Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Faithful Healthcare

Today, I visited the local office of Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH) to share my thoughts on the brewing healthcare reform debate. The experience was quite positive: I felt heard and affirmed, despite obvious ideological differences. In particular, I was thanked for offering a unique perspective grounded in faith - a point of view new to the office. This remark reconfirmed my belief that liberal religionists must get their voices out there.

Below is a copy of the letter that I left behind. I tried to strike a chord with Rep. Schmidt's devout Catholicism.

Dear Rep. Schmidt:

Healthcare for all Americans is more than a political quarrel over formulas calculating premiums and deductibles – it is a deeply religious issue.

For Christians, as modern theologian Karl Barth suggests, general world history exists only in relation to the history of Jesus. The ethical implications of this are clear: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Jesus’ reference, here, to the Jewish Shema reinforces the fact that reverence for God is intimately bound up with love of neighbor – the two are, in the strictest sense, inseparable, for humanity is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27).

Hence, the question of Healthcare for all Americans strikes at the core of the Christian faith – I would go so far as to suggest: if Christianity fails to work in the worst of places it is unworthy of the best of places. How shall I serve my neighbor, as Paul insists, if my neighbor cannot serve herself? How shall I love my neighbor, if my neighbor is unable to access the basic treatment to maintain adequate mental and physical health? How shall I love God and love others, if I, myself, am suffering from debilitating disease?

Without the promise of good health, every other consideration in life disappears. Today, over 45 million Americans remain uninsured – drifting, helplessly, on the waves of medical uncertainty. No one should have to earn the right to a healthy life.

You have been tasked with the overwhelming burden of bending the long arc of the universe towards justice. Currently, both political parties find themselves embroiled in petty bickering over minor clauses that fuel unproductive ideological warfare. As a person of courageous faith, I ask humbly that you live up to the life and words of Jesus – that you offer each and every American the right and possibility to love God and love one another with heart, soul and mind – healthy, and intact.


Erik Resly
Student, Harvard Divinity School

Most disconcerting was the fact that Fox News was blaring on the office television monitor. Shouldn't politicians be in the business of independent opinion-making?

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Bill Baar said...

And what's the Justice of Zeke Emanuel's Complete Life System? Have your read this moral disaster in The Lancet?

Before we question whether one can form a sensible judgment with Fox news in the background...

Diggitt said...

Very nicely presented. I was going to say "Very nicely argued," but perhaps you don't see it that way. I am grateful for your voice. Your comments are even bigger, if such a thing can be, than the health-care issue, but are put to good service in this case.

Bill Baar said...

I started working in Health Care back in 1978 with Health Care Financing Administration. I posted Cardinal Bernadine's response to HCFA's 1977 on the huge cost savings to be realized from end-of-life planning, and unwanted births.

The kind of take over of the industry evisioned by HR3200 is bigger than just health care. Government steps into decisions of life and death in a very big way when it begins to write treatment protocols and define benefit plans that will pay for this treatment and not that. Plans and protocols that enforce standards throughout health care.

The bean counters have the top hand in this kind of system. It was bad in 77 and bad today.