CPE – 8 LPR

Well, today’s IPR (Interpersonal Relations) group got down and dirty, so to speak. Today’s blowout was not nearly as bad as some I know of, and really it was working through some honest interpersonal problems between us (exaggerated, but honest). Some groups have to deal with extreme shouting, accusations of racism, and the like. We just have to deal with people who have issues with other individuals over misinterpretations or miscommunications that might have been better dealt with individually rather than being brought up before the whole group.
Today, I was the focus. I didn’t remember a bit of important information from one of my fellow CPEer’s Genograms concerning a relative. The relative died earlier this week. I asked, “Were you close with ____?” My fellow CPEer took my question as suggesting that this relative was unimportant, and also that I was insensitive for even asking such a question since the CPEer had gone over all that during the Genogram.
Of course, at that point it was an orgy of “How does that make you feel?”
I truly felt bad that my question, which I asked because I was truly concerned about my fellow CPEer, was taken as callousness and insensitivity. Of course, there is part of me that just doesn’t care (which I think is a result of compassion fatigue!).
After four hours of group-work, didactics, verbatims, and the like, who in the world has enough emotional reserves and energy to start seeing patients?
There is no such thing as “summer-reading” this summer. I sit at my desk and see all the books I planned on reading this summer and realize I will read none of them. Can we say, “resentment?”

CPE-7 – Death and bias

Two things happened this past week. A patient I was seeing in the ICU died. In a period of three months, she went from a woman full-of-life, as the doctor and the woman’s niece said, to a triple by-pass surgery, to a leg amputation, and finally a stroke. I visited her most every day for about a week and a half – being present, holding her arm, reading scripture to her, and praying for her. I was unable to see her for three days over the weekend, and during this time she died. If I truly believe what I profess to believe, then this woman trapped in a body that no longer functioned well and gave her no way to communicate is now in the presence of God. Her niece said she was a strong woman of faith. How can I be sad for this woman? I am sad for her family who no longer has their sister, their aunt, but not for her.
The second incident: I encountered my first experience of what seems to be anti-religious bias. A unit nurse very rudely demanded to know who I and my supervisor were, what we were doing on this floor, who gave us permission to be there, and proceeded to hunt down the woman on the floor who functioned as a liaison between the chaplain’s office and the unit staff. It was the psych. ward, so I understand that the rules are different and that there are different considerations, but I had been there four previous times and was there to see a patient with whom I already had a relationship. My supervisor said she was actually shocked at the nurse’s response. She had never experienced such a reaction even though she had visited the psych unit’s at both hospital locations without incident. The other staff seemed to have no problem with us being there.
The woman may not have had an anti-religious bias, but it is common knowledge that many within psychiatry view a belief system revolving around a “God” to be problematic to begin with. Then, of course, a clergy person could exacerbate a patient with a religiously based complex, etc. My supervisor said that hospital staff couldnÂ’t stop a chaplain from making a pastoral visit. The hospital pays for the chaplaincy office to be present and has stipulated that it considers the chaplainsÂ’ role in the care of patients to be important, so staff cannot stop pastoral visits by hospital chaplains.
Can I say that already I am over this whole experience, and we havenÂ’t even hit the mid-way point? Hospital chaplaincy is a vital ministry, but it is not my ministry.

hate ’em

I hate verbatims. I hate reflection papers. I hate genograms. I hate doing stuff that I have no inspiration for, no desire to do, no real concern about whether I do well or not. That’s CPE in a nutshell. I do the best I can with patients for the sake of the patients, and I like my fellow CPE’ers, but all this other stuff I can do without. Just painful.

A true experience

I’m up early again this morning. I don’t have to be, but I am. It just is. I figured I might as well read my e-mail and catch up on some of the weblogs I haven’t had a chance to read in a while. Jason and Jodie’s wedding CD was sitting on my desk – I remembered one of the songs that played from the CD during the reception. I was struck then, even in the midst of all the celebration, a quiet song, a worshipful song from Third Day – “God of Wonders.” So, I’m listening to the song.
I’m not sure how to put down in written form any of this stuff. Most of it is emotion, but the important thing is that which elicits the emotion. Not simply emotionalism, but the remembrance of being in the presence of God during the act of worship – that sense of the presence of God being strong, real, manifest – peace that surpasses understanding, joy unimaginable, better than the best dark chocolate. The Presence so strong you don’t want to move, you don’t want to talk, just be still and bask in the Presence of God that feels thick. The presence of the Spirit of God so real that no one wants to leave the place, like a refreshing far beyond anything experienced from the physical world. How I miss that certain kind of presence.
“God of wonders beyond our galaxy – you are Holy, Holy. The universe declares your majesty – you are Holy, Holy. Lord of heaven and earth, halleluiah to the Lord of heaven and earth.”
God, how do I do this? I don’t know how to do this? The beauty and transcendence of worship using all the senses is magnificent and honoring to a Holy, majestic, and worthy God, but without the interior sense of God’s presence – not just in the bread and wine – but here with us, surrounding us, enveloping us, manifestly present all about us is beyond anything seen by the eyes, smelled with the nose, heard by the ears, or bodily felt with hands or tongue. How do we have both – the worship experienced within and without? The Via Media? Is it within the “Three streams – one river” idea and experience?

CPE-6: Are we doing some good or not?

I really do need to spend more time proof-reading these posts. I am embarrassed, but not really enough to make all things perfect. Oh well…
I have visited “C” in the ICU twice more. Her niece and 83-year-old sister were not there either time. Her hand was wrapped yesterday, so we could not even communicate through her squeezing my hand. That was distressing! She opened her eyes, but I had no idea whether she was actually responding to me or whether her eyelids were simply opening and closing involuntarily. How do we communicate? How do we know if what we are doing is helping or causing more harm or distress?
I told her I was simply there to be with her. I stayed about 1/2 an hour. I prayed for her and read more Psalms to her. I wish I knew whether she had some favorite scriptures to could read to her. As I read from the Psalms, I kept thinking that if her mind was still aware and active even in her physical condition, then I might actually be causing her more stress by reading of praising God and of God always being present with us, and the like. If she is in the place of distress with God right now, reading such things may cause her much distress, or reading such things could cause her great relief and comfort. I just don’t know which it could be. A tear did come from her eye. I cannot image the kind of distress and fear, and possibly anger and bitterness that must be felt by someone in her situation.

Blessings of marriage

Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink is eliciting responses from Christians concerning their feelings and experiences of family – of family defined by a marriage between one man and one woman and their children. They have posted on their website a sampling of the responses received thus far:

Be Sure to See Our Special “Why Marriage Matters” Report
A few weeks ago, we asked you to submit your thoughts about why marriage matters — to society as a whole, and to you and your family. We received more than 500 responses — some of them humorous, some of them heartbreaking, all of them heartfelt.
We’ve compiled the top 25 responses, and urge you to read them by clicking on the link below. We hope they each shed a little more light on why this God-created institution must be protected.
http://www.family.org/cforum/extras/a0032519.cfm

Of course marriage matters. For this group of people, gay-marriage demands the destruction of the institution of marriage. Their conclusion, seen in the proof of the testimonies given by people as posted above, is untenable because of the belief that anyone favoring gay-marriage does not believe that marriage in fact matters. The institution of marriage will collapse if gay people are allowed involvement in the institution, according to anti-gay prohibitionists.
I have not read all the 25 responses. From what I have read, the conclusions drawn by anti-gay-marriage people do not necessitate exclusive male-female relationships. As more and more gay couples become visible and as more and more rational, stable, and mature children are raised in these relationships, people will see that the claims made by Focus on the Family and the anti-gay-marriage forces are not true. There may very well be differences, but even if there are differences, they cannot be known at this point. Will there be dysfunctional children raised in dysfunctional gay-relationships? Yes, of course. Does that then mean gay-relationships are always wrong and destructive to children and the men/women involved? No more then the relationships of dysfunctional straight-families producing dysfunctional children means heterosexual marriages are always wrong and destructive.
The lines of argument being used by anti-gay-marriage forces are simple untenable when seen in the light of reality – reality as determined by God as revealed in Scripture and humankind.

‘Radical individualism’ cited

Here is an additional comment made by a bishop from Kenya from the AAC’s “Plano West” conference:
‘Radical individualism’ cited
“Bishop Joseph Wasonga of the Diocese of Maseno West in Kenya received a standing ovation when he addressed the gathering.
“We know we need to walk hand in hand with you as you bring the light of the Gospel to your country,” he said amid cheering and shouting. “We will not receive money from anybody not acknowledging the authority of Scripture and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

That’s fine, except very few deny the authority of scripture or the Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Some do, yes, but what the bishop means is that if anyone disagrees with his interpretation of scripture (or the theological tradition he adheres to), then they do not hold to the authority of scripture. There is no possible difference in scriptural interpretation allowed, which is quite contrary to 500 years of Anglican tradition. In fact, it is a denial of the Anglican ethos to demand a single, enforced dogma of scripture – we are not the Roman Church and we do not have a magisterium in Anglicanism. Yet, these groups of Anglicans demand a redefinition of Anglicanism to conform to their particular perspective.
“No part of the Body of Christ is allowed to make a unilateral decision that affects the whole Body of Christ, that creates disunity and schism and we cannot say we are working together.”
If the bishop truly believes this, then he must agree that Anglicanism is completely illegitimate because the Church of England was created unilaterally against the entire Body of Christ – the Roman and Eastern Church. He must also agree that Protestantism is completely contrary to the will of God, because it too continues to fracture through schism by taking positions that are not determined by the entire Body of Christ.
“We are all members of the Body of Christ and we must be subject to the lordship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Absolutely. He means, however, that to submit to the lordship of Christ means we must all agree with him and his theological position. Does he mean we must have one world church under one-world ruler? Do they honestly advocate such a solution? Under whom should all Christians worldwide submit? The Roman Pope? The Orthodox Metropolitan? Someone to the liking of the bishop and the AAC?
“We are not to conform to culture, to tribalism, to racialism, or the radical individualism found in the West.”
Again, I absolutely agree. Yet, the position of the Episcopal Church decided in Convention (the only place where such position can be decided according to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church USA) is contrary to our current American culture. The majority of our culture is opposed to homosexuality, opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions, opposed to same-sex marriage, opposed to partnered gay people being ordained priests, and on and on. The position taken by the Episcopal Church is absolutely contrary to our culture, yet the bishop’s and the AAC’s claim is that by taking such a position the ECUSA has capitulated to the culture.
I also say that within the conservative Church a capitulation to the culture has occurred in terms of materialism, individualism, gluttony, and pride. Does the Church condemn divorce and raise millions of dollars to battle the evil and anti-family results of heterosexual divorce? No, because too many heterosexual Christians are participating in this evil and child-destroying activity. The hypocrisy does on and on.