Friday, February 24, 2012

Hospital Chapels, Meditation Rooms, and Junky Waiting Areas...

I for one decry the remodeling of hospital chapels into meditation rooms devoid of religious symbolism and unsuitable for prayer.  Most have become glorified waiting areas complete with empty coffee cups and magazines.  It would seem to me that a room like the one on the right is welcome to no faith and does not provide the faithful of any religion anything more than semi-private space.  Hospitals are foolish to jettison perfectly good chapels designed for prayer in order to offer semi-well appointed waiting areas.

In the local hospital we have beautiful stained glass (without any identifiable religious imagery) but the arrangement of the chairs makes the glass seem like artwork on the walls in a slightly more private and somewhat cleaner waiting area.  I long for the days when at least a few kneelers and pews made it seem like this really was a chapel instead of "meditation room."  Given the seriousness of the illnesses and life threatening situations families must deal with, it seems completely unfair and insensitive to offer them a waiting room instead of a real chapel.  Note:  I am not expecting nor asking for a crucifix but neither am I suggesting that the room must be empty of symbolism and devoid of all religious ambiance in order to serve all faiths.  BTW this should not apply to hospitals run by religious groups.  I have far higher expectations there!


Anonymous said...

From what I've seen many secular institutions that maintain chapels do just that, making the space as bare bones as possible and moving specific religious symbols in and out according to who is occupying the space at any given time.

Catholic hospitals here have retained crucifixes and traditional religious imagery, but they are not bound by the above norms.

I understand that the local Lutheran hospital has a chapel that retains stained glass windows and a cross. It is probably served by the Lutheran Chaplaincy service which is staffed by LCMS and ELCA pastors.


Anonymous said...

In our city one of the public
hospitals has a "chapel" with 8
stained glass windows with a symbol
for each of the 8 major religions
of the world. Cross for Christians
and Star of David for Jews, etc.

With the pluralism of our current
American culture it is more difficult
to find an exclusive Christian
chapel in a secular hospital.

Anonymous said...

I don't even care about religious symbols... just make it church like with a rail, place to kneel, chapel chairs, aisle, etc... and not like a waiting room with empty walls and chairs around the edges... geeeshh

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