ER and the Atonement

I’m not a watcher of ER, but a friend sent me this clip from a recent episode titled “Atonement.” It’s made its rounds on the blogsphere, but I’m okay with being a little late. Without knowing the context of the interaction between patient and chaplain, it seems it seems like a cry for help from an increasingly secular and postmodern world. People need to hear the good news of Jesus and not empty words without eternal significance.

What also struck me was the chaplain trying to engage in active or reflective listening near the end of the clip. This technique can be appropriate and beneficial in many contexts because it is a tool to have people understand their own thoughts and feelings. Elizabeth and I practiced it during our premarital counseling, and try to implement it in many contexts in our marriage. But it doesn’t work in this context. The man didn’t need to look within himself to understand his feelings and thus “fix” himself. He needed answers that couldn’t be conjured up from his own understanding. What the man needed to hear was the good news of Jesus Christ, repent, and turn his eyes to Jesus.



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