6 replies, 4 voices Last updated by Lee Whitlock 2 years, 6 months ago
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    • #4496

      Please take a moment to introduce yourselves to your classmates.

    • #4539

      Lee Whitlock


      Hello Everyone. I’m Lee Whitlock, facilitator for the course. 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.
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    • #4557


      Hello Everyone,

      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.

    • #4568

      Lee Whitlock

      Welcome Brand, we look forward to your joining the discussion. Any thoughts yet on Chapters 1&2. For this week, we’re reading Chapter 3.

    • #4619

      Lee Whitlock

      As we begin Week 3, Major Transitions in Life please read Chapters 4 (“The Major Transitions of Life and Sick Religion”) and 6 (“Forgiveness and Unforgiveness” in Dr. Oates’ book, When Religion Get’s Sick. I was especially struck by this passage on pages 125 & 126 of my copy: “Therefore, my hypothesis in this chapter is that religion becomes sick when a person is unwilling and/or unable to appropriate the forgiveness of God and his fellowman or is unwilling and/or unable to forgive those whom he is estranged. He erects a wall of unforgiveness around himself that isolates him from his “significant others,,” with whom he must live.

      As I have noted in previous posts, I am going through a struggle with cancer in the form of Multiple Myeloma. I am amazed at the damage this disease causes the body and relationships. My daughters (2) are both strong willed women of 43 and 40. My youngest is a nurse. Right now we are having difficulties in our relationship. Both of them band together to tell me what I should be doing and what my course of recovery should look like. I agree with them 95% of the time, but on rare occasions, I must make my own decisions based on my own data. It would take too long to go into the most recent example. In short, a neurologist in Baptist Hospital decided that I had “atrial fibrillation.” My nurse daughter heard him say this and heard him prescribe a new medication. When I got out of Baptist, I made my required visit to my family physician. Looking at the same data and my 30 year history with him, he said I did not have atrial fib and told me not to take the medication. My daughters banded together and said that I should follow the advice of the neurologist. I chose to follow the advice of my family physician. For some reason, this small difference in opinion has led to a major rift in family relationships. For about a year now, I have only heard from my daughters only spasmodically, and I have not heard from them at all for the past 2-3 months. It seems that they cannot forgive me for not taking their advice. I have tried to talk with my nurse daughter, but they are still angry that I did not take their advice. Each time I visit my family physician, I ask him if atrial fib is still a possibility, and he says no. Cancer, I am discovering, causes not only physical damage but it also causes spiritual and relationship damage as well.

      I’d be interested in knowing if any of you have encountered anything similar in your patient relationships or in your own families.


    • #4622

      Michael Porter

      Lee, I am sorry to hear about your cancer and the struggle you are having with your family.  I hope and pray for health and reconciliation within your family..

      Some statements in chapter four that came together for me are, “When an individual is supported and guided through these transitions by a healthy and hope-giving community, both he and the community are kept sound.  Without it, both are sick.”  “The over all objective of healthy religion  would be to facilitate this ‘leaving of father, mother, brother, sister, etc.'”  “The function of religion at its best is to provided a believable patterning of life from stage to stage from birth to death for  the individual and the family in the context of the larger family of mankind.” “Isolation becomes the core of sickness.  As the individual is related to bt not a genuine part of a religious fellowship, to the extent he is religiously sick.”  “A man does not usually face a crisis alone, but is helped or hindered by the people around him…”  (pp.89-91)

      In Genesis chapter two God says it is not good for the human to be alone.  God meant for us to live in community and support and guidance comes within the community.  Sometimes the community can bring burden to people.  I think about people I cared for who think their faith or prayers are not good enough because their faith community pushes that if they believe and pray enough their  loved one will be well.  Another instance  was a person whose faith community said he to repent of his sin before his wife would get well.   I have helped people though difficult situations only to have their Pastor or church members come in and und do it all with their faith talk.

      “When a person does not ‘make it’ through one of these transitions, and if illness actually occurs, the hospital itself has to ‘treat’ the results of the inadequacies of the family, the church …”  (p.93)  I see this played out with families pushing futile care at all costs because “God can work a miracle.”  The support the Chaplain and other hospital staff provided for the family is conflicting with the support from the faith community.

      I struggle with these situations.  I appreciate any insight that will help me care better for these people.



    • #4633

      Lee Whitlock

      Thank you, Mike. I too was struck by the same sentence you quoted:  “A man does not usually face a crisis alone, but is helped or hindered by the people around him…”  (pp.89-91) I have now been on both sides of the equation of dealing with cancer. As a young pastor, I found myself tossing around Biblical cliches and cliches in general. “You’ve just got to eat something Miss Maude.” Little did I know that food seemed to have become the enemy. As a patient, I had an episode where I fixed a meal of my favorite food for me and for a friend of mine. I was tired of people saying to me, “You’ve just got to eat something Lee.” I thought that if I fixed my favorites that I would want to eat. Instead, when I sat down to eat, instead of looking into a plate filled with my favorites and find it attractive and appetizing, what I saw was a glob of things that Abigail, my dog at the time, would happily gobble down. To me, I couldn’t think of putting any of that in my mouth. I just started to cry. I wish I had the opportunity to sit with Miss Maude again. This time I would approach the situation much differently. “Maude, could we just sit together for a little while. I’ll move these dishes back to the kitchen, and then we’ll just enjoy each others company for awhile.”

      Further, I have been so fortunate to have been surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as I’ve faced my own battle with cancer. My 12-Step home group has given me great spiritual comfort as have the members of Crescent Hill Baptist Church. My next door neighbors have taken care of my lawn for 6 years now. Another neighbor takes care of some of the minor tasks around the house – bringing in the mail, returning my recycle bin and/or trash cart to its proper place, etc. A Catholic lawyer friend visits with me every Thursday morning so I can give him a traditional Baptist view of scripture. We use SS literature that follows the Lectionary readings. He gets a good dose of the Biblical Theology I learned while earning my Masters at SBTS in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

      Back to the quote,  “A man does not usually face a crisis alone, but is helped or hindered by the people around him…”  (pp.89-91), I have not been hindered at all. Well, except for the difficulties I’m experiencing with my daughters, but even there, I am learning patience and acceptance. Cancer is a family disease. They have never had a parent with a terminal illness before. We have had a strong relationship since they were born, and I know they too are fearful. I’m sure that they are facing this family crisis while hearing cliches from their friends. They are having to figure out how to navigate this family disease. My youngest daughter called me last night just to check in on me.

      Finally, you’ll be glad to hear, I have also been surrounded by the love of God as revealed in my understanding of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said he would go away but would send another who would be a Comforter. When the pain from this dastardly disease hits, I find that if I stop what I’m doing, sit in my Lazy Boy, and think on “one thing”, my pain. Zen style meditation. Since by its very nature pain is all that I can think about, I don’t try and envision the ocean or a quiet brook, I just focus on one thing, pain. After awhile, my mind goes blank, time passes, and I realize that I’ve been thinking of nothing, so I go back to Step one, Zen style. I concentrate for a little while longer on gratitude for being fairly pain free. I use Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good….”

      I’m surrounded by a great host of witnesses: individuals, groups, church, neighbors, and the Holy Spirit. That’s a pretty healthy way to healing.

      Sorry this was so long, but it was my turn to “speak”.

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