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The Art of Empathy

  • Portland Christian School 8509 Westport Road Louisville, KY, 40242 United States (map)

The Institute for Christian Psychology is excited to present a lecture and discussion Mikhail Bakhtin’s contributions to the concept of empathy and the how his work parallels and assumes Christian teachings on incarnational living, wholeness and caring for others.

If you aren't familiar with Mikhail Bakhtin, please don't shy away from coming. What is far more important is an interest in following Christ’s example and how to bring a loving graceful presence to those experiencing suffering. While this may seem like an event aimed at professional care providers, we believe this discussion is fitting for all Christians as we work towards a missional Christlikeness that seeks to offer hope to those in seemingly hopeless circumstances.

Our guest lecturer is Jordan Goings. Jordan has worked in Louisville within education, ranging from dean, to teacher, to chaplain, for the past ten years, and as a local artist for the past three. He has earned both a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Theology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has since published and presented works on the philosophy of the mind as well as on consciousness theory. He currently lives in here Louisville with his wife Sharla and his two kids, Ruby and Theo, and attends Sojourn East, where he serves as a lay counselor when needed.

Jordan’s talk will cover how a healthy, Christ-centered approach to empathy for others is built by exploring some of the tools that author Mikhail Bakhtin set forth regarding the care of souls. His life was devoted to teaching that healthy empathy can be safely handled, but only if certain ideas were practiced alongside.

First, if any person is attempting to empathize well, for the sake of offering safety and growth for the other, he or she must be pursuing wholeness within themselves. From that place of centeredness, Bakhtin then urges that the he or she remain focused on accountability—both to offering a genuine audience to the other person, as well as to his or herself in the sense of knowing how to maintain boundaries between their and the other’s stories.

Once they have decided to live from a place of wholeness, and are aware of the accountability to create a safe space for someone else, Bakhtin’s system suggests its third and final step toward garnering healthy, biblical empathy: living an Incarnational life, as he calls it. This is to say, that the person should then seek to live in a way that fully displays the role of love, grace, and ultimately Christ when spending time with another. This is because proper empathy—under our identity in Christ—does not despair, but sees the other as they are: a beautiful creation from an Author who is not done yet.

Only from this system does Bakhtin suggest that a person can properly hold space for another, rather than slip aimlessly into the depth—and sometimes despair—of that other person’s sharing. So, while this talk will explain his way of empathizing, Jordan will devote some of the time to distinguish between it and what exactly unhealthy empathy looks like to show its dangers, as well as our need for this more intentional method.

There are no tickets being sold for this event but we are asking those who come to make a donation of $5 per person using the button below.