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JCN reviews and briefs books and other media resources as a service to our readers. We do not sell or profit financially from these books. Prices quoted are the original publisher's price. Book Briefs are short synopses based on the publisher's descriptions. Websites were current and evaluated at the time of publication.




A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States

By Nita Belles

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175 pp., Decorah, IA: Free River, 2011, $14.99, softcover.


Review: This book is both an easy and yet difficult read, a compelling book that's hard to put down and a painful book that made me realize human trafficking happens everywhere, even in my backyard. Belles tells the stories of the boy and girl next door who get lured into the promise of a better life and end up enslaved, doing everything from singing to back breaking work to selling sex. The horrible abuse and human suffering seem almost unbelievable but the specific details offered make the stories real. Belles doesn't leave us only with stories but helps us think, learn, pray, and respond. She teaches us how to identify traffickers, victims, and what to do when we encounter trafficking. She weaves Scripture throughout, challenging Christians to become aware and get involved. Each chapter ends with thought provoking questions.


Nurses need to fully understand this problem as we may stumble upon victims in healthcare encounters. In Our Backyard is a disturbing book but one Christian nurses should read.-KSS



An Undercover Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue

By Daniel Walker


208 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011, $15.00, paperback.


Brief: This is the true story of an undercover investigator, a cop from New Zealand, and his experience infiltrating the multibillion dollar global sex industry. It is a story of triumph for those released from slavery and the rescuer who freed hundreds leading to the prosecution of perpetrators, and a story of haunting despair for those left behind in corrupt systems of law enforcement. The author shares his spiritual journey in a way that connects to people's struggles with sin and darkness. His story is a challenge to God's people to join in the battle that all might be freed.



Spirituality and Personhood in Dementia

By Albert Jewell, Editor


224 pp., Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley, 2011, $34.95, paperback.


Review: Spirituality and Personhood in Dementia is a gem for nurses and other professional and family caregivers. Most of the contributors work in the United Kingdom and share their collective expertise to answer the question: How can spirituality be sustained and personhood preserved for people with dementia? Four of the 18 contributors have degrees in nursing as well as theology or psychology.


The editor, a retired but active Methodist minister and secretary of the Dementia Group of the Christian Council on Ageing, shares his journey in pastoral ministry and evolving dementia education and invites others to do the same. The book focuses more on spirituality than theology, and experience rather than dogma, but a biblical understanding of the person made in the image of God is evident throughout; practical examples of meeting spiritual needs abound for long-term care, acute care, and home settings. A number of excellent assessment tools are included along with tips for sustaining spiritual conversations.


A number of theoretical conceptual models are included for understanding dementia and spiritual needs, as well as an extensive bibliography and audio-visual resources. While most of the authors have some religious affiliation within the Christian tradition, perspectives from Buddhism and a chapter on spirituality for the nonreligious person with dementia are included.


This is a book for personal understanding but also a useful textbook for courses on aging, church ministry, or alternative therapies; several authors give examples of the continued importance of music and art for people with dementia to enhance well-being.


We are reminded throughout that although persons with dementia may have difficulty remembering God, God always remembers them. As nurses we can exercise a ministry of memory as well, drawing on our spiritual resources and those of faith communities to nurture spiritual growth and relationship, even in the face of physical and mental decline.-Sharon Fish Mooney, PhD, RN, author of Alzheimer's, Caring for Your Loved One, Caring for Yourself (rev. ed. forthcoming, Parakrisis Publications).




A Call for Radical Transformation

By Patricia Benner, Molly Sutphen, Victoria Leonard, and Lisa Day

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237 pp., San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010, $40.00, hardcover.


Review: Pat Benner has done it again! She has collaborated with other nurses in writing a book that calls for significant changes in nursing education. Dr. Benner has written or edited more than a dozen books on provocative nursing topics. This book, in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's Preparation for the Professions series, is a must read for nurse educators.


Similar to other Carnegie Foundation studies of professional education, the authors reviewed literature, conducted national surveys of nurses, and made direct observations of classroom and clinical teaching. The three major findings that became a focus of the book are (1) nursing education programs are effective in helping students develop a professional identity, (2) clinical practice is a powerful experience when integrated with classroom learning, and (3) nursing programs are not typically effective in teaching nursing, natural and social science, technology, and humanities.


Findings of the Carnegie study put emphasis on learning in context, integrating classroom and clinical teaching, clinical reasoning, and multiple ways of thinking. Four major case studies of nurse educators are included, giving specific examples of how these findings are put into practice in teaching nursing students. The authors conclude with recommendations for transforming nursing education at the program level, including requiring the BSN for entry to practice, developing a means of transition from ADN to BSN and ADN to MSN, recruiting a more diverse faculty and student body, broadening the clinical experience to more than acute care, keeping students focused on the patient's experience, varying the methods of assessing student performance, promoting learning the skills of inquiry and research, and supporting students in becoming agents of change. Benner also makes recommendations for support of faculty. The authors have made a call for changes in nursing education in order for nurses to be prepared to give quality, knowledgeable patient care.-Phyllis M. Jacobs, MSN, RN, Assistant Professor, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS.




The Essential Guide for Nurses

By Jeanne Leffers and Julia Plotnick

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308 pp., Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International, 2011, $24.95, paperback.


Review: We are becoming a global society. The Internet and satellite communications allow us to quickly learn of disasters and health needs worldwide. Volunteering in disaster situations or participating in service-learning programs are some of the ways we can serve others.


This book is a comprehensive guide for nurse volunteers. The authors speak from a wealth of experience and include voices from around the world of nurses who have gone to serve and nurses who have received volunteers. In addition to giving common travel advice, moving cross-culturally, and living abroad, Leffers and Plotnick address motivation for volunteering and make suggestions for doing a personal assessment and finding a program that matches the nurse's interest, skills, and abilities. They make a strong statement: "If your motivation is to convert others to your faith, or if you believe that you can save others from lives of poverty, you will not be an effective volunteer....Volunteers are guest in the host country, and, as guests, should not impose their own cultural and religious beliefs upon those they come to serve" (p. 26). As Christian nurses, we are motivated by our desire to bring the love of Christ to others through our nursing and view volunteering as a means to show Christ's love. Throughout the authors acknowledge the contributions of Faith-Based Organizations but do not include FBOs in their lists of volunteer opportunities.


A lengthy chapter and appendix are devoted to service learning. Increasingly colleges and universities are engaging in service-learning education and academic exchanges. It would behoove any educator planning a service-learning program to read this chapter. The discussion includes the need for educators to be culturally competent in the host culture and able to communicate at an intermediate level in the language of the host country, and the moral dilemmas faced by educators who try to meet the dual aims of student learning outcomes and responsible service to host partners. The authors note "currently there are neither standards for global health experience for nursing students nor clear outcome expectations" (p. 293). As nursing programs increasingly include service-learning/missions experiences, this needs to be addressed. Initial efforts in standards and best practices are included in the references.


As global citizens, the authors discuss the need for nurse volunteers to practice legally, that is, obtain the proper license and credentials. Respect for other cultures, being willing to learn from colleagues in other countries, being sensitive to how we portray our volunteer experience to others, especially through social media networks, are well presented. There is excellent advice for preparing to go, the time spent on assignment, and for the reentry process.


At times I found the book redundant. There are references and repetition within and between chapters, which is helpful if you are reading selectively but tiresome if reading the entire book. Each chapter provides an excellent bulleted summary. There are informative lists, tables, and highlighted examples of the current state of volunteering. If nurses are interested in volunteering they will find this a valuable resource.-Grace Tazelaar, MS, RN, Missions Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship USA, Villa Park, IL.




Ecology, Ethics, Genes, and God

By James C. Peterson

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242 pp., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010, $18.00, paperback.


Review: With the dearth of evangelical Christian voices on genetic ethics, I was looking forward to reading James Peterson's treatment. My reaction, however, is mixed, due to some theological concerns.


Peterson begins with an engaging discussion of various biblical views of our origin. While not completely dismissive of the literalist approach to Genesis, he seems more comfortable with some form of theistic evolution. Indeed, evolutionary thinking pervades much of his book. As an ethical stance, Peterson makes it clear he would correct the anthropocentric focus of historical Christianity and its lack of interest in the environment. In the chapter entitled, "God's Garden," he begins with John 3:16: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." He points out the Greek cosmos may refer to the world as a whole, of which human beings are but a part, and that "God cares about all creation and has a plan to bless it" (p. 17). While I agree evangelical Christians have neglected stewardship of the environment, Peterson goes too far with his corrective. The term "everyone" in John 3:16 refers to human beings, not to the physical universe or other creatures. Jesus Christ came to save people. Other scriptural texts show man as the pinnacle of creation, as God's greatest handiwork (i.e., Psalm 8). Peterson's approach would seem to make humankind too much like the rest of creation over which we are to be stewards.


In a similar vein, Peterson's treatment of the image of God relies on functional ways we resemble our Creator (e.g., rationality, decision-making), on our dominion role as rulers over the earth, and on our relationships toward others. He states, "The degree to which we each reflect God's image develops by grace over time" (p. 20). While this is true from the viewpoint of Christian sanctification, it leaves the door wide open for the claim that some human beings do not fully reflect God's image (e.g., the unborn or elderly), and therefore have less value. Others see God's image in man as intrinsic and not completely definable, yet applicable to all.


So I am skeptical of Peterson's theological anthropology as I read more specific discussions of genetic ethics. In an excellent chapter entitled "Cure versus Enhancement," he describes the various ways of defining disease, as well as numerous ways to describe health. He aptly demonstrates the vexing problem of making a sharp ethical distinction between permissible genetic interventions to cure disease versus more dubious attempts to enhance human nature. Another chapter gives a nice treatment of somatic versus germ-line interventions, with several helpful examples. Nonetheless, because Peterson seems less convinced of an overarching and unique value for human persons, he seems more sanguine about certain types of genetic interventions than I might be.


The closing chapters are cautionary about the possibilities of abuses of genetic technologies, such as racism and eugenics. Peterson suggests that several groups (physicians, research scientists, expert panels, parents, legislatures) could develop a societal consensus to avoid such extremes. Significantly missing from his analysis is a role for the church, which is surprising given his earlier attempts to develop a biblical framework.


I found Peterson's book to be engaging in its wide-ranging discussion of genetic technologies, but lacking a clear biblical anthropology. I am skeptical of his optimism that human beings are somehow going to get things right as they meddle with their own nature.-Dennis Sullivan, MD, MA (Ethics), Director, Center for Bioethics, Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH.




Stop Pausing and Start Living

By Lovera Wolf Miller, and David C. Miller


410 pp, Hants, UK: O Books, 2010, $24.95, paperback.


Brief: "Menopause is not an isolated medical incident. Menopause is a naturally evolving transformation of life that progresses within a woman's pivotal years. General health, fitness, diet, marriage, ethnicity, children, church, job, parents, finances, friends, social life, and community involvement, all factor in to how menopause may become expressed. It is important to consider that menopause does not occur within a no-strings-attached void....Every woman will go through menopause, but none will experience it in exactly the same way" (p. 2).


Hot Flash Fever, Mood Matters, Vagina Sahara, Insomnia Queen, and Sexercise are but a few chapter titles that provide a window into the somewhat entertaining style of the authors. The material is well-balanced, practical, and relates real-life stories. Women will find a good source of information and help in making decisions related to treatment and transition.