Not long ago I went to visit my mother at a busy New York hospital where she was recovering from heart-valve surgery. The elevators were so crowded that I had to go down to the basement to claim a place for the trip up to the sixth-floor coronary care unit. At each floor the doors opened in front of identical signs: “No cell phones.
Gwen opens the circle session at nine a.m. on a Monday morning with a reading from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Blue Book. The theme is powerlessness, and Gwen reads in a halting voice. Her audience is a group of women who’ve come to work here in an old parsonage just up the hill from a well-heeled Episcopal church.
Jesus recrosses the Sea of Galilee after some local unpleasantness cuts short his visit to the Decapolis. “[The Gerasenes] began to beg him to leave their neighborhood” (Mark 5:17). Are these pig farmers afraid because he commands unclean spirits? Or are they worried about their livelihood?
Eight years ago, shortly before Palm Sunday, our eight-year-old son was under the weather. My husband, Lou, had volunteered to cover the doctor’s appointment and a trip to the drugstore for whatever prescription would clear up Calvin’s little infection. “Go to the gym,” he said. “You need to relieve some stress.”
Two years ago, Kevin Brumett was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 29 and had never smoked. After an initial round of successful treatment, the cancer spread to his brain. Still, Brumett is determined to fight the disease and says God is on his side at every step. He hopes his fight can help others who share his condition.
What exactly took place when Jesus healed people? According to Donald Capps, who teaches pastoral theology at Princeton Seminary, Jesus did not heal with supernatural power but worked within the laws of nature and used techniques available to anyone with an understanding of psychosomatic illness.
In Richard Powers’s novel The Echo Maker, a young man suffers a brain injury in an auto accident and is afflicted with Capgras syndrome. When he wakes from a coma, he can see and even recognize family members and friends, but he takes them for impostors.