Monday, February 16, 2009

Who is your God?

Last weeks episode of Gray's Anatomy showed us a glimpse of how people - patients, their families and doctors, perceive healing by God.
Dr. Allison Montgomery was back in Seattle Grace to bring his brother who needed brain surgery. Her brother's case was next to impossible to be resolved. Thus, Dr. Montgomery seeks the help of God. Quite interestingly, she goes to two different gods. In one scene, we see her in the chapel, down on her knees, silently staring at the cross. We gather from her friend's comments who were watching her that she is not a known churchgoer. In fact, she doesn't know how to pray. Here is a doctor that doesn't know how to pray - basically she doesn't know how to talk to God. She cannot verbalize the desires of her heart that her brother would be healed and that her brain surgery will be succesful.
On the next scene, we see Dr. Montgomery pleading to her ex-husband, the great neurosurgeon Dr. Shephard. Dr. Montgomery asked Dr. Derek Shephard to play god - to be powerful enough to cure her brother. She pleads whole heartedly, emotionally and with with tears flowing from her eyes. It almost looks like she is praying to Dr. Shephard for help.
Here are two pictures of the gods that people look up to in times of need. In the first case, God is perceived as the healer. But as often the case, God is only called upon in times of need. God is the patch to every hole. A band aid to every scratch. On the otherhand, medicine is the healer. Medical science can figure out a creative way to work around the difficulties of diseases and solve the problem. Medicine can do anything. Medicine is god.
Notice that in the two scenario, I have left out the doctor. The reasons I did that needs another blog. Suffice it to say, that the doctor here is perceived to the gods.
The point of the distinction I am making is that in times of medical crisis, we pray to a god to help us. We seek a powerful god. Sometimes we seek help from God. Sometimes we seek help from medicine. Sometimes we seek help from both because one is not enough. It is the latter two that I will criticize. Most of the time, we are blinded by the fact that when we seek medical help we put our hope in medicine. We make medicine the god who can heal us. Yes, we might believe that there is God but we really think that it is medical science who cures us. We simply reduce God to a metaphor of healing power. We do not really trust that God can work miracles and heal diseases. Worse, like the second case, we might indeed be praying that God will heal us. But in case he does not, we hope that medicine will step up and pick up the slack. Sad but true. Now, when we ourselves are faced in a situation similar to that of Dr. Montgomery, to whom will we pray?