A Liturgical Understanding of Health
Jamie Konerman-Sease, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ethics, University of Minnesota
The goal of evidence based medicine is to optimize the functioning of the body to live longer and do more by applying efficacious interventions. Christians have generally embraced Western medicine as a whole and evidence based medicine in particular. The goals of the Christian life are formed by scripture and the liturgy. How does the liturgy lay the foundation for our understanding of Health? Does this liturgically informed understanding of health fit within the goals of EBM and Western medicine? In this presentation I examine how the Anglican liturgy informs a Christian understanding of health and the goals of the body. I explore the three central confessions in the Anglican morning and evening prayer services - the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Confession - for their influence in a Christian understanding of “health.” I demonstrate that these prayers establish that health is understood in the context of participation in community and ought to be oriented towards loving one’s neighbor. Physical health is not an end unto itself, but physical health does determine what kinds of responsibilities Christian’s have to their neighbors. Using this liturgical understanding of health, I conclude with reimagining how Western medicine can better support community participation and loving one’s neighbor.