Category Archives: Complaisance

Death Bereavement and Be-ing

Republished with permission from Spirituality and Griefcare.


Death does not respect age; any death is a loss whether it be an 18-month old infant, an 18-year old youth, or an 81 year old matron. They are all significant losses to someone and each instance has its own pattern of grief responses and challenges to overcome. Regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status or any other feature, each death is unique and special, like no other death ever or anywhere, because with each death we lose an entire world, an entire package of experiences that may have just been in the process of unwrapping.

We hardly ever speak of a beforelife but tend to be overly concerned with the afterlife. It may be comforting for some of us to reflect on who and where we were before we became who we are when we were born. It’s interesting to ponder that question because we can either trust that we were in fact somewhere, existing, before we were physically conceived. But where was that? The alternative is to believe that once a random sperm entered a waiting egg, a cascade of events was triggered that became the infant you and developed into the you you are today. Quite honestly, neither of the two hypotheses can really be resolved, because we have no real idea what constitutes “you.” Perhaps that’s why we prefer to occupy ourselves with an afterlife, since in that discussion we at least have a tangible quantity to work with: a physical person with all sorts of attributes has died, and we ask the many questions associated with a death, most often Why? and Where?

We are terribly uncomfortable with being so vulnerably human and can’t bear to think that we will someday, somewhere, somehow die. We will physically stop working and some rather disgusting changes will take place in our physical bodies. Like the proverbial ostrich, most of us wander aimlessly and with minimum purpose along the myriad possible paths through the time and space we call life. We greedily seek one diversion or entertainment after the other, never getting enough, and yet demanding and getting more and more distraction from the reality of ourselves and the world around us. We become a shell of what we potentially can be.

Shells of former selves.

When death finally arrives to claim a loved one or a friend, we are shocked, confused, angry, and demanding. How could this have happened? Why did it have to happen? If only…! Reality is really hard to take and when you are so arrogant that you think you can handle all the answers or can control what happens, reality gets even harder on you. You attempt to quench your anxiety with denial but it doesn’t seem to work for you – or anyone else. Death visits and seldom knocks. Death rarely makes an appointment to come around when it’s convenient. Death just drops by and takes what is his.

When a death occurs it almost always ushers in a psychospiritual process we commonly refer to as grief, and a psychosocial process we generally refer to as mourning. Both grief and mourning have their sociocultural patterns we call ritual on the “micro” level and ceremony on the “macro” or public arena. Within these we have social norms, including how grief is politicized, acknowledged, and cultural dictates, bundled together into what we call practice or on a more substantial scale, tradition. Religion / spirituality of one form or another, or one of the philosophies seeking religion, frequently provide a foundation upon which these behaviors can establish and legitimize themselves. The psychospiritual and the psychosocial environments provide the contexts in which the bereaved engage in their grief work, find meaning in their loss, incorporate the transformed deceased into their lives, continue their bonds with the deceased, and transcend the bereavement experience as transfigured persons. It’s a complex process that requires time and permission to proceed. Although the social / public process of mourning may have temporal waypoints and a particular culture may set an end time for the public display of bereavement, grief does not have such an amenity. In fact, grief may be experienced for many years after a loss even without being classified as “pathological,” or complicated, and grief is unique to each griever, it’s a personal experience and must be accommodated by each griever in his or her own way. Grief cannot be rushed nor can it be stereotyped.

Today, in the early 21st century, we are deluged with information and stimuli of indescribable variety and in asphyxiating volumes. Some of the deluge tends to shape our very physiology and repattern our nervous systems, especially our brains and the way we think. The information and stimuli enveloping us at every instant of every day is insidiously evil in that it is directed at transforming human beings endowed with free will into means to unhealthy ends. The media bombarding every single human being today is dehumanizing us and transforming our very existence from beings to doers. We are no longer mindful of the gift of the moment we are living in and we are unable to enjoy the moment in silent reflection We have no peace. Television, radio, emails invade every moment of our lives with commands to “Hurry!” “Don’t wait!” “Do it now!” “Last Chance.” Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging have all replaced real personal relationships with virtual personal relationships. The once sentient being we called human has become a mere reflection in a smartphone screen. We don’t even take the opportunity to speeddial a significant other and would rather spend the time texting rather than  talking. Even “chatting” which was once a form of informal oral communication and stimulus sharing has become realtime texting and responding but there’s nothing real about it.

All of these intrusions and incursions into our humanity and their tragic effects on who and what we are can be seen in our death practices. Digital death is a term that once described online practices centering on death-related communications; today, digital death is the counterpart of a person’s physical death. Our dehumanization is almost complete now because we have moved away from metaphysical, spiritual trust in an afterlife and are now even concerned about what happens to our Facebook page or our Twitter account after we physically die; we are now concerned with a digital afterlife! How pitiful can it get?

Materialist consumerism has decided that your death-related experience, your bereavement, your grief should be limited to three days and then you need to get back to work, get over your loss, and become productive again. It’s called bereavement leave. But it’s not leave to grieve; it’s merely time to get the necessary paperwork done to dispose of whoever it was who died. Three days, people! You’ve lived with an individual for decades, sharing almost every moment and you have three days to get over his death. You’ve raised a child to young man or womanhood, watched a helpless infant become a strapping happy young adult and you have 3 days to get over the car crash that killed him. What have we become?

On April 25, 2017, at 9:20 a.m. two young men, Logan Penzabene and Matthew Hamilton, each 18 years old, were traveling down a main road near their homes, a road they had probably traveled dozens if not hundreds of times on their way to school or once they qualified for their drivers licenses. But today was going to be different, very different. Today was going to be so different that at about 9:20, one would be dead and the other, Matthew Hamilton, in a coma, and hundreds of lives would be forever changed. One would be dead, Logan Penzabene, and the other in a coma. Two families would be plunged into the darkness of despairing grief; a whole community would be plunged into disbelief. An entire school district would be offered grief counseling. Why?

Well, on that fateful morning, the two young men were driving along and for some reason we may never know – perhaps they were texting, perhaps making a call, perhaps responding to some electronic notification – the driver crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and hit a flatbed tractor trailer head-on, killing the young driver and causing critical head injuries to his passenger. Were they texting, making a call, responding to an electronic notification? Does it really matter? Yes, it does matter! One young man is DEAD, another is in a COMA, a whole community is thrown into disarray. Yes! It does matter!

The appalling part of the story is not that the event was preventable – I cannot support the belief that anything is truly preventable and must dispose of that notion of preventability as just more arrogance believing that we can control events. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is one of those arrogant, self-important political figures who believes that if he announces to a so-called program, “No Empty Chair”,  Teen Safe Driving Campaign, which is heralded on the Campaign website as: “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign to raise awareness of highway dangers during prom and graduation season.” Apparently, Cuomo believes that if he announces a campaign the problem is solved.  Cuomo’s campaign  was announced on April 15, 2017, the fatal accident occurred on April 25, 2017.

What we have to come to understand is that inflated programs and bombastic political rhetoric or police efforts during a so-called “campaign” do little or nothing to fundamentally change what government and corporations have worked so hard to create: producers to produce goods and services, consumers to consume goods and services, and sheeple to hear and obey (and to consume). The hypocrisy is conspicuous, it’s glaring, but if you’re constantly gazing into your smartphone screen, constantly receiving the indoctrination (in the past called “brainwashing”) and loving every digital minute of it, you won’t notice.

The churches and deathcare providers are elated. The churches because you may never have set foot in church for Sunday worship but they’ll wheel you in one last time and the church and pastor can get 30 minutes of exposure and a check. The deathcare industry doesn’t care one way or the other; the funeral director will get each and every one of us sooner or later, but sooner is better for the bottom line, and even better if it’s a sensational death that will attract multitudes of mourners! Visibility for both. Revenues for both. Rescue and paramedical personnel get to flaunt themselves and their equipment, which is good stuff for budget negotiations. Local political hacks, including everyone from the coroner / medical examiner, to law enforcement responders, to local elected stumpers ever eager for that special moment to appear and look devastated and share “Our prayers are with you today” canned expressions for the cameras. Even the public mourners and their makeshift shrines erected at the accident site. Everyone wants to be seen meditatively and reflectively, even prayerfully standing at the roadside memorial, “paying their respects,” showing solidarity for the momentary grief of a community. It’s really difficult to tell the real from the virtual.

The Penzabene Crash Site.

But the bottom-line, naked reality is that one young man is dead; another is critically injured. The bottom-line, naked reality is that one family is grieving the loss of a vibrant and vital part of that unit called family; a limb has been amputated and just like in the case of amputation of a physical limb, it is acutely painful, and there will be phantom pain even when the limb is no longer there.

Three days of bereavement leave is not going to work. Empty political actions like “No Empty Chair” or whatever they’re calling that stupidity is not going to work. Law enforcement “efforts” – as yet ineffectual and unrevealed – don’t seem to be doing very much. People are still killing each other, and people are getting dead regardless of whether the killing is intentional or unintentional. Sorry but dead is dead.

We can’t change what has happened and there’s no way we can justify any attempt to rationalize what has happened. That’s what makes Gov. Cuomo’s “No Empty Chair” campaign so political and so scurrilous. That’s what makes Bethlehem Police Commander Hornick’s statements like “it’s a tragic loss”  and “our feelings to out to the families” so pro forma and empty. Incidents like this one are not “tragic” and they’re probably not “preventable” by inaugurating campaigns with political undertones like “No Empty Chair.” Most people would probably disagree with what I just wrote. Not tragic!?! How heartless! Not, preventable? How fatalistic, how pessimistic! But those people would be wrong and misguided, victims of their own delusions, denial, and despair.

What I will say is that incidents like these, while not tragic and not preventable, are important teaching moments. Are important opportunities for everyone concerned to re-evaluate themselves and decide what they have become. It’s a time to become reflective and for self-examination. It’s a time to honestly admit that we are all contributing to our own psychospiritual demise, some of you willingly others inadvertently, but the vast majority are all part of the “preventable tragedies” of our post-modern, post-Christian, dehumanized world.

So what’s the final take-home message? Dead is dead. Loss is loss. Grief is unavoidable. The living will bury their dead and go on living. But is it that simple? Not really.

In my thinking, grief is a unique opportunity for personal and community growth. What you can’t change you have to take good advantage of. We do this by extending ourselves in compassion and love. We have to allow ourselves to stop for a moment so that we can catch up with ourselves. In other words, we have to take a moment and sit on a rock and become lost in time watching the brook flow around the obstacles. We need to shut out the white noise in our lives, and listen to the music of the brook and the birds. We need to raise our eyes from the illuminated screen and allow our souls to be illuminated by the sunlight playing off the ripples and the leaves. We need to stop feeling guilty about caring for ourselves and for others. We need to take time off from being busy to being just be-ing. This is essential to reclaiming our humanness, our spirituality.

I recall as a child the silent dying of a favorite apple tree. Of course, as a child I had the time for be-ing and for listening, for seeing; where there is no time for be-ing there’s no time for seeing or for listening. If we slow down we can hear what the Spirit is telling us about the dying of trees, the planet, of people, and what these deaths mean to us as beings capable of creating meaning and reflecting on love and how all of these things came into being, how a Spirit of love brought us into being.

The questions that we ask about death and dying are basically questions about the meaning of being, of be-ing. These are the questions that go into the stories once told around tribal campfires, and which now become part of the narratives that are told about our dead. These stories were the subject matter of the drawings on cave walls long ago, of the poetry of love and loss, and the emotions associated with the death of green in autumn. The Spirit is very generous in using any opportunity or event to make a point to us arrogant, uncertain, hesitant creatures.

We as educators, spiritual care providers, thanatologists, human beings, need to get back to basics and enter the world of the deep soul.

No condolences, no campaigns, no law enforcement efforts, no roadside memorials, no funeralization service will every have the desired, the needed effect unless we learn to appreciate silence. Our institutions from the family to church to government have taken a wrong turn. We live in an “increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualized world, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness…” [McGilchrist, p. 6]

Our institutions cannot help but have a stake in blunting our maturity even if it means they must destroy the original versions and insights on which those very institutions were founded. We can easily identify that fragmentation in our education system, our government, our churches, and even in our families. [Aside: Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov is a fascinating work of literature in many ways, but the story about the Grand Inquisitor is probably the best illustration of the perverse change in institution over time. Here’s a link to a brilliant portrayal by Sir John Gielgud. The Grand Inquisitor ]

I’ll close with a quote taken from Maggie Ross’ fascinating book, Silence: A User’s Guide, in which she cites a passage from Richard Holloway’s Leaving Alexandria, noting that Holloway’s use of “religion” should be thought of in broad terms, in the sense of any pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

Hear the flow. See the light. Enter the silence.

“All institutions overclaim for themselves and end up believing more in their own existence than in the vision that propelled them into existence in the first place. This is particularly true of religions. Religions may begin as vehicles of longing for mysteries beyond description, but they end up claiming exclusive descriptive rights in them. They seque from the ardour and uncertainty of seeking to the confidence and complacence of possession. They shift from poetry to packaging.” [italics mine]

Download the final article from Spirituality & GriefcareNo Empty Chair

Read a related article at Tragedy or Failure?

Peace and blessings,
Rev.  Ch. Harold

Further reading:
Holloway, Richard. Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt.   Edinburgh: Canongate, 2013. Print.
L’Engle, Madeleine. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art,  2016. Print.
Ross, Maggie. Silence: A User’s Guide, 2014. Print.

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Funeral Homes and Funeral Directors Need to Provide for Spiritual Care

It’s a recognized fact, one that’s been the subject of scientific research and innumerable articles in the professional journals for more than 20 years! That fact is that healthcare and deathcare providers must get with the program and provide holistic services to their clients, and that holistic care must include spiritual care. It’s a recognized fact today that no care, whether of the living or the dead (which is actually care of the living, the survivors), is complete without caring for mind, body and spirit. So why do so many providers chaff at the bit when we offer them the opportunity to provide a complete care package to their consumers?

It’s only natural, almost excusable, that many funeral directors, who have to face death and grieving on a daily basis, become a bit remote from their clients’ experience of the death of a loved one, an unique and transformational experience. That’s why we very strongly recommend spiritual care also for the funeral home staff; they have to reconnect with their human experiences, they have to work through their own experiences of grief, even the grief of others. They, too, are affected, even if they are not consciously aware of it.

Funeral Homes and their Directors Must Get With the Program!

caring for mind body and spirity

Current Awareness and Continuing Education

Current awareness is part of any professional’s ongoing education. That’s why I subscribe to a number of thanatopraxis (the practice of death care; mortuary science and practice) information sources like Connecting Directors, FuneralOne and NFDA, and a number of death, dying, bereavement, grief blog sites such as MaryMac and Everplans; I participate in several continuing education courses and events each year at the NCDE (National Center for Death Education Center) at Mt Ida College and HealthCare Chaplaincy Network and ; I am a member of ADEC (Association for Death Education and Counseling),   and am preparing for fellow certification in death education and counseling, and I share the wealth of knowledge and information I acquire through my blogs, Spirituality, Bereavement & Griefcare, Pastoral Care, and Homiletics and Spiritual Care, where I publish many of my funeral and memorial homilies.

Thanatology Café Events

I’m currently canvassing venues like public libraries, social and benevolent organizations, even churches to host my Thanatology Café events, regular gatherings, where people can hear about and talk about death and death–related subjects, with the collaboration of local funeral homes and funeral directors. This is atwitter grief mourning unique opportunity to learn about death planning, dying, the dying process, death, and after-death care and disposition of the remains. My planned Thanatology Café events will be eye- and mind-opening experiences for everyone involved. Please stay tuned for announcements on my blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn. Find me and my tweets on Twitter at @chaplainharold.

Why all of this in addition to my bereavement chaplaincy practice? Because I, like you, appreciate the fact that death care is really care of the living, and I want to persuade funeral services providers, funeral homes, and funeral directors and their staffs that while they are operating a business, they are practicing an important ministry both the the dead and to the living. It is a tragic and avoidable development in many funeral homes that their goal is to attract as many families as possible in their most difficult moments, to get as many bodies as possible, to move them out the door as fast as possible, to dispose of them as quickly as possible. They manage to do this by appealing to the idolatry of money—we can make grandpa disappear cheaper than the competition. And our death-denying, self-centered culture just eats all of this up. What they don’t understand is the incredible damage they, both the body-disposal services and their customers, are causing to the memory of the deceased, his or her meaning and legacy to the living, to the bereaved in terms of their spirituality and growth, and to the culture and society at large. We need to think outside of the box, people, and return to being human, beings created in the image of the divine. Not just some rubbish that has to be collected and disposed of as neatly and quickly as possible!

griefcareThis past week I spent some time visiting funeral home sites in the Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Greene counties to survey their coverage of spiritual care. As you might guess, the coverage was very poor. While most sites had a Resources page, that page included almost exclusively restaurants and florists, some included hotels and other accommodations. About 5 % even hinted at spirituality or pastoral care services on the site, even fewer referred to spiritual services on the Resources page. This is a serious failure in terms of providing complete service to the bereaved; it’s an ominous development in the death care industry. But it can be fixed.

I have spent years of formal study and have been awarded several degrees, I regularly attend courses and continuing education events to remain on top of the field and as up to date as possible, I subscribe to numerous funeral industry and death, dying, bereavement, grief resources for current awareness, information, and much more. I surf and read funeral home websites to keep abreast of how current they are and what they are doing.

The end result of all of this effort is so that I can provide personalized, specialist interfaith and humanistic chaplaincy services to participating funeral homes and their families in the S.A.R.G. region (Schenectady, Albany, Rensselaer, Green counties in New York state; BTW, did you know Sarg is German for coffin?). I offer those services to funeral homes, hospitals, nursing homes because it’s a recognized essential service to those confronted with spiritual and existential crisis, like the dying and the bereaved.

Part of the problem is with the families themselves

But, regrettably, too many funeral homes, hospitals, nursing homes are either slow learners or just indifferent to the holistic care of their clients. Why is that? We seriously have to ask. Part of the problem is with the families themselves: They simply don’t ask the right question. They should be asking: What can you provide me in terms of spiritual care to get me through this spiritually, emotionally, in terms of how I can use this experience for growth? Yes, that’s quite a mouthful, but that’s why I’m providing the words.

griefcare-finalIn the past, I’ve offered funeral homes or funeral home groups this service through my mailings and many of them have accepted my offerings. But I’d like to invite you to take one further step: I’d like to see you, my readers, do your part to ensure that our funeral homes and funeral directors are aware of the need to provide spiritual care to the bereaved in the context of providing post-mortem services. I’d like you, my readers, including funeral home operators, funeral directors, and families to be the the leaders in listing on your Resources page sources of spiritual care to the bereaved before the death, during the dying process, at the time of death, and during the final rites for the dead. I’d like to encourage families both at the time of making pre-arrangements as well as when making urgent arrangements, to ask about what the funeral home provides in terms of spiritual care and personalized funeral and memorial services.

Spiritual care is an important aspect of care in the funeral arrangement package!

If you’re familiar with the research and publications over the past two decades, you’ll know that spiritual care is an important aspect of care in the funeral professions. So why are funeral homes and funeral directors so slow to react to this reality? The likely answer is this: Because they can! I’d like also to challenge funeral homes and funeral directors to take the necessary steps to explore spiritual care resources and providers in their service areas, and to make those resources available to their families. Listing those resources and services on your funeral home’s Resources page, and noting that your funeral home has an on-call chaplain is a valuable opportunity for your funeral home to confidently inform your families that you offer a complete spectrum of services with a trained, expert, on–call chaplain. Read the trade literature if you have any doubts about this fact.

Rev. Art Lillicropp performs a Blessing of the Hands Ceremony for Kaiser nurses, Thursday, May 9, 2013.

I’m attaching an example of an entry for your Resources page, and hope that you’ll agree to post it on your site. In return, you’ll be providing access to on-call pastoral and spiritual care for your families (arranged through your funeral home), and you’ll be adding an important and much appreciated service to your program.

Of course, I at all times extend the invitation to funeral homes and funeral directors to contact me if they want further information or if they’d like to meet face–to–face to discuss a collaboration, or if they’d like to have a chaplain present at the arrangements conference with the family. They or the family can contact me either by email or by telephone. I am always very happy to meet with the funeral home or with families to discuss how we can best work together to provide the bereaved and their families and friends with this essential service.

Once again, thank you so very much for taking the time to read my material. I hope you find my observations informed and useful. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to hearing from you when you leave a comment on this post.

Chaplain Harold

If you are a funeral home or funeral director and would like to have some sample texts for placement on your website Resources page, please click this link:
Resource Page Texts for Download or Copying.

Where Have All the Mothers Gone?

One of the Take-home Points of Genesis (Both Books of Genesis I & II read together, not separately) is the Distinction of Male and Female, and Their Naturally Different Roles in Creations.

Yes, this is a Pastoral Care blog and I want to make a clear statement at the outset that my vision of pastoral care is holistic and very straight-forward; those who are familiar with my preaching and writing know that I shoot from the hip with a penetrating accuracy. I tend to pick things that are right before our eyes, and illuminate them so you can’t deny them.

We as pastoral and spiritual care providers, clergy, chaplains, pastors, ministers, lay ministers and religious have been called—whether by the Holy Spirit or by another spirit—to serve as exemplary disciples and servant leaders—although, as you will see, some are in the self-service business of leadership, if their ministries can be called “leadership”. We not only teach and preach sacred scriptures but teach and preach morality and ethics, appreciation of tradition, and humility when it comes to questioning the mystery of what makes our faith communities.

Some more or less recent events have drawn attention to the role of women in today’s world, and how they have not managed very well to handle the roles they have precociously demanded, and how they have managed to make a travesty even of their natural prerogatives and functions.

While this blog appeals to and is read by a very broad spectrum of traditions ranging from Orthodox Catholic to Buddhist and Hindu spiritual care providers, and some of our readers will be women who will take extreme offense at what I am about to discuss, while others will strongly agree with my observations, I will ask at the outset that readers, both male and female,  bracket their personal agendas and cast a seeing objective eye on the world around them.

Lets begin with a couple of images:

Yes! You are not seeing things. They are Vaginas carrying signs.

Yes! You are not seeing things. They are Vaginas carrying signs.

Now, think for a moment. Here are a bunch of women dressed up in vagina costumes, parading around in public and representing their most intimate parts. Is there a spiritual statement that can be made on this image?

How about this going down Main St?

How about this going down Main St?

We’d like to think that human procreation is analogous to Divine creativity. Indeed, for thousands of years the woman has been celebrated, even worshipped as the Earth Mother, as the giver of life. So where did this go awry and the outrage of commercialized abortion come on the scene (which implies reasonably, a promiscuity that is unparalled in human history).

Very, very ugly.

Very, very ugly.

Some of us can actually remember when women had some self-respect.

Would I want my mother, sister, daughter includedin this bunch?

Would I want my mother, sister, daughter included in this bunch?

For thousands of years women have had very important roles in community and family, and in ritual cultic life, too. While the notion of women as “priests” has almost universally been the subject of prohibitions—whether for reasons of cultural paradigm, ritual purity, or doctrinal reasons (such as the teaching that women as officiants reminisces of pagan practices)—women are not content with being honored and worshipped as carriers of new life, heads of home and hearth, and maternal figures—in fact, they almost insist on making parodies, if not making complete monsters of themselfs (vide supra).

We tend to agree with one traditional Church spokesperson: Vatican says women priests a ‘crime against faith’. The ordination of women as Roman Catholic priests has been made a “crime against the faith” by the Vatican and subject to discipline by its watchdog. When I am confronted by “disgruntled” women who want to be priests in the RC Church, I remind them that it has been tradition in the RC church that only celibate men be sacramentally ordained; if women can’t accept that, perhaps they’re in the wrong place.

While some may say it’s an overgeneralization, it has been my personal experience that the women who have been ordained in Protestant and Calvinist (note the distinction!) are generally post-menopausal, loaded with baggage, have an extreme feminist agenda (in many cases they have had failed marriages or have been abused as children or adults), are misfits anywhere else. One classic example is the popular Britcom “Vicar of Dibley”, an anglican clergy woman who is lonely, unattractive, judgmental, severely troubled, and sex-starved. Ring a bell ladies?

What you see is not what you get!

What you see is not what you get!

One Presbyterian clergy-woman I trained with came to work with clerical collar and multiple hues of clerical blouse, tight-fitting clamdiggers, and heels or slippers. Another, a Canadian Anglican, came from an alcoholic home, was abandoned by her husband, overweight, smelled like a whorse, tended to get weepy when complaining of her “suffering”, liked to tell male clergy off. What is your spiritual assessment of these pictures? What is the message being sent? Reverence? Humility? Psychopathy? Discordance?

A real mixed bag of tricks!

A real mixed bag of tricks!

In the photo above, center, you see Joy Carrol Walls, the real-life vicar of Dibley. Show me the company you keep….

A woman [?] priest.

A woman [?] priest.

As for women lay religious a.k.a. “nuns”…You know, the powdered and painted women who dedicate themselves to Christ among other pursuits (they used to be called temple prostitutes in the past). No not the ones we remember in the religious habits who stuck to the convents, the hospitals and the schools; they’re now extinct! We’re talking about the ones we write about at Renegade Nun… (it’s a longish article but it makes my point).

The questions we should be asking ourselves as pastoral and spiritual care providers is why this depravity is happening. How has the situation deteriorated to the point where sacred tradition, human dignity, biological prerogatives, even nature has been cast to the winds and gender has become ambiguous and all but disappeared. Why is it that God has to be male or female? Can’t we agree that whatever you call the Divine, it is pure spirit, ethereal, and purest mystery? What have we gained by dragging down our Divine differences that imbue us with dignity, created male and female, and even dragging the Divine down to our decrepit and miserable level?

Where some deranged women’s groups today are complaining of abuse and disparagement based on sexism, we see a myopic one-sidedness. Never before in the history of humankind has the male been made so ridicuolous as he has been made in the American entertainment media, especially American sitcoms. Women have set out on a massive conspiratorial campaign to castrate and enthrall American males to the point of reducing them either to sex toys or absolute morons. And the American male is allowing this to happen. Why is that, I wonder?

Living the Stereotypes We've Created

Living the Stereotypes We’ve Created

Duality, Yin and Yang, male and female are complementary, not antagonists; why can’t we leave it at that. And as PC providers are we providing more artificial and artifactual Political Correctness than spiritual Pastoral Care? Which PC are YOU providing?

Meeting the Monster We've Created Face-to-Face The Editor

Meeting the Monster We’ve Created
Face-to-Face
The Editor

Now God Comes in 29 Different Flavors!

We Are Being Dumbed Down and Turned into A Nation of Zombies.

The Zombies are Eating Our Tax Dollars!

They’re Turning Us Into Zombies
And We’re Eating Each Other!

Technology, the Promoters of the Technology, the Lobbies and Unions Shoving Technology Down Our Throats, the Public Officials Who are Slaves to the Unions and Lobbies, and our Already Zombified Teachers and Administrators are Hell-bent to Zombify our Entire Culture!

Just Shoot Us! Why Doncha!?!

You’re Boring Us To Death!
Just Shoot Us! Why Doncha!?!

I was going to continue the reports on the RC Teen Activity Center and on the Unending Persecution of the RCS CSD BoE President by the Hypocrite Albany DA P.[udenda] David Soares until I Experienced the Most Recent RCS school board public meeting on January 7, 2012. I simply had to comment on it!

PowerPoint Masturbation. I reviewed the RCS Central School District board of education meeting of January 7th, and I was initially amazed that it was so…quiet. Fact is: It was barely attended by the public. Then came the reason: Another one of those idiotic digital slide show presentations where the presenter self-pleasures him or herself by vomiting onto a wall or screen a mass of numbers, charts and graphs that no one but the presenter understands. Only a death squad of mercenaries could kill the audience quicker! Is that the plan? Kill attendance by presenting idiotic garbage? Is that the purpose of the public sessions of the board of education meetings? Well, it does show one thing: If these presenters, who are teachers and administrators in the schools, are that self-absorbed and mentally zombified that they don’t give a damn how intensely boring they are and how disrespectful they are of their audience, what on earth are they doing in the classrooms? Is this an indicator of how they communicate information in the classroom, too? Then, of course, I started to think…

zombies ahead run

Education is all about communication. If teachers and administrators are not capable of communicating appropriately with their audience, what in hell are we spending all this money on paying teachers extreme salaries? If, from what we see and hear in these PowerPoint slide presentations by teachers and administrators is: What in hell are we spending all of the “professional development” money on for teachers? (Please don’t tell me, “It’s in their contract.”) The PowerPoint presentations are much too long, too many slides, too poorly designed, too poorly presented, not presented in a language the audience can fully understand, and present too much information for anyone of normal intelligence to digest! The time, effort, money would be better spent on a simple one-page executive summary, and an essential facts sheet followed with a Q/A session.

Dr Alan McCartney did an excellent job by jumping in and summarizing a very confused and muttered presentation point by clearly distilling the facts: “When she says [the increase in] online testing, the state has essentially told us that Within two years they expect that all state tests will be takend online at the same time by every student in the state.” Bingo. Stop the convoluted explanations and miscommunications, cross-referencing and pointing to other people. You’re supposed to be informing everyone!

But the fact remains: So much money being spent on technology, updates, new computers, etc. doesn’t do very much to improve socialization, reading, writing, development of self. Those are the problems that are being created by over-technologization of our schools and digitizing our learning environments. Out-of-control and excessive dependence on technology is a key factor in zombification.

Big Brother's Zombies

Big Brother’s Zombies

Zombification of America. Imagine all of those futuristic low-budget films where masses of human beings are mindlessly gazing at Fearless Leader, who appears demonically proselytizing on a huge flat-screen. Imagine all of those low-budget walking-dead films depicting zombified undead human beings walking around aimlessly, mindlessly trying to find a brain to eat (apparently they’re brain -starved, the product of our education system). Imagine all of the newsreel, archival, and documentary images of the Nazi era, of Stalin’s Russia, of Revolutionary China and the propaganda machine that deprived whole populations of freedom of thought, speech, movement, and controlled every atom of information served to the public. Have you ever thought about how all of that was accomplished? Have you ever thought about the underlying message these films of protest, of warning are sending?

Are these your kids>

Are these your kids

Isolation of Children. In all of the totalitarian regimes, the family unit was a prime target. First you isolate parents from children, and then you get all the children in one place and brainwash them. Sound familiar? Here, let me help you to understand. In the Nazi, Stalinist, China during the cultural revolution, the family was always made sacrosanct because the propagandists knew at the time that it was central and a core value to the population. But what they then proceded to do is to gradually dissolve the traditional family to form a new-age type of family. Breeders would produce perfect offspring, who would be herded into education camps, and who then would become a generation of perfect zombies, and the cycle would continue. Are you getting it now? Maybe not? Let’s move on, then.

This isolation of children, young people from parents and the traditional family unit then went on to isolate families and children from the ethics and morality sources, the spiritual and faith communities, the churches and congregations. Once the sensitivity to the value of spirituality, faith and religion was erased in the family and in the youth, new gods, idols, could be set up to fill the void created by killing God. Once ethics and morality was taken out of the hands of the faith and spiritual communities, the now ethically and moraly sterile parents and youth could be filled with a popular, government, corporate morality and ethics.

zombie girlNow those newly indoctrinated, brainwashed young adults become teachers. Without the traditional family to instill a sense of culture and identity, and without the faith communities to inspire ethics and morality, the education system, the schools and liberal colleges and universities now disseminate faddish, dumbed-down learning at economically hobbling prices. The basic thought here is: control the spirit and the mind through zombified education, the spirit through corporate ethics and morality, and vertical and horizontal movement by shackling the population with the propaganda that the ultimate goal is a college education even if you end up with a lifetime of debt and no job.

The control logic is ingenious. Don’t you think? No, you don’t think. That’s the fundamental problem!

Undead - The Zombie Teacher

Mr Undead
The Zombie Teacher

Here’s an example: The other day I was having a breakfast meeting with a contributor. The waitress, always ready to add her two cents, starts bitching about what her daughter is [not] learning in middle school. Seems she’s falling behind and the mother hasn’t a clue how to help her. “She just doesn’t get the math they’re teaching! It’s all dashes and dots and numbers. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand what it is!” ISOLATION OF THE PARENT FROM THE CHILD’S EDUCATION! The government sets up systems that eliminate parental participation in their childrens’ education (except to pay dearly for it). If the parent doesn’t get it and can’t help the child, the parent loses esteem in the child’s eyes (“Gee, mom, you’re a dumbass!”), the child feels helpless and vulnerable, has low self-esteem (“I’m stupid.”), the modern morality, ethics, and economics force the single mother to work long hours to support the child (“Gee, mom, you’re never around when I need you!”), the father’s probably a victim of the legal system and in jail for peeing in public or desperation drinking (think alcoholism in soviet Russia), and the child has a no-parent family unit (Our law enforcement dunces and idiot judges at work reinforcing the zombification process!).

eat more brainsEnter the A.S.A.P. programs and the Teen Activity Centers of the world! Parents are already technically isolated from their children and the ethical and moral foundations have been eroded to such an extent that any sense of guilt is radically lessened, so now parents, in the squeeze by the financial environment and the corporate brainwashing that they MUST HAVE, MUST RUSH OUT and GET, MUST GIVE, now make the excuse that to make ends meet, they both, mother and father, must have jobs.

(No one seems to catch on that they’re being satanically manipulated by the corporations, the educators, the service providers. Nope! They’re zombies now, they don’t have to think. No brain left, you see! That’s why the movie zombies have to eat brains…they have to replace their own brain they sacrificed to the government, unions and corporations!). But now we have “After School Activities Programs” and Community Teen Centers, Youth Centers, etc. that gather the young people together, away from home, family, parents, and become the surrogate home, family, parents to the children. All they are are Nazi, Stalinist, revolutionary Chinese youth camps, and they have the same effect: Separate the children from the home, family, parents; gather them into one place; make them feel good and liked there; replace the home, family, parents with a new home, family, and new “parents.” Get it yet? Sure, you rationalize the whole thing and think you “need to work to make ends meet,” that “you need to give the kids the latest brain-dissolving handheld toys,” that you need “to rush out and buy that product,” that everyone in the family “needs their own vehicle” (so that they can rush out and leave the home, family, parents and get to the youth or teen center, indoctrination camp.). No guilt anymore! Everyone has his or her addiction. Everyone’s a zombie.

Nobody needs to care. Everyone needs an assault weapon (to finish off all the other zombies). Do your hear the evil Lord [In]Sidious sniggering in the confusion of your life, now?

FEAR IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL MOTIVATORS, CONTROLS, WEAPONS!

Zombie Teachers

Zombie Teachers

Zombification of Education. Well, I started out talking about PowerPoint masturbation and presenter self-pleasuring. I raised the question if what we are seeing, the total alienation of the audience by the presenter, total unawareness of the audience, is that what’s happening in the classrooms? I then provided you, dear readers, with a tour of what I see is going on right under unseeing eyes: the zombification of the people. Yes, we are so blind that we sheeple along to the drumbeat of the propagandists, our richly lobby-bribed elected officials, the corporations, and a federal government too big to care and money-making-bailout-sponges the propagandists tell us are too big to fail. But what we are really missing, so tragically missing is the true tragedy right here, in our own communities, right in your own home: the zombification of the family! We used to hear that “education starts in the home, formation in the churches, training in the schools.” Where has all that wisdom gone? We are becoming a nation of digitized, electronic junkies. We are becoming a society of ethically cleansed, amoral, brainless, starving zombies. Why? Because it’s so easy. That’s why.

We like easy. But when you actually think about it it’s catastrophic! Take, for example, electronic communications. Before the birth of the transistor radio way back in the 1960’s, people sat home and listened to the radio together; with the transistor radio, the migration genes were facilitated, and you could listen on your own, while on the move! Then came the computer and e-mail and online searches. No more sitting down and writing a nice card or going to the library, seeing friends, socializing, browsing the stacks. Now you could sit in a dark cubicle or in a corner of your bedroom and get it all! But even then you still had to go out, face the world, shop, negotiate, pay bills.

No more, my little zombies! Just isolate yourself in your dark little corner and Bingo! It’s all done…digitally. Eating out in a restaurant or a diner used to be a social ritual. Forget about that, too! Just look around you: couples sitting at the same table, each one looking blankly down at their lap. It used to be that when you saw something like that you yelled: “Hands on the table!” No more, my little zombies! All the self-pleasuring now is done…digitally!

So the universities came up with another rain-making, revenue generating, cost-saving strategy: online degrees. No more physical interpersonal social learning experiences. Just sit in your dusty, smelly, infested corner and “earn a degree.” It’s that simple, simpletons!

Worse still, our educators and the boards of education are caving to an idiotic decree, now law, that mandates that our schools go digital! Now if this isn’t a conspiracy by the information technology lobbies, the computer and software lobbies, I must have come down with the last shower!

Freud, Piaget, Ainsworth, Watson, Bandura, Kohlberg and others all have theories of human development, of stages of human moral and character evelopment and all of them take into consideration the importance of human physical interaction.

One Instructor, One Lesson for All

One Instructor, One Lesson for All

Almost every magazine and journal has recently published articles on the importance of human contact in healthy human development and the consequences of “isolation.” The studies and research on which these articles are based is done by scholars and academics, scientists. Why is it all lost on our educators? The Answer: Unions and Lobbies! MONEY. And our federal and state education pundits are all in the union and lobby pockets! That’s why the New York State Education Department has told schools to start planning for the flatscreen teacher–all of education will be cleansed of the personal role model in the classroom, the adored teacher (what’s left of any real role models in the classroom). One standardized model will present one standardized presentation over fiberoptic delivery or satellite hookup. All zombies will get one standardized program of instruction. All little zombies will be uniform in their thinking. All parent zombies will be eliminated from the picture (until tax time comes). The entire world will be ZOMBIFIED!

Which Way Is God?!?

Which Way Is God?!?

Nowadays Even God Comes in 29 Different Flavors. Religion and faith, too, has been zombified by the media and by the courts. People are spiritually lost, impoverished. They know there’s something more than the new idols of cars, money, handhelds, digital friends. The human spirit feels drawn to something else! And the free market economy, atheist capitalism is right there to meet the need! My question is Why? if so many people are searching that someone doesn’t get the message that they’re not finding what they need. Just driving around the area we see more different churches than Heinz has soups! What is it that all these churches are attempting to answer but don’t seem to be doing? An interesting fact is that Episcopalians are defecting to Roman Catholicism; Roman Catholics, fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others are flocking to the Eastern Orthodox Church! The reasons? Here are just a couple:

  • the reductionism, barreness, and minimalism in most faddish, modern faith communities
  • a search for a sense of mystery and majesty in worship
  • a search for a joyful and confident, credible celebration of the liturgy
  • a commitment to the role of tradition as a supplement/complement to the Bible as a source for theology
  • an experience of a well-defined sense of identity in faith tradition rooted in a historical consciousness of the early koinonia / chabad
  • a heritage of spiritual perseverance tested by modern challenges, even persecutions.

The Powers had to Make God Politically Incorrect in our Schools and Public Institutions.

Why? Because a belief in God and freedom to speak about God could possibly remind us that we have the freedom, the chutzpah (Hebrew: audacity) to Argue with God would this would create a dangerous situation in which the citizen could challenge the Powers. Hell, if Abraham and Job could argue with God, why shouldn’t we challenge the Powers?

One possible explanation is that the general zombification we are witnessing is expressing itself in confusion and derailment relating to spirituality and the search for Ultimate Truth, a search for our own identity. The causes of the general zombification include those discussed above. The solutions don’t need to be discovered, they’re already under our noses, we need only to see and acknowledge them.

Believe!Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

Believe!
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

The Editor

P.s. If you’ve gotten this far, you deserve a little gift! I’ve found an interesting article, very short, that goes through seven technologies that George Orwell describes in his novel, 1984, and that have become reality in 2013! The man was a seer, a prophet! Read the short article with my best wishes. Click 7 sinister technologies from Orwell 1984.

Interfaith? Supervision?

What’s Interfaith? While the notion of holistic care that supports mind, body, psyche, soul is nothing radically new, it has attained some level of vogue in recent years. But it has not been made clear what exactly institutions mean when they throw the term around, as they are wont to do, however. Seems like it’s the new trendy word that has supplanted the notion of “non-denominational” but is much more arrogant. Non-denominational at least meant that it didn’t cater for any particular denomination (presumably of Christianity but could conceivably be extended to any religion, if understood broadly as a denomination). Interfaith, on the other hand, is much bolder, more arrogant, and flies in the face of any meaninful signification. In fact, interfaith could mean “in between faiths” or “catering for all faiths.” Either the one or the other is wholly illogical, and that’s why both the patient and patient families and the pastoral care provider have to be very cautious when approached by anything “interfaith.”
Even the emblems used by “interfaith” providers appears a bit exaggerated and gives the impression that interfaith can do it all. It can’t.

Here’s an illustration: In many of today’s non-denominational or secular care facilities, whether the secular hospital or nursing care facility, if it has a pastoral care or religious services presence, will usually characterize itself as “interfaith,” and its chaplains as “interfaith chaplains.” Total rubbish. And it’s more self-aggrandizing and misleading than it is comforting to those receiving the “care” from such departments. First of all, it doesn’t take into sufficient consideration the uniqueness of each faith’s tradition and spirituality. Second of all, it presumes that a Buddhist can provide adequate care to a Lutheran, and that’s simply not so. Or a mainstream protestant can provide adequate care to a Buddhist or a Hindu. The Jewish and Moslem traditions have caught on and pretty much take care of their own, preferring a rabbi or an imam. That’s very understandable under the circumstances. But what about those religions that are pretty rare, like Buddhists, or those suffering shortages of clergy like many Christian denominations?

Someone saying, “I’m the chaplain,” can mean many things. Moreover, many of the chaplains most patients and patients’ families see in most institutions are actually interns or so-called residents, trainees. Many of these people have little or no formal training in ministry, pastoral care, spirituality, theology, ethics, much less education and training in comparative religion or religious ethics. I even worked with persons who had never even been to a funeral let alone accompany a family in an end-of-life situation, or counsel a family when making a withdrawal of life support decision! It’s embarrassing!

But it gets worse! In a supervision conference during my own training, one so-called “chaplain intern” was relating an encounter with one of the patients in my care, whom he had seen during the night while acting as on-call “chaplain.” The parents asked about baptism for their dying son, an adult, and my colleague went on about what he explained to them about infant baptism–the patient was 37years old!–and adult baptism.

Pseudo-Theologian

The intern’s theology was total rubbish and all he proved was that he knew absolutely nothing about the theology of baptism (and he was studying divinity at a leading school). Ultimately–thanks to the intern’s catechesis–the parents opted not to have their son baptized. The man died unbaptized, the parents got an “edu-muck-ation” of sorts, and I had an opportunity to practice extreme humility…and deep prayer! The pitiful part of this is that the so-called supervisor said nothing at all, despite being an ordained RCA minister! At times, on direct inquiry by patient or family, we must respond with pastoral guidance based on life-experience, formation, training, interreligious/interfaith/intertradion respect and appreciation, and much extracurricular study; this was a regrettable example of putting the ignorant in a position of immense gravitas and having him drop the pastoral ball.
Another travesty: In my same group of interns (Albany Medical Center, Summer 2011) there was a Canadian female professor, allegedly teaching “theology” (but her description looks more like an excerpt from a feminazi catalogue). She came from humble and abusive stock, had a number of really shoulda-been-disqualifying psychosocial issues, was totally unprepared for ministry…BUT…was apparently an “Anglican deacon” and soon to be “priested.”

The “curette” or is it “curate.”

But even as a case-worth-further-study she was turned loose on patients and families. She attended a patient and her family on one of my units during night on-call. When I visited the patient and her family the next day they behaved rather bizarrely. We had a relationship so they soon told me what was bothering them. The parents were reserved in their description of this “Anglican deacon” or “that woman” as they put it; the daughter (the patient was less kind, calling the intern a “hovering freak”). I brought this up to the supervisor who did nothing. On several occasions I found her “ministering” to families of patients on my units in the waiting areas. She even “introduced” me to families to whom I was ministering for days. I regret not being able to reproduce for you the looks the people gave her, and their comments on the Vicar of Dilby that followed. On another occasion, the family of a young African-American patient on one of her units flatly refused to have her in the room; the family insisted that I minister to the dying young man. Staff thanked me for being there instead of the other intern. The unit paged me to attend to the family, who requested me specifically, since it was expected the young man would die within the hour. Out of courtesy I contacted the lead chaplain for the unit, my colleague the “Anglican deacon,” who forbade (which was her prerogative) me to continue ministering to “her patient and family” on her unit; the young man died that same day. In personal supervision I related the case to the supervisor (who was already made aware of the situation), and noted that the incident was tragic but foreseeable. The intern had no clue about the family, their needs, their desires; it was all about property rights. The so-called “supervisor” cast a blind eye to all of this. The outcome was far from “interfaith” and much less pastoral care.

And then there’s the sundry “digruntled” Cathlick. This is apparently a new variety of Catholic who had to announce at every didactic session to each new speaker not that she is just a Catholic but invariably a “disgruntled Catholic,” as if that made her something special in the eyes of those present. She invariably had to distinguish herself from the apparently run-of-the-mill “gruntled Catholic.” She had to identify herself as a species of Catholic or a Cathlick, CINO (Catholic In Name Only). Invariably a middle-aged female, needful, dragging her baggage from bedside to bedside. And because of her needfulness, requires special attention and gets it; while putting everyone else on edge with her neurotic idiosyncrasies. (We had one of these in my group and she was allowed to complete her CPE unit apart from the group, receiving special personal supervision from the so-called supervisor). She could play a part as “interfaith” pastoral care-giver that she could not licitly play in real life, that is, outside of the hospital. A travesty.

But think of it this way: The departments providing the “training” get paid, the institution gets reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid, the trainees get a unique experience, the department managers and staff get big heads. Everyone wins…well, almost everyone. But it’s really about the reimbursement and the prestige of having a chaplain training program on site–but that’s all that counts, isn’t it? There’s something dishonest, unethical about this. Don’t you think? Therefore…

You must always be skeptical. It’s a shame but it’s true. Things are not always what they seem and it is in your best interest to ask questions and insist on transparency. If someone appears at your or your loved one’s bedside, find out who they are. Ask questions like what is your religion? Where did you study? What do you expect to do for me, my loved one? How do your expect to help us?
I realize it’s difficult to have the presence of mind and the wherewithall to ask such questions in such a stressful situation but why accept an amateur for pastoral or spiritual care when you’d expect a specialist for medical or nursing care. Is you earthly well-being more important than your eternal essence?
Pastoral and spiritual care is one of the most important support services available to patients and families in critical situations. It would be foolish to refuse it or not to make the best of it. You deserve the spiritual and emotional care a good chaplain can provide; so does your loved one. Whether it’s prayer and teaching or simply silent presence; whether it’s performing a complex religious ritual or simply holding hands, it’s good medicine and even science has shown that it works in positive ways. Accept it if offered, but make certain it’s authentic and can provide what you need.

Read about my own interfaith internship experience.

Related Posts

 Chaplain Wuss

Disciple Syndrome

Pay-2-Work?

Don’t Be Nice!

 

The Interfaith CPE Experience

Interfaith Intern Receives 1 CPE Unit

I’ve been reading a number of interesting comments on Interfaith chaplaincy on the professional blogs. I’ve reproduced my own experience of my Interfaith Internship at Interfaith. Read about the travesty of interfaith CPE at a mid-sized acute care facility, and some of my experiences of so-called “supervision” and some questionable interns.

My CPE Group & Supervisor

Chaplain Wuss

Go for it!

I want to encourage and embolden any Roman Catholic who is being urged to complete a course in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) to decide here and now to Do it! But decide also right here and now to resist the indoctrination and ideological brainwashing that the liberal protestant/reformist machine processing, in the guise of “interfaith” CPE, perpetrates.

Cathlick Wuss

Most interns (you may want to read my piece on interns at Pay2Work) complete an intensive course (10 weeks, usually in the summer) or up to ten months (full-year 1 x week) of this interfaith zombification. You have a choice. Go in fighting. Wear your tradition (the Presbyterians, Reformists, Jews will). Wear your clerical garb if you are ordained to sacramental (versus protestant ‘consensus’) orders or religious! Insist on being authentically, fully, faithfully “gruntled” Roman Catholic, despite the “disgruntled” Cathlicks you’ll find there and the pressure to denounce tradition. Don’t let the moonbat sisters or the Protestant “minister-supervisors” or the “social justice” priests and motley presbyters warp your dedication to the Roman Catholic Church’s dogma,Tradition, Magisterium, and doctrine and the call to teach and preach the one true faith and the Gospel to those who are in desperate need of hearing it.

 Hats off the the Othodox and the Lutherans, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, even the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they take care of their own and kick anyone else out of the room! Why are Cathlicks such damned wusses?

So, you want to be a chaplain?

Let’s be absolutely clear here: Clinical Pastoral Education is nothing more than a systematic “weeding out” of the orthodox through a process of enforced radical leftist indoctrination. I survived because I am tough, objective, challenging, and have years of business and institutional experience under my belt, and a very good educational background. I was able to challenge the manipulative system using their own rhetoric and strategy of democratization and secularization of the spirituality of suffering and the dying process that seemed to garner the attention of the lay administration. In other words, I quickly learned how to position myself as the underdog in a system dominated by radical leftist libertarian protestant supervisors. They didn’t dare push me into a corner but certainly knew their guerilla tactics. I knew the system well, too. In fact, at the end of my ordeal, I received a cold shoulder and an ambiguous evaluation from the CPE supervisor (who did little if any supervising but acknowledged my “love of theology” Well, at least he managed to stay awake long enough to notice something!) but continue to receive glowing communications from staff, patients, and patients’ families. My experiences have resulted in a lengthy and detailed report from me to the ACPE and is the subject of a report (in process) to the local RC ordinary, bsp. Howard Hubbard.

To those who are thinking of committing time, money (Yes. you have to pay to work and the institution, the hospital, is reimbursed for the spiritual care you provide), and resources to CPE: do not allow the hyperliberal leftists and CINOs (Catholics In Name Only, CINOs; Cathlicks) intimidate you or in any way dissuade you from being fully, authentically Roman Catholic. Listen. Learn. Be respectful and appreciate others’ faith and traditions. Take what away what you can. But assert your rights as strongly as you might defend anothers, the patient’s for example, your Catholic identity must be respected. Insist that your understanding of your Catholic ministry vocation be respected. Do not allow yourself to be bullied. If they persist or the CINOs around you ally with the Protestant liberals, report them to your bishop (won’t do much good, but at least you did our part). Keep detailed records. Names, dates, times, quotes. Do not hesitate to bring incidents of religious harassment to your supervisor, to hospital management, to the certifying organization, and your bishop.

These people will have power over you only if you allow it and they will use it to derail you and your vocation if you dare to oppose them. Document, document, document!

Can you learn something from CPE? You better believe it! I did. But I learned in spite of the goofy new-agey bullshit that passed for Catholic pastoral care at Albany Medical Center. I learned from the patients and their families. I learned from the nurses and doctors. I also learned from the chaplains and my CPE supervisor and residents. . .I learned exactly how NOT to be a Catholic pastoral care minister.

Go in confidence.  Assured. Eager to learn. Open to being wrong. Be humble, compassionate, righteous. But go in with a clear sense of being Roman Catholic. And don’t be duped by lefty protestant, reformist religious psychologies and purely political ideologies broadly called “interfaith,” which translates to “no faith.”

Be Authentic!

Write to me if you have any problems. I will gladly advise and assist anyone who is considering CPE.

P.s. On an interesting historical note, CPE was started by a former mental patient! Read more at CPE’s Nutty History.