New Book Recommendation: Pastoral Care and Counseling: Care for Stories, Systems and Selves

In our search for ever increasing education in our field of Pastoral Care we want to make you aware of Dr. Philip Helsel’s newest book, “Pastoral Care and Counseling: Care for Stories, Systems and Selves” published through Paulist Press. Click below for more details!

Words Have Consequences...a letter from FASPE

Words Have Consequences
A Failure of Ethical Leadership

Friends of FASPE:

How does an organization whose mission focuses on professional ethics and ethical leadership respond to the events of the past week? How does an organization that studies the perpetrators in the professions in Nazi Germany respond to the events of the past week?

The murders that took place in Pittsburgh and in Louisville, and the delivery of bombs to individuals and institutions, are not random, inexplicable, unpredictable acts of depraved individuals. We must now acknowledge that these unspeakable acts are part of a progression that began with a conscious rejection of the pluralistic and democratic norms that govern our daily lives and that define the way that we interact with each other.

Hate speech is unacceptable. And speech that promotes hate is dangerous. Yes, perhaps only depraved people actually convert that hate into murderous acts. But, we cannot ignore the reality that promoting hate has the consequence (intended or not) of hateful acts. One leads inexorably to the other.

We expect, we demand, that our leaders practice ethical leadership. They set the tone for our great country. They are our voice, our conscience and our clarion. Words and actions that promote hate reflect the absence of ethical leadership. This is not a partisan statement. We are permitted, even encouraged, to disagree (and argue) about the regulation of weapons, about abortion, about capital punishment, about immigration policy – that is the beauty of a democratic society. If the majority wants tax relief, we have tax relief. If a majority wants weapons regulations, we have weapons regulations.

However, we do not vilify the opposition. We do not criminalize the opposition. We do not intentionally make up facts, i.e. lie, in order to promote our political positions. We do not encourage violence against the opposition. That is unethical leadership.

Back to professional ethics and ethical leadership. Back to the professionals in Nazi Germany. FASPE does not seek analogies to Nazi Germany. To analogize or even to suggest a path of analogies can be destructive and unacceptable. It risks engaging in the demagoguery and hate that has become too much part of the discourse in America.

Instead, FASPE studies the perpetrators in Nazi Germany in order to display the role that our leaders, the professionals, must play in a civil society. The professional class in Nazi Germany did not object, they did not stand in the way. They enabled even by their silence. Staying quiet in the face of unethical behavior, large or small, is unacceptable.

FASPE asks that as a responsibility of professional ethics and ethical leadership, we, as leaders in our respective communities, speak out against the hatred that is clearly being condoned and encouraged. There is a direct line between speech that promotes hate and hateful actions. We must be clear and unequivocal in our non-partisan objection to this behavior. That is the lesson of history: the absolute requirement that the leaders and influencers in our communities, our clergy, doctors, teachers, journalists, lawyers, business executives – those and more – speak out against hatred. We must demand ethical behavior with our own voices and from our own pulpits, bully or otherwise.

We do not have to ask why anyone feels compelled to spew such hate. However, we can ask that we learn from history and demand a return to civility, to the rule of law, to the norms that we expect from our leaders.

David Goldman
Founder and Chairman, FASPE

F.A.S.P.E.'s Seminary

Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) provides a unique historical lens to study contemporary ethics in the professions.

FASPE Seminary examines the role played by German and international clergy during the period of 1933-1945, underscoring the reality that moral codes governing clergy of all religions can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. Having demonstrated the power held by religious leaders, FASPE addresses ethical issues now facing individual members of the clergy and religious institutions at large. With the historical background in mind, the FASPE Seminary Fellows are more committed and better positioned to confront contemporary issues.

Each year, FASPE chooses 12 to 18 Seminary Fellows from divinity schools and seminaries, as well as early-career religious leaders, to spend two weeks in Berlin and Poland where they visit key historical sites and participate in daily seminars led by specialized faculty. The Seminary Fellows travel with the Medical Fellows, having the opportunity to exchange views over shared meals and in several interdisciplinary seminars. For more information, click here:

Holy Week Scripture Readings & Reflections

Dear Friends,

It’s hard to believe that Holy Week begins in almost a few days! For Christians around the world this is indeed the most Holiest of weeks on the Christian Liturgical Calendar. See below the meaning of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday:

Passion/Palm Sunday

Recounted in all four Gospels, Jesus (the Christ) road on a young colt through Jerusalem known as the enactment of the royal processional and prophecy found in Zechariah 9: 9-10 (“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal on a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.”) The Gospel according Luke 19:28-40 recounts Jesus riding down through Jerusalem—“people kept spreading their cloaks [and palm branches] on the road. As he was approaching the path down from Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice . . . saying ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’”  

Maundy (Commandment) Thursday

“Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’ (Luke 22:8) ‘When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘this cup is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood . . . (a short while after the Lord’s Supper, “A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But [Jesus] said to them, ‘The kings of Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’” Luke 22:14-20, 24-27

Good Friday

“Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, ‘you brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him . . . Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us! Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!” A third time Pilate went to the people, but their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted . . . and he handed Jesus over as they wished.’” Luke 23:13-25

“Two others also, who were criminals were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘he saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ One of the criminals said to Jesus, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ [Jesus] replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:32-43

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’” Luke 23:44-48

Easter Sunday

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they [the women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” Luke 24:1-9

Peace to you my friends,

Chaplain Paul

Continuing Education Opportunity: From Barriers to Belonging @ Baylor University

Public Lecture
10-11 a.m.
March 28, 2018
Miller Chapel @ Baylor University
Dr. Eric Carter is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, Dept. of Education, Vanderbilt University. Lecture sponsored by Baylor Dept. of Religion, Dept. of Psychology and Neuroscience, School of Education, and the Disability, Faith, and Flourishing Initiative.

"A Call To Action" in light of the Parkland Shootings - Dr. Paul Kraus

Dear Members of the IACC,

I am deeply troubled by the horrific massacre that occurred in Florida on Wednesday, February 14th. This was supposed to be a day to honor our humble call to proclaim love in action. Rather we watched this day turn into horror for an entire community of Parkland, Florida, USA. Let us join our hearts together in sending our prayers and condolences to the families who lost their loved ones to yet another school shooting in the USA.

For those chaplains who are near the scene, I encourage you to be part of a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team to assist in the debriefing process through CISM.  Likewise, let us all be aware of the need that so many around each and every one of us might need in order to process this horrific event.

For those who live and serve in the United States of America, I pose this question to you. In light of this repeated history of gun violence, how can we/you stand-up and take action to end this in the US?  I think we can start by educating people within a process whereby people become thinkers rather than reactors. I believe our pastoral care training can contribute a lot to ending these serious and deadly violent acts. For all of you who regularly counsel those to improve mental health as an LPC, Pastoral Counselor, Psycho-Therapist, or as a person supporting these professionals, thank you for your work! Your commitment to long hours of counseling is extremely valuable to our society as a whole. Keep doing what you’re doing. I know you are making a difference! For others who are professional chaplains and pastors of congregations and healthcare organizations, I believe in addition to acute and long-term care, our task is education.

In every educational process it is necessary to start with certain philosophies that respects core beliefs and ethics. These ethical principles, which becomes our reference line is how we determine the philosophy that becomes the foundation to any type of strategy or methodology. As Christian Chaplains, we draw on Christian Ethics, or Ethics developed by Jesus Christ. Interesting enough, as you know, our country was built upon these core ethics of Christ as the center of what our inspired Word of God instructs us in how to live. As you may agree, our country has fallen away from these core values. There has been too much smoothing over our core ethics that has sadly taken our children’s lives, it has eroded the future of their lives and will erode their children’s lives if we don’t take action.

Pastoral Care is a discipline that helps us to think theologically by reflecting ethically in our contexts. We as pastoral care givers are charged to be advocates for what is right according to our core ethics. That may mean to lobby (appropriately) within legislation. That may mean that we take a stand even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. It means that we lead discussions in small groups, or participate in conferences. Due to the fact that we serve all people, not just Christians, we can make a greater impact. We don’t have a selfish/self-centered agenda. Our agenda is to enhance the greater good of people of all races, religions, cultures, genders, and abilities, who live in the USA and other countries around the world.

Given all what I have discussed in this post, I recognize that I’m only one voice. In response to the shooting in Florida there are ways that I am personally responding in accordance with my own convictions.  I encourage you to do the same of asking, “How can I act for the greater of peace and justice?” 

Peace my sisters and brothers,

Dr. Paul D. Kraus

Reflective Excerpts from "When Bad Things Happen To Good People" in light of the Parkland Shootings - from Executive Director, Chaplain Daniel Davila

Reflective Excerpts from “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” in light of the Parkland Shootings - from Executive Director, Daniel Dávila

At a time of pain and sorrow because of another tragedy, we wonder, “how then shall we express ourselves?” Before we get too analytical, moralistic or judgmental, let us listen to each other and respond with compassion, care and understanding. Here are some thoughts from Rabbi Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  Three basic overlapping questions in the book:

1.What should you do or say when someone you care about faces tragedy?

"It is hard to know what to say to a person who has been struck by tragedy, but it is easier to know what not to say. Anything critical of the mourner ('don't take it so hard,' 'try to hold back your tears, you're upsetting people') is wrong. Anything which tries to minimize the mourner's pain ('it's probably for the best,' 'it could be a lot worse,' 'she's better off now') is likely to be misguided and unappreciated. Anything which asks the mourner to disguise or reject his feelings ('we have no right to question God,' 'God must love you to have selected you for this burden') is wrong as well." [page 89]

"I said to Barry, as I feel religious people should say to those who have been hurt by life, 'This was not your fault. You are a good, decent person who deserves better. I can understand that you feel hurt, confused, angry at what happened, but there is no reason why you should feel guilty. As a man of faith, I have come to you in God's name, not to judge you, but to help you. Will you let me help you?'" [page 104]

2.How should you think about and react to the tragedy in your own life?

"Is there an answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people? That depends on what we mean by 'answer'. If we mean 'Is there an explanation which will make sense of it all?'… then there probably is no satisfying answer. We can offer learned explanations, but in the end, when we have covered all the squares on the game board and are feeling very proud of our cleverness, the pain and the anguish and the sense of unfairness will still be there. But the word 'answer' can also mean 'response' as well as 'explanation,' and in that sense, there may well be a satisfying answer to the tragedies in our lives. The response would be Job's response in MacLeish's version of the biblical story-to forgive the world for not being perfect, to forgive God for not making a better world, to reach out to the people around us, and to go on living despite it all." [page 147]

"What do we do with our anger when we have been hurt? The goal, if we can achieve it, would be to be angry at the situation, rather than at ourselves, or at those who might have prevented it or are close to us trying to help us, or at God who let it happen. Getting angry at ourselves makes us depressed. Being angry at other people scares them away and makes it harder for them to help us. Being angry at God erects a barrier between us and all the sustaining, comforting resources of religion that are there to help us at such times. But being angry at the situation, recognizing it as something rotten, unfair, and totally undeserved, shouting about it, denouncing it crying over it, permits us to discharge the anger which is a part of being hurt, without making it harder for us to be helped." [pages 108-109]

"All we can do is try to rise beyond the question 'why did it happen?' and begin to ask the question 'what do I do now that it has happened?'" [page 71]

3.What kind of God can we believe in when bad things can happen to good people?

"Let me suggest that the author of the Book of Job takes the position which neither Job nor his friends take. He believes in God's goodness and in Job's goodness, and is prepared to give up his belief in proposition (A): that God is all-powerful." [page 42]

"If God is God of justice and not of power, then He can still be on our side when bad things happen to us. He can know that we are good and honest people who deserve better. Our misfortunes are none of His doing, and so we can turn to Him for help." [page 44]

"The God I believe in doesn't send us the problem; He gives us the strength to cope with the problem." [page 127]

"The conventional explanation, that God sends us the burden because He knows that we are strong enough to handle it, has it all wrong. Fate, not God, sends us the problem. When we try to deal with it, we find out that we are not strong. We are weak; we get tired, we get angry, overwhelmed. We begin to wonder how we will ever make it through all the years. But when we reach the limits of our own strength and courage, something unexpected happens. We find reinforcement coming from a source outside ourselves. And in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God is on our side, we manage to go on." [page 129]