Monday, June 18, 2012


“In a "medicalized" dying death is regarded as the great enemy to be defeated by the greater powers of science and medicine.”
Allen Verhey. The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus (Kindle Location 107). Kindle Edition. 

The recent book, The Cost of Hope,  Amanda Bennett chronicles the realities of end- of-life care in the United States.   It is a personal memoir of a fascinating, intelligent man written by a caring  and insightful wife.  Their story is not about lack of care but about the “medicalization” of death in our society.  It is an honest and powerful story even in her denial of what was obvious to others.   “Was I insane? Was I outrageous? Not at all, he answers. You were typical.”

Allen Verhey, writing from a perspective of a Christian bioethicist facing a lethal disease, describes the medicalization but also sees another dimension of dying.  He sees “Hope” not in the technology, although he is grateful for it, but in the community of faith and a belief in a larger Christian story.

So how are healing agents to behave in the the context of the medicalized culture?  What is key is our belief about hope and grace.   We must move to another facet of our faith as expressed in the arts.   A wonderful example is the music and images by Jonathan Elias  in the Prayer Cycle.   Here are two selections on “Hope” and “Grace


Bennett, Amanda (2012-06-05). The Cost of Hope: A Memoir (p. 213). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Healing Peace

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

We are all confronted by questions that challenge who we are, what we have done and what we plan to do.  In the book, Not Sure, A Pastors Journey from Faith to Doubt, John Suk shares the struggles of his journey and vocation.   The stimulus for his deep distress are both the challenges of suffering and the failures of belief systems  that have not kept promises of progress.   His story is similar to Barbara Brown Taylors report, Leaving Church,  A Memoir of Faith.   Both are important voices of faith in a complicated world of change within and outside the church.
What resonates in my life is that despite our reflection and study, relief comes both in patience and actions...Patience in that quick answers are frequently incomplete and actions that build a new direction not a destination.   The “crisis of compassion” or “crises of faith” are examples of those difficult times that move us.  It is a common event of lives in transition.  It is a time of making peace with the realities.   
This healing peace does not leave us sitting!  Both authors end their books not with a spirit of loss, but with new directions.  These are lessons for all of us...a peace that transcends all understanding; a healing peace.
Thanks be to God for kept promises and moving us from thinking to action.