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    • #4532

      Michael Porter
      Participant
      @mkporter

      Greetings All,

      My name is Mike.  I am the Chaplain at Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana, for twenty four years.  I am ordained in the Lutheran Church and Board Certified in APC.  I am married for thirty seven years with two grown children and two grandsons.  Prior to becoming a Chaplain I served in the church for nine years.

      I read When Religion Gets Sick when I was in CPE many years ago and am looking forward to looking at it again with regards to the experiences I have had in my work as a Chaplain.  I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

      Mike

    • #4533

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Mike and others,

      Thanks for jumping in and introducing yourself.  Welcome to all.  My apologies for our delayed beginning.  By now, you should have received my email with a copy of the book attached.

      I too, read this book during training many years ago.  The concepts have been helpful in my ministry of counseling, pastoral care, teaching, and pastoring.  Like other of Wayne’s book, many of the insights are as relevant today as they were in the 90s.  Moreover, a bit like reading scripture, our station in life has a great deal to do with our interpretation of the material.  Like Mike, I am interested in discovering the truth from his words for today, while we add other more contemporary writings on the subject.

      This is a timely discussion, especially in light of different tribes promoting narratives that may or may not be healthy in our pursuit of meaning and purpose in life.

      Be sure and check the box in the lower left-hand corner if you want to be notified when others post to the Forum.

      Rick

       

    • #4534

      Rick Underwood
      Moderator
      @RickUnderwood

      Mike and others,

      Thanks for jumping in and introducing yourself.  Welcome to all.  My apologies for our delayed beginning.  By now, you should have received my email with a copy of the book attached.

      I too, read this book during training many years ago.  The concepts have been helpful in my ministry of counseling, pastoral care, teaching, and pastoring.  Like other of Wayne’s book, many of the insights are as relevant today as they were in the 90s.  Moreover, a bit like reading scripture, our station in life has a great deal to do with our interpretation of the material.  Like Mike, I am interested in discovering the truth from his words for today, while we add other more contemporary writings on the subject.

      This is a timely discussion, especially in light of different tribes promoting narratives that may or may not be healthy in our pursuit of meaning and purpose in life.

      Be sure and check the box in the lower left-hand corner if you want to be notified when others post to the Forum.

      Rick

       

    • #4535

      Lee Whitlock
      Moderator
      @lwhitlock

      Hello Everyone. I’m Lee Whitlock the facilitator for these sessions. Sorry for the late start, but as you have seen from Rick, please read Chapters 1 and 2 and reflect on them. I was in Knoxville helping to lead a funeral service for a friend from my Southern Baptist Theological Seminary days 40+ years ago.

      That seems a good place to begin my introduction. I graduated from SBTS in 1974 after having studied with Dr. Oates and others. Going to SBTS in those days was a deeply rewarding experience. I went there with a Math and English B.A. from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Math and English? Sounds like a strange combination. It’s a long story, but I was fortunate enough when I went to the J. Paul Truluck School of Lake City High in South Carolina to have excellent teachers in both subjects. As a matter of fact, the required first year’s math class’ textbook was the same one we had used in my senior year in high school.

      After graduation from GSU, I taught math to 8th graders for one year and discovered that I did not have a passion for teaching. I also didn’t have the stamina! At the back of my mind was always the call to some kind of ministerial service, so I entered SBTS and graduated in 1974. My main area of concentration was in New Testament. In 1971 before going to SBTS, there was a movie that came out with George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward that proved prescience: “They Might Be Giants.” This is what I found with the SBTS faculty. It was a privilege to study with the giants that roamed the campus for the time I was there.

      After graduation, I served as Associate Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville, NC, for 2 years. Then, I served as Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church of Rowland, NC, for 2 years, followed by 5 years as Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Cooleemee, NC. In 1981, I returned to SBTS to work toward a Ph.D. For reasons I’m sure will be covered as we study together this month, I did not finish that work.

      As Rick indicated, the Oates Institute is trying to get Dr. Oates’ book on line for you to read. Amazon has several used copies that you can order. For anyone that wants a new copy, there is a new copy available through Amazon for the low, low price of $665.69. Better hurry. I’m sure someone will snatch it up. I still have my copy from studying with Dr. Oates. The cover price is $2.95.

    • #4548

      Lee Whitlock
      Moderator
      @lwhitlock

      Mike and Rick,

      I wonder if you have any further reflections on Dr. Oates’ first two chapters. I have not encountered any of the extremes that were talked about in Chapter 1 (i.e. cutting off hand, plucking out eye, etc.), but I have encountered people who have thought of and attempted suicide; however,these were rare.

      I was actually struck by a sentence toward the end of chapter 2: “The doctor’s job is to help people see straight, and the minister’s job is to see to it that they are looking at the right God when they seek to be religious.” That is a tall order for a job description. You might imagine that with my strong background in NT study that I wrestle with the theological implications of “the right God.” You can also surmise my theological leanings since I graduated from SBTS in 1974. In this era of the politicization of religion, I am troubled that more and more people shape their theology around their political leaning. Political stance comes first and theology is wrapped around it. Jesus’ pronouncements in the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 are now being followed by a “Yes, but….” statement. “Yes, we are to feed the hungry, but not if they are on welfare.” “Yes, we are to love our neighbor, but we don’t want those people in our neighborhood.” “Yes, Jesus loves other religions, but we don’t want them in our country.”

      Any thoughts on this?

    • #4556

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      Hi. I’m Rusty Hoffman, a new member of the board and a fan of Dr. Oates. We knew him at church (St. Matthews Baptist in Louisville). I’ve never read this book but look forward to it. As a retired doctor, I believe that religion and one’s world view in general make a tremendous difference in how one deals with stress of all kinds. In my practice I dealt with chronic illnesses often.

      Our two kids are grown. My wife and I are active at church with missions education for kids, missions promotion, and I am currently on the deacon’s council working on hospital visitation. We enjoy gardening, travel and trying to keep up with the grandkids (6).

      Looking forward to our discussions.

    • #4558

      brandeaton
      Participant
      @brandeaton

      <p style=”margin: 0px 0px 24px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 12px; vertical-align: baseline; line-height: 1.7; color: #737373; font-family: Lato;”>Hello Everyone,</p>
      <p style=”margin: 0px 0px 24px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 12px; vertical-align: baseline; line-height: 1.7; color: #737373; font-family: Lato;”>I am a bit late getting on board.  My name is Brand Eaton.  I had enrolled in the book study of When Religion Get Sick earlier; I am glad there are now enough registrants to proceed.  I am the Director of Pastoral Services at Bethany Village Retirement Center in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.  I have a keen interest in every effort to help spiritual caregivers interpret the human situation using theological categories and concepts.  I believe Dr. Oates was a perceptive pastoral counselor and teacher, who modeled the consideration of human problems from a spiritual/theological perspective.  I am eager to share and to hear the reflections on the material from fellow learners in this course.</p>

    • #4564

      Michael Porter
      Participant
      @mkporter

      Lee,

      With regards to the extremes, I have not had the ones mentioned.  When I was in my CPE residency, a Chaplain shared and experience about and individual who needed to have a leg amputated or he would die.  From the patient’s religious background, he believed that when one died the body was to remain together or he would go to hell.  The Chaplain helped the patient explore this.  The outcome was such that when the leg was amputated it could be buried in a cemetery plot and when the person died, he could be buried in the same plot as the leg and the body would be together.  This is how it played out.

      Experiences I have had involve families who want “everything done” even though curative care was futile.  Families reasoning has come from a religious background that includes – pray hard enough and the person will be healed, God will work a miracle, faith will bring the cure … .   I agree “people shape their theology around their political leaning”.  I will go on to say that people shape their theology around the outcomes they want to have.

      Mike

    • #4566

      Lee Whitlock
      Moderator
      @lwhitlock

      I agree with you, Mike: ” I will go on to say that people shape their theology around the outcomes they want to have.” I got a call just today from a friend in California that believes this. He’s got heaven already mapped out based on his earthly theology. When I visited with him a couple of years ago, I went with him to his “mega church”. The preacher even had a line that went something like this: “Close your eyes. Imagine what heaven is going to be like. OK, now open your eyes. That’s exactly what it will be like for you.” We closed with the invitation “hymn” being flashed on an overhead screen while keeping time with a couple of electric guitars.

    • #4570

      Lee Whitlock
      Moderator
      @lwhitlock

      Rusty, we look forward to your perspective as a doctor and care giver. I recently saw a physician about helping me regulate all the medicines I’m taking for multiple myeloma. She had studied with Dr. Oates at UofL. After that she had a fellowship at Harvard, and she was surprised that none of the doctors there had heard about a course such as the one Dr. Oates had taught her. She assumed that all doctors looked at religion and medicine together at some point in their studies.

    • #4580

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      In regards to the first two chapters, I found the extreme case examples and the cases from another culture and mind-set to be difficult for me to relate and understand. Certainly none of our approaches to our religious life are perfect. We all have times when we have ‘idolatries’ in our belief systems. We all fall into superstitious and magical thinking sometime. I suppose in counseling one is often dealing with extremes. But whenever we are stressed, our faith is challenged and the shortcomings of our theology are exposed.

      Some quotes that jumped out at me were: “Ultimate values get obscured by proximate, temporary things.” and the contrast Dr. Oates made between a religious world view that “lays hold of the Eternal” vs an idolatrous religion. The person who is pondering ‘realization of our finitude, mortality in the face of death, and encounter with meaningless is one who is dealing with ‘ultimate values.’

      He says the person whose religion is healthy demonstrates humility, capacity for self-criticism, critical thinking and is willing to change his mind. Sick religion is uncritical, self-centered, not humble or teachable.

      I liked his description on page 34 of the pastoral approach as being a comforter, helping the person to ‘feel free to pour out his complaint to God.’

      Rusty Hoffman

    • #4583

      Lee Whitlock
      Moderator
      @lwhitlock

      Russell, I agree that the fixed mind is unteachable. I remember years ago reading Leslie Weatherhead’s Your God is too Small. Once we define God in earthly terms, we become uncritical of that view. We have actually made God after some earthly image. For instance, calling God “The Great Coach in the Sky” or “The Great Fire Chief”. Then we begin seeing God in limited terms, and we see Jesus’ commands to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty as a set of laws with the limitations that would be placed by the “coach” or the “fire chief”. Yes, we are to do those things, but only if they are hungry based on our terms or thirsty for some other reason. We seek wiggle room to Jesus’ absolutes. I love the image of God as comforter. Our purpose is to help others feel comfortable through whatever means we can bring to a situation just as Jesus came to us to bring us comfort. He said that when he went away he would send the comforter. That is, of course, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit operates through us, the believers.

    • #4590

      Russell (Rusty) Hoffman
      Participant
      @Russell

      Thanks, Lee, for your thoughts. I agree that trying to limit God, the transcendental, is a characteristic of ‘sick religion’. Your earlier comment about medical school training is interesting. Each school is different, but there was no explicit discussion of religion and science or medical care when I was there. Now with more sensitivity to different cultures and world-views, perhaps such discussions are happening more.

      Please let me know when we are moving on to the second lesson.

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