A New Era of Healthcare

A New Era of Healthcare

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Bob Clark, media spokesperson and legislative advocate for Christian Science in Florida

Two books caught my eye this week: Disease-Proof by David Katz and The New Health Age: The Future of Healthcare in America by David Houle and Jonathan Fleece. A quick perusal of both books reveals the following themes: 1) Our health care system is unlikely to be fixed by maintaining the status quo. 2) It’s more likely to be fixed by you and me and changes we make in how we think about our health and  how we live our lives. 3) Totally altered thinking can bring major breakthroughs and dramatic change in healthcare practices.

Disease-Proof points out that we live in a time when $.75 of every health care dollar is spent on managing preventable chronic disease. At the same time we face an epidemic of prescription pill use. Rather than waiting for the government or private industry to fix this, Katz suggests that we take greater responsibility for our own healthcare. Why? Because we can.

  • Less than 1/3 of us exercise regularly.
  • 2/3 of us are overweight.
  • Well over 60 million of us are smokers.
  • Over 1.5 million of us die annually from preventable causes.

Katz is optimistic. He champions preventive medicine and tells us, “we can reduce our risk of any chronic disease by an astonishing 80 percent—more than any drug or intervention could ever hope to do”, and that “abundant scientific evidence shows that four simple things play an enormous role in our health.”

  1. not smoking
  2. eating well
  3. being active
  4. maintaining a healthy weight

Readers of this blog won’t be surprised when I add a fifth “simple thing”– prayer. I’m one of the 77% of Americans, who, according to a recent Fox News poll, believe in the power of prayer to heal illness. I’m not sure why we don’t hear more about something that so many of us believe in. But that may be about to change too.

The New Health Age: The Future of Healthcare in America, by David Houle and Jonathan Fleece, argues that change is on the way. Houle is a renowned futurist and Fleece is a well known health care attorney. They tell us that, “The twenty-first century will be a time of dramatic change, incredible breakthroughs, and totally altered thinking about health, medicine, and health care delivery.”  There is good reason to believe that this “dramatic change” will include the rapid growth of integrative medicine, which includes the exploration of spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation. Several interviews I’ve done recently suggest that integrative medicine is taking a larger role and that professional discussion of spirituality has not only become acceptable but expected.

Dr. Ashwin Mehta, Director of Integrative Medicine at University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, told me that he envisions a near future where care centers will be considered remiss for not offering spiritual counseling and practices as part of their treatment programs. He pointed out that medicine has more traditionally been part of rather than separate from spiritual practices. It’s only the more recent and relatively short age of scientific materialism that has tried to separate the two.  He and his colleagues in Miami have been chronicling and encouraging the steady increase in spirituality as an accepted and normal part of healthcare.

Dr. Neal Krause at the University of Michigan recently received an $8 million Templeton Fund grant to carry out a comprehensive nationwide study of spirituality and health. As far as he knows, this is the first study of its kind. He expects that it will bring together studies from Harvard, Duke, George Washington University and many other university research centers that have been pursuing separate studies of how spiritual practices effect health and how we can better integrate them into current practice. To date these efforts have suffered from a “silo effect” which has hampered the synergy needed to bring these studies to bear on mainstream medical practice. That’s about to change too.

When a Templeton VP asked Krause what he would do if he could do anything, he said he wanted to “swing for the bleachers” to “put one over the fence”. Krause has the background, experience and academic authority to do that. His well-funded efforts to collect, organize, encourage and offer the public the best current thinking and practice linking spirituality and health may be one of the “incredible breakthroughs” Houle and Fleece envision in The New Health Age.

A sincere searcher for health with a similarly big vision from the last century, Mary Baker Eddy, said in a well known sermon titled, “The People’s Idea of God: Its Effect on Health and Christianity”,

“Scientific discovery and the inspiration of Truth have taught me that the health and character of man become more or less perfect as his mind-models are more or less spiritual.”

Eddy actually did “put one over the fence” by founding a worldwide religion with a strong element of spiritual healing, as well as a Pulitzer prize winning international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.

As the new era of healthcare continues to depart from the status quo, it may not be led by government and business as much as by you and me, and the changes we’re willing to make in the ways we think about and reach for health.

Link to Bob Clark’s blog

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.

Comments

  1. Judy says

    Very interesting!!! I especially like the info about the second book – new research being done. It is inevitable that the truth of man’s health be uncovered and revealed to all mankind. CS does not have the edge or some secret knowledge… We all want each and every one of God’s creation to know their relationship to perfect health and the Great Physician.

  2. diana U says

    Thank you Bob, for alerting us to these modern day prophets on health care. Would that their words be heard!

  3. Pamela says

    Thanks Bob, this is one of the best blogs I read lately on health care. Your comments on those two books are so helpful and encouraging. We all need to be willing to take better care of ourselves and I loved the 4 simple things Katz spoke of – not smoking, eating well, staying active and watching our weight. It is so heart warming to see our medical profession waking to the fact that we should be taking charge of our own health.

    Thanks too for sharing what Mary Baker Eddy wote in her sermon that the health and character of men have a great deal to do with how spiritual their mind-models are. We need to be willing to not only take care of our bodies by eating well, etc., but also by taking care what we are thinking and accepting for ourselves.

  4. Susan Y. Berry says

    Thank you for the depth of information in this article! I will share it as far and wide as I can!

  5. Anne says

    I agree with Pamela. This is one of the very best blogs on health care I’ve read also. This awakening for all of us to be more responsible for how we live, what we think, and what we do is gratifying to say the least.

    The quote from Mary Baker Eddy is absolutely perfect for the topic. It’s good to know that there have been discerning individuals in times past, who recognized the power of spiritual inspiration and prayer and how they can have an effect on our well-being.

    A new century should rightly bring new thinking. These authors are bringing a fresh approach to handling how we view our health, and that can bring many blessings to humanity.

    Thank you for these great insights.

  6. Kathy says

    Wonderful article. I know many people that still rely on medical care but they don’t want to take prescription drugs. There is a great change taking place in health care and with more studies that confirm that spirituality is linked to health more will find the courage to rely on God for healing. A great time to live and see God glorified!

  7. Tracy Clifton says

    Great article, Don! It’s important that we realize that we are not alone in using prayer as an effective means toward our health. 77% of America agrees with us, and that’s a great starting off point for dialogue between Christian Scientists and people who are not Christian Scientists.

  8. Sharon says

    Thanks for the in depth review of these two books! Good work by the Templeton Fund, also. Great blog!