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in the spiritual discipline of empa- thy—the act of thinking and feeling our way into another’s shoes. It calls for him to disconnect from his fears and aggression and “think and feel” his way into Anderson’s inner world. This spiritual discipline takes practice, but it involves such gospel values as “dying to self” and “loving the enemy.”


In taking on this spiritual disci- pline, Sorensen can begin to imagine what it feels like to have someone important to you let you down or betray you. What Anderson needs more than anything right now is to be understood. Sorensen must immerse himself in Anderson’s world until he understands how scared and vulner- able his parishioner feels under his rage.


This doesn’t mean approving of


the rage. Anderson will eventually have spiritual work of his own to do. But for now, Sorensen needs to extend empathy until that rage begins to fade. It will be a blessing beyond measure for Anderson to experience someone taking ownership of disrupting his sense of well-being and expressing sorrow over his suffering. Our cultural landscape began changing more than 50 years ago. Because of a variety of factors, there is more relational distance for chil- dren in families. This interpersonal distance is the breeding ground for narcissistic disorders, now so rampant in the culture. Today’s clergy are increasingly disheartened, confused and depressed. Training in contemporary psycho- logical theories would enable them to more fully understand the culture in which they minister today. Without the necessary theoretical tools, they can’t help but unintentionally injure and enrage the increasing numbers of fragile and vulnerable people who sit in the pew. M


32 The Lutheran • www.thelutheran.org


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