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Spiritual Care The Everyday Work of Chaplains

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2022-11-29
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Chaplains are America's hidden religious leaders. Required in the military, federal prisons, and Veterans Administration Medical Centers, chaplains also work in two-thirds of hospitals, most hospices, many institutions of higher education, and a growing range of other settings. The chaplains of the U.S. House and Senate regularly engage with national leaders through public prayer and private conversation. Chaplains have been present at national protests, including the racial justice protests that took place across the country in 2020. A national survey conducted in the United States in 2019 found that 21% of the Americans public had contact with a chaplain in the prior two years. Contact with chaplains likely increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which thrust chaplains into the spotlight, as they cared for patients, family members, and exhausted and traumatized medical staff fighting the pandemic in real time.

Wendy Cadge steps back to ask who chaplains are, what they do across the United States, how that work is connected to the settings where they do it, and how they have responded to and helped to shape contemporary shifts in the American religious landscape. She focuses on Boston as a case study to show how chaplains have been, and remain, an important part of institutional religious ecologies, both locally and nationally. She has combed through the archives of major Boston institutions including the city government, police and fire department, hospitals, universities, rest and rehabilitation centers, the Catholic church, and several Protestant denominations, as well as the Boston Globe, to chart the work of chaplains historically. Cadge also interviewed over one hundred chaplains who work in greater Boston and shadowed them whenever possible, going on board container ships, walking through homeless shelters, and attending religious services at local prisons. The result is a rich study of a little-noticed but essential group of religious leaders.

Author Biography

Wendy Cadge is the Barbara Mandel Professor of Humanistic Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University. She is the author of two books, Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine and Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introductions
Chapter 2. Chaplaincy in Greater Boston: A Short Historical Overview
Chapter 3. Becoming a Chaplain
Chapter 4. Brokers With(out) Authority? The Improvisational Work of Chaplains
Chapter 5. The Value Added of Holding the Space
Chapter 6. Brokering Deaths: Chaplains as Midwives and Escorts
Chapter 7. Engaging Religious and Spiritual Differences: Organizational and Individual
Chapter 8. Conclusions Can Be Beginnings

Appendix. Initial Glimpses and Focused Attention A Methodological Approach at Mid-Life



Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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