Saturday, August 29, 2009

Healing


A very long time ago, I was a decent basketball player. [To show how long ago it was, I was in the same high school conference as the second best player of all time, Jerry West, though he hardly noticed (Bill Russell was the best---sorry Jordan fans) ]. Over the years I had the privilege of playing with and against players of extreme skill and talent, right up to pros [a very interesting experience, by the way, even when you lost the game].

One of the best was a small town hero of the town that my family had moved to when I was away at graduate school. I'd come home for summer vacation and play in the summer league, and this fellow was a dominator. As time went on, his knees fell apart [mainly premature arthritis caused by other damages]. We didn't see him on the court for some time. One day he showed up. He had, as he said, "new knees". This wasn't some kind of high-tech transplant; he'd gone to a faith healer. This was an old-fashioned "tent service" heal-a-thon and the guy got him up on stage, and after doing whatever he did, told the ball player to run around. This he did with the healer shouting that he had "new knees". Well, there he was on the local court---he played like a man possessed. He "murdered" us. It was like his college days. We left the court thinking that maybe he DID have "new knees". And, we didn't see him for the next two weeks as he lay in his bed in excruciating knee pain. New Knees, no; Power-of-suggestion ?; probably. The point is, of course, that a great deal of this stuff is bunk.--------------------------------------------------------------

The matters represented by the folks pictured, however are not bunk. Again, way back in the Jerry West time, my little high school was blessed with an outstanding [and very over-credentialed] science teacher. Her name was Sister Justa, and she is the lady above. She gave me the worst grade [by 15% points] of any grade I got in high school, thereby doing my ego a truly great service. What I didn't know about her was that she was a very accomplished scientist-to-be. Her Franciscan order mercifully got her out of the high school environment and away from knuckleheads like me, and placed her in a college research lab. There she performed some of the best controlled experiments as to whether a person could "by intention" alter the physical world in some way relatable to healing.

There was a man in that area who in a quiet way was gaining a reputation [no tent healer he] for helping people by "laying on of hands". Sister Justa was a PhD Biochemist, and sought to test in laboratory-style whether he could do anything under lab conditions. He could. His laying-on-of-hands and his "intention" measurably affected [in a positive manner] the activity of certain significant enzymes important to our metabolic functions. It still stands as one of the "cleanest" testings of anything associated with such claims today [and I never even knew who I had as a teacher]. --------------------------------------------------------

Sister Justa had followed on from a set of tests [a bit crueler than she would do] by another scientist, Dr. Bernard Grad (the man at lower left, above). Grad had run tests with the same intentional healer but this time on living organisms, mice. The cruel part was that he wounded each mouse on its back. Then he asked the healer to "intend" healing for one set, while one was left alone, and the other set was warmed up a bit to control for the extra warmth that the healer was generating during healing [in case this slight rise in temperature was all that was causing results]. There's an example of the healing results in a little chart above. They were really striking. The intentional healer was, apparently, extremely effective. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Early forms of exploring these matters in the laboratory inspired a distant but admired friend of mine to make such frontiers of healing his life's work. The gentleman in the upper middle is Dr. Larry Dossey, and it is a privilege to know him. Larry has been such an effective and heroic advocate of "alternative medicine" that he was even successful in getting the National Institute of Health to create an office within its hyperconservative superstructure. It is small but it is a beachhead on a generally hostile shore. Larry has crossed the nation and the world speaking for the cause that there is more to healing than just pharmaceuticals and surgery. He edits a journal now, EXPLORE, and we should be reading it. In 2006, there was an article entitled "Positive Emotional Change: Mediating Effects of Forgiveness and Spirituality". The work, done at Oregon State University and the University of Hawaii, showed strongly positive effects for the spiritual mindset. I know from many talks with Larry that it is in this direction that he sees the great chances for breakthroughs. It is the element of the Spiritual that has been missing from Western medicine and is slipping away everywhere. ----------------------------------------------

The last picture above is of Lourdes. Do cures occur there? Are they "miracles"? Establishment Science, of course, hates Lourdes. Lourdes, if true, is another festering sore point, where "disorderly" things happen. Since there cannot be disorder in this "scientific" universe, those things, by definition, do NOT happen. The Catholic Church, for its own conservative reasons, is not anxious for bogus cures to be claimed either, and so have set up a rigorous panel of investigators and a nearly impossible set of criteria which a case has to pass if it is to be credited as a "miracle" [or in our slightly less astounding terms, a cure with no apparent physical/medical explanation].

As a Catholic, I'll easily fit these cures into my "big" creation, but, even as an old science tribe member the cases are impressive---go look this up, its on the web. An objective assessment of Lourdes would be: yes, mysterious cures certainly occur there and doubtlessly in FAR greater numbers than ever come to the attention of the investigators, or survive the severe criteria. Are they "miracles"? Well, we each must decide what we're going to call that, don't we?

Was what Sister Justa and Bernard Grad tested a miracle? Was what Larry writes and speaks about? Some of this is psychic surely, but none the less in the realm of the spirit. Some may well be in the hands of GOD, but probably rarely, as GOD doesn't want to be working miracles "on-the-streetcorner" every day and blunting the demand in our Universe for Faith and the concomitant result that our moral choices are truly free. Either phenomenon seems to be clearly real, and even understandable, though rarely scientifically measurable. We must not let the materialist/reductionists talk the culture out of this.

1 comment:

  1. Faith healing even seems to have been lost from the "spiritual" - it is a rare church that holds faith healing services now, at least where I live in the southwest USA.

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