Monday, September 21, 2015

Hospitals and Waste

I’m working with my Argumentation class to develop arguments for and against what is generally called “sustainability.” Thus, I may be a little more sensitive to the issue than is needed. Yet my experience of going for EKG at SRHC made me profoundly aware of how wasteful our current hospital system has become.

I went last Friday, so it’s a recent memory. I checked in at the universal check in desks and, as usual received a white plastic bracelet, on which my identity was barcoded, and the pink/orange plastic bracelet that announced I was allergic to penicillin. I also had a sheet with my doctor’s orders, a sheet that allowed the provider to treat me and a sheet of bar code sticky labels– probably 30 labels on the one sheet.  These all identified the bearer as me.

I asked the young woman who checked me in why I needed a wrist band to identify me, a wrist band to identify I had a penicillin allergy, and a page of sticky label bar codes when I was going to get one procedure in one place with one technician and no bodily invasion. She explained that this was all for my protection. “What if someone came in a pretended to be you?” she asked. “They could rack up a bunch of services and charge your insurance.”

I did not want to hassle this nice young woman with the obvious question. Has this ever happened? Is this really a thing? Someone undergoes medical tests in my name, even though they couldn’t get the results except from a doctor. Are there actually doctors who tell their patients to hijack other people’s identities, or doctors who’ll accept results from a stolen identity without thinking? Are there rings of identity thefts getting medical tests under false pretenses? The idea to so complex as to be absurd on the face of it.

Of course, after my feeble attempt at protest I gave in. I might have gone to Noni and complained to her about the waste. But I don’t need to lay my crusade on her shoulders.

I think, next time I go, I’m going to refuse to let them put the bracelets on. I’ll carry them, but not let them put them on. This time, as soon as my two minute test was complete, the first thing the tech did was snip off the bracelets. If I carry them that will eliminate one non-essential task from her workday!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Welcome Little Children

The text this morning was Mark 9: 30-37. The pericope ends with Jesus taking a child in his arms and announcing “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

I’ve preached on this text from all three synoptic gospels. I’ve preached on the “Suffer the little children and forbid them not . . .” texts. Always been abstract about it. The child is a representative of us in humble need. If we don’t need the divine the way a child needs its parents we won’t find the divine. G-d does not force g-dself on us any more than a parent forces a child to accept their affection.

Today I finished talking about the desire to be “the greatest,” a desire that afflicts many of us (but not Kris). And I came to verse 37. I looked out and there were four little guys. Three toddler girls. Four guys under the age of 1. Daddy Derek let me take his son Andrew in my arms. I finished preaching with Andrew’s help.

That changed my understanding of what Jesus was saying. He took them in his arms.

I took that little guy in my arms. It changed how I understand that verse. It made me think about the little guy who washed up on a Turkish beach. It made me think again of the nineteen year old pregnant woman who collapsed in front of Richard Engle on the Hungarian border. It made me think about the helplessness of this little guy in my arms.

And there was more, is more. But I can’t tell you the more. The more was a feeling, deep in my soul. Deep in my heart. Deep in my feelings. There is something more to be said about welcoming children, being children. There is something more to be said, but I can’t say it yet. Maybe later. Maybe not later, maybe never.

So if I can’t articulate this new understanding of Mark’s Gospel do I really understand? And how shall I communicate what I’ve discovered to you in the pew?

Perhaps you too have to take a little child in your arms while reading the passage and have that little guy smile at you, drool on you, be a little guy in your arms. “Whoever welcomes one of these little ones welcomes me, and not just me but the one who sent me.”

More than that I cannot say, so I must simply pass over it in silence.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Republicans and all their lies

Republican truth tellers:

Donald Trump told a compelling story of a “beautiful child” who received a vaccination, went home, a week later had a high fever and came down with the autism.

In a New Hampshire town meeting a Trump supporter wanted Muslims removed from America, especially that Muslim usurper in the White House who is “not even an American.” And Trump says in reply, “We’re going to be looking at a lot of things.”

And Monday Trump presented his military supporters, The Veterans for a strong America. Hundreds of thousands of veterans were members, Trump said.

Carly Fiorina presented an angry emotional statement during the debate. In it she “dared” Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama to watch the video with a living fetus on a slab, tiny heart beating, arms and legs flailing. In the meantime, apparently, you hear someone saying “keep it alive so we can harvest its brain.”

The problem of all these compelling stories is that they are lies. I suspect that the Republican candidates know that they are lies.

If there is a “beautiful child” at all, there is no connection between her vaccination and autism. This is not controversial. It is settled science. Children are not given doses in a needle that resembles a needle/syringe used to vaccinate horses. 

The President is a Christian – who had to denounce his Christian Pastor in the 2008 campaign – and was born in America. That is settled. Done. And Trump knows it – but he also knows that he can dog whistle part of the base into action if he lets that stand. He may, in fact, believe that there are secret Muslim terror training camps, which must be what Jade Helm was actually about since it clearly wasn’t about removing state governments and instigating martial law. It’s hard to know what nonsense Trump believes since he believes that the Mexican government has a plan to send criminals across the border.

The hundreds of thousands of veterans? According to reporting on the Rachel Maddow show it was probably just one guy.

And the video? It’s not of anything that is connected to Planned Parenthood. You don’t even have to watch the video to have your doubts about the veracity of Fiorina’s description. For the “undercover” video to be real means that the videographer was admitted to the procedure room during an abortion. That would require consent from the patient undergoing an abortion. It would also mean that the Planned Parenthood representative and the “undercover journalist” were there and discussing at the same time that this procedure is going on. It’s absurd and absurd on the face of it. If Fiorina thinks she has to recognize how absurd this description of a video that doesn't exist is.

Yet, when asked people complain that Hillary is untrustworthy, a liar, inauthentic. Why?