Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Difficult Conversations

In Vitro Fertilization Image

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

In her recent book, No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood and Faith in a Age of Advanced Reproduction, Ellen Painter Dollar describes the difficult conversations with modern health care as well as with her faith communities.   She describes the dilemmas in painful detail but is able to conclude:

"For Christians, one story—about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—prevails over all the hurts and joys that influence how we frame our life story on any given day. Being a Christian is about continually and consciously choosing to believe that hope, healing, and life conquer despair, brokenness, and death no matter what each day brings. Christian faith is ultimately an invitation to believe the better story, about a God who fixes what is broken, heals what is hurt, and brings what is dead to life. That is the story I cling to, and to which I turn when I’m trying to make sense of my childbearing decisions and the promise and peril of reproductive technologies."

The challenge for all of us is to listen and respond.  One response that was missing in this narrative is a healing prayer with this family by and with her health care providers.  They did not acknowledge the mystery of the lives that were shared with them.   We need be able to appreciate the invitation that this book gives to all of us in a technologic medical world.



Dollar, Ellen Painter (2012-01-17). No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Kindle Locations 2900-2905). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition. 

Hage, M. L. (2013). Praying for Stem Cells. Retrieved from http://healingagents.blogspot.com/2013/02/praying-for-stem-cells.html

Hage, M. L. (2010). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives Second Edition (2 ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Healing Spaces

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psalm 23: 1-3
King James Version (KJV)

“In a church we learn to do ministry together.  We teach each other what Grace looks like and how it feels to be treated like a child of God.”
Rev. Dr. Douglas Brouwer, “One hand washes the other” September 3, 2006
Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Esther Sternberg in a conversation with Krista Tippett (On Being) describes the importance of the healing environment.   She used as as her first example the wisdom of the Psalmist.

We all continue to look for those spaces in our lives that bring wholeness.  What we frequently miss is the origin of these spaces in God’s creation.  We attempt to duplicate these holy spaces in our churches, cathedrals, temples and hospitals.   We know that these spaces are important.   

For me, a holy space has been “educational” in the encounters with both patients and students.  It is a holy space that many times is corrupted by power, competition and credentials.  What is awesome is seeing the results even years later in their healing lives.  It is life-giving.



Sternberg, E. M. (2010). Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being (1 ed.). Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Verhulst J.  Kramer D.  Swann AC.  Hale-Richlen B.  Beahrs J. The medical alliance: from placebo response to alliance effect. [Review] Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease.  201(7):546-52, 2013 Jul.

Larkin GL.  Mello MJ. Commentary: doctors without boundaries: the ethics of teacher-student relationships in academic medicine.  Academic Medicine.  85(5):752-5, 2010 May.