Wholistic Health

Is Healthcare A Spiritual Discipline?

Listen to Dr. Daniel Sulmasy’s September 25, 2013 lecture at Harvard Divinity School. Dr. Sulmasy, Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics at the University of Chicago, engages the intersection of health, medicine, and the academic study of religion to provide an answer to the question, “Is Health Care a Spiritual Discipline?” Review by The Initiative […]

A Balm for Gilead: Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts

Daniel Sulmasy Sulmasy moves between the poetic and the speculative, addressing his subject in the tradition of great spiritual writers like Augustine and Bonaventure. He draws from philosophical and theological sources―specifically, Hebrew and Christian scripture―to illuminate how the art of healing is integrally tied to a sense of the divine and our ultimate interconnectedness. Health […]

Spirituality in Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a “Forgotten” Dimension”

John Swinton A person’s sense of spirituality informs his or her awareness of self and of the society around them, and is intrinsic to their mental well-being. In this balanced and thoughtful book John Swinton explores the connections between mental health or illness and spirituality and draws on these to provide practical guidance for people […]

Dementia: Living in the Memories of God

John Swinton 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 […]


Richard A. Swenson Physician-writer Swenson provides a prescription against the danger of overloaded lives. Focusing on margin in four key areas – emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances – he offers an overall picture pf health that employs contentment, simplicity, balance, and rest. From the publisher. Get this book.

What Your Body Knows about God

Rob Moll Award-winning journalist Rob Moll chronicles the fascinating ways that our brains and bodies interact with God and spiritual realities. He reports on neuroscience findings that show how our brains actually change and adapt when engaged in spiritual practices. We live longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives when we cultivate the biological spiritual […]

Spirituality, Religion, and Clinical Care

Interest in the relationship between spirituality, religion, and clinical care has increased in the last 15 years, but clinicians need more concrete guidance about this topic. This article defines spirituality and religion, identifies the fundamental spiritual issues that serious illness raises for patients, and argues that physicians have a moral obligation to address patients’ spiritual […]

Spirituality in Patient Care: Why, How, When, and What

This landmark handbook for health professionals interested in identifying and addressing the spiritual needs of patients has been significantly revised and expanded. Over the past five years, since the first edition was written, there has been increased research on the relationships among religion, spirituality, and health, and further discussions on the application of these findings […]

Strangers or Friends: A Proposal for A New Spirituality-in-Medicine Ethic

We argue that debate regarding whether and how physicians should engage religious concerns has proceeded under inadequate terms. The prevailing paradigm approaches dialogue regarding religion as a form of therapeutic technique, engaged by one stranger, the physician, upon another stranger, the patient. This stranger-technique framework focuses the debate on questions of physicians’ competence, threats to […]

At the Membranes of Care: Stories in Narrative Medicine

Recognizing clinical medicine as a narrative undertaking fortified by learnable skills in understanding stories has helped doctors and teachers to face otherwise vexing problems in medical practice and education in the areas of professionalism, medical interviewing, reflective practice, patient-centered care, and self-awareness. The emerging practices of narrative medicine give clinicians fresh methods with which to […]

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

Michael Pollan This collection of pithy, proverb-like sayings and short explanations is the perfect tool for whole person health education in the exam room and living room alike. Brilliant bits of “sticky” wisdom that anyone can understand: “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry.” From Ed. Get this book.

The Cost Conundrum

Atul Gawande A ground-breaking exposé of the variations in health care costs between different regions of the U.S. illustrates the systemic forces that are driving American health care. From Ed. Read on the New Yorker website.

Principles of Conservative Prescribing

Gordon D. Schiff et al. This short piece highlights common-sense, evidence-supported principles that go against the grain of a medicalized, over-technical approach to healing. Useful for all patient populations, but especially among the poor. From Ed. Read on the JAMA website.

Healing Skills for Medical Practice

David Schenck and Larry R. Churchill This short piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine is a distillation of the book, Healers by the same authors.  Interviews with 50 physicians recognized as “healers” revealed eight skills as pivotal: do the little things; take time; be open and listen; find something to like, to love; remove […]

How Shall We Then Practice? Medicine as Gift, Power, and Christian Vocation.

Farr Curlin This is an excellent overview of the theology of medicine by the founding director of the University of Chicago’s Program in Medicine & Religion. Helpfully borrows and summarizes from Shuman and Volck’s work in particular. From Ed. This article was originally published in the journal Health & Development, published by the Christian Community […]

The Meaning of Persons

Paul Tournier Tournier was a Swiss physician and author of over twenty volumes on the interface of medicine, theology, and personhood. A contemporary of C.S. Lewis, he has a similar combination of evangelical piety, brilliance, and sacramental mindset. From Ed. Get this book.

Tell Me about Yourself: the Patient-Centered Interview

Frederic W. Platt and David L. Gaspar This eminently practical piece offers five key questions that every budding physician needs to ask to know their patient as a person. From Ed. Patient: That specialist you sent me to is probably a pretty good doctor, but you can’t talk to him. Physician: What do you mean? Patient: […]

The Biology of Healing: Neuroscience and the Education of Healers

Eve Henry In this fascinating book chapter Henry summarizes for lay people the complex neurobiology of the placebo response, suggesting that we rename it instead as “the healing response.” This is not reductionism, however, because the “healing response” is only a subcategory of the larger category of “healing,” which is still largely mysterious. A helpful […]

Mother Teresa Goes to Washington

Mother Teresa On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, […]

Fidelity: Five Stories

Wendell Berry The title short story, Fidelity, is a “must read” for health care workers. Here Berry portrays the argument of his essay, “Health is Membership” in compelling, fictional form, highlighting the hazards and limitations of technologized “McMedicine.” From Ed. Get this book.

Health is Membership

Wendell Berry Berry is a poet, essayist, novelist, and farmer from Kentucky. After reading work like this, you will realize that he is also something of a prophet. Wonderfully helpful for thinking about the meaning of health. From Ed. Delivered as a speech at a conference, “Spirituality and Healing”, at Louisville, Kentucky, on October 17, 1994 […]

The Rebirth of the Clinic: An Introduction to Spirituality in Health Care

Daniel Sulmasy In this careful examination of the relation between spirituality and health care, Sulmasy explores the nature of illness and healing, describes empirical research on the effects of spirituality on health, and devotes special attention to the care of people at the end of life. From the publisher.  Get this book.

Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine

Joel Shuman and Brian Volck One of the best books dealing with the intersection of faith and medicine. Written by a Catholic pediatrician and a Methodist theologian. Very thought-provoking for medical professionals and “laity” alike, especially in its polemic against “medical Gnosticism. From Ed. Get this book.

Something Beautiful for God

In celebration of Mother Teresa’s beatification in October of 2003, HarperOne is proud to present a new edition of the classic work that introduced Mother Teresa to the Western world. Something Beautiful for God interprets her life through her conversations with Malcolm Muggeridge, the quintessential worldly skeptic who experienced a remarkable conversion to Christianity because […]

Medicine as Ministry

Margaret E. Mohrmann Mohrmann is a pediatrician and philosopher at the University of Virginia who thoughtfully examines how Christians should approach medicine. Well worth the price of the book for her chapter on the idolatry of health and medicine. From Ed. Get this book.

God, Medicine & Miracles: The Spiritual Factor in Healing

Have you ever gone into a doctor’s office and come out feeling like a laboratory project rather than a human being? This book offers a refreshing perspective. In Dr. Daniel’s forty years in the medical community, he has discovered an important truth: people find more complete healing when treated as integrated persons – with minds […]

Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition

[A] scathing assessment…Berry shows that Wilson’s much-celebrated, controversial pleas in Consilience to unify all branches of knowledge is nothing more than a fatuous subordination of religion, art, and everything else that is good to science…Berry is one of the most perceptive critics of American society writing today.-Lauren F. Winner, Washington Post Book World. I am […]

The Art of the Common Place: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry

Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes—an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geo-biography—these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and […]