Spiritual care at home. How parish ministry is rebuilt in a public-private partnership

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentationScientific


    In The Liquidation of the Church (2018) I argued that, instead of institutional religion coming to an end in Western societies, its assets and properties are redistributed. From a broader perspective this process may be aptly called re-institutionalization (Beyer) or refiguration (Knoblauch). This paper presents a case study that relates this thesis to shifts in the relation between state, market, and civil society.
    Even when it comes to help in times of spiritual distress, it is not the case that the psychologist has driven out the priest. However, a pattern is emerging in the Netherlands in which state-sponsored collective arrangements of the care of souls lead to a change in perspective, i.e., from a religious worldview to a worldview guided by the notion of ’positive health’.
    Against the background of reducing admission to homes for the elderly on one hand and backed by continuing financial support for chaplains on the other, chaplaincy is exported to settings outside institutions. What started as chaplaincy for the sick and elderly, is developing into subsidized care for problems of meaning. Since 2019, this can also be provided at home by freelancers, connected to so-called Centers for Life Questions. Interestingly, the government expects this spiritual care to make an effective contribution to empowerment and resilience.
    Thus, both in comparison with many other contemporary societies, and in historical perspective, dealing with spiritual distress in the Netherlands has come to stand at a relatively large distance from civil society, including lived religion and irreligion. Spiritual care, barely emancipated from religious pastoral care and humanistic council work, is being put into the perspective of improving individual functioning.
    Period15 Jul 2021
    Event titleISSR/SISR Conference: Religion in Global/Local Perspective: Diffusion, Migration, Transformation
    Event typeConference
    Conference number36
    Degree of RecognitionInternational