Sunday, February 25, 2007

Update on my father

I have some positive news to report today about my father's condition. After being in a coma for over a week, he was taken off the respirator today and is awake and responding to the medical staff as well as to his family. He's by no means out of the woods but when one considers he was near death ten days ago we are all very heartened.

It's with that in mind that I have something to get off my chest ... about medicine and faith.

A number of years ago, when my late mother was dealing with all sorts of problems related to mental illness (it was ultimately diagnosed as manic depression), I felt so helpless that I called a crisis line -- which just happened to be run by the folks at the evangelical group 100 Huntley Street. For a Catholic to be taking this step was a daring one but I figured what the heck. I guess I was on hold for about two or three minutes. When there was a pick-up, I laid out the situation. The very first question they asked me was, "Has your mother been prescribed medication?" And right after that, "Is she taking them?" It was only when I said yes to both (unfortunately, she was on the wrong kind of medication which was causing her relapse) that they then offered a prayer.

Now that was something I wasn't expecting, especially from a group that readily supports the "Health and Wealth" gospel. But it was refreshing to hear. Because while God may be the helper of the helpless, He can't be everywhere at once and helping everyone. He relies on people to help other people. And at the very heart of the matter is the fact that one must recognize there is a problem that must be dealt with.

It just makes me sick to see televangelists saying one doesn't need a doctor, just hand over 10 percent of the gross and God will increase that a hundred fold and / or provide the healing. Nope ... doesn't work like that. God can't be bought and can't be put to the test.

Benny Hinn, the king of the mouth shooters, once said on TV that a grieving family should tell the paramedics not to take away a dead body but to leave it in front of the television for 24 hours just in case the dead person woke up; another time he actually said that while on a joint crusade with Reinhard Bonnke somewhere in Africa, they raised someone from the dead. (No videotape proving that has ever been found or presented.)

It still amazes me that I nearly sold my soul to Oral Roberts, and later my Dad (during my parents' divorce) nearly shilled out to Robert Tilton.

Yes, prayer is important. But in a situation like this, it's best to leave it to the professionals ... and right now Dad's in the best possible hands. The fact he's at a faith-based Catholic hospital is not in my mind irrelevant -- it's an important tool. I shudder to think that a decade ago Mike Harris wanted to close St. Joseph's in Hamilton. The public revolt in town was so great -- from Catholics and non-Catholics alike -- that not only was the hospital saved, it was also given the money for a major expansion. I think the reaction has a lot to do with the fact that over half the kids born in Hamilton were born at that one hospital -- that's more than the other four hospitals combined -- as well as the care has always been first rate. (Not to deny the work done at the civic hospitals, since I have friends who work there -- it just seems that if people want to get cared for they'd prefer St. Joe's if a bed is available.)

Making faith and medicine work together is not a contradiction; they go hand in hand. If people realized that, there wouldn't be any faith healers. And for what it's worth, I'd rather put my faith in a physician than a freak. That being said, my father still needs your prayers. There's a long road ahead.

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Annamarie said...

Your father is in my prayers.

take care,


Dr.Dawg said...

I wish you and your family the very best.

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Prayers? You've got them.