Midrash & a Meal: Reflection from Sharon Cantrell

When I heard that our next Midrash and a Meal discussion was to be about a book recommended by Dr. Terry Rosell, I knew I wanted to be included.  (If you have taken one of his ministry ethics classes, you know you sit at the feet of a master in the discipline of ethics, and are constantly challenged to new thinking and understanding of ethical behaviors.) I did a quick search on the subject of the book only to learn this field of medicine was one I knew little about; however, I was also sure it had impacted my life without my even knowing it.

In a New York Times book review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Lisa Margonelli wrote:

“. . . Rebecca Skloot introduces us to the “real live woman,” the children who survived her, and the interplay of race, poverty, science, and one of the most important medical discoveries of the last 100 years. Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about “the facts.” ­Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful.

From the very beginning I was hooked and outraged and awed. I could not stop reading.  I fell in love with the Lacks family, warts and all.  I struggled with Rebecca Skloot as she gained their trust.  I felt their betrayal and anger and resentment. And yet, I could relate to another time in history when rules were lax, new horizons were being claimed.  Could we go back in time to right a wrong?  Am I not the champion of the underdog?  Does the family deserve financial compensation?  Who should benefit from your own body?  Who owns it? So many questions . . .

Won’t you join us for an afternoon of friendship and discussion?

Schedule for January 24:

11:30 a.m. – Lunch

11:45 a.m. – Discussion on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

2:00 p.m.   – Clendening Library Guided Tour and Special Exhibit by Dawn McInnis, Rare Books Librarian

3:00 p.m.   – Activities Conclude

Convener: Dr. Tarris D. Rosell, Professor of Pastoral Theology – Ethics and Ministry Praxis

Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloo

Place: Clendening Library, Dept of History & Philosophy of Medicine,

Robinson Building, University of Kansas School of Medicine,

3901 Rainbow Blvd, Kansas City, KS

Meal: Provided by the Seminary at no charge

To sign up for the meal and/or for scholarship opportunities, contact Rev. Derek Varney at pastorderekv@comcast.net.

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My Experience:

Alexandra Mueller


I’m from Overland Park and in my last year of the Masters of Divinity Foundations program. I have appreciated that Central is concerned with us as whole people and is purposeful in equipping us as ethical, caring, conscientious and knowledgeable pastors. The courses have been academically rigorous, but also have required us to put our hearts and actions under a microscope. Being in classes with people from such diverse denominations, theological viewpoints, cultures and life experiences has also deepened and enriched the experience. Central has been a place of learning, training and stretching, and I couldn’t be more grateful for my time here.

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