The Unexplored Faith in Ken Burns’s ‘The Mayo Clinic’

Film relates the role of faith in the prestigious hospital founding but remains quiet about patients’ own beliefs.

An immigrant doctor. A deadly 1883 tornado. And the unlikely partnership of a determined Franciscan Sister who had a vision from God to build a world-renowned hospital and the agnostic English physician who championed Darwin.

“How have I not heard this incredible story until now?!” I wondered during my first visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, during a cold week in February 2010.

It had all the makings of a movie.

Clearly, Ken Burns felt the same way.

The prolific documentarian, captivated by the story while a Mayo patient, captures 150 years of Mayo Clinic history and stories in two hours in his latest film, The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science.

As a Minnesotan living an hour from the top-ranked hospital system in the US, I’ve visited what has become a medical mecca for patients from 50 states and 150 countries on numerous occasions, supporting family members undergoing surgery and tests.

Having seen all 29 of Burns’s films, I was thrilled to see this distinctly American—and dare I say, Minnesotan—story, told by “America’s Storyteller” for a national audience on PBS last week. While unable to compete with the epic length of The Civil War, Baseball, or Jazz, The Mayo Clinic flows like an expression of gratitude, a praiseworthy hat tip from the filmmaker.

Backed by Burns’s teams, talent and toolkit, the film unpacks Mayo’s remarkable origin story and its enduring legacy of faith and science—a union guided both by the primary value the elder Dr. William Worrall Mayo instilled in his sons: “The needs of the patient come first,” along with the Sisters of St. Francis who taught nurses “to treat every patient like Jesus Christ.”

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Scottsdale schools settles procurement violations with Attorney General's Office

The district will pay the Attorney General’s Office $5,000 and examine its procurement practices and conduct training.




Phoenix votes against plan for Kierland hotel/condo tower

Scottsdale-based DMB Development proposed a zoning change for a tower to go up on the almost two-acre La Maison furniture store site




Cover Story: God of the Second Shift

The theology of work conversation is thriving. Why are most workers missing from it?

Our group was white, college-educated, and passionate about helping people find meaning in their careers. We looked at Josué “Mambo” De León, pastor of a bilingual working-class congregation called Westside Church Internacional, eager to hear his thoughts on a recent “faith and work” conference.

“For us, work isn’t about thriving,” Mambo said. “It’s about surviving.”

Between bites of salad, it slowly became clear who the man in a red baseball cap, World Cup T-shirt, and jeans really was: an emissary from another world.

“You start with the premise that you have a job and that you feel a lack of purpose,” he said. “But that doesn’t resonate with us. How are you supposed to find purpose and flourish when you don’t even have opportunities?”

On my way home from the office of the nonprofit I run, Denver Institute for Faith & Work, I stewed over Mambo’s comments. They reminded me of a similar conversation I’d had with Nicole Baker Fulgham, president of an educational reform group called The Expectations Project. Baker Fulgham, an African American working with low-income kids, asked me bluntly: “So when do we start talking about faith, work, and life for fast-food employees?”

In the past decade, the faith and work movement has exploded. Hundreds of new conferences, books, and organizations have sprung up from San Diego to Boston. But there’s a growing anxiety among Christian leaders that our national vocation conversation has a class problem.

A hundred years ago, partnerships between clergy and labor unions flourished. Yet as the forces of industrialization transformed the trades in the late 19th …

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Francis Effect Fades: Pope’s Approval Drops Most Among Evangelicals

The latest abuse investigations have rattled non-Catholics’ perceptions more than Catholics themselves, according to survey data.

American Catholics have been so unsettled by the wave of allegations of decades-old sexual abuse and cover-ups spanning dioceses in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and across the country that the most vocal critics have called for Pope Francis’ resignation.

Their evangelical neighbors, some once enraptured by the popular pope, are also disappointed. According to two recent reports, white evangelical Protestants’ views of Pope Francis and the clergy have fallen even more than Catholics’ after the latest investigations into abuse by priests.

Evangelicals’ approval of Francis dropped more than twice as much as Catholics’ this year, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday.

Just 32 percent of white evangelicals rated the pope favorably last month, down from 52 percent in January, the most dramatic decline among religious groups.

His favorability among US Catholics fell from 84 percent to 72 percent during the same period. Pew also saw declines among white mainline Protestants (67% to 48%) and the unaffiliated (58% to 53%).

Francis now has his lowest approval rating—51 percent of American adults—since he assumed the papacy in 2013.

A Gallup poll last month also found that the latest allegations have damaged views of Francis among those outside the Catholic Church more than those inside it.

Catholic approval of Francis remained relatively steady around 79 percent, according to Gallup, while his favorability among non-Catholics and Americans overall dropped by at least 10 percentage points between August and September (from 63% to 45% and 66% to 53%, respectively).

Further, Gallup reported that Protestants have come to adopt a grimmer view of the church than Catholics.

About half …

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Forbes: New Arizona billionaire leads state on richest Americans list

Ernest Garcia II, owner of the Carvana used-car business, was identified as Arizona’s wealthiest billionaire, according to Forbes. See the full list.




Hurricane Rosa blew through Arizona, left record rain in its wake

Hurricane Rosa dumped more than 3 inches of rain on parts of the state. Another Pacific hurricane, Sergio, isn’t likely to have much of an impact.




Mr. Rogers Had a Dangerous Side

Underneath the gentle smile and neighborly manner, he was driven by anger at the way the world treated children.

Fred Rogers—perhaps you know him by the title “Mister”—is a cultural icon, a walking meme, a man forever frozen in sweaters and white sneakers, a gentle smile on his face. You can paint him in a variety of hues: as a saint, as a genius, as otherworldly, as too soft and sentimental. Quite possibly he was none of these things, but something infinitely more valuable and complex: a human being, made in the image of God, who had a near crystal-clear view of his vocation.

What makes Mr. Rogers worthy of a detailed biography is precisely how unique this strong sense of calling remains in our world, especially outside of traditional religious institutions or authorities. But early on in The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, author Maxwell King identifies the central miracle of his life: that he successfully married the sense of duty and service to God of his Presbyterian faith with the call of the artist, educator, and creator.

Truthful About Feelings

Fred Rogers was the very definition of bivocational, although I wonder if he would agree with that assessment. He went to college and got a degree in music, but it was his first encounter with the new format of television that changed his life. He recalled watching a man get a pie thrown in his face as the audience laughed. He was incensed. This was supposed to entertain children? Given Rogers’s kindly public persona, it’s easy to forget the simple truth that anger over how the world treated children was a driving force in his life.

Rogers was the first to truly envision a world where technology could be used to educate children, to help them develop a healthy sense of themselves as both loved and safe. He wanted to equip them to play …

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Indonesian Earthquake Kills 34 Kids in Bible Camp Mudslide

A rattled Christian community rallies to aid thousands in Sulawesi displaced by the disaster.

Days after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami leveled homes, businesses, mosques, and churches on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Christians are reeling from the destruction as casualties climb into the thousands—which now include dozens of youth killed at a Bible camp.

Under the rubble of one church destroyed in a mudslide, the Indonesian Red Cross this week discovered the bodies of 34 kids who were attending Pusdiklat GPID Patmos “Jono Oge,” a church training center in Sigi, located outside the provincial capital of Palu.

Another 52 students remain missing from the camp, which regularly hosts youth for worship, teaching, and fellowship. Recovery efforts have been slower in hard-to-reach areas, which lack the equipment to move fallen concrete or dig through the carnage. A Red Cross spokeswoman said she expects the number of dead at Jono Oge to rise as the recovery continues.

The center is affiliated with Palu’s largest denomination, the Indonesian Protestant Church in Donggala (GPID), with around 40,000 members. Last week, Palu teens posted shots on Instagram from Jono Oge, sharing favorite Bible verses and posing in front of a banner reading “From Darkness to Light.”

The quake, tsunami, mudslide, and aftershock have left the Protestant minority in Central Sulawesi—about 17 percent of the 2.6 million-person, mostly Muslim province—scrambling for basic necessities to survive while body bags pile along the streets and the smell of death lingers in the air.

On Tuesday, the official death toll reached more than 1,300, with another 800 injured, and both figures are rising. An estimated 50,000 people are displaced in Palu.

Church leaders who made it through the disaster …

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Hurricane Rosa: Record rainfall continues into evening; flood warning issued for Phoenix area

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for a major portion of the Valley until 9 p.m.