Thirty Days of Love – Day 28
American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) developed what came to be knows as Pragmatic philosophy. The Pragmatic Convergence Theory of Truth states “that a belief is true which the community of inquirers will converge upon over the long run.” William James paraphrased that as the “truth is what works.”
Philosophers, save William James, universally criticized Peirce’s Convergence of Truth theory. Peirce died in poverty and in obscurity.
When the Postmodern and Deconstructionist philosophers of the mid-20th Century began to call into question the truth claims of the entire modern Western tradition, philosophical panic ensued. How can we know if anything is “true”.
It was then that the importance and value of Peirce’s Pragmatic philosophy and his Convergence Theory was finally recognized.
Philosophy informs theology. (St. Thomas Aquinas essentially updated Christian theology by incorporating the philosophical ideas of Aristotle.)
Although Unitarian minister Theodore Parker (1810 – 1860) preceded Peirce and Pragmatism, I’ve always regarded his statement (often paraphrased by Martin Luther King, Jr.),“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one ….And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice” as a pragmatic hope for the future.
May the “community of inquirers” converge upon this as truth sooner rather than later.
Thirty Days of Love – Day 29
My very first hospice chaplain visit was a home hospice visit. I can remember sitting down on the living room couch next to the patient’s wife (the patient was in a bed next to the couch). They are both looking at me and I’m thinking, “What do I do now?”
Neither of them spoke a word of English. Not a word!
They were Bhutanese refugees who had live in Nepal for years prior to coming to the United States.
I’d visit them weekly. They’d give me tours of their apartment; show me their altars, show me their holy books (selections of the Mahabharata, an ancient holy Indian text), feed me Nepalese food.
On one occasion I was asked to come at a time I did not normally come. They were insistent. I didn’t know what to expect but it must be some special occasion.
When I arrived, their apartment was packed with the Bhutanese community. (I didn’t know there was one in Pittsburgh.) The hospice patient and his wife were sitting cross-legged on the floor. One by one people sat down in front of them and were blessed by them. The blessing consisted of a red marking on the forehead and a gift of a dollar bill wrapped in the shoot of a long-leafed plant.
I was the last one to be “blessed”….and I got something extra. As I was sitting there in front of them, the patient’s wife got up and walked behind me. Then I could feel her hands on the sides of my head as she gently slid a traditional Nepalese hat onto me.
It was such a holy moment.
I still have the hat and the dollar bill. They sit on my altar. The shoot of the long-leafed plant has long since disintegrated to dust.
Thirty Days of Love – Day 30
The Laying On Of Hands is a religious practice usually used to confer authority to a priest or minister. It is normally invoked during the act of ordination.
In April 2016, I was selected as the candidate to fill the position of minister at the Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North (UUMAN) congregation in Roswell, GA. On April 30 of that year, I flew to Atlanta from Bellingham, WA hoping that UUMAN would vote to call me as their minister and ordain me. That ultimately did happen.
On April 29 in Bellingham, I had dinner with perhaps 50 other UU ministers, lay leaders and members of the LUMMI Nation (Lhaq’temish Native Americans). The dinner was held at the home of a tribe member and the chief of the tribe was present.
At the end of the meal, one of the UU ministers rose and addressed everyone. She said that one of us was about to embark on a life-changing journey to Atlanta the following morning in hopes of receiving a call to ministry there. I was asked to rise. The minister, along with the chief of the tribe, commenced with a Laying On Of Hands ceremony. The minister and the chief laid their hands upon me, then all present laid their hands upon the minister and chief, and one another, such that we were all connected.
They then blessed me….essentially a pre-ordination ordination.
How blessed I am! To be pre-ordained in the living room of a member of the LUMMI Nation – by the chief, tribe members, UU ministers and lay leaders.
It is not anything I will EVER forget!