Paul Farmer, prophetic engagement and the House of Bishops

The September House of Bishops Meeting will have a full agenda including some "on the ground" experience in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and a talk by and conversation with Dr. Paul Farmer who will speak on the Millennium Development Goals. Other issues will grab the headlines in Anglican-land, but the experiences in the wreckage of the Gulf Coast and in the conversation with Paul Farmer will hopefully be a reminder that there are many rooms in the mansion, many miles to go before we reach there, and wreckage on the highway.

Paul Farmer has never taken the easy road. He is a physician - anthorpoligist, the Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School, attending physician at several other institutions and co-founder of Partners in Health, an international non-profit organization that provides free health care in a variety of settings. Paul spends a considerable part of his time in Haiti where he medical director of a rural hospital.

He is quite an amazing person. I am reading one his books, THE USES OF HAITI, which is a profound indictment of the powerful in Haiti, in the US and in the global political and economic world, none of whom have any interest in the poorest of the poor, and in particular the poor of Haiti. It is a devastating attack on the callous disregard of those most in need.

I highly recommend the book. More, I believe the program for this House of Bishops meeting will balance the intensity of the issues that trouble the Communion and the conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury with the intensity of the issues that the mass of people face, issues untouched by our internal snits save for the vague whisper that perhaps renewed trust could lead to greater mission.

I hope the bishops listen well.


  1. Very glad to hear the bishops will be hearing from Paul Farmer. I think the man is a prophet among us -- can we recognize him?

    I posted an appreciation of his book Pathologies of Power at that link. We need to listen to this man.

  2. Paul Farmer is a living saint---a man who cares deeply for the poor and downtrodden, who has bypassed the wealth and status that his education prepared him for to work with the marginalized, and who is a devoted family man and loyal friend. (I am one degree removed from him---he often stays with my best friend and her husband when he's in town.)

    *He* is about the work of Jesus Christ. Would that we spent more time emulating Paul Farmer than arguing about church politics---and I say this as one who is convicted on the latter.

  3. I have not yet read anything of Farmer's but the clear impression formed of him by reading about him jibes with everything here.

    It does seem to be the calling of our TEC at this time to bring acceptance of GLBT relationships into the mainstream, and as someone elsewhere pointed out recently, the trend of western culture over the past several centuries, is always towards greater liberalization.

    However, this struggle also needs to be in a context of other global struggles: poverty, racism, militarism run rampant, and the environment.

    It is fantastic that this man will be addressing the HOB!



OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.