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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Q is for Quiet

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

quiet shh

Working in a hospital is sometimes enough to make you superstitious (though, like Michael Scott, I try to be only a little stitious). Full moons really do seem to bring out more of the crazy stuff. If someone mentions that we haven’t had a gunshot wound all day, ER staff members would bet that one will arrive within the hour. And whatever you do, don’t say anything to the effect of, “It sure is quiet around here.” In my book, I tell the story of how I got on a nurse’s bad side by jinxing her shift with the Q word. Continue reading “Q is for Quiet”

May the Stigma End

There’s not much of May left, so I’m getting this in just under the wire! May is Mental Health Awareness month, signed into recognition by President Obama in 2013. I’ve written quite a bit about my own struggle with mental health here, and in my recently-released book, I touched on how growing up in a family affected by major depression eventually contributed to my calling as a hospital chaplain. Continue reading “May the Stigma End”

K is for Kids

blessingElli

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

Working closely with children is one of the best and worst parts of my job. Sometimes it means I get to hold a new baby and speak a blessing over her, as I did with my friends’ daughter, Elli, in the above photo. It means playing Legos with the kid whose mom is working one of her three jobs and who just wants some company while he recovers from another round of chemotherapy. It means talking to the very tall 12-year-old boy in the emergency room in a way that lets him know I understand he’s still a kid, and that it’s okay to be scared or to cry. I love being with kids in those moments. Continue reading “K is for Kids”

To My Good Friends, Whom I’ve Never Met

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It is rather a strange 21st-century phenomenon. There are people I have never met — and may never meet — in “real life” who know things about me that I haven’t shared even with members of my own family. It all started, for me, with a group on Twitter. I don’t even remember how we all found each other, but somehow a bunch of hospital chaplains from very different religious backgrounds and several different countries started a weekly chat at #SocMedChap, for Social Media Chaplains. We would take turns facilitating the discussion, choosing a topic and throwing out a few different questions for the group to tweet responses. It was eye-opening reading these different perspectives from fellow chaplains, even in 140-character bursts.  Continue reading “To My Good Friends, Whom I’ve Never Met”

I Am Not a “That”

It was a little after 9pm, barely dark. I was walking across the campus of the hospital where I work. My shift lasts until 1am, and if it gets really late, I will sometimes ask the Public Safety officer for a ride. But it was not late, and it’s only a few blocks’ walk, so I didn’t even think about it. That is until a couple of minutes later, when a man in a car at the stoplight stuck his head out the window to yell, “Whoo, baby! I want some of that!” Since I was not carrying anything, I can only assume the “that” he was referring to was me — or the sexual pleasure he imagined he would get from me. I was sufficiently startled that I changed my route in case he followed me, and made sure to pass by the Public Safety building. It made me angry that I have to think about such things, no matter what time of day it is. Continue reading “I Am Not a “That””

Why We Still Need to Have This Conversation

modernmagnificat

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the release of The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God.  I’m proud to be one of the women who contributed a ministerial calling story to this collection edited by Jennifer Harris Dault.  I was discussing the book, and my calling, with a friend recently, as we were both reading Sarah Bessey’s new book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of WomenAn acquaintance walked by and overheard us.  “Another book about women?” he said laughingly.  “Didn’t you just go hear some other author talk about this same thing?”  He was referring to a convocation with Rachel Held Evans I attended in September, at which she discussed her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  “That’s an important issue, I know.  But there are other things the church needs to focus on,” he said.  “Why do we need to keep having the same conversation?” Continue reading “Why We Still Need to Have This Conversation”

On Not Finding God’s Match For Me

“It’s your turn next!” my friend told me, less than a week after her wedding.  I was amazed at the speed with which one can go from Singleton to Smug Married.  (Sorry if much of my vocabulary in this arena is informed by the Bridget Jones books and movies.  Okay, I’m not really sorry; I love them.)  I wanted to remind her of how much we hated it when other people said such things to us back when we were both single, but I bit my tongue.  “Have you tried that website?” she asked, and proceeded to tell me about a Christian dating site.  You know the one.  You’ve seen their commercials, in which ridiculously photogenic couples hold hands and frolic chastely and talk about how God meant for them to find one another, all to the sound of a song which is actually about falling in love with Jesus, not finding your schmoopie.  No, I told her.  I haven’t and will not try that one.  Based on the commercials and what I’ve heard from friends who have tried it, I don’t think their particular brand of Christianity fits me at all.  I deplore the idea of “finding God’s match for me,” as if there’s one guy out there God designed to fit me, and my ultimate purpose in life is to find him.  I don’t buy that. Continue reading “On Not Finding God’s Match For Me”