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 been accepted to be a chaplain resident with the Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, TN. 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.

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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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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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
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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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Ubuntu: My African Journey

I spent fifteen days walking the sands of another continent this year. Fifteen days eating the fruits of another land, looking into the eyes of people I had never met, and marveling at the infinite beauty and potential of the human spirit. The cultural immersion trip I participated in was sponsored by my school, Iliff School of Theology, and led by two of my professors who are originally from Harare Zimbabwe. 

During the course of those fifteen days we interfaced with universities, non-profit organizations, orphanages, climbed the rocks of Great Zimbabwe, witnessed the power of Victoria Falls, toured the Apartheid museum, and walked the halls of the prison on Robben Island. The trip was simultaneously amazing, exciting, and excruciating. In other words I will never forget it.

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When the Path Isn't Clear: Doing the Work of Pagan Activism

The last week or so has been quite eventful in the Pagan community. Without rehashing specifics, I reference these posts which speak to the second and third order effects of speech and the power of words: 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/aloneinherpresence/2015/11/i-wont-shame-my-elders/

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Denora, thought you would like to know that Macha (Aline) posted the following on her Facebook page about an hour ago. "Recently

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