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.