Across the country, citizens and politicians are struggling with answers to healthcare reform.  How do we cover the uninsured?  How do we ease the financial burden and care for the indigent, the struggling, the alien?  We’ve concocted scheme after scheme, some useful,  some madness.  But the one scheme our founders might have comprehended lies buried right before us; barely inches beneath the surface of our historical earth.  A treasure unused.

What we need to do is baptize healthcare.  What does that mean?  Well, let’s back up.  Why are we good at medicine?  Why is American healthcare, for all its limitations, so magnificent (since despite it’s problems,that’s what it is)?  It’s magnificent because it is a bridge across suffering and mortality, supported on great columns of Christian faith. 

That is, we do what we do because the command to love, the desire to love, the ability to love is part and parcel of the Christianity that made Western medicine possible. 

If we don’t believe in the intrinsic value of humanity, if we don’t believe in eternal accountability to an impartial God who loves all equally, if we don’t believe in absolute truth, then our medical institutions, from the local doctors office all the way up to the federal agency, are simply structures cast across the ocean of human misery, and supported by mist, air and vague hopes.

But, if we put the supports of faith beneath them!  If we undergird them with divine imperative, with divine love, with spiritual insight, and with the hope of eternal reward, then there’s hope for the health-care system.

What we’re trying to do now, politically, is to create a system of equitable care, at moderate to low cost, given by professional, well-educated, dedicated providers.  Reformers are trying to ensure that equal care, with no ‘unfair access or outcomes’ is available to everyone in every social condition, and from every possible demographic of sex, national origin, religion…even sexual orientation. 

And we’re trying to do it in a nation that, politically and culturally, joyfully vilifies anyone in a position of authority who speaks openly about personal, relevant religious faith or spiritual guidelines.

So, many want a reformed health-care system.  The assorted plans circulating through the chaotic halls of the House and Senate are rather a liberal secular version of Luther’s theses, nailed to the door of Congress. 

But they want all of this love, equanimity, equality and devotion without any hint of an over-arching reason for providers, or insurers or anyone else to give of themselves.  In other words, the health-care reform that looms before us is desired by those who want Christian ethics without the pesky religious stuff.

Let’s face it; we all do things for reward.  The rewards may be ephemeral or tangible, but rewards we desire.  Plenty of doctors work only for money.  And plenty of doctors also travel the world, in the worst sorts of places and conditions, receiving nothing earthly for the care they give on the mission field.  But the reward they receive is the opportunity to offer love and hope in the name of God, and the promise of life eternal with their master.

Funny, isn’t it?  To the pure rationalist, it makes no sense.  But in a manner of speaking, trying to reform healthcare with no promise of substantial reward (other than some vague ‘duty to the country) for those who give it away, and sweath blood in the service others, is no more rational.

We need a return to transcendence.  That’s what I mean by baptizing medicine.  I’m not simpleton enough to suggest that if everyone were Christian, all our woes would float away as we sing Kumbaya.  But it might be easier for us all to agree on charity, on fairness, on duty and dedication.  Because we would all be united in the desire to follow the same ethics and please the same eternal ruler.

Just a thought.

Edwin