Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Add Up Your IQ

Some have estimated Einstein's IQ to have been around 170. Average IQ is 100. But of course no one should logically conclude that two normal individuals, with their cumulative IQ of 200, together could have come up with the theory of relativity. Nor could 3 regular people, their IQs together being 300, deduce e=mc2.

There are risks of measuring things. In this case, it is the measuring of intelligence. But the measuring of anything has risks. Once something is measured, one tends to develop a false sense of mastery over it. The use of data can make nonsense believable. When untempered by common sense and a healthy dose of humility, the measuring of things becomes its own false religion and can become unstoppable in its production of unhelpful thoughts, theories, and actions.

The measuring of people in medicine is subject to the same risks. As physicians, we have a tendency to reduce our patients to fragments with a PHQ9 depression score, a hemoglobin level, an A1C, or blood pressure. In reality, we are faced with an immortal. A person made in the image of God. With integrated body, mind, and spirit. Much greater than the extrapolations of biomedical medicine.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Good Marriage

It seems to me that the Church puts a lot of effort into helping families have “good marriages.” I think this kind of ministry can be very helpful. Better communication, better functioning, less fighting, more getting along, more closeness, better intimacy. However, sometimes I think the message can be interpreted as follows: “a Christian marriage is a good marriage, a great marriage. From this Christian marriage, you can take away happiness, support, love, and emotional energy that can sustain you in your everyday life and your Christian walk.” The reality is that in many ways and at many times, marriage (Christian or not) is more like a cross to carry than an endless source of happiness and strength. Two sinners living life together, what do we expect? 

Scripture says much about carrying our cross—mostly that we need to. But when we in the church define marriage without the image of the cross, we may create more hopelessness for those who are struggling. People say to themselves things like: “what is wrong with me and my marriage?” and “to get the sustaining Christian marriage, will I have to marry someone else.”

Of course our goal should not be misery in marriage. And there are times we simply cannot carry our cross (Jesus himself could no longer carry his cross, had to get help from Simone of Cyrene – Mark 15:21). When we cannot or will not, God loves us and is still our Father. But this is clearly where God calls us: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” – Mk 8:34

The paradox is that when we love and serve the other, when we carry each other’s burdens, when we give ourselves to the other selflessly, that is when we may find what we have been hoping for all along. For that is the path Jesus walked. When he said “come follow me” to his disciples, there was nothing special about the road he was on. Except that he was on it. When you give in your marriage, someone else becomes involved, for Jesus the lover of your soul is there with you. The one who says that he will give you the very water of life. Is there a cross on Jesus’ path? Of course. But Jesus is on that path.  And that is what matters.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Laws of Life I: We need God

"Apart from me, you can do nothing."

This startling  declaration by Christ describes our ultimate reality: we are completely dependent upon God. St. Paul states that the entire creation is held together by God, which includes our lives. When we recognize this reality in our hearts and submit to the God of love, we begin to live in harmony with God, with one another and with the creation.

When we turn our backs on this reality and live as if we are autonomous creatures who can do what we please, we are filled with dis-ease. As physicians we spend much of our time contending with disorders and diseases that come as a result this dis-ease.

People are filled with anxiety, despair and compulsions that overtake them.

They are gripped by a seemingly infinite number of addictions: to overeating leading to a host of diseases from obesity; to alcoholism that destroys their lives and bodies; to drug addiction that kills humans and decimates entire countries; to promiscuous sexual relationships leading to a variety of sexually transmitted infections, prostitution, human trafficking and innumerable social ills; to gambling and pornography that poisons the person's mind and destroys the family; to coveting everything under the sun that consumes the one coveting and wrecks the planet.

Indeed much of what we call "stress" in our lives is self-inflicted due to our forsaking of this first Law of Life.

Saint Augustine's opening reflection in his Confessions is that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. The beginning to a life of wholeness, to harmonious relationships with others and our very selves is a surrendering to God in our hearts. Indeed the first step in living a life of peace is surrender. When we kneel to the God of our lives, our passions, desires, emotions and choices begin to straighten from their bent and broken state. When we surrender, we turn off the road of dis-ease onto the road of shalom - peace. Peace with God, peace in our hearts, peace with our neighbor, peace with the creation.

We need God. Each day, choose to surrender to God.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Most Important Engine (II)

Whenever you can walk - walk.

If it is not possible to walk to your destination, ride a bike.

If it is not possible to ride a bike, take community transportation.

If and only if you cannot walk, ride a bike or take community transportation, drive a vehicle. Park where you can still walk.

Your heart will thank you for walking.