Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bad Advice Column?

Okay, this is a rant about Lutheran stuff, there is no news of anything to do with John or us really in here, I just came across this article and it's irritating me. So, if you're not interested in LCMS stuff, just skip this one and I'll get to a cute piglet picture tomorrow.

I will admit up front that I'm not a huge fan of the LCMS, don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about a 'church' body but a bureaucracy that has run amok. I'm also not a big fan of the 'official' paper of the LCMS, the Lutheran Witness, but there are times when an article or two, or a letter in the front is sufficiently interesting enough to make me page through most of the issue.

This time as I was paging through I came across the headline with the Family Counselor column. I don't usually read this column in particular as I find it is generally remiss in dealing with spiritual issues in a spiritual rather than psycho-babble way. This time though the headline was "Dealing with a complicated medical history" and since that is largely where we live as a family I wanted to see what was said.

Now the letter itself is rather heart-breaking, and makes me wish that I could sit and console this woman with God's Word, make her a pie and volunteer to do a few jobs to give her husband a bit of a break. The answer to this letter makes me angry.

John has a complicated medical history and we have faced questions of surgery/not-surgery before and that is not easy as a parent, and it certainly can't be easy to make that decision for yourself either. But the counselor who answered this woman's question first congratulates her on talking of death when so many others can't, well how patronizing is that. Then goes on to exhort her to educate herself, get a second opinion, and get her husband and maybe even herself some help from the social worker and hospital chaplain, this is downright insulting. Anyone with a long term complicated medical history has more of a medical education than most normal people would believe. Finally the counselor suggests that she might talk to her pastor, well duh, that would have been number one. Lastly she throws a little Jesus at the problem, with a verse which while true, comes across as trite and slightly less spiritual than a WWJD backpack or a Faith Aflame tote bag.

I have sat in the hospital with many people who go through hell on earth because of the brokenness of creation, the advice given to this woman is not only reprehensible but I hope and pray that she somehow misses the issue and gets some real help from a faithful pastor. In my experience a social worker can do great things for you in navigating red tape and a generically protestant hospital chaplain is about as useful as a generically protestant self-help book, more full of platitudes and theology of glory than a Purpose Driven manual. On the other hand even a brief visit from a faithful pastor can give you the strength to carry on and make decisions, no matter how hard, in ways that bring peace to troubled minds and rest to hurting souls.

My other hope and prayer in this is that this particular issue of the Lutheran Witness is not found in hospital waiting rooms or at the bedside of struggling believers because no matter what good the rest of the magazine might do someone, this article is sure to destroy any good that was done.

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