Friday, December 24, 2010

The "Telos" for Christian Healing Agents

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.   Micah 6:8

In a recent PBS Newshour (12/21 and 12/22/2010), we got to see the nature of health care in Cuba. Health care in Cuba is focused on prevention of disease and the production of a large cadre of health providers. They provide care in Cuba as well as being first responders to the humanitarian disasters around the world. It is and has been the centerpiece of the Cuban revolution.  What is most remarkable to me in the PBS report is the clarity of their mission as a policy. They clearly see the poor and those in need and their answer is the Cuban revolution.

This certainly is a topic for “healing agents” conversations that provokes some serious questions. Is state-sponsored compassionate, affordable, health care a complementary or better response than a Christian faith-based response? This is a question of the basis (“telos”) of the care and not just the content and context. There is no question about that the health care "telos" for Cuban health care is Fidel Castro and his communist ideology.

Can we as Christians participate with other organizations that have another “telos” for what and how they see their vocation. This is a lesson in the theology of common grace. Richard Mouw addresses what we share and at the same time what is unique in our life on this planet as Christians in his book, He Shines in all that’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace. It is a complicated and a divisive subject.

The bottom line for me is that our vocation is a means of bringing glory to God and the redeeming work of his Son. It is about God and not us! We can celebrate what Cuba is doing, but need to remember that it is not about Cuba or the United States and the health care in those cultures. We know that the poor are a long-term concern of the Bible narratives and that we need to follow the words of the prophet Micah. These are hard words to live by but they are the heart of who we are to be.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kindle - ebook version

A new version and format of "Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives" is now available on  Thanks again to for making this possible.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Other voices of healing

When you start a conversation about healing you look for those other voices of healing.  Sometimes the answer comes to you as a gift.   That happened this weekend with the visit of Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. to Wilmington churches to lead a conference.

The conference title was "God's Healing Power Through Worship & Music".  What we heard and experienced was a strong voice for "The Healing of the Nations".  You can check out his web site, , that describes his healing ministry.

Another gift were the hymns, "The Tree of Life" by K. Lee Scott to the tune Shades Mountain and "When True Healng Has Begun" by James A. Forbes, Jr. to the tune Hymn to Joy.

Thanks for those voices of shalom in this world of suffering,


Sunday, October 31, 2010

An International Healing Parable

The world was transfixed by the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners.  CNN covered the story and many of us stayed up to see to the end.  This last week, NOVA, told an hour long story that was more than just the final extraction of the miners.   It was a story of faith, hope, prayer, perserverance of not just the miners and their families, but also of those who drilled.   In a commentary/interview on the PBS Newshour, one of those drillers, Greg Hall, was asked about the impact on his faith.  He closes with a quote from another driller colleague who said, "Greg, you know something? That job was impossible. You could not drill that. God drilled that hole."

Emergency Mine Rescue
PBS Newshour Interview

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Healer" by Carol Cassella

Sometimes the context of reading a book complements what you read and begin to understand.

I just finished reading Carol Cassella second novel while working in Spokane, Washington. Besides good writing, she is a very thoughtful physician who works in Seattle, Washington. Her concerns in this novel are many of the same concerns that I have tried to address in "Healing Agents: Chrisitian Perspectives".

Since arriving in Spokane, I have been in the process of learning about the health, cultures and the geography of eastern Washington. It is a fascinating place and if you read the novel you will learn about this wonderful place. One shared concern is how healthcare is delivered in rural areas and the critical role nurses, physicians and small hospitals respond in these isolated environments.

The protagonist is forced to rediscover her calling and learns from some wonderful mentors. Her husband is forced to understand the limits of the scientific paradigm and the business model. What is amazing is that somehow their marriage survives their realities.

This book is a good representation of the reality that medicine is facing.


Friday, August 20, 2010

A Nursing Response

"You are first to be congratulated for tackling such an important issue and in such a creative, sincere way. I loved how you wove the writings of philosophy, religion and medicine into a compelling argument for adopting a broader approach to patient care and healing. I found the book a very easy and enjoyable read, and the addition of discussion questions will make it accessible and useful for all kinds of groups. I hope you will be very pleased with the response you receive from those who use it. Your book is a wonderful means to beginning a conversation that stopped many years ago and needs to be reignited!"

Elizabeth K. Woodard, RN, PhD

Monday, August 16, 2010


It is difficult to address the reality of healing when there is the death of a child. Here is a recent Christian response to that reality.

The title of the sermon by Rev. John Hage is "The God that Weeps" delivered on 7/11/2010 at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Used with permission of Rev. John Hage.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Other Voices

It is probably just a coincident that today(July 29, 2010) the conversations about healing have had increased visibility. Two of my favorite authors converged on the national stage. Abraham Verghese was part of a segment on the McNeil Newshour, titled "Hands-on Healing" and Atul Gawande was having conversations on his essay in the New Yorker, "Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can't save your life?"(August 2, 2010).

These authors continue to be strong voices of reflection and healing. Keep listening!


Monday, July 26, 2010


"Healing Agents is a remarkable, brief book of testimonies, comment and elements on the subject of healing. It invites one to reflect, ponder, engage in conversation toward integration of our science and the transcendence of our healing ministries to those suffering the afflictions of our broken world. Our concerns focus on the relationship between "high tech vs. high touch," and as Abraham Verghese M.D. warns of our patients becoming icons. This book returns our thinking to the realities of calling and healing in the Christian tradition, and is timely as our nation wrestles with healthcare and the education of providers. Suffering is part of a broken world; healing is according to the will of God."

William E. Van Eerden M.D.
Holland, Michigan

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some Initial Responses

Most of the responses have been "Congratulations" on finishing the book, particularly from those who have been part of the process.

For those who had a chance to browse and are new to the project, the responses have been a little different. Here are some examples from physician colleagues:

"You are onto something here."

"I would use this with my office staff."

The other reponse and good news has been the question, "Where can I buy it?"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Publishing Announcement

After two years of writing, rewriting, formating and learning about self-publishing the book "Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives" is ready to be published!

The expected date for availability to the public is August 1, 2010.

Thanks to all who have been apart of this effort.