Dementia is one of the most feared diseases in Western society today. Some have even gone so far as to suggest euthanasia as a solution to the perceived indignity of memory loss and the disorientation that accompanies it.
In this book John Swinton develops a practical theology of dementia for caregivers, people with dementia, ministers, hospital chaplains, and medical practitioners as he explores two primary questions:
Who am I when I've forgotten who I am?
What does it mean to love God and be loved by God when I have forgotten who God is?
Offering compassionate and carefully considered theological and pastoral responses to dementia and forgetfulness, Swinton's Dementia: Living in the Memories of God redefines dementia in light of the transformative counter story that is the gospel.
John Swinton is professor of practical theology and pastoral care at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and founding director of Aberdeen's Centre for Spirituality, Health, and Disability. He worked as a nurse for sixteen years within the fields of mental health and learning disabilities and later also as a community mental health chaplain.
Michael Ramsey Prize 2016 finalist
Stanley Hauerwas -- Duke Divinity School; author of God, Medicine, and Suffering "John Swinton has clearly become the premier pastoral theologian of our time. In this book he approaches the troubled topic of dementia with his usual thoroughness, engaging the science with an unapologetic theological voice. Dementia: Living in the Memories of God will become a classic."
Stephen G. Post -- Stony Brook University; author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping "Swinton offers us the best constructive theology yet written on the important place for the deeply forgetful in our communities and our lives. His ability to elevate the most significant Christian scholarship on this topic to the level of a compelling new synthesis is clear on each thoughtful page. Those who want to reflect deeply on where individuals with dementia fit into our world will benefit from this breath of fresh air. It is a brilliant book that stays true to everything meaningful in Christian ethics, theology, and care."
Stephen Sapp -- University of Miami; author of When Alzheimer's Disease Strikes! "Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, Swinton's Dementia is a ringing challenge to current thinking (and speaking and acting) about dementia. Especially significant is the author's insistence that Christians always consider dementia from a theological perspective and move beyond the dominant (and limited) medical model."
David Keck -- author of Forgetting Whose We Are "This vigorous yet gentle book is changing the way I practice theology. It deserves a broad audience of both theologians and pastors since it challenges fundamental habits of thought, prayer, and service. Indeed, this book -- this offering -- provides hope. It demonstrates the power of faithful theology to engage very difficult, even frightening topics."
John Goldingay -- Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Remembering Ann "For the last decade of her life my first wife, Ann, couldn't speak, not because she couldn't move her lips but because she could no longer work out what to say. She had dementia. . . . I would worry over how she and God could relate if she couldn't think straight, so I love Swinton's statement that people such as Ann 'remain tightly held within the memories of God' and I resonate with this description of the church as 'a living body of remembering friends.' Indeed, as I read this book, I kept saying, 'Yes, Yes, Yes!' "
Elizabeth MacKinlay -- Charles Sturt University; author of Spiritual Growth and care in the Fourth Age of Life "This groundbreaking book tells a counter-story of dementia that brings hope and challenges the fears that are so dominant within society and the church."
Interpretation “Offers theological insight and practical help. . . . Provides guidance and spiritual help for caregivers who turn to the church and its pastors for help with loved ones suffering from dementia.”
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith “We are fortunate to be able to read such a highly literate, readable, informed, and erudite set of reflections on one of the major health conditions of our time. . . . A most perceptive and informed analysis.”
Journal of Christian Nursing “Offering compassionate and carefully considered theological and pastoral responses to dementia and forgetfulness, Swinton’s Dementia redefines dementia in light of the transformative counter story that is the gospel.”
Calvin Theological Journal “This is a thoughtful, provocative, and often heart-rending work. It is as much a book about theological anthropology as it is about pastoral care of persons with dementia; therein lies its beauty. . . . Highly recommended for pastors or seminary level students, particularly those interested in care of the elderly.”
Journal of Adult Theological Education “As a survey of much of the literature on the subject, this book is extremely valuable. . . . Outside the academy and the training institutions, as a work of encouragement to those who minister to, or live with, or fear becoming sufferers from dementia, it should be read widely.”
Themelios “This reader highly recommends John Swinton’s study to all Christians, but especially pastors and other leaders.”
Catholic Library World “Highly recommended and should be required reading for those offering clinical or pastoral care of persons with dementia and their families. This work further stands out for its poignant approach and for allowing the voices of theologians, caregivers, and people in the early stages of dementia to resonate loudly and clearly. . . . Also highly appropriate for pastoral libraries or institutions of higher education.”
Presbyterian Outlook “Stunning in its scope and profound in its implications, this is theology that truly deserves the term ‘practical.’. . . There is no other book that explores this subject so well.”
Reviews in Religion and Theology “Swinton’s volume is to be highly commended, both to theologians, lay people, and to medical professionals. It is practical theology of the most charitable and careful kind, avoiding sentimentality and engaging in deep explorations of one of the most painful problems of the human experience.”
Theology Today “This work is practical theology in a thoroughly practical and thoroughly theological sense. It finds its starting point in God and God’s self-revelation, working out from there to its understanding of humanity and so to challenge the prevailing assumptions about dementia, and it generates suggestions for what it means to be practicing Christians, individually and collectively, in the face of dementia.”
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