The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.
Eulogies are most immediately associated with funerals. For that reason I’ve tended to think of a eulogy as something sonorous, if not morbid. But that is a misreading. EU-LOGY means “good talk” or maybe “good mouth”. It means to speak or write in commendation of (NB commendation, not condemnation).
In CPE when the time comes to begin the final evaluation process students typically and understandably shudder at being faced once again with differentiating between criticism and critique – between devaluation and positive assessment. The word itself – evaluation – determining a value, a worth. Here we’re in the territory of shame/failure, if not guilt.
To the extent that CPE is clinical professional education there is a legitimate place for what’s referred to as evaluation. But to the extent that CPE is clinical pastoral education evaluation borders on being presumptuous. A different tone – more grace-full and less judgmental – is called for. A theological rather than a corporate perspective deserves emphasis.
The eulogist stands up not to sermonize, instruct, moralize, or even “evaluate”. The eulogizer’s task is to hold up and honor the eulogized (warts and all). Frequently the honoring emerges out of personal memories which reveal humanness through accounts of foibles as well as successes. The best eulogies come alive through humor rather than analysis. The eulogy at its best recalls the person, bringing her or him into the present – available to be appreciated and admired as well as regretted or grieved.
After years of reading and writing CPE evaluations – and finding the task (let me put it gently) tedious, I am more and more drawn to the centrality of memory (anamnesis) as an avenue to holding up a student’s “strengths” and “weaknesses”.
“If _____ ever taught me anything, it was the time when_____.”
“What I’ll remember longest about _____ was the incident in which _____”
“What I regret the most about _____’s CPE experience was _____”
“It’s been joyful to be a witness to _____’s efforts to _____”
And then let the student engage in the task of self-evaluation.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at April 24, 2007 5:16 PM