Hostility to Hospitality: Spirituality and Professional Socialization within Medicine

ISBN : 9780199325764

Michael J Balboni; Tracy A Balboni
360 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
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Spiritual sickness troubles American medicine. Through a death-denying culture, medicine has gained enormous power-an influence it maintains by distancing itself from religion, which too often reminds us of our mortality. As a result of this separation of medicine and religion, patients facing serious illness infrequently receive adequate spiritual care, despite the large body of empirical data demonstrating its importance to patient decision-making, quality of life, and medical utilization. This secular-sacred divide also unleashes depersonalizing, social forces through the market, technology, and legal-bureaucratic powers that reduce clinicians to tiny cogs in an unstoppable machine.

Hostility to Hospitality is one of the first books of its kind to explore these hostilities threatening medicine and offer a path forward for the partnership of modern medicine and spirituality. Drawing from interdisciplinary scholarship including empirical studies, interviews, history and sociology, theology, and public policy, the authors argue for structural pluralism as the key to changing hostility to hospitality.


1. Introduction: A Rising Hostility in American Medicine
Part I. Empirical and Sociological Perspectives on the Separation of Medicine & Spirituality
2. The Spiritual Event of Serious Illness
3. Spirituality and End-of-Life Outcomes
4. The Frequency of Spiritual Care at the End of Life
5. What Hinders Spiritual Care? Empirical Explanations
6. Social Structures Separating Medicine and Religion
7. The Secular-Sacred Divide in Medicine
Part II. Theological Perspectives on the Separation of Medicine & Spirituality
8. Defining Religion and Spirituality
9. Toward a Theology of Medicine
10. Theology within the Patient-Clinician Relationship
11. The Sacramental Nature of Medicine
12. A Spirituality of Immanence
Part III. Restoring Hospitality to Medicine
13. Why Medicine Should Resist Immanence
14. Problematic Rapprochement Strategies
15. Structural Pluralism for Medicine and Religion
16. From Hostility to Hospitality

About the author: 

Michael J. Balboni, PhD is on faculty at Harvard University and a theologian-in-residence in the Department of Psychiatry, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston. His social science research has centered on the intersection of spirituality and medicine. He serves as a congregational minister at Park Street Church and the Longwood Christian Community. Tracy A. Balboni, MD is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and serves as the Clinical Director of the Supportive and Palliative Radiation Oncology Service at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women's Hospital. She is an internationally recognized leader and researcher at the intersection of spirituality, palliative care, and oncology.

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