One of this week’s best new book releases is…
A Brief Review of
Working with Aging Families:
Therapeutic Solutions for Caregivers, Spouses and Adult Children.
Hardback: W.W. Norton ,2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Jennifer Price.
As our population includes many more people over the age of 65, we are forced to address the question of how do we take care of aging people? Our little nuclear families are not always equipped to take care of aging parents and more often other support is needed, physically, mentally and spiritually. Our families often include step-children and step-parents in a mobile culture which add to the complexity of caring for our families. This book provides resources for counselors and therapists in navigating the golden years in the outpatient realm.
In order to get a grasp on this challenge, one must start with understanding the family dynamics and the transitions that older people make. This book offers help in the aging process in the earlier years of aging, as well as the later years. It offers examples of families who sought out therapy, with challenges such as, how to communicate with a family member or spouse who has MCI (mild cognitive impairment) or lessons in communication in marriage counseling for the later years. Piercy suggests, that addressing these challenges sometimes involves psycho-educational seminars at a senior community center for those reluctant to see a therapist. She offers several vivid examples of therapy sessions that demonstrate how people learn to cope, problem solve, and give resources. Her research is thorough; in coordinating the care of the elderly person’s families she provices resources for various contexts, both urban and rural. This can ease the stress placed on families in such situations. Many times the children of elderly parents like to reciprocate the care they once received, but with health issues it can still be taxing to the caregivers. Piercy explores complex family situations such as elderly parents who have a developmentally disabled adult child for whom they provide care. Another complexity, which is happening more often, is grandparents who are taking care of grandkids whose parent is absent.
Through reading this book these problems are addressed with lots of counseling interventions and resourceful examples for families that are described in a practical manner. WORKING WITH AGING FAMILIES is a good resource for church families as we seek to care for both our birth parents as well as our older brothers and sisters in Christ.
In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors. Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest. Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition. You get great books for a great price, CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.
This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase):
Three Titles from Brazos Press!
|A Shared Morality: A Narrative Defense of Natural Law Ethics
By Craig A. Boyd / Brazos Press
$2.99 – Save 90%!!!
The contemporary landscape of ethical and moral issues is one of confusion and cacophony. Theories of ethics are often presented as unresolvable dilemmas in our postmodern world. On the one hand, ethical relativism is deemed both descriptive and prescriptive; on the other hand, moral absolutism is foundational. In reality, other options exist. In this groundbreaking book, Craig Boyd traces the history of natural law morality starting with the Greeks, taking it to the Bible, and onward through church history. Boyd explains the theory while critiquing it with other theories on morality such as divine command theory, analytic ethics, sociobiology, and postmodernism. Boyd concludes that natural law morality provides the basis of human morality by recognizing universally known features of human nature.
|Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism
By Cornelius G. Hunter / Brazos Press
$2.99 – Save 80%!!!
Paradigm shifts happen rarely within specific sciencies, and when they do, they often shake that field to its core. Cornelius Hunter attempts to do just that, showing how modern science is influenced by theological and metaphysical thinking, rather than empirical data. Naturalism then, is shown not as a result of scientific inquiry, but rather is merely an untried presupposition. In its stead, Hunter proposes a new idea–moderate empiricism–which could potentially satisfy the demands of both intelligent design and mainstream modern science. 170 indexed pages, softcover.
|Caring for Those in Crisis
By Kenneth P. Mottram / Brazos Press
$3.99 – Save 78% !!!
Designed to give clergy a solid footing when asked for advice on critical medical decisions in today’s world, Mottram’s insightful guide offers a helpful decision-making model for ethical dilemmas and discusses Christian distinctives involved in the process. He also addresses frequently encountered ethical problems such as organ donation and life support. 192 pages, softcover from Brazos.
THE OTHER JOURNAL interviews Joel Shuman
Author of BODY OF COMPASSION, etc.
The Other Journal (TOJ): In the final chapter of the book you coauthored with Brian Volck, Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine, you make the explicit claim that for Christians, when it comes to death and dying, rules and principles are not the answer. You clarify that it depends, rather, on a rightly formed character through a radical participation in Christian community. Yet in the church these days there seems to be a reluctance among the clergy to engage parishioners on this level. Could you speak to some of the reasons and influences that might bring about this reluctance?
Joel Shuman (JS): One of the things that may be hindering clergy from taking this on as one of the teaching ministries of their church and talking more about issues regarding the end of life or questions that arise at the end of life is that a great deal of what clergy do is demand-driven. People in our culture don’t want to talk about death and dying, at least not in the ways that involve doing the hard work of talking openly about it and getting radically involved in one another’s lives. Now this is a broad generalization to which you would find many, many exceptions. I’ve been involved with some churches that have done extraordinary things; however, the biggest part of our Christian avoidance of this matter is that it’s frowned upon in the wider culture.
TOJ: Certainly. I’ve dealt with this firsthand with the death of a young mother here in our church. I preached at her funeral service, and it became clear to me in my preparation how hidden death has become in our culture, and the death that you do see in various forms of media seem to fictionalize death completely.
JS: That’s an excellent observation. I learned a good deal from a book that was written in the late 80s by a theologian at Fuller Seminary named Ray Anderson. He wrote a book on theology, death, and dying. He made the point early on in that book, as a matter of introducing the topic, that by the time the average American is fourteen years old, he or she will have witnessed thousands of fictionalized deaths on television or in movies and so forth. Alongside this observation, he juxtaposed the fact that the vast majority of Americans will not have firsthand experience of another person dying in their presence. The dichotomy between these two facts has always struck me as remarkable. His first observation about the fictionalization of death is truer today, insofar as electronic media has become more prevalent and we have more exposure to those kinds of things. I think about video games that are excruciatingly violent and what David Grossman says in his book On Killing, about the way video games very much train the players in the same way that the United States military trains riflemen now, which is through operant conditioning.1 This makes it a reflex action to fire a weapon at another human being. One of Grossman’s peripheral concerns in the book is that this fictionalization is creating a kind of cheapening of both life and death in the broader culture.
Read the full interview:
[ Our review of Joel’s THE BODY OF COMPASSION was featured in Issue #1.5 ]
Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine.
Joel Shuman and Brian Volck.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2007.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
When the Vatican published Dominus Iesus late in the summer of 2000, reactions were generally hostile. I doubt its main author, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was surprised, for the document touched an exposed nerve. It seems to go without saying that neither interreligious nor ecumenical dialogue can succeed if one side presupposes that it has all the truth—yet to its critics that is exactly what Dominus Iesus seemed to be saying. It explicitly defends both the salvific uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the claim of the Catholic Church to be the one true Church—the Church that this unique and exclusive Savior intended, and none other.
Advocates of interreligious dialogue (including a large number of Catholic theologians) objected mainly to the first half of the document, dealing with the uniqueness of Christ, while participants in ecumenical dialogue demurred more at the second half, the part that claimed exclusivity for the Roman Church. Not that ecumenists were terribly fond of the first part either, since a liberal ecclesiology usually goes with a liberal Christology. One group, evangelical Protestants, did appreciate Dominus Iesus, since their whole evangelizing drive is premised on confessing Jesus as the one way to salvation. Of course, they did not much like the second half, but that did not mitigate the appreciation.
Still, the issue of ecclesiology will have to be faced, a challenge taken up by Barry Harvey’s latest and passionately felt book, Can These Bones Live? A Catholic Baptist Engagement with Ecclesiology, Hermeneutics, and Social Theory. Looking at the almost kaleidoscopic variety of ecclesial bodies in contemporary Christianity, the author cannot help but think of Ezekiel’s vision of those human skeletal remains bleached dry by the sun, when the prophet heard God asking, “Son of man, can these bones live?” to which Ezekiel could only reply, “O Lord God, thou knowest.” This, says Harvey, describes the current situation of the Christian churches: Can the dismembered Church ever be put back together again without direct divine intervention?
Read the full review:
At a moment in history when God is said to participate in world politics, the pungent ode to nature De rerum natura, composed by the Roman poet Titus Lucretius Carus, can provide a dose of sanity. What the atomist Epicurus called ataraxia—the tranquility of mind achieved when one is freed from the fear of occult controllers—Lucretius transformed into a prophetic materialism. His lyric treatise, published in the first century bce, predicts everything from atomic physics to the existence of DNA and casts it all in melodious hexameters.
Unlike the many prose versions of De rerum natura, David Slavitt’s new translation (University of California Press, $15) gives us six-beat English versions of the Latin original. Here’s how he renders the passage in which Lucretius acknowledges his debt to Epicurus:
It was long the case that men would grovel
upon the earth,
crushed beneath the weight of Superstition
loomed in the heavens, glaring down with her
until Epicurus of Greece dared to look up and
taking a stand against the fables and myths of
the gods . . .
Read the full review:
De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things)
David Slavitt, Translator.
Paperback: University of Calif. Press, 2008.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
THE NY TIMES review of
THE LOST ART OF WALKING
by Geoff Nicholson
If golf is a good walk spoiled, then walking is a great game made dull. How sluggish locomotion is, compared with the speed at which the mind absorbs new images and information. The brain strains at the body’s tether, seethes for new scenery, new stimulation, bridles at the slow feet below. Look at that tree with such lovely orange leaves, how pretty it is. . . . A minute later: the same tree, the same leaves, still good looking. Walking is adding with an abacus, it’s space travel on a donkey.
All the same, many people do it, and clearly Geoff Nicholson, the British author of “The Lost Art of Walking,” is among them. “I’ve strolled and wandered, pottered and tottered, dawdled and shuffled, mooched and sauntered and meandered,” he brags at the beginning of this pleasant tour of the literature and lore of ambulation. “I’ve certainly ambled and I could be said to have rambled. . . . I’ve also shambled, but I don’t think I’ve ever gamboled.”
It turns out that the highly prolific Nicholson also composes novels on his feet. It’s how he keeps his productivity up. He solves plot twists and problems of characterization as he walks.
Read the full review:
Ann Vileisis explores changes in American eating habits over more than two hundred years, and in doing so, reveals how the most basic human connection with nature-as a source of sustenance-became attenuated and indifferent, leaving consumers mentally disengaged from the world around them.
Vileisis begins her story with a return to Martha Ballard’s famous diary, reminding us that prior to the late nineteenth century, most Americans possessed intimate knowledge of the foodsheds from which their meals were drawn. To some extent, Vileisis challenges historiography that focuses on the disruptive force of agriculture, by arguing that despite its usurpations, pre-agribusiness farming provided humans with personal connections to the ecosystems in which they lived. “Yet at the same time farming changes and disrupts, it relies and rests upon nature’s rhythms” (p. 17).
Industrialization and urbanization soon lengthened the food chain and left consumers increasingly uneducated about the origins of their repasts. Factory-made foods filled daily menus, although consumers initially met them with strong resistance. The greatest strength of this book is found in those chapters that examine the five-decade campaign to elevate the supposed wisdom of government, university, and corporate experts on the nature of home economy. Vileisis highlights the inherent gender bias of this campaign which told women that the traditional kitchen knowledge inherited from their mothers and grandmothers had limited value.
Read the full review:
Even the advent of a growing scientific basis for medical practice — which we can most accurately date from the middle third of the nineteenth century — has not lessened by an iota the degree to which medical authority has traditionally depended primarily on a well-recognized code of morality. As that authority has been in a state of decline for the past several decades, countless commentators have sought to identify the most significant of the congeries of reasons for which the steady downward slope continues. Has the profession sold its soul to science?
In a thought-provoking dissertation, Jonathan Imber seeks to convince his readers that, at least in America, medical morality — and, consequently, faith in doctors — can be traced to the righteous influence on the profession of Protestant and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Catholic clergy during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. He believes that the waning of this influence and the parallel rise of medical technology are to be indicted as having created the situation most directly leading to the loss of doctors’ authority. I would argue to the contrary: that it was always the physician’s morality, more than his technical competence, that provided the basis for his authority during the many centuries before scientific medicine began to bring the full fruits of its discoveries to ever larger numbers of patients. Moreover, that morality originated in religious principles long preceding Christianity — to a large extent, those derived from the ancient Mosaic code.
Read the full review:
Hardcover: Princeton UP, 2008.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]