January 1

What we call the modern age emerged in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. It was the age of rationalism. The Enlightenment produced a wonderfully scientific mind. Its materialist worldview taught us how to measure things. Belief hinged on what could be proven by a certain paradigm called science. Science assumed – and this became the arrogance of the modern mind – that it knew more than anybody else ever had. It did not yet realize that this new knowing was limited to small areas. In its newfound excitement, such knowing quickly neglected other areas. Analysis of parts became more important than a synthesis of the whole.

Richard Rohr (The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Chaos, Reorder)

“Analysis of parts became more important than a synthesis of the whole.” Does that sound or feel familiar to you?

While interviewing pediatricians before our first child was born, every doctor we spoke with told us about the risks of Hepatitis B disease and why it was important that our daughter receive the vaccine on her first day of life.

The doctors were all very good at explaining the disease and it’s harmful impact upon the body. The vaccine will protect her from this. But when I’d ask about the bigger picture, every doctor was stumped.

Why should my healthy daughter be given this vaccine? She is not at risk for the disease.

Well, the doctors explained, she might be bit at daycare. What if she needs a blood transfusion? The CDC recommends it.

OK… but she’s not going into daycare and a blood transfusion seems incredibly unlikely. Can you please speak to the specific risks my daughter faces in such a way that shows she will benefit from the vaccine and that the benefits are worth the risks of the vaccine?

Eventually it would always come down to “it is recommended for a reason.” But no specific reason for my specific daughter could ever be given.

And I’d reply with: what are the reasons that specifically apply to my daughter? It doesn’t sound like there are any specific reasons that apply to my daughter.

There was never an answer. Only uncomfortable silence or an implicit threat stated in words that free people and good parents do not accept: “I will have to document your refusal.”

These unexpectedly uncomfortable conversations were the beginning of an awakening.


Are you prepared to protect your family from well-meaning, yet dogmatic, professionals who confuse their understanding of a disease with knowing what is best for the long-term health of everybody?

Rate yourself from 0 to 10. Write the score in your journal. When you re-read this next year, let’s see where you’re at in your journey of discovery and wisdom.

Try this

Refer to your doctor by first name and watch the response. Insist upon equal partnership through your words and actions.