Sacred Art of Chaplaincy

I’ve been a hospice chaplain now for about 9 1/2 years and generally think of myself as pretty competent and pretty experienced. Sometimes I’m reminded of how much I still have to learn.

A few months ago I was asked to join a task force at my work San Diego Hospice and Palliative Care. It was to explore whether or not to talk with Richard Groves of The Sacred Art of Living, who has founded a program that hopes to transform how care is given to terminally ill patients. We were given his book The American Book of Dying; I read the book and was amazed at how transformative this is. He essentially says that we need to look back at the Medieval approaches to hospice care and recapture some of what they knew. Back then they ministered to the sick without the medications and technologies we have now at our disposal.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with current medications and technologies, and if I were sick I would want to use anything that is helpful. But we have come to rely on them to the exclusion of many other interventions, including spiritual interventions. Richard leads something called the Anamcara Project that we are bring to SDHPC starting in September.

The project sees healing as being multi-faceted and requires the practitioner to not only be skilled is his or her own profession but also to have done a great deal of interior work. Simply put it’s not enough to know about the illness, we also have to be willing to know ourselves and know the patient and family. This looks to me to be a challenging and hopefully life changing journey.

Serving on the task force has also given me a chance to work with some of the top people at SDHPC. When I first stated to work there in 2005 I was told by a friend that I would be amazed at the number of smart people I would meet there. Taking nothing away from the people I worked with at Vitas or Odyssey, she’s absolutely right. Task forces can often be a waste of time but this one has been enlightening for me. It’s also been heartening to be included in the group and I look forward to many more of these experiences.

Dilbert for Breakfast

I’m a big fan of the comic strip Dilbert and I read it as a part of my morning newspaper routine. Today’s strip was priceless and just slightly off color:
Dilbert cartoon

Tell the truth, haven’t we all felt like this from time to time?

Jury Duty: Always a Bridesmaid…

I spent 8 1/2 hours today down at the San Diego Hall of Justice. I was invited down to be a juror for (I think) the 4th time since I’ve lived in San Diego. The one thing all these episodes have in common: I didn’t get on a jury. Today I reported at 7:45 a.m. and sat in the jury lounge until 11:30 when they told us to go to lunch and return at 1:15. Finally at 1:45 I was called to a courtroom. There were 50 of us and I drew number 37; since it was a trial for a woman charged with misdemeanor reckless driving I assumed the jury would be empaneled long before they got to me. Actually they finished with number 28 which was more than I expected but 9 short of me. I ended my day at 4:15. The good news is that I read 140 pages of my current book Einstien. It’s an excellent book but a long one and it was good to bite off a good chunk of it today.

Most people I know dread jury duty and see it as more of a bother. I have to confess that I like the experiences (even if I don’t get picked for a jury). This is one of those experiences that is a direct result of our Constitution. The framers of our Constitution went to great lengths to make certain, as much as is reasonably possible, that nobody is wrongly convicted. When someone is accused of a crime he is presumed to be innocent unless he voluntarily confesses or is found guilty by twelve of his peers. To be one of these twelve is an awesome responsibility and is rare when we look at all the other nations of the world.

I’m eligible again in one year.

Christian Exodus Movement: Get Rolling!

In July 2005 I wrote about the Christian Exodus Movement. They are people who believe the United States has turned away from God and are planning an enclave for themselves. Almost three years ago they chose South Carolina as the place to go; the founder (Cory Burnell) was still living in California but planned to move to South Carolina in 2006 or 2007. He is now announcing that he has found a job and will move his family there next month. There are already about a dozen families who have moved and he expects another two dozen by 2008. As the Burnells plan to move out of California, I have only one question: Can I help you pack?

Is "Scooter" Really a Good Name for Somone Going to Prison?

Word came yesterday that Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for lying to the FBI and the Grand Jury. He was chief of staff for Vice President Cheney; during the investigation of the Valarie Plame leak he misled the investigators.

Many of us believe he has become the scapegoat and that the Plame leak was masterminded by the Vice President and Karl Rove. He is guilty of what he’s been convicted of but he was sacrificed to save his bosses. At this point the case is being appealed.

There is also the question of whether or not he will be pardoned by President Bush. Obviously I don’t think he should be pardoned, but it’s a question of loyalty with the President. Bill Kristol in his publication the Weekly Standard accuses President Bush of being disloyal. The article is worth a read. Message to Bill Kristol: on behalf of those of us who have never respected the President: Welcome aboard.