Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Vol 2, No 2 (2014)

10.1558/hscc.v2i2.26737

doi:10.1558/hscc.v2i2.26737

Review

Daniel S. Schipani, ed., Multifaith Views in Spiritual Care. Ontario: Pandora Press, 2013, 177 pp. (Pbk). ISBN: 9-781-92659-930-4, £24.75.

Reviewed by: Dr Lindsay B. Carey, Palliative Care Unit, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Email: Lindsay.Carey@latrobe.edu.au

If health care is to be truly holistic then spiritual care needs to be considered. Spiritual caregiving however is progressively diverse. The shift from mono-culturalism within many societies has meant that people from very different beliefs and faiths are increasingly coexisting. Schipani (2013), within this anthology, utilizes a number of spiritual care experts from different faith backgrounds to present a range of views regarding the appropriate provision of spiritual care within multifaith contexts.

The text comprises nine chapters, the first and the last by the editor himself, and those in between are written by professional spiritual care givers from different spiritual backgrounds. Schipani argues within the introductory chapter that the various views on spiritual care form a “wonderful rainbow of blessing1 …indeed our collaborative work can represent the sunlight of wisdom and grace refracted and reflected in a spectrum of living colours!” (p. 7).

The sub-titles of each chapter (Chapters 2–9) reflect this “spectrum of living colour” and are self-explanatory as to their content. Chapter 2, co-written by Melody McKellar and Roger Armitte, presents voices on Aboriginal Spiritual Caregiving; Chapter 3 by Dinesh Sharma explores Principles of Hindu Spiritual Care; Chapter 4 by Danny Fisher presents A Buddhist Perspective on Spiritual Care; Chapter 5 by Mychal Springer considers “Jewish Spiritual Care”; Chapter 6 by Kathleen Greider discusses “A Christian Perspective on Spiritual Care”; Chapter 7 by Nazila Isgandarova argues for developing the “Theory and practice of Islamic spiritual care”; Chapter 8 co-authored by Hans Alma and Christa Aneek notes the “Humanist contribution to spiritual care”; and finally, in Chapter 9, the editor Daniel Schipani summarizes “The heart of the matter” by arguing the importance of “engaging the spirit in spiritual care”. For the reader this text then presents a surprise, for at the end of Schipani’s rainbow there is a pot of gold – also written by the editor, namely the “Epilogue: Competencies for Wise Interfaith Spiritual Care”. These competencies are, “knowing” (understanding), “being” (presence) and “doing” (companioning).

There is no question that Schipani’s text provides a valuable overview that is conciliatory towards multifaith ministry and that, by collating these different spiritual care perspectives, the text offers a prized resource. A criticism regarding this text however, is that its assuaging chapters fail to acknowledge or address some of the contemporary provocative perspectives which actually mitigate multifaith care within both health and social care contexts – perspectives based on values that are incongruent with a multifaith approach. For example, while some other texts disclose the Islamic “prohibition of religious tolerance to preserve the purity of Islam” (Sheik & Gatrad 2008), this text does not acknowledge such a prohibition. There can be little question that such a prohibition is a bit of a blow for 21st Century multifaith tolerance and seems to emphasize a lack of Islamic reciprocity by expecting (on the one hand) non-Islamic faiths to appreciate and show tolerance for the concerns and beliefs of Muslims, but asserting on the other hand, a prohibition of tolerance by Muslims towards those of different religious and spiritual faiths (e.g. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) (Carey 2009). In order for multifaith views and multifaith tolerance to be fully respected such conflicting interfaith issues and values (particularly given contemporary multifaith communities) now need to be frankly explained, addressed and revised or such latent issues mean that the multifaith approach will simply be tokenistic and eventually antagonistic.

There is no question however, that this text will serve as a valuable literary companion for those involved in providing spiritual care in multifaith contexts and helps to form a trilogy to Schipani’s other similar works (also published by Pandora Press) namely Interfaith Spiritual Care: Understandings and Practices (Schipani & Bueckert 2009) and Spiritual Caregiving in the Hospital: Windows to Chaplaincy Ministry (Bueckert & Schipani 2003). This new anthology by Schipani’s will also make a good companion to another textbook published in the same year, namely The Oxford Textbook on Spirituality and Health Care (Cobb et al., 2013) which also considers a range of faith perspectives regarding spiritual care. Both are valuable assets for any individual or department interested or involved in multifaith spiritual care.

References

Bueckert, L. and D. S. Schipani, eds (2003) Spiritual Caregiving in the Hospital: Windows to Chaplaincy. Ontario: Pandora Press.

Carey, L. B. (2009) Caring for Muslim Patients [Book Review]. Australian Journal of Primary Health 15(3): 254–56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PYv15n3_BR2

Cobb, M., C. Puchalski and B. Rumbold (2013) The Oxford Textbook on Spirituality and Health Care. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schipani, D. S. and L. Bueckert, eds (2009) Interfaith Spiritual Care: Understandings and Practices. Ontario: Pandora Press.

Sheikh, A. and A. R. Gatrad (2008) Caring for Muslim Patients. Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing.

Note

1. “Wonderful rainbow of blessing” – hence the text’s rainbow on the front cover.

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