In the book ”The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” the author, Anne Fadiman, engages in an in-depth exploration of the differences between traditional religious beliefs and western approaches to medicine in the provision of healing to an ailing person. She contextualizes the book by portraying what happens when the bearers of a relatively irrational, nonscientific animist culture come to the United States, and they collide with the local assumptions and customs. This is exemplified in the rich and absorbing case of a Hmong girl, Lia Lee, who has been medically diagnosed with epilepsy. Her parents resort to taking her to the hospital, and it is on this platform that western medicine and the Hmong religious and traditional beliefs collide in a battle for supremacy, which has negative consequences.
The author while telling the story, with a novelist’s perspective, plays the role of a cultural broker because she engages in the comprehension of those who cannot tolerate each other while at the same time developing perceptions about what might have been done differently to change the outcome of Lia’s situation. In Tensions in American Buddhism, the complexities that define religious differences make it relatively difficult to realize any form of cooperation among the divergent yet relatively similar beliefs regarding their objectives. From the story, it is evident that Lia Lee’s family believes that her epileptic seizures were caused by an obsession of some spirits that were contributing to her falling. According to Lee’s family, the most effective cure for this condition would be to initiate a process of sacrificing an animal to persuade the spirits to return the girl’s soul. The western doctor at Merced does not seem to understand how the spirits could possess such a child and how jugulated chicken could be used as the most effective remedy instead of the medication that had a scientific backing that they could stoop Lia’s Seizures. While acting out of their understanding, the family balked from giving their daughter her medication. The complexities that accompany spiritualism religion expasins why in the videos Muslims of Hamtramck, Michigan and Latino Converts to Islam, a growing number of US citizens are joining the Islamic faith because it based on theological simplicity and it does not have the complexities attributed to intermediaries with God. Part of the consequences was that she developed irreparable brain damage. According to the doctors, this development was because of failure by the family to comply with the medical regime while according to Lee’s family her condition became worse because the doctors were giving her too much medicine.
In the process of telling the story, the author emerges as a champion to the Hmong society because she recognizes their brevity and independence considering the struggles that they have had to go through to maintain their way of life as part of their identity. The author devotes numerous chapters to the concept of Hmong history and cosmology including the difficulties that members of this ethnic community have encountered in the United States. This is exemplified in Learn about Karma and Hinduism where the video asserts the essence of rational religious beliefs in enhancing cooperation and firm belief among the believers when they acquire in-depth understanding of karma, meditation, and dharma. While Fadiman recognizes the need to preserve the cultural identity of the Hmong community, she also acknowledges that western medicine while unadorned with the charm of an invisible spiritual world is a more reliable approach of providing healing than sacrificing animals.
From the perspective of the author, it is possible to assert that the conflict that exists between the traditional religious belief of communities and modern medicine is limited tolerance and understanding of the underlying concepts that define the operations of each of them. Borrowing from the story, the author argues that an enhanced understanding of the cultural practices that define the Hmong community could provide the western doctors with a perfect platform for overcoming the resistance from Lia’s family to science. From the videos Deaf Church and Disabled Worshippers, attitudinal change towards other beliefs and individuals will enhance tolerance and cohesion in the society. Persons living with disability can be active and functional in places of worship if they are provided with opportunities.
In one of her flashbacks, Fadiman remembers her conversations with an epidemiologist who affirmed that western medicine was fundamental in saving lives. She acknowledges that if Lia’s family had accepted that she complies with her medical regime from the point of diagnosis, it would have been easier to save her from brain damage. This is her bedrock position despite acknowledging that there are instances in which her affection for the cultural identity of the Hmong leads her to an excess of cultural relativism. In an attempt to rationalize the two beliefs the video Faith Communities and Disability recognizes the essence of hospitality as a scriptural basis of every faith community. it would be important to limit the sanctification of prejudices by challenging them.
Any misunderstanding between religious practices and scientific approaches to addressing illnesses can be a major platform that hinders cure. This explains why according to the author the society can function most sensitively and cohesively if there is cross-cultural study. In the video Zaytuna College, students in this college are engaging in a process of improving cross-cultural education by reviving great ideas from Western and Islamic civilizations through the liberal art approach. Through such an understanding, it will be relatively easier to develop tailor-made measures for integrating scientific assumptions with underlying religious beliefs.
The distressing and twisted tale of Lia Lee, the doctors, and her family reveal numerous aspects of the colossal struggles that define human life. For the family, it is wrong to use scientific findings to generate health solutions. This is because their beliefs about spirits and sacrifices have proved effective over time. The magnitude of the divide between religions and western science exists because, from the story, the Hmong could not understand the relationship between Lia’s fall and epilepsy. This is because in the traditions they do not have a word for epilepsy. As stated in the video, Successful Day at a Mosque developing an understanding of diverse religions and faith will begin with having an honest conversation about the beliefs and this will facilitate learning process for perceived outsiders.
Despite the existence of the unbridgeable gap, everybody shares a commitment to Lia’s well-being as she is admitted 17 times despite her poor background. The parents shared this concern by sleeping next to their sick daughter in the hospital. The shared sadness of her health provided the two sides with a narrow margin for common ground despite the inability of Lia’s family to realize that the doctors were acting in good faith. This failure arises from limited exposure to the benefits of western medicine in addressing existing medical complications. Additionally, it can be attributed to the desire to ensure that the developments that characterize western medicine do not erode the traditional Hmong practices that are based on the spirit world.