The 2011 Levine Lecture

The 2011 Robert J. Levine Lecture took place on June 7th.

Photograph used with permission of the Graduate Theological Union

Rev. Dr. Karen Lebacqz

Ragged Edges: Science, Faith, Cancer, and Uncertainty (video)

Abstract: How does one make decisions in the face of uncertainty? New, “personalized” approaches to cancer treatment that depend on genetic testing will leave what Leonard Fleck has called “ragged edges” – places where patients fall in between clear treatment guidelines. Drawing on her own experience of a “ragged edge” in cancer treatment and the experiences of other patients, Lebacqz argues that elements of faith always enter into decisions to accept medical treatment. We see this most readily in “ragged edge” cases, but all patients draw on different dimensions of faith in accepting medical treatment. Thus, science and faith are not enemies or opposites, but necessary partners in the healing process.

About the Speaker: Rev. Dr. Karen Lebacqz served as Bioethicist in Residence at the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics in 1995-96. Before that, she taught for three decades in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and at McGill University in Montreal. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ. Her life-long commitment to social justice takes shape in work on bioethics (especially genetics and stem cells), theories of justice, professional ethics, and questions of method in ethics. She has helped shape public policy through service on the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects, the Geron Ethics Advisory Board, the Science and Technology Network of the United Church of Christ, the ELSI-based Genome Project at the Graduate Theological Union, and the bioethics committee of Mendocino Coast District Hospital. Now semi-retired and living in the historic village of Mendocino, California, Dr. Lebacqz combines her love of quilting with her passion for theology and science.