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The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.

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November 27, 2008

NPR's National Day of Listening by Perry Miller, Editor


NPR StoryCorps has been one on my favorite NPR offerings through the years. These are brief but yet powerful conversations between two loved ones who engage in an intimate conversation that is both profound and humanely heart touching with poignant moments that touch the soul of the listeners.

NPR is now challenging us to move beyond observers to participants. They are declaring a National Day of Listening for November 28, 2008. What this means to us is that we gather at least once significant person in our lives to have a recorded conversation using audio or video that becomes a treasure to share, even with future generations. You will find on the NPR website ample information and guidance as to how to participate in this event.

In addition to the profoundly personal, I also think the provided resources will be informative to those who are clinical chaplains and training supervisors in their clinical practice. If so, share how you have made use of this very special encouragement to have intimate and soulful conversations with those who have moved our hearts and touched our lives in such a way that we will never be the same.

Perry Miller, Editor

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 5:40 PM



Norman Rockwell: Thanksgiving

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 1:24 PM

November 20, 2008


Raymond Lawrence's recent book, Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom, will be reviewed in a seminar at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Boston, November 21-26.

The book review session will be held from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm Sunday, and will review both Lawrence's book, and J. Harold Elledge's Sex in the Bible: A New Consideration. Both books were recently published by Praeger.

The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest international scholarly membership organization in the field of biblical studies. Founded in 1880, the Society has grown to over 8,500 international members including teachers, students, religious leaders and individuals from all walks of life who share a mutual interest in the critical investigation of the Bible.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:33 PM

November 19, 2008

Honoring Diversity in Patient Care by Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D.

(Presented at the Nov. 1, 2008 annual meeting of the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital Nurses’ Alumni Association)

I’m honored to join with you again to memorialize the nurses of your Association who have died during the last year.

I want to begin by reading Boston Medical Center president and CEO Elaine Ullian’s January 2008 Diversity Statement. I believe the nurses we are memorializing today, and you also, embody the health care and human values contained in Mrs. Ullian’s Statement:

Boston Medical Center is proud to be an integral part of the diverse community of Boston. It is this community, that is comprised of people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds, that the Medical Center draws upon as a resource for its employees as well as for patients.

As part of its stated mission and values, the Medical Center remains committed to creating and sustaining a work place and a hospital where employees, patients, and patients’ families are respected and valued not in spite of, but because of, the differences in their backgrounds and cultures. We believe that there is strength in diversity, not only of race, gender, age, religion, and disability, but also of education, politics, family status, national origin, sexual orientation, and all of the other factors that make people individuals.

Honoring the diversity of our community will promote and ensure the mutual respect, collaboration, and productivity, which is necessary to provide the highest quality health care.

The nurses we memorialize today, and you as well, have honored the diversity of patients and their families from the first time they and you reached out to a patient in pain. You discovered right away that pain is no respector of religious or political belief or wealth or title or race or gender or sexual orientation. Pain humanizes us.

The nurses we honor today, and you, learned early on that no mortal is exempt from mortality. That all of us laugh and cry. That all of us are human together. All of you have honored the diversity of patients with the knowledge that the hospital is the crossroads of our common humanity.

The nurses we honor today had much wisdom, as do you: If we could only see our assumed enemy cry and mourn. If we could only see those of another race or religion or nationality anxious and fearful. If we could only see them hope and struggle, laugh and love.

You nurses especially embody the diversity prized in Mrs. Ullian’s statement. Three weeks ago I was paged by the family of a dying patient in intensive care. The family consisted of one biological daughter and one adopted daughter and two adopted sons, all adults. I was there for three hours, with that family—as was their intensive care nurse for most of that time. The family reminisced about their mother, as she slowly gave in to her mortality. A school teacher and librarian, who even had these daughters and sons as her students, and made sure they did their homework—and who favored the one adopted son they all lovingly recalled. With their mother as their teacher, it was kind of hard to feign sickness or play hookey. Who would write the excuse? Who would read it?

The intensive care nurse was there answering their questions regarding their mother’s condition as life slowly ebbed from her. At one point, the one adopted daughter said to the nurse and me, “Thanks, you guys, for hanging in with us. It really helps.” You could tell how closely they had bonded with the nurse by the way they said her name, “Carline.” You could also tell by the way she responded. The nurse was of a different race than the daughters and sons and the patient. All of us human together in the face of death.

“Honoring the diversity of our community.” All of us human together in the face of life. Like the 2 months old great-grandson of a Jehovah’s Witness patient I’ve visited here often. Recently, that little great-grandson was outside the patient’s room, being held by her granddaughter as the great-grandfather/patient’s husband was standing nearby. I looked at the baby and then at the smiling great-grandfather and said, “Another flower is blooming.” He enthusiastically replied, “Yes! Yes!”

“Honoring the diversity of our community.” Around 14 years ago a Jehovah’s Witness patient inadvertently received a blood transfusion, which violated his religious beliefs and was a traumatic experience for him and his family—and for our medical team as well. This incident led CCU nurse manager, Nancy Couch, who was chair of the Nurses’ Ethics Committee, to call a special meeting of the Committee, with Jehovah’s Witness leaders in attendance. These leaders shared Jehovah’s Witness beliefs related to health care. They also requested being able to visit Jehovah’s Witness patients in the hospital. I attended that meeting. And it was Nancy Couch and the Nurses Ethics Committee who worked out the arrangement with me so that Jehovah’s Witness elders could visit patients of their faith. And, with the patient’s permission, we of the Pastoral Care Department have been informing Jehovah’s Witness elders when members of their congregations are patients here ever since that Nurses’ Ethics Committee meeting.

“Honoring the diversity of our community.” Surely that diversity includes animals as well. Another intensive care nurse had to put her aged dog to sleep, which was a painful loss to her. In time, she got a puppy of the same mixed breed, which she affectionately calls her “little monster.” In a short time, she discovered that her “little monster” had a kidney problem that would shorten his life to 7 or 8 years. When I expressed regret, she replied, “He’s going to have the best 7 or 8 years of his life.” Her patients also get that kind of care from her.

The nurses we memorialize today have “honor[ed] the diversity of our community”—and “provide[d], as Mrs. Ullian stated, “the highest quality health care” to patients and their families. We commend these nurses with deep gratitude to the god of life and love who walks on everyone’s pathway.

The diversity of divinity. The divinity of diversity.

Bill Alberts is hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center. Honoring Diversity in Patient
Care was presented at the Nov. 1, 2008 Massachusetts Memorial Hospital Nurses’ Alumni Association’s Annual Homecoming Memorial Service, at which members who died during the year are honored. Dr. Alberts is a nationally known writer and a frequent contributor to Counterpunch. In addition, he is convener of the New England Chapter of CPSP. Dr. Albert can be contacted via email.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:41 PM

November 4, 2008



Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 12:02 AM