There was a very thought-provoking piece in today’s issue of Religion Dispatches , the excellent online religion magazine compiled by religion professors. The piece, written by Wendy Cadge, a religion sociologist at Brandeis University, raises very interesting – and serious – questions about the role of spirituality within our hospital system – regardless of what really happened between the nurse and patient who inspired Cadge’s piece.
Cadge, who has conducted research about spirituality among nurses, found that prayer is quite common between nurses and patients. No surprise there, for me – long-time readers of this blog remember when I prayed at my mother’s bedside during her hospital stay. Cadge mentions nursing telling her about families praying at bedsides with Bibles and Korans and of families placing medals in bed with the ill. Again, not really a surprise to me, as I have brought prayer beads to people in hospitals. But I was quite taken with the following paragraph:
“Attention to spirituality is not uncommon among nurses. A recent survey of 299 nurses working at a university hospital found that 84% think there is something spiritual about the care they provide (in comparison to 24% who think there is something religious about the care they provide). Only 4% think that promoting spirituality is at odds with the real purpose of medicine.”
This kinda got me. How could promoting spirituality – NOT PROSELYTIZING, NOT TRYING TO FORCE DEATHBED CONVERSIONS – be at odds with the purpose of medicine? Medicine’s goal is to help us heal. Spirituality’s mission is to help us heal. Duh.
Okay, Terry and I are off to Italy Saturday. I think my next blogpost will be from Torino – likely about the church where the Shroud of Turin is held. SEE YOU IN ITALY.