I had the blessed opportunity to officiate a funeral for one of my Hospice patients on Monday. Now, I’ve done many funerals because of my chaplaincy role, but this one was different. This is a fractured family situation that I would be speaking to and the most diverse grouping of attendees I had ever met. To clarify, my patient was the mother of two daughters – one straight and one gay. My patient’s daughters are also bi-racial and of differing religious beliefs. The extended family had been judgmental towards my patient, which had been truly hurtful for her. So, I needed to deliver a message that served different faiths and beliefs. It took a lot of prayer for me to create a message that would encompass to all types of lifestyles. As a chaplain, my role is not to preach, but to bring peace for the family while honoring the patient, whom I had journeyed with at the end of her life.
I love serving in my role as a chaplain, but also find it challenging at times. My Christian faith is my foundation. But many people have been hurt by condemnation through the church along their journey through life, and their viewpoints have become skewed from the pain of being judged by others. I understand this and must walk carefully as I help people along their journey through grief.
I believe that we are on this earth to appreciate each other without condemnation and judgement. I respect that we all believe differently, and that God touches all of us in different ways to serve different roles in our positions on this earth. The great thing is…I walk under His umbrella! So, the rain can pour – and I can be judged for my beliefs – but it’s ok. God’s umbrella is encompassing, and I feel protected and secure on my journey.
Helping others feel accepted can be the challenge in chaplaincy. Delivering a message to 300 people of diverse beliefs was the difficult task at hand. But I must have pulled it off, as so many attendees came up to me afterwards and thanked me for my message. Here’s a portion of it:
“What is love? Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us the definition (Love is patient…). These are Christ’s words, not mine. So, what is it that gives us the right to judge others ~ and how can we do so if we are truly walking in love? Are so quick to look at the sins of others ~ while the plank is still in our eyes? We are meant to love all …. black, white, red, purple, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, etc. (well, you get the picture). Our beliefs are our beliefs and who we are is who we are. Let’s learn to appreciate those differences in each other.
God created all infants and placed them in women of different races and faiths. So, is God wrong? Would he place a baby inside the wombs of women of differing beliefs and lifestyles all around the world – and then tell millions of children not to love and trust their parents because they are wrong? I think not. I know that my God is a God of love and understanding. So, I am going to walk in faith that God’s got this and that my role on this earth is just to trust in Him! The beautiful thing about our journey in this world is that we don’t have to take on the task of judging others. We just need to care! My trust is in my Savior’s two commandments: love God with all your heart and love each other as you love yourself. There is no ‘but’ after those commands – just a period.”
With that being said, I will finally touch on The Righteous Mind. So much of what I shared above was clarified in this book – even before I had a chance to know this book even existed! The author’s philosophy matches mine in so many ways and I found the book to be both enlightening and powerful. I especially appreciated Haidt’s philosophy of: can’t we all just get along? The author’s focus was about understanding one another’s beliefs to find common ground for co-existence and peace. We must look at the world through other people’s eyes and trust that their beliefs and practices have merit as well. I appreciated the author’s quote: “Anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason.” Sometimes our reasoning gets in the way of what the truth really is and blinds us to seeing and appreciating other points of view.
A final thought from Haidt: “Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning the battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.” Powerful stuff!
 Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (London: Penguin Books, 2013).
 Haidt, The Righteous Mind, 84