Sunday, December 27, 2009


Pascal, in one of his pithiest pensees, wrote,
"Respect means putting yourself out." Quite so.

Putting yourself out means:
putting yourself down: means
lifting someone else up.

The chronically ill need respect.
They need you to put yourself out,
to "go the second mile" (Jesus),
to put yourself at their disposal
(even if only for a few moments or hours).

"Respect means putting yourself out. "

Take the burden
to lessen their burden.
Don't flee the burden, but bear it with grace...
for others, for others.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday for Outsiders

Holidays can extract much pain from those outside the system of the normal--those afflicted, wounded, lamenting, wondering how to cope with another day with yet another setback, insurance denial, anger from those who cannot--or will not--empathize. While others congregate to celebrate, the chronically ill often remain alone at home, or what's left of it. The contrasts hurt.

And yet, and yet... There are simple joys to be had. Memories to remember. Hope for the future. Grace to be grasped. One can always cast oneself on God, the God who came near and remains near in Christ Jesus. This God refuses no humble tears and has wounds of his own--healed, but still felt.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fear of Illness

It strikes me that hypochondria is a kind of chronic illness, or the chronic fear of illness (real or imagined). It is the thief of joy and contentment; it tortures its victims; it maddens those close to the hypochondriacs.

Does anyone know of any good books, articles, or organizations that help people with this problem?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Read a Book

As an owner of thousands of books and a reader of many of them, I offer a few pieces of advise on the art of reading a book. This is a lost art for many, given the dominance of image-oriented media today.

1. Read worthwhile books. These come in two categories: (A) Books that are in themselves worthwhile. (B) Books that are substandard but influential, nevertheless. I know nothing of "killing time" by reading. As Thoreau said, "You cannot kill time without wounding eternity." Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as to what books you should read and when. I cannot separate my professional reading from my pleasure reading. However, I will not read books I profoundly disagree with on Sundays, since that is a day of rest (not torment).

2. Always read with a pen or pencil in your hand. Annotation is part of the art of reading. The book should become your own. I underline, make comments, and put notes in the front of the book pointing out important points. I also cross reference important points.

3. Write in the front of the book when you started reading it and when you finished it. This gives you a sense of intellectual history. (Don't ask how many books I have not finished. Some do not deserve to be finished, though.)

4. Recommend books to others on as many topics as you can. Be a walking and talking annotated bibliography.

Then, Forever

A blessed Eternity relativizes all present and future pain.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One Word

Bewilderment: a common condition of the chronically ill and their weary care-givers.

Friday, December 4, 2009


There is much on addressing fear and cultivating trust in God discussed Isaiah, chapters 40-41. I encourage those weighed down by the fears and weariness of illness to read and meditate on these truths, as well as pray them through.