As independent examiner Brian Trent observed, “Multiculturalism and pluralism are and have long been the lifeblood of America,” so the notion that one approach applies to dealing with the multifaceted lives of all its citizens is equally outmoded. Since the mores and customs surrounding such life experiences as child-rearing, health care and death are culturally shaped, professionals in these areas need to be acutely aware of the impact cultural differences play in these activities.
This motive inspired the Augustana Health Care Center’s first lecture series on spiritual care last year in providing “for the entire person in a way that they feel safe and comfortable.” This year’s series focuses on the diversity of faiths in the Center and Twin Cities communities and how they can “best be there spiritually for all the disciplines we serve” according to Community Relations Director Kelly Klund.
To that end, this year’s first speakers, Punja Patel and Bankim Desai from the Hindu Temple of Minnesota, addressed the issue of end-of-life care in the context of the Hindu religion Friday afternoon. After giving a brief yet exhaustive overview of his faith, Mr. Patel emphasized that in the realm of end-of-life care, the role of caretaker is “always the family” for the practicing Hindu. Though he and his wife have lived in the United States for many years and his values are changing, his inability to be there to care for his ailing mother still living in India is a “growing pain for us.”
For Hindus, death bears a different outcome from the Christian heaven or hell. Hindus believe that death results in rebirth “into a future that is based primarily on their past thoughts and actions.” Unlike burial or outside decomposition, cremation prevents the astral body from lingering beside the physical body and thus speeds the transmigration to another body until the soul acquires enough good karma to transcend the need to return to life on earth.
Future presentations in this year’s series will address these same issues from the standpoints of four other major religions. The lectures and dates are:
- Native American spirituality (August 9th)
- Buddhism (September 16th)
- Islam (Date to be determined)
- Judaism (Date to be determined)
Exposure to different faiths is not expected to change one’s beliefs so much as to reevaluate them. As Trent concluded, “the cross-pollination of progressive cultures has given history its grandest Golden Ages.” Doesn’t that possibility warrant risking such acquaintance to develop one’s own convictions?