Walking the Path: My Interfaith Journey

A Pagan seminarian's perspective on faith, theology, and facilitating interfaith dialogue.

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Denora

Denora

Denora is currently a full-time wife, mother, and chaplain. As an eight-year veteran of the United States Air Force, her professional career has spanned network administration, performing presidential support requirements and veteran military funeral honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and executive communications support for the Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Denora has an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Central Florida, an MA in International Relations from St. Mary’s University, and a Master of Divinity degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. She has completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education with the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD and has spent a year as a chaplain resident with the Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, TN. She has recently been accepted for a Mental Health Fellowship at the Lexington VA Medical Center in Lexington, KY. She is currently an active member of Circle Sanctuary's Military Ministries team and the Lady Liberty League Military Affairs Task Force. Her future plans include board certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains and working as a staff chaplain within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Limitations of the Christian Trinity (God as Mother)

As promised, an excerpt from my paper on the Christian Trinity. A few things to consider:

 

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  • Karen Nolan
    Karen Nolan says #
    Really enjoyed reading this -- more people, especially Christians, should truly, deeply wonder how Mary felt in giving life to Jes

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Opinion Piece: Privilege

**Disclaimer** I write on many topics, and focus on maintaining an objective stance whenever possible. This is an opinion piece detailing my experiences and feelings from events over the last few months. You don’t have to agree. I do however expect respectful dialogue if there is any on this subject.

I struggle at times to put into words the feelings and experiences I have as a Pagan chaplain moving in the interfaith environment. Or, more recently, as a Pagan existing in East Tennessee. I find when I have conversations with others who understand what it means to be marginalized in some way—either by race or gender or faith or some other qualifier—the necessity of articulating the struggle falls away and there is a moment of just “getting it.” These are not the people who really need to read the things I write about, but invariably they probably are, and I love you for it.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this post. I am a chaplain at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. PSR is a historically christian seminary but

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
To Be A Pagan Chaplain: Compassion

I field many questions about what I do as a chaplain from people who are curious, but who also are under the misconception that as a Pagan I don't actually have a faith tradition (or my faith tradition is not acceptable). A large reason I am pursuing this path is to do the work of representing my faith group at the table with other groups--to do the work of "legitimacy" if you will. We have a long way to go in this battle, as I will demonstrate in the example I will leave here. As I do this work, I am beginning to realize people need to understand why Pagan chaplaincy is necessary. It isn't just the interfaith work, though that is important too. But for every Pagan who is in the hospital and wants a chaplain of their faith to be there with them, for every Pagan in prison, or the military, or in universities, there will need to be someone willing to do the work of fighting this battle of legitimacy.

**Note: For those who are familiar with what verbatims looks like, this format will be familiar. This was an actual encounter with someone I work with, recollected to the best of my ability and presented to my group for processing. This is the reality I live with everyday.** 

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. Respectfully, I'd like to offer some variations on your replies. FWIW, I've bee
An Integrated Model of Wellness for Difficult Times

“What drains your spirit drains your body. What fuels your spirit fuels your body.” 
― Caroline MyssAnatomy of the Spirit


As a chaplain working in a healthcare setting, I am intimately familiar with the current efforts to include the emotional and spiritual aspects of health into a more traditional allopathic medical model. In many respects, we are seeing great progress as integrative and functional medical models are starting to incorporate more holistic and alternative treatments like reiki and acupuncture in treatment plans for patients. But what does it mean to have an integrated model of health? And why is that so important in times of distress, especially now around the holidays and as a result of current political events?

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A Sermon on John 6: 48-59

I am still deeply affected by the events of this week, and I'm struggling to reconcile my feelings around what is going on in our country right now. How larger themes of racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, and hatred have permeated the fabric of our nation so completely. Working where I do in and amongst conservative Christians as a Pagan is a challenging and often times exhausting endeavor where showing up is half the battle. 

I was on call the morning after the election news broke, and in our case, whoever is on call that day delivers the morning devotional in Chapel that morning. I've done a variety of offerings from my tradition and they have all been warmly received, but on this day I wanted to present something that spoke to deeper bonds of fellowship and used common language I knew would connect with my colleagues and yet would remain true to my identity as a Pagan. I presented this piece I had written in my Gospel of John course at Iliff a few years ago:

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Why I'm Conflicted About 9/11 Remembrance

I have mixed feelings about 9/11 remembrance every year on this date. 

Before anyone breaks out the torches and pitchforks, let me give some context...

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  • Charlotte Walker
    Charlotte Walker says #
    Denora (love the name) Being a Navy brat and raised in the region with the highest concentration of military bases in the world,
  • Waylon Breaux
    Waylon Breaux says #
    Thank you for your honesty in expressing what you feel on a day like today. I'm not upset with you for your opinion. These are t

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Recurring Wounds and the Soul's Legacy

The last few weeks have been particularly difficult for a number of reasons. I generally write on broader topics, and this is no exception, but there is a crucial personal thread in this tapestry.

This week I stumbled on two posts I will share that resonated with me. One has to do specifically with the energies of the full moon we just experienced, and the other focuses on the idea of karmic contracts:

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