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This paper is a book report on A Balm for Gilead, Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts, by Daniel Sulmasy, O.F.M., M.D. You must choose 4 (including chapter 9) of the following chapters to summarize. We will be discussing the book in class , so you should be ready to share your thoughts and select portions of your paper.
The following questions indicate what the various chapters are about. You need not answer them in your essay. They are meant to guide you through the text and perhaps give you ideas of what to consider in your essay.
- What is meant by “the numinous” and what is the distinction between spirituality and ethics? Why does Sulmasy think a discussion on the spirituality of the medical profession is important? (Ch. 1)
- In what sense is healing “the restoration of right relationships”; an “encounter”; and a “witness”? (Ch. 3)
- Summarize Sulmasy’s discussion of caring for the deformed or ugly and the clinicians’ responsibility to “harmonize Beauty, Truth, and Goodness in and through the body in which these values literally take on human flesh.” (Sulmasy, p. 29). (Ch. 4)
- Sulmasy believes that physicians have lost their way in recent years. What recommendations does he give for them to find it? Do you think that any part of this criticism is applicable to nurses? (Ch. 5)
- Discuss Sulmasy’s Franciscan spirituality of health care in terms of compassion that is personal, incarnational, and imaginative. You may add personal reflections on your own experiences of the need for this kind of compassion in the health care setting. (Ch. 9)
- What does it mean to consider the body a temple of the Holy Spirit? (Ch. 10)
- Reflect on Sulmasy’s discussion of hope, as a virtue united to faith, and death, as both a biological event and a personal experience. (Ch. 11)
If you wish, you may also comment upon these points, whether you agree with them or disagree, or upon the book in general. If Sulmasy’s faith tradition is not yours, can you find similarities in your own system of belief or your own world view? Can you see differences?