“The Practice of Pastoral Care” by Carrie Doehring

The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach

The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach by Carrie Doehring
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With a title like this, it should be obvious to the reader that this work is intended for a religious audience. The fact is that every religion has someone that fills in the role of pastoral care. The title may not be pastor. It could be teacher, Rabbi, Bishop, etc.

In fact, this work takes more of an agnostic or non-denominational approach, with credentials from Yale Divinity. The book is designed to take an intercultural approach to reach anyone in a similar position. Even better, storytelling is the heart of pastoral care in this work. With my own doctoral in semiotics, seeing the implied relevance of storytelling is encouraging and bolsters the foundation of this work.

I’ll admit it – I went into this review process thinking that I was not going to enjoy the book. That’s now how it ended.

So why is storytelling so essential for this? To quote the author at different points, narrative builds trust, finds meaning in praxis, assesses interwoven theologies, and presents a cohesive, digestible, tangible way to connect to the person. We use storytelling everyday, so why not use it in pastoral care? After all, are religions not based on the concepts of bigger picture, individual narrative in the whole of creation? Based on trust? Based on value and meaning? The answer, of course, is yes to all of the above.

“The mingling of the care seeker’s and caregiver’s narrative worlds generates an intersubjective space for meaning-making.”

The author’s voice is the most challenging part of this work. The discussion is quite academic in nature, using larger terminology and theoretical theologies that can leave a reader reeling from vocabulary and cobwebs alone. But this is not a cobweb of a book – this is a complex web drafted in a format that requires the intellectual mind to engage the theological components and make sense of the mess.

Quite frankly, it requires a higher-level degree in order to fully benefit from the work and digest it in a way that is comprehendable and useable to apply to providing pastoral care for one’s own congregation. Whether that is a Master’s, Doctorate, or Smicha, this is not entry-level material, which is it’s greatest weakness.

Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post. This product is reviewed based on content and quality in consideration of the intended audience. Review or recommendation of this product does not solicit endorsement from Reviews by J or the reviewer.

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