Two Campus Guests Offer Public Lectures on Physical and Spiritual Healing
25 and 27 March, 2013 • On–Campus
Two public lectures at St. Vladimir's during the second week of Lent featured authors known for their expertise on the topics of caring for the illnesses of the soul and body. On Monday evening after the conclusion of services for the Feast of the Annunciation, the seminary's pro life ministry, the St. Ambrose Society, hosted author, physician and philosopher Dr. Jeffrey Bishop in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium for his talk, "On the Corpse and the Chaplain: How Medicine is Destroying Pastoral Care." The lecture was streamed lived on the Society's website and will also be posted at a future date to the Voices from St. Vladimir's Seminary podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.
Widely recognized for his work in medical ethics in the field of death and dying, Dr. Bishop earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Dallas. He also holds a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School, and serves as the Tenet Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. His story of conversion to the Orthodox faith is told in the SVS Press book Turning East, and in his lecture at St. Vladimir's he discussed how this faith informs his approach to the issues faced by today's health care providers and chaplains. "The words 'holy' and 'health' and 'holistic' are all related," he noted. "The great philosophers also used to be physicians." Yet in more recent history, he explained, the living body became "nothing more than matter in motion: medicine is now about controlling the cogs which are failing in this body, which is a machine."
"The dangers presented by our clinical tools of assessment is that they are primarily secular and without religious basis," he continued. "Whatever ails a culture is going to ail medicine—if we are an agnostic culture, we will have agnostic medicine...we need to get back to seeing each person as an individual. The body is not just a machine, and everyone lives with some driving purpose that goes beyond the body." In a challenge to the future chaplains, counselors and priests in his audience, he concluded: "The Church needs to see each person pastorally and not let medicine hijack Her role to minister and prepare people for illness and death. Only in theology and metaphysics are the body's mechanism and the body's meaning inseparable."
The week's second SVOTS lecture followed the Wednesday Lenten Presanctified Liturgy and community potluck, when author Klaus Kenneth spoke about the themes explored in his book Born to Hate, Reborn to Love (Mount Thabor Publishing). Born in 1945 in Czechoslovakia at the time of the flight of the Red Army after World War II, Mr. Kenneth experienced abuse and rejection in his early childhood and subsequently traveled the globe looking for truth and meaning. Along the way he explored numerous religious paths, eventually discovering the Orthodox faith. An encounter with Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), the founder of the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex (UK), changed Klaus Kenneth's life and set him on the path of spiritual healing.
In his talk in the Kunett Auditorium at Three Hierarchs chapel, Mr. Kenneth unfolded the story of his life and travels, describing how he eventually visited most of the world in his relentless spiritual quest. Rejecting Christianity in his youth after suffering abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, Klaus acquired spiritual knowledge and even occultic powers through Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, and New Age phases of his life. A meeting with Mother Teresa didn't convince him to return to Christianity although it opened his heart to his need for prayer and Christ.
After years of spiritual wandering, Klaus encountered Orthodox Christianity and eventually became the spiritual child of Elder Sophrony. "In his talk, Klaus stressed the importance of using the tools at our disposal as Orthodox Christians, and he particularly emphasized the importance of the practice of the Jesus Prayer," noted a lecture guest afterwards. "He referred to the prayer rope on his wrist as his Rolex, saying that the Prayer held more power than all of his former religious practices combined."