Spirit Matters

Where To From Here?

On April 4, 1991, I was halfway finished with a yearlong chaplain training program at UC Davis Medical Center when a social worker approached me with news.

“Our team is on standby tonight,” she whispered. She meant our Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, which was specially trained to debrief people who witness horrific incidents.

“Why?” I asked.

“You better catch the news,” she said, pointing toward a waiting room of people watching television. The special report conveyed the early hours of what is still the largest hostage crisis on American soil.

Spiritual Progress

There’s nothing I love more than travel. Like the circuit-riding preachers of old, I’ll fly anywhere to speak to a crowd.

The only way travel improves for me is when I use frequent-flyer points for free flights.

So I was in a good mood recently as I took a free seat on a Southern California flight to see my family.

My usual airline doesn’t assign seats, so I’ve developed a strategy to find the best seat. Unfortunately, the strategy failed me this time. I took the last available spot, a middle seat over the wing.

Judgement Overruled

Judgment Overruled There’s a way to balance those opinions By Norris Burkes August 2023 In the short time since I returned to pastoring, I hear again the same old complaints against organized religion. Sometimes my responses to these critics are served...

True Cost Of War

The true cost of war is something I learned about while serving as chaplain on death notification teams. We delivered news no one wants to hear.

Movies often depict these teams visiting a three-bedroom house where Mom is making dinner and Dad is helping a younger sibling with homework.

Television dramas cast the teams in a four-man role as they approach the door in dress uniforms, knock, deliver the brief announcement and retreat to a government sedan.

Wing And A Prayer

Wing And A Prayer Should we force religion on a captive audience? By Norris Burkes June 2023 As the airplane door shut on my flight home from Honduras, a woman stood and spoke to us in Spanish. I didn’t understand her words, but my “Chappy sense”...

Out Of Order

Have you ever been tempted to respond to unwanted advice with the line, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn?”

I’m sure you have. It’s a common response when we are victims of hit-and-run advice. It’s a way of telling opinionated busybodies they haven’t earned the right to be relevant in our lives.

I was on the damning end of such a response one afternoon some years back as I began my first job in hospital chaplaincy.

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