrionic: trust that he can be free from turning others into gods because God is committed to him WhatWhat What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

27 Resist the temptation of literalism or omnipotence Resist the temptation of formalism or impotence Be mindful of God transferences and God countertransferences Deconstruct the Gods will vs. human will dichotomy Deconstruct the suffering servant masochism. Be real WhatWhat What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

28 i carry your heart with me e. e. cummings i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) WhatWhat What can we do in spiritual care to address God-images in healing ways?

29 Anthem Anthem by Leonard Cohen We asked for signs the signs were sent: the birth betrayed the marriage spent Yeah the widowhood of every government – signs for all to see. I can't run no more with that lawless crowd while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud. But they've summoned, they've summoned up a thundercloud and they're going to hear from me. Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in. The birds they sang at the break of day Start again I heard them say Don't dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be. Ah the wars they will be fought again The holy dove She will be caught again bought and sold and bought again the dove is never free. Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in.

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31 Despair of Necessity: Ken, a 44 year-old Caucasian man, had been admitted to the ER following a suicide attempt. His car was totaled and he had two broken legs. Chaplain Mary learned during several visits with Ken following surgeries that he attempted suicide after he found out his wife had had an affair for the past 5 years. He tried so hard to be a good provider, he says. What devastated me was not just the affair, but that my whole life I tried to gain love through utility. Growing up I never felt that I mattered, so I tried to earn it through my actions. But now that, too, has collapsed.

32 Depression & Violent God Image Characteristics - fears finitude; despairs of infinity; avoids acceptance of limitations, of the temporal. - key identifier: the sheer infinite and boundless feelings of guilt and responsibility, paired with an unlimited readiness, to be there for others. - Differential to OCD: depressed feels guilty for simply existing not just for wrong deeds - flees into others; others have absolute rights - fear to be experienced as a burden latent wish to finally find a place where the unbearable burden of being can be laid down

33 Depressed Violent God Image self needs to be like God: - omniresponsible, omniscient, omni- present, and omnipotent. Everything is her fault. - self is utterly unworthy before God - turns God into a principle of flight from the world; doesnt let person live in world - culturally: religion which feeds on masochistic guilt feelings; religion reduced to morality; religion fosters follower mentality

34 Depressed Violent God Image God Transference: - feels self to be absolutely responsible for everything in treatment; says he expects nothing, but in reality expects god-like presence of therapist; fears counselor as absolute moralist. Healing: learning to trust that she is absolutely wanted and accepted in her very finitude: shortcomings, limitations.


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