CPE-11 – the art and science of medicine and communication

I had a run-in with a resident-doctor last Friday. The doctor and the patient were speaking past each other, and at times the resident was speaking in a condescending and demeaning way to the patient. I called him on it. He didn’t like it. He got his Attending and accused me of a variety of things. We worked it all out (at least I hope it is all worked out!).
This whole affair brought to mind the idea of the Art of Medicine and the Science of Medicine, and those who function within each domain of medicine and how they communicate to patients. The resident-doctor spoke well within the Science of Medicine – very technical, very specific, very dry with little or no emotion (accept when we was condescending, that is). The patient couldn’t hear that, because the patient was in the Art of Medicine domain – feeling, sensing, etc. The resident, wanting to effectively communicate to the patient, needed to recognize this, but he did not. He needed to communicate within the Art of Medicine for the patient to truly understand what he was saying. Likewise, he needed to listen within the Art of Medicine so that he could hear what the patient was actually telling him. It is the doctorç—´ responsibility to bear the burden of understanding the best way to get his or her point across, and then doing so.
Anyway, the Art and Science of Medicine. To be effective, doctors need to be able to discern within which domain they need to faction to effectively communicate to patients. Just like we do, too, as chaplains!

good stuff

I was reading Kendall Harmon’s blog this morning and the post he included from an article by Dan Savage. The responses to an article were many and furious. This is a response to “Jackie” from John Wilkins that I particularly like. It isn’t necessary to know the context or what Jackie wrote, I don’t believe. Anyway, here is John’s post:

Jackie asks: “You donÂ’t seek to counsel non-Christians from a biblical standard? If someone is not a Christian, this makes unacceptable behavior acceptable?” Jackie – if you are arguing with someone who says, “I think the bible is a set of myths, and that its holiness codes are ridiculous, and that the bible is inconsistent, encourages Genocide, and makes utterly false claims about the future” then itÂ’s very hard to argue from the bible. At that point it is the job of the priest or Christian to argue why the bible is credible – and not from the position “because God says it is so.” That simply brings you into circular reasoning. It almost makes God into a tyrant.
Brother, I wonder if we have two different ways of dealing with life. I live without needing to be certain that I know what God wants. I have a pretty good understanding from scripture, the traditions, common sense, civil law and experience. Savage may be right, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable. I know that I wouldnÂ’t recommend such relationships because I think they can break hearts. I think, also, Savage knows this which is why he claims to be “defacto” monogamous – he doesnÂ’t believe in monogamy, but it works out that way.
Strangely, this is precisely why scripture and the fathers are correct about monogamy. In an egalitarian society where women have some freedom and rights, monogamy is better. It restricts, while not eliminating, desire for the benefit of individual hearts. It requires some mutual sacrifice.
Granted, perhaps we, as Christians, need someone like Dan to repent for his sins. For who? For God? God will take care of Dan. He doesn’t need to repent for me. But personally, I find it strangely affirming that even though he doesn’t need, desire, or believe in monogamy, he’s decided that the general form, the general principle, the spirit behind it works. Perhaps you would rather that he sid, “well, we have orgies and sleep around a lot and have as much casual sex as we can.” That would, at least, reaffirm the stereotype.
I donÂ’t think the bible was meant to be used as the foundation for argument. It was meant to be a foundation for a bringing people in relationship to God.
I was asked to answer BeaconÂ’s question. Of course I believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God. I think it contains all things necessary to salvation.
However, I do not think that the Holy Bible is inerrant. I think that the Word of God was written through human beings, and that human beings are fallen. Let me repeat:
Human beings use words to communicate.
Human beings are fallen.
One aspect of being fallen is misunderstanding or being misunderstood.
God used human beings, and their form of communication [language], to speak to humanity.
Human beings, in their fallenness [while doing the best that they could] cannot get things perfect [save Jesus, who was not fallen].
Neither did they need to get things perfect, for perfection is found in God.
My second point is that IN SCRIPTURE the word of God is Jesus Christ, the living God, of which one aspect of his nature is that he is perfectly free. God is not the words of the bible – only insofar as we see the spirit of Jesus Christ. This is the biblically / scripturally correct view – that Jesus, is the word of God.
I have heard a couple interesting things: that in fact God is not free to change his nature; God is not free to change his mind – even though scripture illustrates that He does. Noone has addressed the meaning of the stories where God does change his mind. Like liberals, “Orthodox” believers choose those parts of scripture that satisfy their theology while ignoring the “plain teaching” of other parts.
The problem is not with God, who may be, in some sense changeless, eternal and certain. It is with his medium, human beings, and words, which always conceal and reveal, which never get things perfect, but are usually good enough, and contain, at least, what is necessary to be saved. Fortunately, being certain, absolute, rigid, doctrinare, is not what is necessary. Merely the Word of God.
Which is Jesus, the one Holy and Living God.
Comment by John Wilkins — 7/19/2004 @ 10:26 am