Exploring spirituality and healthcare ethics through “A Still Small Voice”

In a world where access to healthcare can mean the difference between life and death, and even the best healthcare cannot always ward off death, the documentary “A Still Small Voice” by director Luke Lorentzen serves as a poignant reminder of the ethical and other complexities embedded within the hospital environment. The film tracks Mati, a determined, young, aspiring palliative care chaplain over the course of a year in which the emotional and physical demands of supporting patients and families, managing relationships with supervisors and colleagues, and encountering the limits of the American healthcare system at large take their toll. Set against the backdrop of a pandemic-besieged New York City, the film offers a gripping portrayal of individuals grappling with resilience, grief and a scrupulous awareness of the spatial dynamics of power in the workplace. The documentary premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and won a directing award.

Through intimate storytelling and sophisticated cinematography, “A Still Small Voice” illuminates the stark realities members of marginalized communities face and highlights others enduring life-threatening illnesses and the death of loved ones as they navigate a healthcare system fraught with challenges. The film sheds light on the dilemmas confronting chaplains and other healthcare professionals who must make difficult decisions in the face of overwhelming need.

As viewers are drawn into the lives of its subjects, they are prompted to confront pressing questions surrounding spirituality and the search for meaning in the face of loss, the moral obligations of healthcare professionals, and healthcare equity and the broader societal implications of unequal access to care. “A Still Small Voice” serves as a powerful catalyst for dialogue and reflection on the intricate intersections of spirituality, healthcare, ethics and social justice.

Read The New York Times’ film review here.

Join Us for a Special Screening

We are excited to announce that Baylor’s Center for Medical Ethics & Health Policy, along with the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, Institute for Spirituality and Health, Houston Methodist, and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, will be hosting a screening of “A Still Small Voice” on April 11 from 4:11 to 6:45 p.m. at McMillian Auditorium (Baylor College of Medicine). The film has yet to be shown in any venue in Houston, so this is a unique opportunity to delve into the thought-provoking themes explored in the documentary.

In addition to the screening, the event will feature light bites and an expert panel engaging in a conversation with the audience about the film, featuring:

  • Mary L. Brandt, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of surgery, pediatrics, and medical ethics at Baylor College of Medicine in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.
  • Reverend Dr. Nathan Carlin, Director of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston).
  • DCN Dave Garvis, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, clinical ethicist and scholar in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine and an adjunct in moral theology at St. Mary’s Seminary.
  • Chaplain M. Oscar Hall, senior chaplain, Houston Methodist Hospital.
  • Stacy R. Nigliazzo, operations administrator at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, instructor in the Humanities Expression & Arts Lab (HEAL) at Baylor College of Medicine and Inprint Brown Foundation fellow in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
  • Chaplain Satoe Soga, Houston Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Trevor M. Bibler, assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, clinical ethics program director and a clinical ethicist at Houston Methodist Hospital, will moderate the conversation.

Mark your calendars and reserve your spot today for an unforgettable cinematic experience that promises to inspire, educate and spark meaningful conversation. We look forward to seeing you there!

By Lauren Hoffman, Senior Program Coordinator, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine

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