Rick Underwood

I appreciate the honest sharing of the challenges we face in interfaith or pluralistic settings.  Here are a few of my random thoughts in response to what has been shared.  I have always appreciated the fact that most professional spiritual caregivers are required to have a seminary education. I assume, even though I know that is dangerous, that a person who spends three years plus studying the Old and New Testament, Ethics, Philosophy, Theology in its many varieties, church history, and practical studies have spent significant time in uncovering basic beliefs, biases, assumptions about human nature and God that enables them to sit with persons who have different beliefs, biases, assumptions, etc. without feeling threatened. Further, I assume that a good CPE experience enables persons to use all of that learning and add to itself-awareness to continue that process.  It has become clear to me through the years as I age that my faith orientation is somewhat fluid.  What I believe, assume, and bias with which I still struggle continues to evolve.  So, for me, it is an ongoing process.  I was reminded recently in reviewing Wayne Oates’s old but still relevant book, “When Religio Gets Sick” of a conversation he had with a Hindu medical student when Wayne was talking about the role of the chaplain.  Wayne was asked, “who’s God do you represent when you enter the patient’s room.” Wayne said, “I represent the God of their understanding if they have one. That allows me to explore the meaning of whatever their beliefs are.”  The Hindu medical student pushed him further, “then Dr. Oates what do you believe about God?”  Wayne unabashedly said, “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he is the best revelation of God.” The other thing that I think helps is humility and respect.  I have worked hard through the years to gain clarity about what I believe and why but I know I still don’t have all of the answers.  And some of the answers I have come to feel comfortable with are still hard to articulate.  All of this to say, I agree with the fact that we are to approach others with kindness and the universal love of God and allow that to guide our interaction.