Musings on Listening to Skloot Talk About “Immortal Life” on Fresh Air
Just finished listening to Rebecca Skloot talking about her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, on Fresh Air this afternoon. You can now listen on the web (transcript not yet available).
Around 25:10, Skloot tells Terry Gross about an experience she had with a faith-healing ceremony with members of Henrietta Lacks’s family. Among other things, that was the point when Skloot realized that she had to write herself into her own book. It was also the turning point when Lacks’s daughter became more trusting of Skloot the journalist. I recommend that you listen to the whole interview, but especially that portion.
It raises some seriously interesting questions about the value of religious traditions and their meaning in a scientific community. The answer is far more complex than whether or not Skloot’s personal religious beliefs were changed by the experience (they weren’t – she was and remains non-religious). It’s that the experience happened at all – clearly it provided some sort of healing for Lacks’s daughter, and it did have a serious impact on Skloot. I would argue that the faith healing ceremony facilitated something that “science” wasn’t capable of doing, whether or not the participants – all or any of them – believe in God or a god.
And I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t believe in god.
Bunny Rock in Zuska’s Garden
Zuska is the kick-ass alter-ego of Suzanne E Franks. When not dispensing Zuska's wisdom, Suzanne can often be found gardening, reading, or having one of her thrice-weekly migraines.
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