Here is a link to an interesting article entitled “The Biology of Belief” that talks about the biology of belief as put out by Time Magazine recently.
Also check out this photo journal connected to the above article. If you flip through you can get a good feel for the way in which many diverse cultures bring healing to those who are sick. In a sense, it is something about the healing systems or the caring processes of those in other parts of the world. I think in some regard, it makes us ask the question: “what is it that care and ministry brings.”
Interestingly, as the article points out, doctors who have been trained in “patient-centered care” see higher levels of success. What this means is that the doctors who spend more time initiating and talking with the patients tend to see higher amount healing. As much as anything, they serve as people to help the patients process issues related to the anthropology of their illness and in turn help facilitate the healing process, not just give facts about sickness or disease.
Science is finding time and time again that what we think about our disease and how we process it matters. This is the importance of the caring community, faith-based or otherwise, as we think critically about the place where the church meets the conversation on public health.
For an interesting book on some of this, I would highly recommend John Pilch’s book Healing in the New Testament: Insights from Medical and Mediterranean Anthropology.
As another aside, here is a link to a few healing chants of Hildegard of Bingen, an 10th century Christian mystic who started monasteries as places of healing. Hildegard was an early female theologian and was known as an herbal healer.
(HT Dr. Daniel)