Living in Imaginary Worlds

Recently I discovered and fell in love with a podcast called Imaginary Worlds. Host Eric Molinsky explores many of the fictional worlds we know from pop culture, but often with a unique and very intelligent spin. It was his five-part series on Star Wars that hooked me (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my lifelong devotion to that franchise), and made me think about the movies and expanded universe in new ways. In one episode, historians and Star Wars scholars discussed the cultural/political factors in 1977 that led to the original movie becoming such a phenomenon. Subsequent episodes delved into the “Han shot first” controversy from an ethical standpoint, asked whether the Empire saw itself as evil or was taking what it saw as reasonable steps to bring order to a chaotic galaxy, featured a rabbi who compared the Star Wars expanded universe to the rabbinic commentary on the Torah called midrash, and debated whether “Slave Leia” could be seen as a symbol of female empowerment or was a misogynistic wrong turn in the character’s journey best left forgotten. I listened to those episodes multiple times, then went back and listened to every episode since the podcast began in 2014. It got me thinking about how much of my time is spent in imaginary worlds, not just when I lose myself in fiction, but when I do my job as a chaplain. Continue reading “Living in Imaginary Worlds”

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All the Deaths Along the Way

IMG_1264It’s happened again. Another celebrity has died, and I find myself feeling very sad over the loss of Alan Rickman, just as I did over David Bowie a few days ago. And I’m not alone, not by a long shot. Search either of their names on Twitter and you’ll see literally millions of tweets about how much their art meant to people who never met them. It’s become the thing now to mourn dead celebrities on social media, but even before that, we still did it. (The above photo shows me that I tried to find a way to do it when I was 8 years old.) We still went to work or school or stood on the curb with our neighbors and said, “Can you believe it? I didn’t even know he was sick. I always loved his movies.” Why do we all do this? Continue reading “All the Deaths Along the Way”

The real Chaplain Jesus Lady: All of the drama, none of the angsty vampires

Fellow author Mindy Quigley interviewed me for her blog, and you can read the really fun result below.

Mindy Quigley

For the next few months, Minty Fresh Mysteries will be profiling some real-life chaplains who’ve written interesting and thought-provoking accounts of their work. I’m kicking things off with Stacy N. Sergent, whose incredible Chaplain Jesus Lady blog I discovered while researching the second book in my hospital chaplain mystery series, A Death in Duck.

unnamed Chaplain Jesus Lady herself, Stacy Sergent

Stacy was born and raised in the mountains of Harlan, Kentucky. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and a Master of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, as well as five units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Carolinas Medical Center and Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Her experience varies from English teacher to French interpreter, children’s minister to return desk cashier at Lowe’s, all of it enriching in its own way. These days she is a gardener, a blogger, a…

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Beam me up, Chaplain.

“But Roddenberry fundamentally misunderstood the role of a chaplain, and indeed the role of religion in our lives.” As a Star Trek fan and a chaplain, I love this thoughtful post by Mindy Quigley.

Mindy Quigley

This piece was originally published in the November 2014 issue of the Association of Professional Chaplains Newsletter. Reprinted here with permission.

“For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain…  It wasn’t until I was beginning to do Star Trek that the subject of religion arose. What brought it up was that people were saying that I would have a chaplain on board the Enterprise. I replied, “No, we don’t.” –Gene Roddenberry

“Roddenberry made it known to the writers of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation that religion and mystical thinking were not to be included, and that in Roddenberry’s vision of Earth’s future, everyone was an atheist and better for it.[39] He stubbornly resisted the effort of network execs to put a Christian chaplain on the crew of the Enterprise. It would be ludicrous, he argued, to pretend that all other…

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Celebrating Pastoral Care Week — The miracle of chaplaincy

I wrote this post for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship blog in celebration of Pastoral Care Week. This year’s theme is Spiritual Well-Being.

CBFblog

Below is Part 4 in the 2014 Pastoral Care Week (Oct. 19-25) series here at CBFblog

By Stacy Sergent

People come to the hospital where I serve as a chaplain because they want to be made well. They have become sick or gotten hurt, maybe quite suddenly, or maybe so gradually that they barely noticed for a long time. But now things have gotten serious enough to bring them here for healing. They want the help of doctors, nurses, radiologists, physical therapists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and others. What many of them come to realize as well is that they have a need for healing that is not only physical. And that’s where my ministry begins.

I am thankful that many healthcare systems today are coming to understand the need to care for the whole person, not just address a physical diagnosis. Chaplains like myself help patients and their families address…

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The Lives Entrusted to Me

photo

I am a caregiver. Always have been one, at least for as long as I can remember. As a child, I took care of our family pets, my younger brother and cousins (until they were too old to let me do so), and my extended family of dolls and stuffed animals. It came as naturally as breathing. When I grew up, I found new outlets for my caregiving instincts, as a babysitter, a teacher, a hospital chaplain, a dog parent. I take those roles very seriously. Continue reading “The Lives Entrusted to Me”

unwrapping the presence of God

A powerful reminder that it’s about presence, not presents.

a preacher musing

This I have gleaned
from multiple conversations with wise elders—
not just the wry, explicit word I’ve heard from so many now,
“Growing old is not for the weak or faint of heart,”
but also the sense that in our old age
we pay for the life we’ve lived—
the physical toll of our body’s work and play,
the daily wear and tear of a lifetime of days,
and the emotional toll—
all payment due for having lived long
and ventured to spend one’s self fully.

But in conversation with one wise woman,
the vital importance was clear
of remembering the joy—
the savor of what was.

So I know how I want to prepare for aging.
The questions are simple.
What are the memories I want to have,
and am I making them?

Because I want to store up
the kinds of memories that will sustain me—
the experiences…

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