Listen: My Experience Living with a Spinal Cord Injury

No Easy Answers in Bioethics logoNo Easy Answers in Bioethics Episode 22

In the words of guest Mark Van Linden, “adversity can present itself to anybody at any time.” This episode features a personal narrative of life with a spinal cord injury. Center Associate Professor Dr. Karen Kelly-Blake is joined by Mark Van Linden, MSA, and president of Adversity Solutions LLC. Mr. Van Linden experienced a spinal cord injury in 2009. In conversation with Dr. Kelly-Blake, Mr. Van Linden candidly shares his story, discussing his life before and after his injury, and addressing not just the physical impact, but the mental, emotional, and relational impact of becoming paralyzed at age 39.

Ways to Listen

This episode was produced and edited by Liz McDaniel in the Center for Ethics. Music: “While We Walk (2004)” by Antony Raijekov via Free Music Archive, licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Full episode transcript available.

About: No Easy Answers in Bioethics is a podcast series from the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Each month Center for Ethics faculty and their collaborators discuss their ongoing work and research across many areas of bioethics. Episodes are hosted by H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.

Exploring life with a spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord Injury: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Mark Van Linden photo
Mark Van Linden, MSA

Event Flyer

Look at him zip around in that wheelchair. He is so independent and inspirational. But I wonder how he goes to the bathroom, if he’s really as happy as he seems, does he have sex, how does that work, is he in pain, does he work? What are the health problems he has to deal with, what are medical expenses? There are many dimensions to a happy and healthy life, and everyone would agree that life is complicated. But when multiplied by a spinal cord injury (SCI), the complexity of life can be off the charts—what we used to take for granted becomes a monumental challenge. This talk will explore life with SCI from a first-person perspective.

October 16 calendar iconJoin us for Mark Van Linden’s lecture on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 from noon until 1 pm in person or online.

Mark Van Linden grew up in Lansing, MI and had a very stable and nurturing childhood. Raised by his Dad, Mark attended a private high school, played basketball in college, graduated with a BS in manufacturing, and started out in his career as a manufacturing engineer in the automotive industry. His career was going very well; seemingly right on schedule he met a girl, got married, started a family, and the American Dream was well on its way to reality. Then in 2009, it was discovered that he had an aortic aneurysm, and the required surgery would replace his entire aorta from the arch to the femoral artery. During that surgery, at age 39 with two kids ages 2 and 4, he became paralyzed from the waist down. Everything he knew was now turned upside-down, and a new life was about to begin.

In person: This lecture will take place in C102 Patenge Room in East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? All webinars are recorded! Visit our archive of recorded lecturesTo receive reminders before each webinar, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Announcing the Fall 2019 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series

Green brownbag/webinar iconThe Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University is proud to announce the 2019-2020 Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series. The series will begin on October 16, 2019. You are invited to join us in person or watch live online from anywhere in the world! Information about the fall series is listed below. Please visit our website for more details, including the full description and speaker bio for each event.

Fall 2019 Series Flyer

Oct 16 calendar iconSpinal Cord Injury: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

There are many dimensions to a happy and healthy life, and everyone would agree that life is complicated. But when multiplied by a spinal cord injury (SCI), the complexity of life can be off the charts—what we used to take for granted becomes a monumental challenge. This talk with explore life with SCI from a first-person perspective.

Mark Van Linden, MSA, is President of Adversity Solutions LLC and a spinal cord injury patient since 2009.

Nov 13 calendar iconSpeaking for the Dying: Life-and-Death Decisions in Intensive Care
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Seven in ten older Americans who require medical decisions in the final days of life lack capacity to make them. For many of us, our biggest life-and-death decisions—literally—will therefore be made by someone else. But how will they decide for us?

Susan P. Shapiro, PhD, is a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation.

In person: These lectures will take place from 12:00-1:00 PM in C102 (Patenge Room) East Fee Hall on MSU’s East Lansing campus. Feel free to bring your lunch! Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

Online: Here are some instructions for your first time joining the webinar, or if you have attended or viewed them before, go to the meeting!

Can’t make it? Every lecture is recorded and posted for viewing in our archive. If you’d like to receive a reminder before each lecture, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Dr. Stahl presents at Society for Christian Ethics annual meeting

Devan Stahl photoOn January 4, Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl gave a presentation at the Society for Christian Ethics annual meeting in Louisville, KY titled “The Prophetic Challenge of Disability Art.”

For persons with chronic illness and disability, medical images can come to represent their stigmatized “otherness.” A growing group of artists, however, are transforming their medical images into works of visual art, which better represent their lived experience and challenge viewers to see the disability and illness differently. Dr. Stahl showed how disability art encourages a new ethic of communion in which embodied vulnerabilities are shared, celebrated, and reoriented toward the ground of being.

Learn more about Dr. Stahl’s work with medical images and visual art.

Dr. Stahl presents on physician-assisted suicide, opioid epidemic in November

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl gave three presentations this month at local and national events.

Dr. Stahl was invited to give a talk at Georgetown University on November 9 as part of their conference on “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Theological and Ethical Responses.” In her talk, “Understanding the Voices of Disability Advocates in Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates,” she discussed the disability rights perspective on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and how it relates to Christian ethics. The presentation argued for the importance of faithfully attending to concerns regarding PAS raised by disability advocates, and considered the ways that the Church has historically failed to offer full honor and respect to the lives of people with disabilities. By attentively listening to disability groups who oppose PAS, Christians may come to realize that they too participate in unjust structures and systems that threaten the lives and dignity of disability advocates.

On November 14, Dr. Stahl was the keynote speaker at the annual Ernest F. Krug III Symposium on Biomedical Ethics, presented by Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Her talk was titled “The Disability Rights Critique of Physician Aid in Dying Legislation.” Dr Stahl spoke to an audience of medical students and faculty about the disability rights perspective on physician aid in dying, and how it differs from the debates happening in mainstream bioethics. Over the past three decades, disability rights advocates have provided clear and consistent opposition to the legalization of physician aid in dying (PAD), which many believe threatens the lives and well-being of persons with disabilities. The presentation reviewed the common objections to PAD from disability advocates and considered what such objections reveal about the systemic failings of our current health care system.

At the American Academy of Religion Annual Meetings in Denver, CO, Dr. Stahl joined a panel of speakers discussing religious responses to the opioid epidemic. She discussed the ethical tensions that physicians experience when managing the opioid crisis, including whether and how to trust patients who request opioids, the validity of opioid contracts and drug screens, as well as the current legislative restricts on opioid prescribing.

Dr. Stahl presents at Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

Devan Stahl photoOn June 14, Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl delivered the Jean Vanier Emerging Scholar Lecture at the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Stahl was awarded this lectureship based on her dissertation work and letters of recommendation regarding her scholarship on disability. Dr. Stahl’s lecture was titled, “From Idol to Icon: Transforming Medical Images into DisArt.” Based largely on her recent book, Imaging and Imagining Illness, she discussed how fine art can transform medical images and challenge our cultural associations with disability. Dr. Stahl is the third Vanier Emerging Scholar and co-director of the PhD seminar at the Summer Institute.

To learn more about Imaging and Imagining Illness, listen to Episode 7 of the Center’s podcast, No Easy Answers in Bioethics.

Episode 7: ‘Imaging and Imagining Illness’ with Devan and Darian Stahl

No Easy Answers in Bioethics logoEpisode 7 of No Easy Answers in Bioethics is now available! This episode features guests Devan Stahl, Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, and Darian Goldin Stahl, artist and printmaker. This episode delves into the intersection of fine art, illness, disability, and self-identity. The recently released book Imaging and Imagining Illness: Becoming Whole in a Broken Body began as a collaboration between sisters Devan and Darian, one with personal origins. The edited volume examines the impact of medical imaging technologies on patients and our wider culture. In this episode, they discuss Darian’s artistic process, how audiences have reacted to the artwork, and how they came to invite other scholars to build on their work.

Ways to Listen

This episode was produced and edited by Liz McDaniel in the Center for Ethics. Music: “While We Walk (2004)” by Antony Raijekov via Free Music Archive, licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Full transcript available.

About: No Easy Answers in Bioethics is a podcast series from the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Each month Center for Ethics faculty and their collaborators discuss their ongoing work and research across many areas of bioethics—clinical ethics, evidence-based medicine, health policy, medical education, neuroethics, shared decision-making, and more. Episodes are hosted by H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.

Article from Dr. Stahl in ‘Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability’

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl and co-author John F. Kilner (Trinity International University) have an article in a special bioethics themed issue of the Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, volume 6. Their article, “The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons with Profound Intellectual Disabilities,” is available as a free download on the journal’s website.

Dr. Stahl presents at 2017 Summer Institute on Theology and Disability

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl recently attended the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in Azusa, California, held June 5-8. Dr. Stahl presented at two workshops. In “Recovering Christian Charity,” she presented on the history of disability charity in American culture to understand why many disability advocates reject charity. The workshop offered possibilities for recovering the traditional understanding of charity within the church and challenged Christians to understand charity in ways that do not demean or dehumanize persons with disabilities.

In the second workshop, “Reflections on Embodiment and Disability Advocacy,” Dr. Stahl joined a group of panelists offering personal reflections on how their understandings of and relationship to their own bodies impact how they carry out their scholarship and advocacy work in disability. The workshop aimed to encourage disability advocates to pay attention to their own embodiment and experience, to think about how that connects to the work they do, and how to use one’s own experiences to make their work deeper and more helpful.

Dr. Stahl presents at American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl is currently the Vice President of the North American Paul Tillich Society and the Co-Chair of the Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion and Culture Group at the American Academy of Religion. In November Dr. Stahl attended meetings held by the North American Paul Tillich Society (NAPTS) and the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Stahl gave a paper for NAPTS titled “Tillich and the future of interdisciplinary ethics,” discussing the difficulties in doing Christian ethics in non-religious fields, such as medicine, business, and law. Dr. Stahl discussed both why ethics is becoming an interdisciplinary field in the academy and why it is difficult for Christian ethicists to engage in interdisciplinary work. Dr. Stahl proposed Tillich’s method of correlation can help Christian ethicists be true to their Christian message while adapting it to the current situation and culture in which they live.

Dr. Stahl also gave a paper at the American Academy of Religion in a joint session between the Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Group and the Religion and Disability Studies Group titled “Does Transhumanist eschatology eradicate disability?” Dr. Stahl contended there is a tension at the heart of the transhumanist agenda and disability theology: transhumanists aim to enhance “normal” human traits through novel biotechnologies, whereas disability theologians desire a world wherein disability is accepted rather than eradicated. However, because both disability theologians and transhumanists believe bodily variation or modification cannot sever our connection to God, there is room to creatively imagine ways to modify the body that might be beneficial to persons with disabilities. Dr. Stahl argued “radical prosthetics” might be a point of convergence between the two camps and a way to creatively and jointly signal the kingdom of God through human creations.