Archive for Religion

An Abundance of Baptists!

Old Time Religion

We were discussing the new patients being admitted to hospice care. One of our chaplains* explained that a patient had “. . . a Baptist background, but couldn’t attend church anymore.”

Moments later, describing the next new patient, the same chaplain said, “She was a Baptist, but hasn’t been in any church since ‘they started projecting those dumb songs on the wall.’” He paused, then smiled. “Her words, not mine.”

And then, about another of his assigned patients: “He was raised Baptist, but said he lost interest in going to church after his children grew up and moved away.”

On that morning, at our patient care meeting**, it seemed each of that particular chaplain’s new patients were raised in, had been affiliated with, or were once deeply involved in churches from the many variations of the Baptist denomination. Hey, how many Baptists can you fit in a room?

But it’s just as likely the next meeting, with the next new patients, will reveal a variety of religious allegiances: Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim . . . along with the vast array of Christian “tribes” (from Armenian Orthodox through Russian Molokan to the Church of the Latter Day Saints). While there may not be as many religions as grains of sand on the beach, counting them would still be intimidating. There are major religions. Minor religions. There are faith traditions that hardly anyone practices anymore. Some denominations are growing and expanding. Certain ones seem quaint (and are often stereotyped) like the Amish. There are examples like Scientology, which may not be considered a religion, or even religious, by many—but it represents the only way to have meaning in life by adherents. Read More →

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On Faith: Blessing, Burden, or Both?

faith traditions

The younger one answered the phone.

Her older sister had recently died. Soon, I was sharing what our hospice offered for the grieving. Part of my job responsibilities include “cold calling” family members in the fragmented, blurry days after a loved one’s death.

Like many hospices, we have grief counselors. It would be easy to schedule a one-on-one session, but she didn’t sound interested. I suggested our support groups.

“Maybe later on, but I’m really not a groupy kind of person.”

A grief workshop on next month’s calendar also wasn’t appealing. And then, since this conversation occurred when summer was fading into autumn, I mentioned several upcoming annual activities. One dealt with facing the holidays without a loved one. Another was an outdoor memorial service between Thanksgiving and Christmas, open to everyone in the community.

“Are those holiday events going to focus on a particular faith?” she asked.

She emphasized particular. Read More →

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Loving Kindness

May I be at peace.

May my heart remain open.

May I realize the beauty of my own true nature.

May I be healed.

May I be a source of healing for this world.

May you be at peace.

May your heart remain open.

May you realize the beauty of your own true nature.

May you be healed.

May you be a source of healing for this world.

This is the loving-kindness prayer from Buddhist tradition. However, the moment I wrote “from Buddhist tradition,” I wondered if practicing Buddhists humbly smiled or openly grimaced. Is it possible some Buddhists would declare the May I be at peace… prayer was never in their faith tradition? Could it be made-up and willy-nilly tossed into Buddhism by others, or is it a corruption of an ancient expression watered down for modern listeners? I’m not Buddhist, nor a world religions expert, so I don’t know.

But I’m Christian and recall my sadness when discovering the “Prayer of St. Francis” (Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love…) first appeared in a French magazine published in 1912. In other words, likely not written by the Italian-born saint who lived from 1181 to 1226. Read More →

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