Care for all
I was saddened by the letter to the editor entitled ‘Chaplain Disappointment’ in the September Crosslight.
As a hospital chaplain I feel it is a great privilege to care for patients, families and staff. However, I am aware that many patients do not receive a visit.
Pastoral care is important to a patient’s sense of wellbeing. The best way to ensure that a chaplain or pastoral /spiritual carer visits is to let hospital staff know that you would like a visit. This can be done at the time of admission. Patients and families can contact the pastoral /spiritual care department directly or they can ask the nurse who is caring for the patient to ring pastoral care.
You don’t need to have a ‘reason’ to request pastoral care.
Impact of abuse
After reading in Crosslight that some people are questioning the need for safe church training, I feel I need to share a little bit of what it was like being married to someone who sexually abused young boys.
We were both Christians and the first situation that I became aware of was after I was engaged to him over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, nothing was out in the open then; he assured me it would not happen again and I believed him. I loved him and so we got married.
But it did happen again. After about two years of marriage, I had the police knocking on the door looking for my husband. We were both involved in a church and I talked to our minister, who didn’t believe me. But there was a retired minister in the congregation who believed me as they had witnessed a similar situation in a previous church.
I couldn’t live in that situation so I left my husband and returned to the full-time work that I was doing before I was married. After about six months we got back together and never talked about what had happened.
I realised some years later it looked better for him if he was with his wife. Life was not terrific and after three years, I could not handle it any more so I left him never to return. Later on I divorced him and as far as I was concerned that was the end.
I became involved in another church, met a wonderful man and remarried. This marriage was terrific. We bought a house, decided not to have children, and life was good.
Around 10 years later I received a phone call from the police, wanting to take a statement from me about the situation that had taken place in my first two years of marriage with my ex-husband. A statement was taken, a committal hearing was held but it never went to court and I thought that would be the end.
The dreaded phone call came again just five years ago from the police wanting to take a statement about the situation that took place over 40 years ago when I was engaged to my ex-husband. Another statement, another committal hearing and four subpoenas later it still hasn’t gone to trial, but hopefully it will this time.
Even though I wasn’t personally sexually abused by my ex-husband, it still affects me. I want justice and to put an end to those dreaded phone calls and police delivering subpoenas.
I want church members to realise that just because people present a perfect Christian face to the world, it doesn’t mean they are who they say they are.
(Bethel Pastoral Centre is available to people who want to talk with someone confidentially about abuse and misuse of power within the church. Telephone 03 9859 8700; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a child is in immediate danger, ring 000 and report the situation to the police. To report abuse, contact your state’s crisis line – Department of Human Services Child Protection (Victoria) 13 12 78 or Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania) 1300 737 639.)
I wonder what God thinks of all this?
It is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify slavery, until enough brave people fought against it, but not without a struggle. It is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify racial segregation, until enough brave people fought against it, but not without a struggle. It is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify capital punishment, until enough brave people fought against it, but not without a struggle.
Most enlightened and modern societies have now consigned those vestiges of our misguided past to the dustbin of history.
And today, to my dismay, the Bible is being used to justify denying couples who love each other the right to marry. This is in direct contravention of the Declaration of Human Rights which we signed in December 1948 when the United Nations was first formed. Australia does not have a very good record in observing human rights, as evident in our treatment of asylum seekers.
The Bible, all sixty-six books of it, is historically the most significant religious book ever published. All the more reason to use its teaching wisely. It seems that those Christians voting NO base their beliefs on the Old Testament teachings, as is their right, and those Christians voting YES base their beliefs on the New Testament teachings of Jesus, as is their right.
In my view, if the Jesus of the New Testament did not stand for things like love, mercy, acceptance and inclusion, then he stood for nothing. If Jesus did not stand with the oppressed, marginalised, the excluded and outcast, then he stood alone.
This plebiscite is all about love, respect, acceptance and inclusion, and has absolutely nothing to do with irrelevancies like sex education in schools and cross-dressing. Far from being under threat, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are already guaranteed in law, as argued in The Age by Robyn Whitaker, who is the Bromby Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity College, University of Divinity.
Rewind this dreadful plebiscite 2000 years. I can just see the Scribes and the Pharisees fearfully exhorting their followers to vote NO and the followers of Jesus quietly, gently speaking words of love and acceptance to Gentiles and Jews alike.
One memory of our dad stands out. Dad smoked a pipe. He spent time meticulously cleaning the bowl with his pocket knife and carefully poking pipe cleaners up the stem.
His old pipe was important.
Dad had been on the Western Front in WWI. A sapper, whose role it was to dig trenches and dugouts, tunnelling under enemy positions. Working in small groups, he would dismantle enemy barbed wire across No Man’s Land at night before an advance. He experienced carnage, horror and suffering.
Gassed and wounded in the leg by shrapnel, for the rest of his life he walked with a limp. Yet, on his return home, he still played football and tennis, and loved gardening.
Like many WWI diggers, he could not go back to an office job. He tried farming and failed. At the outbreak of WWII he volunteered to serve again but was refused because of his age and physical condition. Dad still did his bit as a volunteer air raid warden, patrolling our streets at night, asking people to adjust their blackout curtains to shut out any chinks of light. In our backyard he dug an air raid shelter. His way of protecting us from some of what he had witnessed.
His two sons joined up. One served in the Middle East, the other in New Guinea. Whenever the news was bad in those areas, he lit his pipe and went for a walk.
His youngest brother served in Syria. Returning he was captured in Java. Dad lit his pipe and went for a walk. Later he heard his young brother was incarcerated in Changi, and sent to work as a slave labourer on the Burma Railway. Dad lit his pipe and went for a walk.
Whenever the news was bad, on every occasion, he lit his pipe and went for a walk.
Dad’s well maintained, often-lit pipe and long walking was his way of escape and coping. Sometimes he walked out into his beloved garden, lit up and looked far away. He never spoke to us about the horror of his experiences, and the recurring nightmares.
On Remembrance Day we try to sum up everything to do with war in two-minute’s silence, and move on. Surely not enough.
The next war will be started by the push of a button. That will mean PTSD for humankind who survive and terrible destruction for our precious planet.
Perhaps my father’s lit pipe, its spiralling smoke, and his long walks in silence, were his prayer to heaven. Dad was never outwardly a religious man. He was a family dad, a community man. To me his pipe and his walking were his silent and personal pilgrimage for peace.