In today’s sermon about belief, I referenced Marcus Borg’s book Speaking Christian. I read this specific quote:
“Believe comes from the old english be loef which means ‘to hold dear.” To believe meant not only confidence and trust in a person but also to hold that person dear — to belove that person. Believing and beloving were synonyms. Thus until the 1600s, to believe in God and Jesus meant to belove God and Jesus. Think of the difference this makes. To believe in God does not mean believing that a set statements about God are true, but to belove God. To believe in Jesus does not mean to believe that a set of statements about him are true, but to belove Jesus. This meaning goes back to ancient Christianity”
I also retold the incredible story of Anna Bagenholm who was trapped in freezing, icy waters for over 80 minutes. The head of emergency medicine at the hospital she was treated at said this: “She has completely dilated pupils. She is ashen, flaxen white. She’s wet. She’s ice cold when I touch her skin, and she looks absolutely dead,” Gilbert said. “On the ECG [electrocardiogram], which the doctor on the helicopter has connected her to, there is a completely flat line. Like you could have drawn it with a ruler. No signs of life whatsoever. And the decision was made. We will not declare her dead until she is warm and dead.” I wondered out loud what it would mean to say about something in our lives: it’s not dead until it’s warm and dead. What happened to Anna Bagenholm is incredible. She was hooked up to a heart/lung bipass machine, and her blood was warmed up outside her body before it was put back. Though it was many months and a long recovery, she lived. If it hadn’t been for the faith and skill of the doctors that decision to not declare her dead until she was warm and dead, there would be no story here.
I came upon Anna Bagenholm’s story via an interview on the program Fresh Air. That entire interview is worth listening to. It features Dr. Kevin Fong, author of a book called Extreme Medicine. I was struck when Dr. Fong was talking about this story and was asked “Is it fair to say she was dead?” He paused for a little and hesitated and then said “Her condition was indistinguishable from the condition of death.” Wow. Anna Bagenholm’s story is just one of many fascinating stories in that interview.
For further reading and watching: