Dr. Hassaballa In The Chicago Sun-Times

In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Thanks be to my Lord, the Precious Beloved, I was quoted by Cathleen Falsani, religion reporter and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, in her end of the year column about most significant things said about God in the past year.

I had NO CLUE. But the daughter of one of my patients, interestingly, posted my quote up in her father’s ICU room…to my utter surprise and feelings of humble honor. I thanked Ms. Falsani, who got a kick out the story, and have reproduced the column for you below. Enjoy:

Cathleen Falsani
‘What would Jesus cut?’: The year in faith
December 30, 2005


War, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, intelligent design, the death of a religious hero and the election of his papal successor, avian flu, Live 8, debt forgiveness, culture “wars,” genocide in Darfur, Terri Schiavo’s homegoing, “truthiness,” the first face transplant, extreme human depravity and stunning human compassion.

It’s been an extraordinary year, for better and worse.
Here — in no particular order — are some of the most intriguing things I heard about God, faith, religion and spirituality in 2005.


“When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility.”

Anne Lamott in her 2005 collection of essays, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“Just keep smilin’ and breathin’, lady, just keep smilin’ and breathin’.”

Hip-hop impresario and entrepreneur Russell Simmons, to me as we stood on our heads during a Jivamukti yoga class

“Holiness is always contemporary. . . . It’s sin that makes us old. Holiness is always young. And the pope died a young man.”

Cardinal Francis George in Rome on the day of Pope John Paul II’s funeral

“To me it’s humbling. It reminds us that we’re not in control, that our faith is constantly tested by circumstances, but it should be deepened when we see the courageous response people are having, and the determination to endure. To me, in the end, it . . . deepens your faith when you see the triumph of the human spirit in the face of this kind of adversity.”

Former President Bill Clinton a week after the Indian Ocean tsunami, responding to TV host Larry King who asked, “Do you grapple with how a caring God would allow this? Do you question faith?”

“We’re just this little ball of people floating near the edge of what we call the Milky Way galaxy, and there ought to be enough power to light this little ball up with peace.”

Director David Lynch

“The Biblical record is clear. The scriptural witness on which our faith tradition stands speaks dramatically to God’s concern for and solidarity with the poor and the oppressed communities, while speaking firmly in opposition to governments whose policies place narrow economic interests driven by greed above the common good. . . . What would Jesus cut?”

Theologian Jim Wallis on proposed $50 billion congressional budget cuts, mostly to social welfare programs

“To be silent in the presence of this is immoral.”

The Rev. Juan Reed, vicar of Chicago’s St. Martin Episcopal Church, on homophobia

“God is the Healer. . . . I am not God. If I ever start to think otherwise, then it will be time for me to stop practicing medicine for good.”

Hesham Hassaballa, a Chicago-area pulmonary/critical care physician and Muslim columnist for Beliefnet.com

“Laughter is carbonated holiness.”

Anne Lamott

Damian : Are you really a saint?

Maureen: Well, the criteria’s very strict. It’s not just a case of doing good and all that. You do have to do an actual miracle.

Damian: So . . .

Maureen: I’m in there. Course I am.

Damian: What was your miracle?

Maureen: Don’t you know? — It was you.

An exchange between 9-year-old Damian and his dead mother (appearing to him in a vision) in the film “Millions”

“We’re all surrounded by signs, they’re being thrown at us, an endless amount of signs. We choose which ones we ignore, which ones we take. And when we make those choices, we actually define the way our reality is going to be. That is the practice of faith.”

Gidi Dar, director of the Israeli film “Ushpizin,” the first feature-length film shot inside Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community

“Life is happening even when we’re not aware of it yet. Because in April, no matter what, things will bloom.”

Rabbi Irwin Kula, co-founder of the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living on the North Shore

“You don’t need fancy hospital or medicines to make life better, just a well.”

One of the Martyrs of Uganda (1881) to Damian in ”Millions”

“Twice a year is better than zero.”

Kristofer Skrade, editor of The Christian Handbook, on the phenomenon of “Cheasters,” people who attend church only on Christmas and Easter

“Nice girls don’t change the world.”

Lynn Hybels, author

“We have to be careful not to lock God out of what He wants to do.”

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of Chicago’s St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church

“There goes somebody’s miracle, walking down the street.”

Rocker Liz Phair in her song “Somebody’s Miracle”

“The real deal is always going to win in the end.”

The Rev. Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington

“The face of evangelicals is an angry face, protesting something, rather than people that are serving or helping or reaching out. . . . There are things that turn my stomach in society, that make me angry or make me sad. But I think the heart of Jesus is much more one of serving the hungry, the needy and the poor . . . than what we’re against.”

The Rev. Mark Jobe of Chicago’s New Life Community Church

“It seems as if the flaw in the white evangelical church is that it will fight tooth and nail to protect an unborn child in the womb, but won’t lift a finger to assist a child once it’s been born.”

The Rev. James T. Meeks, pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church and an Illinois state senator

“Is Falwell an evangelical, is Robertson an evangelical? Yes. Are they the definition of evangelicalism? No. [Evangelicalism] is a broad swath of individuals with differing opinions. Evangelicalism has to be defined by what we all have in common, and not what the political views of one or two of us might be.”

The Rev. Joe Stowell, then-president of Moody Bible Institute, now a pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows

“Breathe. Pray. Be kind. Stop grabbing.”

Anne Lamott

“May you stop hiding under the covers. May you let God pull the covers back. May you embrace him. May your whole life become a response to the truth that you’ve always been loved, you are loved, and you always will be loved. And may you know — may you know deep in the depths of your soul — that there is nothing you could ever do to make Him love you less. There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make Him love you less. Nothing. Nothing.”

Rob Bell in his 2005 Nooma (short film) “Lump”


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