The Edmond Sun

Opinion

July 8, 2013

POWER TO PERSUADE: Toward a broader view of health

EDMOND — Our secular culture sees health as something we can buy. The technological discoveries of the past century have all but eliminated many diseases including smallpox, polio and malaria. They have extended life expectancy. Advances in surgical techniques allow surgeons to operate on all the organs of our body. We turn to specialists in the health-care industry to diagnose and treat our illnesses. Our primary-care physician refers us to oncologists, neurologists and gynecologists. To improve our health, we turn to personal trainers, nutrition counselors and therapists.

Health has become a puzzle. Specialists must draw on technical skill and knowledge to restore the function of whatever organ is malfunctioning.

We have privatized our health. It takes a lot of money to restore our health if we get sick. Health insurance for a family of four costs at least $10,000 per year. We have come to see good health as an entitlement. We complain about how expensive it is, but we are entitled to it. We all expect to live to be at least 85. And if we get a disease, we expect a physician to cure us.

The World Health Organization has a broader definition of health as: A “complete mental, social and physical well-being.” The Hebrews had a word for it: “shalom.”

Ancient religions had insight into health that we have lost. Shamans treated illness as if it were more than a private problem of one patient. It was a sign of a cosmic imbalance. Scientists today are exploring the link between pesticides and diseases such as allergies and asthma. Pollution to the environment may be responsible for some disease.

Jesus was known as a healer. There are different types of healing miracles in every gospel. He didn’t rely on technology; he fused healing and salvation in his ministry by forgiving and accepting people and bringing them back into community. Healing was about restoring the unity that ties people together.

Different streams of Christian tradition have lost that sense of unity. Pentecostals celebrate faith healers. Christian Scientists refuse medical care and rely on prayer. Mainline Christians turn to health-care professionals for their physical illnesses and seek out their ministers and their churches only for spiritual problems.

If we put health in a theological light, we will see health as a gift rather than a right. In fact, our entire life is a gift.

Life itself is an expression of God’s creativity. God created a world in which randomness still exists. God created order out of chaos, but there is still some chaos. A child can die in a tragic accident. EF-5 tornadoes can flatten communities. Good people can get cancer.

We can rely on the creativity of health-care specialists to treat our diseases, but we should recognize that they have a limited role. They are focusing on the function of one organ. They can’t do anything about the cosmic imbalance.

Health is about more than physical well-being. Health includes spiritual and social well-being. A cancer patient can rightly be called a healthy person if they are spiritually grounded and if they are connected to a loving and supportive community of family, friends and church.

If they are spiritually grounded, they accept reality for what it is. They let go of entitlement. They are thankful for the good health that God had given them up until the time of their illness. I can’t imagine anything more difficult than losing a child but at least you enjoyed the company of an angel for a little while.

Part of the damage caused by illness is social isolation. The sick in ancient societies were ritually unclean. They were excluded from society until they were purified. Who can forget the leper colonies in the movie “Ben Hur”?

God heals brokenness, whether it is our bodies or our spirit or our relationships that are broken. God restores our health. No charge. It is the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

DON HEATH is pastor of Edmond Trinity Christian Church. He may be reached at donheathjr@sbcglobal.net.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results