“… end of life, thus bearing witness both within and beyond the church to the Lord to whom, as St. Paul reminds us, we belong both in life and in death? ”
When complete, Making Peace with Mortality will include a book, a website and blog, a library of short films (consisting of clips from interviews with Christian patients, family members, medical professionals, and clergy), and curricula for use by churches and other religious or community organizations. All elements of the project are envisioned as brief, accessible distillations and illuminations of significant themes in recent end-of-life care scholarship and practice, integrated with Christian theological, pastoral, and personal perspectives on the giving and receiving of palliative and end-of-life care. I recently received a small grant in support of the filmmaking and website portions of the project. I have applied for a sabbatical for academic year 2018-19, and plan to continue with the interviews and to write the book then. The SGR grant, should I receive it, would support this portion of the work. I envision a book in which questions about how to honor life at the end of life are addressed directly, and violent metaphors for illness and medical treatment (the “war on cancer”) are considered and set aside in favor of metaphors of peacemaking and cultivation of genuinely Christian expressions of faith, hope, and love. The book will include explicit and well-informed discussion of both medical and theological issues related to palliative and end-of-life care, including but not limited to the use of life-sustaining (or death-prolonging) technologies like mechanical ventilation and feeding tubes. The intended audience of this project includes laypeople and clergy from across various theological spectra: conservative to liberal, evangelical to progressive, Protestant to Catholic. The intended audience includes as well medical professionals who might or might not be religious or Christian, but (some of) whose patients are, and who are looking for language with which to explore ultimate concerns in ways that may be useful for such patients.