Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook - Vol. 1

Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook - Vol. 1

Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook - Vol. 1

Aging, Spirituality, and Religion: A Handbook - Vol. 1


This book examines the ways religion and spirituality are experienced by aging persons within an aging society. It aims to encompass the wholeness of the elder's life, including spiritual yearnings that are often shaped by religious faith and practice. Eminent contributors from a variety of disciplines explore this new terrain of an emerging interdisciplinary field. The result is a volume that will function as the standard reference work in the area, an important tool for professionals and students in health care, psychology, spiritual ministry, and gerontology.


What an ideal time for this book to appear. We are nearing the end of a century and a millennium, and we need the best guidance we can get for our journeys through a society that is changing in so many ways, including how many more of us are reaching advanced age. Centenarians are no longer a rarity.

As a turn of the century event, this book is ground breaking because its contributions around the issues of spirituality, religion, and aging are written by so many different specialists. In the past we never had chapters in the same book from theologians and practitioners, chaplains and social workers, social scientists and physicians all directed at a shared goal. Such professionals are usually remote neighbors.

Why did the editors create this volume? A leadership group apparently recognized that there is an age revolution occurring in our society. That there are many more older persons is changing our institutions and our ways of working and serving. For example, both religion and education have had models that an “early dose” or “inoculation” of their teaching would last a lifetime. Are these models valid in an aging and changing society where individuals grope for meaning in their lives as they are challenged by events and relationships? How can our institutions respond creatively both to persons whose lives are expanding as they approach 100 and others who are disabled physically, socially, psychologically, or spiritually in midlife?

As we shift from a primarily youth oriented society toward one of mature balance, new services, new concepts, and new careers will be developed to meet the needs and wants of millions of diverse older persons. Many professionals, including those in religious organizations, have been slow to incorporate findings of modern research in their work, and researchers have been reluctant about collaborating in studying the religious and spiritual experience of growing old. We now have such a collaboration in this book and it is promising.

Clearly social and behavioral scientists are recognizing that important aspects of adult life have been neglected by their not having studied the religious and spiritual concerns of mature and older adults. Nor have religious communities actively embraced knowledge that has accumulated about aging in the last fifty years. I believe that this book is a turning point that will profoundly affect what we think and do about our lives as we grow older and how our institutions will be able to serve us and future generations of older persons to better advantage.

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