The documentary Chaplains raises a fundamental issue for Christian chaplaincy: what is its relationship to the church?
Singing “Nothing Is Lost on the Breath of God” in church recently, my mind called up the face and tiny body of the most recent stillborn child I blessed. A beautiful post by Rebecca Kirkpatrick from some months ago has connected the song in my mind with pregnancy loss. Edward Blum brought it to my attention that tomorrow, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
In the days after my grandmother died, my aunts introduced me to Iris DeMent's song “Let the Mystery Be." As is true for many people, from the early years of Christian faith, the loss of one dear to me sparked wonderings about what happens after death. I have fuzzy, 15-year-old memories of one of my aunts thinking aloud about the possibility of reincarnation, and older family members assuring us all that my grandmother was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Listening itself has a sacramental dimension. When a family gathers around a hospital bed, it becomes a sort of communion table.
When war causes us to suppress our deepest religious and moral convictions, we cave in to a “higher religion” called war. Yes, there is beauty in patriotism, in its unselfishness and love of country. But this beauty makes for what Reinhold Niebuhr called the “ethical paradox in patriotism”—a tendency to transmute individual unselfishness into national egoism. When this happens, the critical attitude of the individual is squelched, permitting the nation to use “power without moral constraint.”