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Q&A with Scott Morris

Executive director of the Church Health Center

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Flyer: What's your take on health care reform?

Scott Morris, founder and executive director of the Church Health Center, refers to his new book — Heath Care You Can Live With: Discover Wholeness in Body and Spirit — as a "manifesto" with potential to help reshape health-care reform. The book also addresses issues on which science often falls short.

"If I MRI your chest and look at your heart, I will not be able to know what love looks like," Morris said. "That is something more powerful than our imaging techniques will ever reveal to us."

The book examines the once-powerful role of the church in healing, and emphasizes what Morris, an ordained minister, insists is the inseparable relationship between the physical and spiritual. — Lindsay Jones

Morris: We have created a health-care system in America that defines health as the absence of disease. That's not what health means. Nobody dies and on his or her tombstone it [reads], "I wish I'd gone to the doctor one more time." People die and [say], "I wish I'd spent more time with my grandkids. I wish I'd spent more time with my family or doing the things that made me happy." That's really what being healthy is — having a life that's in balance.

What do you hope to accomplish with the book?

We want to redefine how health-care in America works. We want it to be about prevention and living a healthy life as much as it is about technology and treating disease.

With all the powerful interests that won't cooperate, how can reform succeed?

The only way we can get to what real improved health looks like is at a local level. Washington does not have the power to do this. Every community has to approach this for themselves to figure out: How do we make a healthier Memphis?

Should we go back to the days when doctors made house calls and an insurance card wasn't necessary?

Part of why it's hard to go back to that model is because during the last hundred years, there was an explosion of medical technology that led to improved health outcomes. What I say in the book is that we have an unholy love affair with technology. We have come to believe that you could live your life any way you want to. It doesn't matter, because once I'm broken, there will be some technological advance that will put me back together and the doctor will be able to correct it. Well, the technology is not that good, and the doctor is not that smart.

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