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The Search for Spiritually Centered Medicine,
by Ted Pelonis; photos by Ron
Magazine 10(1), Fall 2001: 8-15.
Should the miracles of spiritual healing be accepted as the newest medical technology?
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Although we don't know exactly when spirituality and medicine moved apart,
Callender surmises that the origins of the separation are similar to way the
language was spread across the earth in the biblical story of the Tower of
Babel. Reverend Freeman sees the disenfranchisement of the relationship, as
well, noting that, "Catholic and
other churches were the ones that took in the sick. Then, as science began
to increase and technology began to grow, medicine said, we’ll take the
body, psychiatry said, we’ll deal with the mind and you preachers just deal
with people’s souls.” Freeman cautions science in its attempt to reach into
the heavens, “I don’t care how much science they have, they’ll never put God
in a test tube, in a microscope and say, ‘We got it!” It’s bigger than all
of that and we must continue to keep that perspective as we journey into
this field of genetics and the next realm of scientific exploration. I won’t
check my god at the door of your temple of science.
Quality versus quantity
Every midnight, Reverend Freeman and his colleagues (ranging from Christian to Muslim to Buddhist) learn through a confidential report the number of patients that are admitted and discharged and their religious affiliations. They also learn of those who die, an average he says, of one per day. To Freeman, who demands that we look not only at the physical, mental and social well-being of patients, but also their spiritual wellness the end of life can be cathartic. “I’ve seen grimaces of pain at the point of death and when they die that natural old self comes back again,” says Freeman. “To me, that is a healing as opposed to the patient coming back to the hospital three times a week for painful treatments and regimens that do not truly sustain quality of life.”
For as long as human beings die, the age old questions of “Who am I?”,
“Where am I going?”, “What will become of me?” will confound the living, the
dying, the flourishing and the suffering. Will those questions be answered
by prayer, the touch of holy men, or revolutionary medical research—even if
that research teeters on the cutting edge between ethical and religious
principles and the pragmatism of science? Time, as always, will tell.
> > 1,
Related article: A Question of Ethics, by H. Patrick Swygert. Howard Magazine 10(1), Fall 2001.
Howard University, all rights reserved. Last updated:
30 October 2001
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