PRAYER WITH STUDENTS
I appreciated the fall 2006 Called to Teach column regarding praying with students. I teach a spiritual elective nursing course at a secular university. I have taught many years and can share many stories of praying with students. Recently a student's patient died. I asked the student if she was a Christian. When she replied that she was, we went to a quiet room and prayed. Christian and non-Christian students often seek me to discuss issues; we end up talking about the Lord and praying.
Praying with students is a great topic for Christian educators. Thank you for providing the info in JCN.
BIBLICAL CARING CONTINUED
Thank you for the summer 2006 focus on Christian caring. In “Biblical Caring Comes Full Circle,” Trefecanty states that both modern and post-modern eras have opposed religious approaches to caring, either by discrediting biblical caring as irrational (modernism) or as intolerant (post-modernism). She also correctly points to positives in the development of evidence-based care using science (modernism) and the recognition of genuine concern as a crucial element in practice (post-modernism).
I wish to add two points. First, evolution, including social evolution, is another product of modernism that has not been favorable toward religion. Trefecanty indirectly points to this by stating that God was proclaimed “unnecessary” during the modernist period (p. 7). This was particularly true in the assumptions of evolutionary theory, which claimed chance as the only cause of change. It is then disconcerting that evolve or evolution is occasionally used in Trefecanty's description of the history of philosophy and nursing (pp. 7, 8, 11). Evolution has come to have two meanings: the scientific one (neo-Darwinism buttressed by naturalism) and the popular one (merely any change over time). I suggest Christians carefully avoid confusing the language of evolution with that of historical or social development. Preferable terms for “change over time,” such as grew (p. 6), were born, occurred, erupted (p. 7), are consistent with an open or deterministic view of change. If we believe that God is the God of history, I encourage JCN to avoid the accidental use of “evolution” as a description of events over time!
Secondly, there is a benefit of postmodernism that Trefecanty overlooks in her discussion of relativism. Relativism ultimately leads to the impossibility of “knowing” anything. Unlike modernism and extreme relativism, postmodernism recognizes that human beings are limited in their knowledge and understanding of the universe, however some concurrence on “truth” is possible. We may be limited or faulty in our perceptions, but we are perceiving “something” outside ourselves, and consensus on that “something” is persuasive.
Thus, as Trefecanty points out, spiritual knowledge is regarded as legitimate, but also expected to be genuine. That sounds like the biblical book of James: we may be faulty (lead astray) in our views of truth or wisdom, and we also tend to be hypocrites in our behavior. However, the purported results of “faith” are discernable by the average person. Jesus said that the truth people avow is known “by their fruits.” Postmodernism is open to such validation, via personal experience and evidence from others via example, history, science, and tradition, including religion.
What an open door for persuading people to consider the “absolute” truth and merits of God in Christ, both in Scripture and in the genuine difference his presence makes! Christians, while discerning, need not fear philosophies, present, past, or future, for our Redeemer has overcome the world.
Joanne S. Beckman
NURSES TAKE ACTION
I was delighted to read Judith Allen Shelly's article, “After Katrina Nurses Take Action.” I served at the same church mentioned in the article while on a mission trip in June 2006. It was a very rewarding experience; treating body, mind, and spirit through nursing.
I am amazed how many people comment, “Katrina was a year ago, what is there to do?” I feel it's my mission to educate people of the immense work that remains. Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Relief estimates they will be involved in the Gulf Coast for the next 8–10 years in clean up efforts. Ms. Shelly's article serves as an important reminder in keeping the plight of Katrina victims in the forefront of our hearts and minds. And she's right—I am looking forward to returning.