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What Do I Say?
Talking with Patients about Spirituality
Elizabeth Johnston-Taylor
Templeton Press, 2007
Health care professionals, clergy, chaplains, social workers, and others who counsel people in medical crisis often find themselves faced with deeply painful questions: Why is this happening to me? Am I dying? Why should I live? I'm just a burden to others.
Here is a workbook that suggests healing verbal responses to such expressions of spiritual pain. The author, an internationally recognized expert in spiritual caregiving, points out that wanting to help is one motivation for learning these skills, but there are also evidence-based reasons: helping patients express their innermost feelings promotes spiritual healing; spiritual health is related to physical and emotional health; spiritual coping helps patients accept and deal with their illness; and patients tend to want their health care professionals to know about their spirituality.
Lessons, tips, and exercises teach how to listen effectively, with guidelines for detecting and understanding the spiritual needs embedded in patients' conversations. Suggestions are provided for verbal responses to patients who express spiritual distress, including tips for building rapport, using self-disclosure, and praying with patients. A FAQ section deals with frequently asked questions and miscellaneous information, such as:
•What do I do when a patient talks on and on and I have to leave?
•How do I answer a "why" question?
•What do I say to a patient who believes a miracle will happen to cure them?
•What if I'm not religious? How can I talk about it?
By practicing and using these healing techniques, Taylor explains, healthcare professionals will be able to provide patients responses to their questions that allow them to become intellectually, emotionally, and physically aware of their spirituality so they can experience life more fully.

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Why I Stay 2
The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Latter-day Saints
Robert A. Rees
Signature Books, 2021
One’s religious affiliation may be determined, at least, initially, by family and culture, but the ultimate choice to stay is, in the end, personal. This second volume of Why I Stay touches on the weighty decisions and complex issues people ponder in a faith journey and which fork in the road to take once they face them. 

Twenty-one women and men discuss what it is about Mormonism that keeps them part of the fold. Their deep, unique experiences make their individual travels even more compelling. Kimberly Applewhite Teitter, growing up in the South as a Black Latter-day Saint, often encountered well-meaning Latter-day Saints whose words messaged the idea that she was at some level an outsider or perhaps not as authentically Mormon as others in her congregation. Thus, she writes, “At the end of the day I’m still Black—still have felt the weight of proving that I represent the church I’ve fought so hard for my entire life.” Yet the very episodes that could have driven her from the church became lessons on the meaning of discipleship. 

For Carol Lynn Pearson, staying boiled down to two reasons: “I find a great deal of love in this church,” and “where I do not find love, I have an opportunity to help create love.” The stories she shares illuminate that mantra. Mitch Mayne, an openly gay man, has faced many challenges by his decision to stay. “Most days, it seems I can’t be Mormon enough for my LDS community, and I can’t be gay enough for my LGBT fellows.” In his essay, he answers the question many have asked: “Why don’t you just leave the church?” 

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Why I Stay
The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons
Robert A. Rees
Signature Books, 2012

Mormonism is a community with two faces: progressive and conservative. This is true of nearly all faith traditions, which can be alternately open or defensive, traditional or innovative, accepting or judgmental. In the case of the LDS Church, it continues, a century after having shaken off the stigma of polygamy, three decades after embracing blacks as equals, and in the face of international growth, to wrestle with freeing itself from its past insularity. In doing so, it will find its place within the larger religious world and its accommodation to the challenges of modernism.

This all represents a challenge for individual members, especially for artists, scholars, and independent thinkers. The poet Robert Haas has made a distinction between religion, which is “communal worship centered on shared ideas of the sacred,” and spirituality, which “has to do with the individual soul’s struggle with its own meaning.” In this anthology, sixteen Latter-day Saints explain how they balance the demands of religion and spirituality in the modern Church. It brings to mind the example of LDS educator Lowell Bennion who offered the image of carrying water on both shoulders to explain the binary nature of balancing faith with reason, institutional commitment with individual integrity, obedience with love.

It is encouraging to discover so many Latter-day saints who, the editor writes, “neither stay with their faith blindly nor leave it rebelliously, but rather choose to struggle with challenges and strive for a more mature discipleship.” The contributors to this anthology are Lavina Fielding Anderson, Mary Bradford, William Bradshaw, Claudia L. Bushman, Fred Christensen, Lael Littke, Armand Mauss, Chase Peterson, Grethe Peterson, J. Frederick “Toby” Pingree, Gregory Prince, Robert A. Rees, Tom Rogers, William D. Russell, Cherry Bushman Silver, and Morris Thurston.


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Women and Alcohol in a Highland Maya Town
Water of Hope, Water of Sorrow
By Christine Eber
University of Texas Press, 1995

Healing roles and rituals involving alcohol are a major source of power and identity for women and men in Highland Chiapas, Mexico, where abstention from alcohol can bring a loss of meaningful roles and of a sense of community. Yet, as in other parts of the world, alcohol use sometimes leads to abuse, whose effects must then be combated by individuals and the community.

In this pioneering ethnography, Christine Eber looks at women and drinking in the community of San Pedro Chenalhó to address the issues of women’s identities, roles, relationships, and sources of power. She explores various personal and social strategies women use to avoid problem drinking, including conversion to Protestant religions, membership in cooperatives or Catholic Action, and modification of ritual forms with substitute beverages.

The book’s women-centered perspective reveals important data on women and drinking not reported in earlier ethnographies of Highland Chiapas communities. Eber’s reflexive approach, blending the women’s stories, analyses, songs, and prayers with her own and other ethnographers’ views, shows how Western, individualistic approaches to the problems of alcohol abuse are inadequate for understanding women’s experiences with problem and ritual drinking in a non-Western culture.

In a new epilogue, Christine Eber describes how events of the last decade, including the Zapatista uprising, have strengthened women's resolve to gain greater control over their lives by controlling the effects of alcohol in the community.


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Women and Faith
Catholic Religious Life in Italy from Late Antiquity to the Present
Lucetta Scaraffia
Harvard University Press, 1999

Feminist thought has wrestled with the question of whether religion has been principally responsible for the oppression of women or instead has provided access to culture, public life, and--sometimes--power. This study of Italian women and Catholicism from the fourth through the twentieth century reflects this conflict and the tension between the masculine character of divinity in the Catholic Church and the potential for equality in the gospels and early writings ("neither male nor female, but one in Jesus").

The various chapters in this book consider the institutions within which religious women lived, many of which they themselves founded or reorganized. In addition to overviews of women and the religious life throughout the periods under study, specific chapters focus on mystical marriage, religious writings by women, secular writings by nuns, women in sacred images, women in the nineteenth-century Christian family, Marian pilgrimages, and depictions of sisters and saints in film. The authors, leading American, Italian, and French scholars, have drawn on rich resources to provide a panorama of sixteen centuries of Italian history, religious history, and women's history.


front cover of Women, Art and Observant Franciscan Piety
Women, Art and Observant Franciscan Piety
Caterina Vigri and the Poor Clares in Early Modern Ferrara
Kathleen Giles Arthur
Amsterdam University Press, 2018
Caterina Vigri (later Saint Catherine of Bologna) was a mystic, writer, teacher and nun-artist. Her first home, Corpus Domini, Ferrara, was a house of semi-religious women that became a Poor Clare convent and model of Franciscan Observant piety. Vigri's intensely spiritual decoration of her breviary, as well as convent altarpieces that formed a visual program of adoration for the Body of Christ, exemplify the Franciscan Observant visual culture. After Vigri's departure, it was transformed by d'Este women patrons, including Isabella da Aragona, Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia. While still preserving Observant ideals, it became a more elite noblewomen's retreat.Grounded in archival research and extant paintings, drawings, prints and art objects from Corpus Domini, this volume explores the art, visual culture, and social history of an early modern Franciscan women's community.

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The Women of Karbala
Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shi'i Islam
Edited by Kamran Scot Aghaie
University of Texas Press, 2005

Commemorating the Battle of Karbala, in which the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hosayn and seventy-two of his family members and supporters were martyred in 680 CE, is the central religious observance of Shi'i Islam. Though much has been written about the rituals that reenact and venerate Karbala, until now no one has studied women's participation in these observances. This collection of original essays by a multidisciplinary team of scholars analyzes the diverse roles that women have played in the Karbala rituals, as well as the varied ways in which gender-coded symbols have been used within religious and political discourses.

The contributors to this volume consider women as participants in and observers of the Karbala rituals in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and the United States. They find that women's experiences in the Shi'i rituals vary considerably from one community to another, based on regional customs, personal preferences, religious interpretations, popular culture, and socioeconomic background. The authors also examine the gender symbolism within the rituals, showing how it reinforces distinctions between the genders while it also highlights the centrality of women to the symbolic repertory of Shi'ism. Overall, the authors conclude that while Shi'i rituals and symbols have in some ways been used to restrict women's social roles, in other ways they have served to provide women with a sense of independence and empowerment.


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Women of Valor
Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture
Karen E. H. Skinazi
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Honorable Mention for the Robert K. Martin Prize 2019

Media portrayals of Orthodox Jewish women frequently depict powerless, silent individuals who are at best naive to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and who are at worst, coerced into it. Karen E. H. Skinazi delves beyond this stereotype in Women of Valor to identify a powerful tradition of feminist literary portrayals of Orthodox women, often created by Orthodox women themselves. She examines Orthodox women as they appear in memoirs, comics, novels, and movies, and speaks with the authors, filmmakers, and musicians who create these representations. Throughout the work, Skinazi threads lines from the poem “Eshes Chayil,” the Biblical description of an Orthodox “Woman of Valor.” This proverb unites Orthodoxy and feminism in a complex relationship, where Orthodox women continuously question, challenge, and negotiate Orthodox and feminist values. Ultimately, these women create paths that unite their work, passions, and families under the framework of an “Eshes Chayil,” a woman who situates religious conviction within her own power.

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Women Shaping Islam
Reading the Qu'ran in Indonesia
Pieternella van Doorn-Harder
University of Illinois Press, 2006
In the United States, precious little is known about the active role Muslim women have played for nearly a century in the religious culture of Indonesia, the largest majority-Muslim country in the world. While much of the Muslim world excludes women from the domain of religious authority, the country's two leading Muslim organizations--Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)--have created enormous networks led by women who interpret sacred texts and exercise powerful religious influence.
In Women Shaping Islam, Pieternella van Doorn-Harder explores the work of these contemporary women leaders, examining their attitudes toward the rise of radical Islamists; the actions of the authoritarian Soeharto regime; women's education and employment; birth control and family planning; and sexual morality. Ultimately, van Doorn-Harder reveals the many ways in which Muslim women leaders understand and utilize Islam as a significant force for societal change; one that ultimately improves the economic, social, and psychological condition of women in Indonesian society. 

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Wrestlin' Jacob
A Portrait of Religion in Antebellum Georgia and the Carolina Low Country
Erskine Clarke
University of Alabama Press, 2000
An important introduction to the efforts of whites to evangelize African Americans in the antebellum South
First published in 1979, Wrestlin’ Jacob offers important insights into the intersection of black and white religious history in the South. Erskine Clarke provides two arenas—one urban and one rural—that show what happened when white ministers tried to bring black slaves into the fold of Christianity. Clarke illustrates how the good intentions—and vain illusions—of the white preachers, coupled with the degradation and cultural strength of the slaves, played a significant role in the development of black churches in the South.
From 1833 to 1847, Reverend Charles Colcock Jones served as an itinerant minister to slaves on the rice and cotton plantations in Liberty County, Georgia. The aim of Jones, and of the largely Puritan-descended slave owners, was to harvest not only good Christians but also obedient and hard-working slaves. At the same time, similar efforts were under way in cosmopolitan Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston permitted blacks to worship only under the supervision of whites, and partially as a result, whites and blacks worshiped together in ways that would be unheard of later in the segregated South.
Clarke examines not only the white ministers’ motivation in their missionary work but also the slaves’ reasons for becoming a part of the church. He addresses the important issue of the continuity of African traditions with the religious life of slaves and provides a significant introduction to the larger issues of slavery and religion in the South.

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Writing Habits
Historicism, Philosophy, and English Benedictine Convents, 1600–1800
Jaime Goodrich
University of Alabama Press, 2021
The first in-depth examination of the texts produced in English Benedictine convents between 1600 and 1800
After Catholicism became illegal in England during the sixteenth century, Englishwomen established more than twenty convents on the Continent that attracted thousands of nuns and served as vital centers of Catholic piety until the French Revolution. Today more than 1,000 manuscripts and books produced by, and for, the Benedictine convents are extant in European archives. Writing Habits: Historicism, Philosophy, and English Benedictine Convents, 1600–1800 provides the first substantive analysis of these works in order to examine how members of one religious order used textual production to address a major dilemma experienced by every English convent on the Continent: How could English nuns cultivate a cloistered identity when the Protestant Reformation had swept away nearly all vestiges of English monasticism?
Drawing on an innovative blend of methodologies, Jaime Goodrich contends that the Benedictines instilled a collective sense of spirituality through writings that created multiple overlapping communities, ranging from the earthly society of the convent to the transhistorical network of the Catholic Church. Because God resides at the heart of these communities, Goodrich draws on the works of Martin Buber, a twentieth-century Jewish philosopher who theorized that human community forms a circle, with each member acting as a radius leading toward the common center of God. Buber’s thought, especially his conception of the I-You framework for personal and spiritual relationships, illuminates a fourfold set of affiliations central to Benedictine textual production: between the nuns themselves, between the individual nun and God, between the convent and God, and between the convent and the Catholic public sphere. By evoking these relationships, the major genres of convent writing—administrative texts, spiritual works, history and life writing, and controversial tracts—functioned as tools for creating community and approaching God.

Through this Buberian reading of the cloister, Writing Habits recovers the works of Benedictine nuns and establishes their broader relevance to literary history and critical theory.

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