Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

Handbook for Ministers of Care by Genevieve Glen, OSB, Marilyn Kofler, SM, and Kevin E. O'Connor

This book was written for laity new to ministry of any kind, but especially to the unique and difficult ministry of visiting the sick.
Judging by a cover such as the one you see, worry is probable. I worry about books with such abstract drawings. These show up in various part of the book almost insultingly as if lay people can't read a book without pictures. I didn't particularly find the images even helpful in illustrating a point the authors were making.
In the first chapter, the writers made sweeping generalizations without backing them up. This book was written for people discerning such a ministry so it is written simply and matter of factly. However, one could give one historical example to back the claim, "{Ministry of care} was a ministry open to all the baptized that gradually, through the ages, became a ministry for priests and religious, especially those who established and served in hospitals," (4). That might be true be a pastor or supervisor might not have the same historical theological background as the authors. One cannot take such a statement without some evidence. This happens a few more times where the authors make blanket statements such as the previous one.
The writing style is colloquial. This brings across the points the authors mean to make, and it makes for a clear and easy read. However, the colloquial style surrender theological clarity a few times using common phrases that can leave ambiguity.
If one who recommends it is aware of its shortcomings and properly explains things, it is a great source for those visiting the sick. It is very practical and helpful in providing someone with a good solid base knowledge of visiting the sick. It gives practical guides on how to order a visit. It goes through the liturgy of a communion visit. It goes through special cases that someone might or probably will run into. I found the entry on demetia and alzheimer's disease to be very enlightening. It is good resource for someone visiting the sick to have.

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