Martin Luther spoke of Anfechtung as an essential part of the life of faith. Trials of spiritual angst can serve to teach us to despair of our own merits (or lack of them) and to rely solely on God’s amazing grace. But what happens when religious leaders in public service have to undergo such tribulations […]
What does it mean to die well in this culture? While far too many people never have the opportunity to face that question because their lives are snuffed out, it is being asked with greater urgency and frequency as contemporary societies become more scientifically and medically sophisticated.
Over time, we have moved from a model where doctors have the final say in end-of-life care to patients having ultimate decision-making power. Though both of these have benefits, neither inherently consider the family members involved, or the ways in which hopice and palliative care have developed in recent decades. Doka argues for an ecological approach to end-of-life care in which each of these dimensions is taken into consideration to ensure that the ecosystem of a person’s life–including the grief process of their family–is taken into consideration when preparing for a patient’s passing.
In the Christian tradition, pastoral care to the dying has a long history. Reinis particularly explores the medieval literary genre of self-help books known as the ars moriendi, or “art of dying.” Martin Luther contributed to this genre with his Sermon on Preparing to Die (1519); dozens of Lutheran pastors, among them Wenzeslaus Linck in Nuremberg and Martin Moller in Görlitz, followed in his footsteps. All of them offered spiritual comfort to the dying in ways that addressed contemporary concerns. The recently-published The Divine Art of Dying (2014) by Karen Speerstra and Herbert Anderson heralds a long-overdue renaissance of this genre. Reinis considers how the practices of the past can inform our actions today in our increasingly secularized society.
Review: Is God Still at the Bedside? The Medical, Ethical, and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying (Eerdmans, 2011)
Evans, Abigail Rian. Is God Still at the Bedside? The Medical, Ethical, and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. Pp. ix + 484. $22.23.
Veatch, Robert. Hippocratic, Religious and Secular Medical Ethics: Points of Conflict. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press 2012.