Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The ultimate healing?

I heard a presentation, today, where somebody quoted from a 1998 article where a leading expert on spirituality in healthcare described death as the "ultimate healing".

"There is some sort of built-in conflict between most of our medical measures and spiritual ideas," Penn Folklore and Folklife Professor John Hufford, PhD, told his audience in Medical Alumni Hall. "Just think about the irony: In religion, death is the ultimate healing. That clashes with the whole purpose of medicine."
It was a bit of one of those "sour milk" moments for me -- a moment where I saw a Christian assuming (incorrectly!) that a tenet specific to their own religion was universal to all faiths. While there is a diverse variety of beliefs in Judaism about death and the afterlife, it would be hard to say that Judaism understands death as a healing (or a "victory" as some Christians say). [I wasn't, however, offended or excluded by the presenter today, who was clearly working hard to make me feel included and welcome.]

My prayer is that the experts in spirituality in healthcare can grow to better understand what is their own values and assumptions and what are other people's values.

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