A Brief Health Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Picture: Samuel’s 12 Birthday, Feb. 27, 2020)

I figure that I am currently somewhere between 50-60% in terms of my overall health, strength, and endurance. This might sound to you to be low, but in fact it is really quite remarkable, given the severity of what happened (for those who haven’t yet read Elena’s nearly daily writing of the events as they transpired, and her personal reflections on them, see her posts at Caring Bridge here).

My nephrologist thinks that my kidneys are at around 56% (at one point, they were totally failing, then sat at 4% or so for a while). My heart is doing very well – though initial results while in hospital suggested “severe and extensive” damage, I was told at the end of November that, somewhat shockingly, my heart is in good shape and there appears to be “minimal damage.” My lungs are clear – amazing, given having suffered aspiration, sepsis, and pneumonia leading to “severe” ARDS in ICU (and on a ventilator for a month, while in an induced coma). However, I still feel tightness in the chest when I’m tired (and often in the evening) – most likely due to damage caused by CPR. My body is improving weekly in its physical state. While at Freeport, the rehab hospital following my time at St. Mary’s, I struggled to lift 2-pound weights. And it took much of my strength to walk down the hall with a walker. Now, I’m doing 45 minutes of cardio at my rehab program and at the local gym during the week. It’s not intense but designed to work my heart at a level that is both safe and challenging (e.g., 15 minutes walking on a treadmill at 4.0 MPH and 2.0 incline – I can’t run yet; 15 min. on elliptical; 15 min. on an exercise bike). I also do some basic strength training and figure I’m about 50% as strong as I was in July. Nerve damage to fingers (ulnar nerve), toes, right leg, and right scalp is still present (and, at times, annoying), but improving very slowly (finger strength has increased, for which I’m grateful).

So much improvement. So much to be thankful for!

In ways, it can be deceiving. For example, I sometimes feel like I’m 100% . . . but only for half of the day. I can get together and interact with people at a normal level, but then start to feel tiredness set in as I make my way home and for the rest of the day. I’m craving interaction and intellectual contribution and engagement, but struggle with focus and things like reading speed. (It can be like trying to read when you’re tired). Distractions and noise impact me more. This too is improving, but improvement is slow and gradual. Anxiety from trauma is present, but manageable (esp. with deliberate strategies).

All in all, things are going very well. It’s now been over 7 months since my cardiac arrest, and 4 months since I’ve been home. Hard to believe that much time has passed.

I am planning to return to Tyndale, part-time (perhaps 40-50%) in the fall of 2020. We are in dialogue now about what that might look like. I am encouraged and thankful that Tyndale is very accommodating and doing all it can to make my transition back to work reasonable and empowering. This is good news for my ongoing recovery, though it does imply some financial challenges (any income made is subtracted from Long-Term Disability assistance, so returning part-time does not alter our present financial situation). But God has been very good to us. We are extremely grateful for the financial support we have received from so many friends, family members, and colleagues.

Thank you all so much for your ongoing concern, prayers, positive thought, encouragements, and supports. It has been a difficult and long journey, but one also filled with grace, faith, love, and hope. It’s been like an extended period of Lent . . . but Easter is coming!

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A Short Video Greeting and Update

I recently shared a short video greeting and update with friends and colleagues gathering together for a faith and science conference in Rochester, NY. I had been planning to attend, and also had a paper accepted for presentation, but due to recent health circumstances I was not able to attend.

The video is posted HERE for those interested in listening in on the update.

Thanks to all who have been following, praying, and supporting us in various practical ways!

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Deeply Grateful

I am so thankful for the love, care, strength, courage, endurance, wisdom, and advocacy of my wife, Elena.

Many have been following my journey from death (literally . . . I was in cardiac arrest for 20 minutes . . . the first of several seriously dangerous health events, plus a sustained two weeks of pressed-against-death experiences that would take place over following weeks) back to life and recovery again. Thank you so much for following, for praying, for supporting, and for sending thoughts and well-wishes. I am simply blown away by the response.

If you haven’t been following Elena’s writing about this journey on Caring Bridge, I’d highly recommend it. While I had seen more recent posts in the past several weeks, I had not read the earliest entries until recently, when I sat (often weeping) and took in Elena’s vulnerable and often profound writing. She shares not only the events as they progressed, but also her own processing of grief and exhaustion, as well as moments of joy and gratitude, as she cared for me and tended to our children (amounts a million other things), all within the context of her deep faith. Her writing, and the many responses and comments, are truly inspiring. Truly a witness to the love and power of Christ-in-community.

For those interested, here is the link (you have to sign-up to get access, unfortunately . . . but it’s free at least).

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Review of “The Emergence of Sin” by Matthew Croasmun

 

SIN is a person, a being, an entity exercising tyrannical dominion over all human persons since the dawn of humanity’s emergence. This is the pro- vocative claim that Matthew Croasmun, Associate Research Scholar, Director of the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Centre for Faith and Culture, and Lecturer of Divinity and Humanities at Yale University, advances in his book The Emergence of SIN. …

… Croasmun’s aims in The Emergence of Sin are ambitious and, by and large, successful. The book invites and stimulates interdisciplinary engagement and discussion from scientists, social scientists, biblical scholars, theologians, and cultural critics. Perhaps most helpful is the clarity, lucidity, and accessibility with which Croasmun presents emergence theory (I plan to assign one of his chapters to my theological anthropology students), both in its own right and as insightful and illuminative in drawing out more fully than past interpreters the full significance of Paul’s personification of Sin in Romans. This, in turn, allows for incisive analysis and critique of social evils, such as racism, going beyond approaches that fall into reductionism due to their inadequate (or lacking) ontologies of social entities. While I have reservations about some of the claims Croasmun makes (click the link below to read the full review), I heartily recommend his book to all PSCF readers and look forward to seeing more critical engagement from biblical scholars. 

Click here to read the full review, published in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 71, no. 3 (Sept. 2019): 189-92.

 

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On Behalf of Patrick

Hello friends, on July 28th, my husband Patrick suffered a massive cardiac event, and cardiac arrest. After a harrowing month of complication after complication – renal failure, SARS, and more, he is out of a chemically induced coma, off life support, and though just now forming short term memories and only recently able to swallow – he is using phrases like “Trinitarian Theology”, and reflecting on his love for the Body of Christ.

I write about it here: (caringbridge.org and search for patrick and elena franklin, or click below)

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/supportthefranklins

Also, for those of you who would like to support our family:

https://mailchi.mp/b695a3c1b857/franklins-support-and-gofundme?e=f3c6857a45

Elena T Franklin

 

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Why Church: The People of God

Part 2 of the “Why Church” series. Presented to a wonderful, live audience. No visuals, but sit back and listen.
https://www.wesleyacres.com/messages2019?offset=1532318340622

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Why Church: The New Humanity

Why Church: Part 1. THE NEW HUMANITY

https://www.wesleyacres.com/messages2019

Settle in and have a listen.

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What Genesis Says (and Doesn’t) About Human Origins

Next Thursday evening, I’ll be giving a public lecture in Montreal on the early chapters of Genesis.

Here’s the abstract:

When Christians debate issues related to origins (age of the universe and earth, how creatures came to be: evolution vs. special or progressive creation, etc.), the early chapters of Genesis are usually regarded as being central and authoritative. Yet, many debates show a surprising lack of engagement with biblical and theological scholarship on Genesis. Consequently, the terms (and sometimes the results) of the debates are all too often defined in advance, before the debates even get off the ground, according to assumptions about Genesis that go unexamined. In this lecture, we will draw on biblical and theological scholarship to consider the following questions: What does Genesis (chapter one) tell us – and NOT tell us – about human origins? What issues and questions concerning human nature and identity are central to the text itself? And, how might we identify and differentiate these central matters from those that are more peripheral, or simply not even in view for ancient readers? What clues does the text itself provide on these questions, and how does a consideration of the ancient historical context illuminate its meaning and significance for contemporary readers who are so far removed from that context?

Event details can be found on Facebook here and at the CSCA website here.

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Christian Smith on the Weakness of Modern Sociological Theory

“Sociological theory has conceptually *centered* nearly everything imaginable–nearly everything, that is, except human persons. We have centered action and meanings. We have centered interactions, society, and practices. We have centered culture. We have centered social structures. We have centered the functional requisites of society and the means and relations of production. We have centered habits and habitus. We have centered pleasure, exchange, and utility maximization. We have centered social network ties and social influence. We have centered social norms and values. We have centered power and conflict. We have centered social roles, identify, and creativity. We have centered social interest, social class, social facts, and social knowledge. We have centered gender and rational choice and emotions. We have centered individuals. All of that. But we have never centered human persons. And that explains, I suggest, why sociological theory has never quite worked.”

– Christian Smith, To Flourish or Destruct: A Personalist Theory of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, and Evil (University of Chicago Press, 2015), 60.

I always find it refreshing when a scholar is able to reflect critically (and philosophical) on their own discipline. Christian Smith (PhD, Harvard; Professor at Notre Dame), noted sociologist and author, has been doing this for years.

The heart of his critique is that modern sociology has tended to lack an ontology of human personhood, having accepted modern dualisms (esp. “the individual” versus “society” in sociology) rooted in the Enlightenment (Hobbes, Hume, Kant) and the philosophies aligned with or reacting to it (materialism, positivist empiricism, antimentalist theories, social situationism, antirealist social constructivism, individualism, collective ‘holism’, etc.). Even so, sociologists tend to see themselves as serving the public good, and implicitly rely on unstated assumptions regarding what constitutes that good (perhaps valuing things like equality, inclusivity, fairness, justice, etc.). The problem, according to Smith, is that this is both contradictory (how can we pursue normative goods for humans when we have avoided specifying what human beings are and what ends are intrinsic to their nature and thus necessary for their flourishing?) and inevitably ineffective (because a reductionist view of personhood – usually held implicitly – leads to reductionist solutions to human social problems). 

While I don’t agree with everything Smith writes in this book (I’d want to qualify some things and expand upon others, theologically), I’d highly recommend it as important in its aims and thought-provoking for stimulating one’s own reflection on human persons. (I also recommend his previous book, What Is A Person?, also published by U. Chicago Press).

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Fred Sanders on the Trinity

Nice summary statement worthy of contemplation:

“[T]he doctrine of the Trinity is more than just another doctrine on the list of true things we have been taught by God about God. It is God’s self-revelation by way of presence in a more direct, intense, and personal way. . . . In the fullness of time, God did not give us facts about himself, but gave us himself  in the person of the Father who sent, the Son who was sent, and the Holy Spirit who was poured out. These events were accompanied by verbally inspired explanatory words; but the latter depend on the former.” (Fred Sanders, The Triune God, p. 40; italics mine for emphasis)

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