Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Soundtrack for Clinical Pastoral Education

I may have mentioned that I have been part of Clinical Pastoral Education during the past few months. It is a class that you can take during seminary or serve in a residency for an entire year. It is much more intense than a regular class with weekly personal/ theological reflections, as well as regularly shared pastoral encounters, in which a student shares a pastoral dialogue between student and patient/ parishioner which is torn apart by the class. This allows the student to see his or her deficiencies as a pastor/ chaplain so he or she can provide better care in the future. While it is usually tied to medical chaplaincy, it should be part of any seminary education process because it makes better pastors and ministers. Sadly, only a few seminaries and denominations require it. I wanted it in seminary but was unable to take it. I am now finishing up a unit related to my job responsibilities.

Part of my own discipline in the class is to intersect music which speaks directly to my soul and is the lens through which I see life and my theological/ personal reflections. I pick a song each week as a soundtrack to my reflection, sometimes using it in class (sometimes just sharing its lyrics). In the midst of this I have created a nice little mixtape of my own spirituality as expressed in this class, a soundtrack for Rick Bennett at this moment in his life. Here are some of the selections (I wish muxtape was still around so I could create it to be listened to).

Some of these songs are deeply reflective and personal and some will make no sense without context or familiarity. Such is the aim of CPE. Its desire is to force its participants to dig deep into their own psyche and spirit to better deal with those things which hold us back from caring for others. Yes, it is cheaper than therapy, especially if someone else is paying.

When I began this class I made a list of probable songs, most of which I have not used. Of course, maybe I will use some of them for a second unit of CPE. But it does strike me that what I thought I would use and talk about did not come to pass. Some of the assumed, but unused songs include: Windowsill/ My Body is a Cage / No Cars Go/ (antichrist television blues) by Arcade Fire, Fake Empire by The National, Best Imitation of Myself / You've Got to Live with Who you are by Ben Folds, Could be Worse by Eef Barzelay, I Might Be Wrong / Jigsaw Falling Into Place by Radiohead and The War Criminal Stands to Speak / Our Life is not a Movie by Okkervil River.

Here is the list of what was used weekly, with a lyrical taste:

Constructive Summer by The Hold Steady ("I heard your gospel, it moved me to tears, but I couldn't find the hate and I couldn't find the fear")
The Charging Sky by Jenny Lewis ("and it's a surefire bet I'm gonna die, so I'm taking up praying on Sunday nights... as insurance or bail")
Static on the Radio by Jim White ("Everything I think I know is just static on the radio")
When Angels Fall and All This Time by Sting ("2 priests came round our house tonight to offer prayers for the dying, to serve the final rite")
Both of Us'll Feel the Blast by Waterdeep ("I hope we sit together when Jesus serves the wine, so I can look into your eyes when I taste it the first time")
Furr by Blitzen Trapper ("and now my fur has turned to skin/ and I've been quickly ushered in/ to a world that I confess I do not know/ But I still dream of running carelessly through the snow)
Still Fighting It by Ben Folds ("everybody knows it hurts to grow up/ and everybody does/ Let me tell you what/ The years go by/ and We're still fighting it")
I Saw the Light by Hank Williams, Sr. ("Then Jesus came in like a stranger in the night/ Praise the Lord, I saw the light")
Sympathy for Jesus by Don Chaffer and the Khrusty Brothers ("I'm saddled with a job you know of interpreting my Dad, to a bunch of frightened people/ frightened or just mad")
Throw it All Away by Toad the Wet Sprocket ("with the time I waste on the life I never had, I could have turned myself into a better man")
Bastards of Young by The Replacements ("those who love us best are the ones we' lay to rest, and visit their graves on holidays at best/ those who love us least are the one's we'll die to please...")
Intervention by Arcade Fire ("working for the church while your family dies")
Righteous Path by The Drive By Truckers ("I don't know God, but I fear his wrath, I'm trying to keep focused on the righteous path")

What are some of the songs on your soundtrack?


Jason said...

1. Are We The Waiting -Green Day
"The rage and love,
the story of my life,
The Jesus of suburbia is a lie

And screaming-
Are we? We are,
Are we? We are the waiting..."

2. The Well & the Lighthouse -Arcade Fire

3. Flowers -Bill Mallonee

Rob said...

Manifest Destiny, Guster

Bones are broken and the will is sunk
How did everything get so fucked up?
Do you want to change your mind?
You can always change your mind

15 Steps, Radiohead

How com I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?

Kasey Lane McCollum said...

In my CPE residency I continually go to many songs by Sigur Ros and 'What Sarah Said' Death Cab for Cutie.