A seminary summer in Clinical Pastoral Education was at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta. In three months, I encountered more situations than in three years of ministry. My peers and I received supervised reflection on our pastoral care that helped us mature three years in three months.
One encounter was not with a patient but with another student chaplain from an evangelical college. Here’s the verbatim between me (M) and the other chaplain (OC).
M: I just had a Burger King Whopper for lunch and I’m a happy man.
OC: Wait until you have a Hardee’s burger; you’ll change your mind.
M: I’ve had a Hardee’s burger; I just prefer a whopper.
OC: Oh you couldn’t; Hardees makes the best burgers, period. Maybe they didn’t cook it right that day.
M: Actually I’ve had several Hardee’s burgers. It’s not that I don’t like their burgers; it’s that I like a whopper more.
OC: I don’t believe you. If you really had a Hardee’s burger, you’d know they’re the best. They’re the only way to go.
M: (Long pause) I’m confused. Are you calling me a liar? Are you saying I don’t have your permission to have my own taste? Or are your refusing to acknowledge that it’s possible I could prefer something you don’t? “Have it your way.”
Actually I didn’t say “have it your way” then, but I couldn’t resist the irony now.
A few days later, that guy visited a bed-fast patient — talk about a captive audience. He tried every manipulation he had to get the man “saved” — with his limited definition of what “saved” meant to him. When he was questioned in “group” if that was ethical for a chaplain, he said: “If I don’t save them; they’ll go to hell.” That’s a lot of responsibility — to be in charge of who goes to hell and Hardee’s.
A week later he quit the student chaplain program and entered Pharmacy School. I hope and believe God has used his gift of exactly seeing things one way to save lives as a pharmacist.
18 years later, Burger King began using the ad line “if you ask us, it just tastes better.” No royalties came my way.
Where do you see signs of only seeing things “my one way” in the media, politics or religion? How do you respond to the growth of white Christian nationalism in our midst? How do you receive different perspectives from other people?