Reading Room

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

This room is a place to where you can pick up a helpful article or read a blog post while you have a cup of tea and catch your breath!

Suffering and the Meaning of Life

Suffering can either make us or break us. Evan Rosa interviews Elizabeth Hall and Lynn Underwood in a discussion of the psychological reality of suffering and how it either contributes to or detracts from human flourishing from a Christian perspective.

Dr Lynn Underwood, Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University

Elizabeth Lewis Hall, Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University.

The link is the video (51 mins) of the conversation and a full transcript. 

Best Dementia Books 

‘At 3am I was startled awake by the opening of the stairgate. Leaping out of bed I found Mum, clothes on over her pyjamas, grumbling she was fed up of being moved from pillar to post and was going home.’

philosopher Marianne Talbot in her book Keeping Mum: Caring for Someone with Dementia

This and many other helpful books on dementia on this list.  The Best Dementia Books: 50 Essential Reads for Anyone Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, listed by alphabetical order

Thinking deeply about chaplaincy in a secular setting 

” In a secular age, chaplains face the challenge of explaining what is distinctive about the care they provide, especially when receivers of this care regard themselves as nonreligious. Some authors argue for a return to more explicitly theological instead of spiritual discourse for describing pastoral care, whereas others emphasize that “in a society where the proportion of people who report themselves as of no religion is increasing. .. there is need for a discourse on chaplaincy which preserves its core value but speaks to people of all religions and none” . Although spiritual discourse seems too general to express this “core value,” theological language does not speak to “people of all religions and none.”

This quote is from an excellent article (linked below) that challenges chaplains and pastoral care providers to think about the “Good” that they provide.

Representing the Good: Pastoral Care in a Secular Age
Authors: Carmen Schuhmann and Annelieke Damen

Orientating ourselves in a conversation

At the core of pastoral ministry are conversations. These conversations can involve silence, encouragement, anger, sorrow, advice, blame, resentment, or despair. In a pastoral conversation, we enter another’s stream of thought, and this is disorientating. But our training has disciplined us to listen deeply to the words and emotion flowing towards us – before responding.

We orientate ourselves before the other, we are gathering jigsaw puzzle bits. People are giving us what they think we need we to know, but the pieces can come in any order. Our minds are capturing as we listen…. what is the other person telling us – who said what, and to who, how, where, when, why?

How do we respond? How have we positioned ourselves, how has the other person positioned us – what do they want from us – and what have we offered?

Helpful tools to help unpack a conversation are two relational triangles – Karpman’s Drama Triangle and the Empowerment Dynamic.

Linked below is a good explanation of the working of drama triangles from a business consultancy.

This pdf provides an excellent summary of both triangles

Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Emotions

In any pastoral ministry, we are confronted by a huge range of emotions – ours, other people’s, and even God’s’ – how do we read all this sensory data coming at us?

Can you guess how many emotions a human can experience? The answer might shock you – it’s around 34,000. How can one navigate these and all their different intensities, and compositions, without getting lost?

Dr Robert Plutchik, an American psychologist, proposed that there are eight primary emotions that serve as the foundation for all others: joy, sadness, acceptance, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation. Dr Pluchik arranged his findings in a graphic he called an emotion wheel.

Note – positive psychology is the study of promotion of wellbeing, not the power of positive thinking.

Courageous Parents Network

Courageous Parents Network was created in response to tragic events in Blythe Taylor Lord’s family that resulted from a statistical near-impossibility: two brothers, two wives, and two babies affected with a rare disease who would die before the age of three.

Courageous Parents Network is about sharing the essential elements of understanding, coping, grieving and healing that we absorbed over the time of Hayden’s and Cameron’s illness, and beyond. Through our programs—Education, Community and Advocacy—we and the generous families and providers who are featured here offer parents the information, skills, tools and virtual support they need during their child’s illness journey, so as to make the impossible possible. 

All About Grief

‘All About Grief’ is a great go-to website for resources and fact-sheets on grief.

The page is the website of Doris Zagdinski. Doris herself lost a child to SIDS, in 1980, and has since worked with the coroner’s dept. to establish support groups for families affected by SIDS. Doris has for many years been an advisor to the funeral industry on issues around loss and grief, she is and the author of an excellent and very practical book, Stuck for Words: What to Say to Someone who is Grieving.

Cross-cultural competency is essential for all pastoral ministry 

Have you ever thought about how cross-cultural your pastoral ministry really is?  Furthermore, it’s cross-cultural for everyone in the system. For example, a hospital has its own language, rules, antiseptic aroma, the sound of rubber-soled shoes on vinyl floor coverings, electronic beeps and buzzers…and so much more.

In a hospital, pastoral carers find themselves alien landscape of sorts, and this, of course, is more so the case, for most patients and their families – which can create the perfect storm for misunderstanding and stress. This is article could be a great place to start thinking about all the cross-cultural issues within us and around us. 

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