Original Research - Special Collection: Yolanda Dreyer Festschrift

Inhabiting compassion: A pastoral theological paradigm

Phil C. Zylla
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 4 | a4644 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i4.4644 | © 2017 Phil C. Zylla | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2017 | Published: 31 August 2017


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Abstract

Inspired by the vision of care in Vincent van Gogh’s depiction of the parable of the Good Samaritan, this article offers a paradigm for inhabiting compassion. Compassion is understood in this article as a moral emotion that is also a pathocentric virtue. This definition creates a dynamic view of compassion as a desire to alleviate the suffering of others, the capacity to act on behalf of others and a commitment to sustain engagement with the suffering other. To weave this vision of compassion as a habitus rather than a theoretical construct, the article develops three phases of compassion: seeing, companioning and sighing. This framework deepens and augments a pastoral theological paradigm of compassion with the aim of inculcating an inhabited compassion in caregivers and the communities in which they participate.

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