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A New Approach

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By Janice Clarke


224 pp., Hampshire, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013, $28.00, paperback.


Review: I read an article by Janice Clarke about spiritual care several years ago and was wildly impressed, so much so that I contacted her. To my delight, Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Allied Health Sciences at the University of Worcester, UK, responded. We corresponded about the way the nursing profession thinks about spiritual care, about the reported inability of nurses to incorporate spiritual care, and about the problem of trying to cleanly separate religion and spirituality when this separation was never meant to exist. Clarke told me she was working on this book. I'm delighted to introduce JCN readers to Spiritual Care in Everyday Nursing Practice: A New Approach. The book was released on May 31, 2013; for this review (written in April), I obtained sample chapters and examined the Table of Contents and Index.


Clarke's premise is that nurses need to stop thinking about spiritual care as an "add on" and see spirituality in a new way-as an integrated part of compassionate care. Clarke writes, "Nursing needs to respond...not by adding spirituality to its lists of things to do but by absorbing spirituality into everything that it does so that all care is spiritual" (p. 3). She differentiates this from "person-centered care" and from psychosocial care, suggesting we need to think about "spirit-centered care of the whole person which constantly acknowledges their spirituality" (p. 3). "This spiritual care rejects the notion of seeing spirituality as separated from all the other something which has to be added on to an already overcrowded day. It is an approach based on the two biggest parts of the work of nurses and midwives: relationships and physical care" (p. 4).


Clarke's book is divided into four parts: Introducing Spirituality, What Can Effect Spirituality, How to Turn Spirituality into Spiritual Care, and Making Physical Care Spiritual. The book is very readable as Clarke holds your attention building concepts and ideas. Part I includes, among other topics, the debate about spirituality definitions, themes in spirituality (transcendence, meaning, etc.), "what holism really is and what it is not" (p. 8), and the integrated person model (mind, body, spirit). Clarke's depiction of the person as body, mind, and spirit is very helpful (I wondered why no one has thought of her model before!). Part II addresses things that influence spirituality, such as age, illness, and religion. Part III discusses how spiritual care is a natural part of relationships and nursing skills such as presence, empathy, and a new idea from pastoral care of "sustaining." Part IV focuses on spiritual care that can occur in touch, movement, bathing, eating-the physical care nurses provide. Clarke is not suggesting we abandon the current model of spiritual care but that we see spiritual care when we are with people in meaningful ways in the "ordinary daily tasks of care" (p. 4).


This book isn't specifically Christian, although Clarke states she comes from a Christian worldview and attempts to include other views. Clarke doesn't appear to suggest that nurses can or should meet all spiritual needs or that nurses are spiritual care experts (there is a chapter that includes the role of chaplains). It does appear this is a different kind of spiritual care book that will help students, nurses, and educators think about spiritual care in new ways and see the sacred in everyday nursing practice. I can't wait to read the whole book!-KSS



By Harold G. Koenig, Dana E. King, and Verna Benner Carson

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1192 pp., Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2012, $175.00, hardcover.


Review: This second edition of a frequently cited text summarizing empirical research on spirituality and religion in the context of health and illness is not just an update. Rather it is a second volume of what may become an ongoing set of encyclopedias on the topic, as it delimits research presented to the 21st century. The Handbook of Religion and Health is written for researchers and educators and is designed to save them much effort in locating pertinent research.


After opening with several chapters discussing the history of spirituality and religion (S/R) research and related concept definitions, this tome's second section debates whether S/R has a salutatory effect on health. Section three discusses in 10 chapters the intersection of S/R and mental health. For example, chapters address depression, psychotic disorders, marital stability, and positive emotions in relation to S/R. Section four of the Handbook explores research on S/R and physical well-being. The 12 chapters in this section unpack research investigating S/R vis-a-vis cardiac, immune, and endocrine dysfunction, as well as dementia, pain, physical disability, and mortality. Two chapters explore S/R's impact on health behavior and disease prevention. Chapters generally follow a format where first the health condition is described and then a case study in a sidebar is wedged in before the remainder of the chapter discusses the S/R literature in relation to the health condition. This S/R literature in each chapter is often organized by older research (volume 1 material summarized) and 2000 and beyond research. The needs for future research typically close each chapter.


The final section of the book includes a 350+ page Appendix that lists pertinent S/R research by categories (i.e., coping and other chapter topics). This alone makes the Handbook very valuable as it quickly allows the reader to learn what research exists and provides some evaluation of its quality. Indeed, this 1,192-page Handbook is an incredible resource for those wanting to learn from previous research in this area of spirituality and health. These valiant authors (no, not editors) are to be commended and thanked for this comprehensive resource!-Elizabeth Johnston Taylor, PhD, RN, is an Associate Professor, Loma Linda University School of Nursing, Loma Linda, CA.



By Mark R. Cobb, Christina M. Puchalski, and Bruce Rumbold, Eds.

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504 pp., Oxford, NY: Oxford University, 2012, $225.00, hardcover.


Brief: The relationship between spirituality and healthcare is historical, intellectual, and practical, and it has now emerged as a significant field in health research, healthcare policy, and clinical practice and training. Understanding health and well-being requires addressing spiritual and existential issues, and healthcare is therefore challenged to respond to the ways spirituality is experienced and expressed in illness, suffering, healing, and loss. If healthcare has compassionate regard for the humanity of those it serves, it is faced with questions about how it understands and interprets spirituality, what resources it should make available and how these are organized, and the ways in which spirituality shapes and informs the purpose and practice of healthcare. These questions are the basis for this book that presents a coherent field of enquiry, discussion, and debate that is interdisciplinary, international, and vibrant.


There is a growing corpus of articles in medical and healthcare journals on spirituality in addition to a wide range of literature, but there has been no attempt so far to publish a standard text on this subject. Spirituality in Healthcare is an authoritative reference on the subject providing unequalled coverage, critical depth, and an integrated source of key topics. Divided into six sections including practice, research, policy, and training, the book brings together international contributions from scholars in the field to provide a unique and stimulating resource.




An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

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By Jen Hatmaker


228 pp., Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012, $14.99, paperback.


Review: "Seven months, seven areas, reduced to seven simple choices. I'm embarking on a journey of less. It's time to purge the junk and pare down to what is necessary, what is noble. 7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God's kingdom to break through," explains Hatmaker (p. 4). After a friend read the book, she suggested the challenge to our group of four. We accepted, having no clue how daily and difficult would be the trek. Mutiny best describes the process.


Hatmaker and her friends, The Council, whittled life down to seven areas where westerners have "too stinking much" (p. 4): food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. The idea: focus on each area for 1 month at a time. Think intentionally, live creatively, reduce and rediscover what is really needed. The Council, Jen and her friends, took a straight on approach to 7. For instance, during the food month, Jen ate only seven foods. Yup, seven items for a month. And, with a few exceptions, her family journeyed as well.


Our group took a slightly different angle: One gave up fast food for a month and donated the money to a local food shelter. Another gave up drive through coffee for a month, fasted twice weekly, and also made a donation to a food shelter. Another fasted and prayed two meals per week. Yet, another refrained from any form of spice. (This from our group's cooking queen.) The results: money donated to those in need, a greater awareness of God and others, and weight loss. Not bad.


Hatmaker's writing is honest, her style hilarious at times. She tells it like it is. Battling excess is not foremost on most people's minds. Rather than force a guilt trip, Hatmaker shares the rather witty experiences of she and her friends, The Council. The result, I found myself wanting to create my own travel group and intentionally approach each of the seven areas. I am being stretched to consider where I have too much, where I can give more meaningfully and fully to help others, and where things/stuff get in the way of my relationship with God. (This month I have declared a Facebook fast, and the Internet too-other than for work-related matters. Not surprisingly I have more margin and space in my head and my heart to hear from God.)


Check out 7. Invite a few close friends to journey with you. If you are up for a road trip, you'll find the journey engaging.-Cathy Walker,JCN Associate Editor, DeForest, WI.



Keeping Your Balance ...When the Wheels Fall Off

By Alice Teisan

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197 pp., Wheaton, IL: Alice Teisan publisher, 2012, $9.99, paperback.


Review: Alice deftly weaves three stories into a meaningful, instructive whole. One story is the story of her love for cycling, her goal to bicycle on all the continents, and the lessons learned through involvement in the sport of cycling. The second story is that of a nurse who is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome: her battle with the disease, the healthcare delivery system, and those in charge of helping people with disabilities. The third story is the story of her spiritual journey with God through the trials and triumphs of her life.


Everyone has a story and everyone experiences bumps on the road of life. Teisan's book is instructive in pointing to positive ways that a person can deal with the negative events that come our way. Teisan takes her love for cycling and finds that God uses that passion to minister to others who experience disabilities. She has begun a Christian organization, His Wheels International, that repairs and recycles old bicycles for those in need. She partners with an engineer to design and build hand-pedaled tricycles for disabled persons in the developing world. As a nurse with a background in physical education, she understands the importance of ergonomics and understands the value of mobility to persons limited by paralysis or loss of lower limbs. She uses the proceeds from a recycling effort to fund the trike building.


Teisan's is a story of spiritual growth through pain and suffering. It aptly illustrates the power of God to redeem difficulties in life and use them for his kingdom-building purposes and for his glory.-Grace Tazelaar, MS, RN, Missions Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship USA, Villa Park, IL.



A Comprehensive Guide To An Essential Practice

By Lindsay Olesberg

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253 pp., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012, $18.00, paperback.


Brief: There are Bibles literally all over the place-in your hotel room, under the pews at your church, on the shelves of your local library or bookstore, posted in full and in multiple versions on Web sites. You can find them in every corner of the earth, even (if you look carefully enough) in places where they're forbidden. So there's no trouble getting hold of a Bible. But once you have one in your hands[horizontal ellipsis]now what? The Scriptures tell us that the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13); what happens to us as we interact with it?


The Bible Study Handbook lays a foundation for why we read the Bible, what attitudes and expectations are most helpful as we enter into serious Bible study, and what methods and practices yield the most fruit. From foundational insights to best practices and hands-on exercises, this resource provides everything you need to cultivate your curiosity, hone your attention, and mine the applicabilities of any passage. And you'll be reminded of the insights, encouragement, and transformation waiting for people who commit to studying the Scriptures.