The Taser's Edge


Learnin’ Myself to Love

At the beginning of each unit of CPE (and this is the first of three for my residency year), you work out learning goals for the next several weeks of your life.  Now in the third week.  Surely I can accomplish all these things in the next 8 weeks.  Or not…

CPE Learning Covenant: Unit 1 (June-August 2009)

Goal 1: To shape my pastoral ministry through the classical/historical Christian disciplines and classical/historical Christian sources.

Methods: As of the beginning of this unit, I want to structure my day with fixed-hour prayers, at least Morning, Noon, and Evening or Compline, prayed from the Book of Common Prayer (as I am an Anglican).  Each of these prayers leaves room to insert intercessions and thanksgivings for my patients and coworkers, both those coworkers in Pastoral Services and in other roles in my clinical units.  I also intend to use the disciplines of fasting and spiritual direction, as well as observing the liturgical year throughout my residency year.

Assessment: Through weekly reflections, I will be able to assess and to discuss with my supervisor (in individual supervision) how these practices change my perspective and effectiveness in ministry.  For me, such structures/disciplines can also function as rituals of self-care.  Because my pastoral care often involves prayer, my pastoral work reports will discuss this goal, both in their verbatim portions, as well as in their more reflective portions.  I also assume that this experience will color and shape my experience of the other members of my residency group in IPR.

CPE Standards and Outcomes Addressed: 309.1, 309.6, 309.8, 309.10, 311.1, 311.2, 311.8, 311.9

Readings which may address this goal: Varieties of Religious Experience by William James; Prayerbook of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon

Goal 2: To learn how better to think about and minister in a multi-faith setting.

Methods: Duke Hospital is in some ways a difficult place to develop these skills, as it is a strongly culturally Christian environment.  However, I will seek out supplementary readings and any seminars which the hospital offers in the course of the unit (such as the Islamic Care at the End of Life conferences offered in Fall 2008).  It is also helpful to attend the Thursday open meditation sessions, as people there come from a variety of different backgrounds to practice what at least can be a religious exercise for them.  It will also be helpful to speak with my peers and my supervisor as interfaith pastoral care opportunities arise in my own ministry and that of my peers.

Assessment: My weekly reflections can be a place in which to reflect on my readings, any learning opportunities, and patient interactions.  The assessment of my internal understanding and external functioning in interfaith settings can also be reflected upon through these reflections, individual supervision, IPR, and in making the choice to do pastoral work reports when those instances arise in which I am ministering to/with patients/visitors/staff of another faith.

CPE Standards and Outcomes Addressed: 309.1, 309.2, 309.3, 309.4, 309.5, 309.6, 309.8, 309.10, 311.1, 311.2, 311.3, 311.4, 311.5, 311.6, 311.7, 311.8, 311.9

Readings which may address this goal: Varieties of Religious Experience by William James; The Jew in the Lotus by Rodger Kamenetz; Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman

Goal 3: To explore and enact a healthy work/life balance.

Methods: At home, I need to enact healthy habits of nutrition, sleep, exercise, and play.  Thankfully, I can ask my wife to help me with these, but I do need to intentionally ask her.  At work, I need to conserve my physical, emotional, and spiritual resources, so that I am not drained in my ministry, classroom time, or interaction with colleagues at the hospital, or in my relationships beyond the hospital.  I need to protect quantity time for myself, my friends, my family, and my spouse, and also be intentional to make it quality time.  In order to do this, I need to grow in self-awareness, to discover where I find sources of life and energy and the places/things/situations/actions which drain me of life and energy.  I also need to learn from others how they have found success in seeking balance.

Assessment: The best assessments will be honest conversations with my wife, my family, my friends, my fellow residents, and my supervisor.  IPR and individual supervision, as well as chance conversations are the likely places for these conversations to happen.  I also need to learn to look at myself, and to see if not only are people around me happy with my relationship to them, but if I am myself happy and/or at peace.

CPE Standards and Outcomes Addressed: 309.1, 309.2, 309.4, 309.8, 309.10, 311.2, 311.3, 311.4, 311.6, 311.8, 311.9

Readings which may address this goal: Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman (addressing work/life balance issues I have seen in my own family and churches); Pastor as Person by Gary L. Harbaugh

Goal 4: To learn more about the tools and resources of the psychological/psychiatric disciplines and to interact with them theologically in order to be better informed in my ministry to all patients/parishioners/people.

Methods: I need to take advantage of extra readings, ask those who do have psychological training to guide me in learning, and attend whatever seminars/workshops become available in the course of the unit dealing with these issues.  It would also be helpful to be purposeful in my interactions with Psych and Social Work staff in my clinical units.

Assessment: As I learn more about the tools and resources of psychology/psychiatry, I will become better able to offer critical feedback to various schools, theories, and methods.  This will come across as our resident group meets to discuss readings, as I reflect on my patient interactions in weekly reflections and verbatims, and as I continue conversations with my supervisor about how learning about psychology/psychiatry can help make me a better pastoral caregiver.

CPE Standards and Outcomes Addressed: 309.1, 309.2, 309.4, 309.5, 309.6, 309.7, 309.9, 311.1, 311.2, 311.4, 311.5, 311.6, 311.7, 311.8

Readings which may address this goal: Varieties of Religious Experience by William James; Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Fredman; Pastor as Person by Gary L. Harbaugh; In Living Color: An Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling by Emmanuel Y. Larty; The Practice of Pastoral Care by Carrie Doehring; When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Responses to End-of-Life Care edited by Renee S. Katz and Therese A. Johnson

Goal 5: To continue growing to trust my emotional intuition alongside trust in my intellect.

Methods: Much of this work happens in the pastoral encounters I have with patients.  The choice to follow my intuition and to trust emotional truths also happens in peer interactions, particularly in discussing pastoral work reports and IPR.  This is also a goal which needs to be addressed in my relationships beyond the hospital, such as my marriage, my family and friend significant relationships, my ordination process, and my church small group.

Assessment: The most concrete place to assess this will be my verbatims, and it will be helpful to receive feedback from peers and supervisor on whether I seem to be staying in my head or trusting my heart and gut in the pastoral encounter.  This will also be addressed in weekly reflections, IPR, and individual supervision.  It could also make a difference in how I process our readings for the unit.

CPE Standards and Outcomes Addressed: 309.1-309.8; 309.10; 311.1-311.5; 311.7; 311.9

Readings which may address this goal: Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman; Pastor as Person by Gary L. Harbaugh; The Practice of Pastoral Care by Carrie Doehring; When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Responses to End-of-Life Care edited by Renee S. Katz and Therese A. Johnson



Tuesday Reading Roundup, Week 6

1. Night by Elie Wiesel–As I told Holly last night, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t read this yet.  It’s so short and so good that I read most of it in one sitting last night.  I also have to admit that I thought it was an autobiographical novel and not a memoir.  You’ll notice, as I did, that this is the only non-Christian book I’m reading this week.  That’s part of the reason that I chose to pick it up.  Of course, it still has to do with religion.

2. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann–Yes, I have started it.  And you will start seeing quotes from it in about a week or so.  I think I’m going to post something Lent-y each week (Wednesdays, maybe?) during Lent.

3. De Trinitate by St. Augustine–Okay, I only have to read chapters 5 and 6.  But, as much as I want to hate Augustine (and I’m not sure why, but perhaps sex and predestination), I love the guy.  I do think, however, (pretentious alert) that he could use some work on his understanding of the Spirit.  Give me more, Augustine, please.

4. Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman–Such a fantastic and wise man.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a lengthy quote to chew on.  Having read less than half of this book, I would recommend it to almost anyone half-interested in psychology, counseling, or their personal interactions with their families.

5. Treatise on the Virtues by St. Thomas Aquinas–Got to love him.  So much brain grinding.  So much grace of God working.

Honorable mention: The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 3 by Neil Gaiman–I put this on here because I doubt I’ll be able to stay away from it this week.  Even though Vol. 1 was much better than Vol. 2, I’m still going to give this an honest try.  The chances of it being read are also helped by the fact that I somehow (!?!?!?!) finished all my school readings for this week today.



Tuesday Reading Roundup, Week 5

Sometimes I find myself planning out blog posts just for the sake of blog posts.  For instance, this afternoon I thought about posting a couple short essays I wrote for Happiness, the Life of Virtue, and Friendship.  Then I realized, “No, that would be boring.”  So I spared you.  Yes, you’re welcome.

1. Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer–You already know some about this book if you read my posts about it last week.  What has been great about reading it is that my imagination has never been fired by the idea of church-planting.  Now it is.  I’m finding that I do find a lot of the ideas exciting and that my imagination has some room to run around in them.  The question in my context now: Why liturgical Anglican churches?  Can such churches truly meet unmet needs in communities in the US?  Again and again, this book points me to the need for a robust ecclesiology (theology of the church) as a prerequisite for church-planting.  I think Stetzer falls short (and I think that’s because he’s Southern Baptist).  I’ll need to hit the books to develop that further.

2. Christians Among the Virtues by Stanley Hauerwas and Charles Pinches–A familiar favorite.  This week–reading about Aquinas.  This has been a really good read and a useful secondary resource.

3. Putting on Virtue by Jennifer A. Herdt–Again, a repeat.  Again, for the same class–Virtue, the Life of Happiness, and Friendship with Hauerwas.  It, too, is a secondary resource for this week’s reading of Aquinas, but I haven’t yet cracked it.

4. Treatise on the Virtues by St. Thomas Aquinas–The man himself arrives.  I’ll be reading this for the next two weeks.  Hopefully all this virtue stuff in my Hauerwas class will start making sense (and coming more directly from the primary sources, something which it has as yet failed to do).  I still remember how confused I was the first time I tried to read Aquinas, with absolutely no instruction as to his organizational method, in undergrad.  Derrida was an easier read.  Now somehow Aquinas doesn’t seem as difficult, at least once I get into the rhythms of his organization.  Of course, the fact that it is Tuesday night and I have yet to start reading probably bodes ill for my finishing the assigned portion for this week.

5. Deliverance by James Dickey–Famous poet writes lauded novel which is made into Burt Reynolds/Jon Voight film.  It’s always annoying to pick up movie tie-in edition paperbacks, but this is a new low–bare-chested Burt is never a good thing.  Four friends set out on a wilderness adventure in north Georgia.  Things go horribly, horribly wrong.

6.  Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann–Okay, so it’s a sham.  I’ll never start it, and I’ll always make it look like I read Orthodoxers.

7. Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman–A modern classic on family systems (is there any other kind of classic on family systems theory?) within church and synagogue.  I’m told it’s good.  I’ll find out tomorrow before class.

And as for tonight?

1. Walk Pru.

2. Finish the rest of Stetzer’s book.

3. Quickly clean up some houseness.

4. Watch a yet-to-be-determined movie with Dave and possible more folks.