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Scapegoating – in a good way

גמר חתימה טובה

Scapegoating has a bad rep in our day and age because it usually involves falsely blaming someone else for one’s own shortcomings. Also it is done in hiding or maybe even unconsciously. Today, the Jewish tradition celebrates Yom Kippur. This holiday is based on Leviticus 16 and formalizes that process and places it in the community in the form of a public event. Letting go of guilt together is a good and healthy thing. Here is what happens to the literal and original scapegoat:

When he has finished atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
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Where are you in your 9/11 grief?

North face south tower after plane strike 9-11

I invite you to look at your 9/11 remembrance from a grief perspective. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined five stages of grief and here is how they apply to our communal response to the 2001 terror attacks:

  • Denial
    That moment you sat in front of the TV and couldn’t believe your own eyes. The following weeks and months when planes were grounded and everything felt surreal.
  • Anger
    The phase of externalization. Now the energy goes outward and focuses on “them”: Terrorists, countries that harbor terrorists, but also people who look and believe differently from me. This is how to start a war.
  • Depression
    Protracted war slows down and leads to frustration: How do you even begin to define victory in a seemingly endless war on terror? Does anything make a difference anymore?
  • Acceptance
    Fully embracing the factual reality what happened while being able to acknowledge your feelings that go along with it. You are in charge of your reaction: You no longer need to run away from the fear through denial. You no longer need to project it on innocent bystanders. You find a new meaning and a new purpose.
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Daniel Haas on Hospice Chaplaincy and Military Ministry

The Hospice Chaplaincy Podcast is committed to promoting excellence in spiritual care at the end of life. That’s why they had me back to talk about the We Honor Veterans Program. Listen here:

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10 Ways Your Church Can Benefit from Having a Military Chaplain as a Pastor

I wrote another piece for the United Church of Christ’s Center for Analytics, Research & Development, and Data (CARDD). This one is on the intersection of church and military ministry. I hope you can find some benefit in engaging veterans in your church.

10 Ways Your Church Can Benefit from Having a Military Chaplain as a Pastor

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This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent

MLK
BLM

Today is the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech.” It rings especially loud again in 2020 with the death of George Floyd and just days ago the shooting of Jacob Blake. This year it’s not the mole hill vision than stands out to me, but the continued challenge that MLK makes so clear:

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

I Have a Dream delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.