Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Living Well and Dying Faithfully: Christian Practices for End-Of Life Care

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Living Well and Dying Faithfully: Christian Practices for End-Of Life Care

Article excerpt

LIVING WELL AND DYING FAITHFULLY: CHRISTIAN PRACTICES FOR END-OF LIFE CARE. John Swinton and Richard Payne, Editors. Wm. B. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI. (2009). Pp- 287 + xxiv, Pb. Reviewed by Geoffrey W. Sutton (Evangel University, Springfield MO).

"Dying is a spiritual event with medical implications," opined Gwen London, the former director of the Institute on Care at the End of Life at Duke University (xv). living Well and Dying Faithfully contains 12 chapters by 12 different authors organized into three sections: Practices of Living to Die Well, Practices of Faithful Suffering, and Practices of Healing and Hope. The editors' purpose may be found in their introduction: "By encouraging a reflective dialogue between the practices of medicine and Christian practices, this book, we hope, will provide a unique space within which the movement toward faithful dying can be encouraged, nurtured, and actualized" (xxiv).

In the first section, the authors encourage a focus on ways to encourage people to live life well. An abundant Christian life focuses upon God and attempts to develop a heavenly perspective on life events. The hope is that this worldview will better enable Christians to find meaning in dying and the common co-occurrence of suffering. A Christian perspective also entails that we belong to God in life and in death and that any given life or death is a part of the larger Christian community.

Suffering is the focus of the chapters in the second section. Using touching examples, the authors avoid the troublesome problem of theodicy by choosing instead to focus upon the practical theology of guiding individuals and families through painful experiences at the end of life. A key focal point is the cross of Christ and a remembrance of his suffering when celebrating the Eucharist. Themes of forgiveness and reconciliation also serve to enhance an individual's relationship with God at the end of life. This section contains the lone contribution by a mental health professional. …

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