Friday, December 2, 2016

Healing Doctors

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground 
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7 (NIV)

“With what strife and pains we come into the world we know not,
 but ’tis commonly no easy matter to get out of it.”
quote from Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici 

There are stories that are “awesome”…filled with the spiritual awe of a purpose driven life.  When Breath Becomes Air is one of those stories .  It is more than a memoir, but a call to all of us as we face the uncertainties of life.  We meet that call in the agent/patient, Paul Kalanithi, MD. and his wife, Lucy Kalanithi, MD.  The uniqueness of Paul Kalanithi’s report is his ability to tell two stories of a healing agent and patient at the same time.  His double vision is a gift to us all.

The take away for me is his understanding of the connectedness found in the doctor/patient dyad.  He is able to describe the interactions with clarity and care.  It is a conversation that will inspire you and bring you to tears.  Abraham Verghese’s report is “there was an honesty, a truth in the writing that took my breath away.” 

Another breathless moment is provided by Paul’s wife, Lucy, in an epilogue that underscores the context of love that was rediscovered and continues to sustain her.  It is going to take time for me to “catch my breath” and find the pearls that I missed with the first reading.



Kalanithi, Paul (2016-01-12). When Breath Becomes Air (p. 53). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Hage M.L. 2012. Hope. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is Healing Possible?

Montreat, North Carolina - November 1, 2016

 And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:2 (NIV)

There has been an amazing amount of “healing talk” this last week.  It has made me think about what I have written and whether or not healing is possible.  

First, I need to tell you about an amazing week of conversation, song and celebration.  Being  with “old” friends can bring you to a wonderful place like Montreat, North Carolina in the fall season.  That was followed by hearing young voices singing in concert and then celebration of Veteran’s day at two elementary schools with grandchildren.

There are two conclusions…The most important ingredient in healing is transformation (not information) and what these blogs/books have emphasized is that transformation is not where we are but where we are going.  We can face growing old, “storms of disease” and wars in ways that we could never imagine.  I experienced that reality this last and momentous week.



Hage M.L.M.D. 2010. Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Hage M.L.M.D. 2012. Equipping Healing Agents: Sustaining Vocation. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Hage M.L. 2012. God’s Grace.
Hage M.L. 2012. Techniques and Transformation. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Healing Hospitals

“Guess it's not just all gizmo's and gadget’s.”
Pure Genius,  Pilot October 27, 2016

“Tell us please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?…”
I met his gaze and I did not blink. "Words of comfort," I said to my father.” 
― Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

This past week we were given a preview of the future of hospital care with the new CBS drama, “Pure Genius”.  The first show introduces the characters and the futuristic “Bunker Hill Hospital”.  This hospital is filled with “gizmos and gadgets” and with information management central to the drama. This hospital seems almost real! 

There are real organizations that recognize and promote “healing hospitals”.  It is what I see in hospitals wanting to connect with real people and real stories.  It is found in the efforts of “Schwartz Rounds” and the Duke Divinity School.  

Maybe the good news is we know the other dimensions of healing even when we are disappointed and frustrated by the technology.  The bad news is that we have not widely shared the real stories.



Pure Genius Reviews

Hage, M. L. (2011). The Mystery of Healing.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Healing Mission

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I have been reading a series of books about the direction of our lives as individuals and communities.  I know that seems like an odd choice for someone “on the back nine”.   My age group seems more likely to be focused on past accomplishments and writing their memoirs.  

My concern has been how will medicine and the church reconnect to the “Healing Mission”.  I saw the problem through the lens of my personal experiences.   What I found is that I am not alone in my concerns and the mission needs to be rediscovered by each generation.  Our job “on the back nine”, is to provide the tools to help the next generation discover their healing mission.  We need to design new healing mission solutions.

Maybe a better way forward would be to divide the “solutions” into smaller sections…personal, interpersonal and community.  What we can do as individuals, groups and communities are very different.  We all know that healing is a BIG mission that needs action.  The faith communities and healthcare share the mission of WELL BEING -BEING WELL.  Thanks for the new voices exploring these intersections.  Check out the work of Duke Divinity School.



Burnett, B., & Evans, D. (2016). Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. Knopf.

Hage, M. L. (2015). Healing Work.

Hage, M. L. (2016). A Healing Curriculum.

Unexpected Intersections: Arts, Medicine, and Theology--Ray Barfield and Jeremy Begbie

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Healing Challenge

“In the mid-twentieth century, the gap between science and religion grew even wider. Science had become god-like, and the public generally shared physicians’ confidence in its promise. But now, in this so-called postmodern world, society has grown skeptical of science and statistics, while medicine remains relentlessly positivistic, confident in its numbers and commitment to the material world, even when it attempts to address the spiritual.”
                                                                                            Jacalyn Duffin

Jacalyn Duffin faced the challenge to healing as an academic medical historian.  What she reports is a personal pilgrimage of searching and experience.  It is a wonderful and critical examination of individual and community healing stories that followed her medical review of a healing miracle.  

Healing stories require a “big” space for these complicated experiences.  We know that the spaces that have traditionally been found in our communities of faith are questioned.  Even the recent canonization of Mother Teresa has been challenged despite the powerful witness of her work. 

What is clear is that there needs to be a complementarity to the ways of science and faith.   People like  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Doctor Abraham Verghese are powerful voices of their respective vocations.   Added to that list is Professor Duffin who shows how specific communities carry their ancient stories of healing with them to new places in the world.  She has added to the dialogue between faith and science.

Thanks for sharing this complicated history of healing.



Duffin, Jacalyn (2013-05-01). Medical Saints: Cosmas and Damian in a Postmodern World (p. 169). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. 

Hage, M. L. (2013). The Nature of Healing.

Hage, M. L. (2014). Hope Agents

Sacks, J. (2014). The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (Reprint ed.). Schocken.

Verghese, A. (2010). Cutting for Stone (1st ed.). Vintage Books.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Future Healing

Hope House, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church

For I know the plans I have for you,” 
declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

As patients we are concerned about the diagnosis but most afraid of the prognosis.  This is true for individuals as well as communities.  Our hopes seem to be found in either denial or illusions of control found in our technology.  

I just finished a critique of the culture of technology, Narratives of Technology, by J. M. van der Laan.  The focus of this book are the stories we tell about the technology.  What I learned is that we can easily over emphasize the benefits as well as the hazards of the control we seek.  

As physicians we are called to negotiate the diagnostic and prognostic uncertainties using our  technologies.  We change the statistics into stories.  The art is found in the creation of a narrative truth where trust can be found and fears of the future calmed.   Sometimes this happens during the care we provide.  More often the narratives happen in the quiet of places of faith like the “Hope House”.



Hope House

van der Laan, J. M. (2016). Narratives of Technology (1st ed. 2016 ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.

Hage, M. L. (2012). Hope. 

Hage, M. L. (2014). The Limits of Healing?  

Hage, M. L. (2015). Telling the Story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Healing Children

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Grand Rapids, Michigan

“One trip through a children’s ward and if your faith isn’t shaken, 
you’re not the type who deserves any faith”
Peter De Vries (1959)

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them
 Mark 10: 13-16 (MSG)

There are few challenges that test our faith as severely as sudden and serious illness in our children!   Peter DeVries identified our dilemma in his novel Blood of the Lamb.(1961)  What we pray for is that our children will be spared illness and suffering!  

Like the disciples, we miss seeing God’s kingdom.  We miss seeing the preparation and discipline of the many healing agents who have been called to be present in the emergencies.  We miss seeing God’s healing community.  We miss believing that we are all children of God.

What I have come to believe is that despite our anger and terror, God has been and is present in all the storms of life and he particularly cares for children!   Thanks be to God for his grace and blessing.



De Vries, P.. (2005). The Blood of the Lamb: A Novel (New edition ed.). University Of Chicago Press.  See foreword by Jeffrey Frank

Hage, J (2010) “The God that Weeps” Sermon delivered at Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church on 7/11/2010

Hage, M. L. (2012). God’s Grace.

Hage, M. L. (2015). Healing Grandparents.