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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness [Paperback]

By James M. Rotholz (Author), Roberto Patarca Montero (Author) & Jim Rotholz (Author)
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Item description for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness by James M. Rotholz, Roberto Patarca Montero & Jim Rotholz...

Share the Biblical view of the value of human life This fascinating first-person account offers an insider's view of what it means to suddenly move from being a healthy, productive member of society to being severely limited. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness tells the story of the author and his wife, who were both struck down with CFIDS in the midst of their busy lives of service. Because Dr. Rotholz is also a trained anthropologist, he can bring a scholarly perspective to understanding the social, emotional, and cultural impact of this devastating illness. His devout Christianity gives a Biblical context to this discussion.Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness analyzes the secular cultural values that make disability seem like shame. Because our culture exalts worldly status and financial success, many CFIDS sufferers find themselves facing a deep sense of humiliation, worthlessness, and failure when their disease puts their lives on hold. Dr. Rotholz offers a Biblical perspective of human beings as the image-bearers of God. This alternative vision of values is exemplified in the culture of the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Africa, the Bruderhof Christian community in the USA, and the life of a Black woman from the American south.Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness presents a powerfully reasoned, deeply felt analysis of the tug of war between our culture and Biblical standards, including: achievement, status, power, and wealth as the elements of our culture of success the anxiety that lies behind the stress of economic productivity the economic factors that influence our cultural bias against the disabled the Biblical meaning of suffering faithfulness as the Biblical measure of success in lifeThe power of this extraordinary book goes well beyond the CFIDS community and even the community of the disabled. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness offers a new and meaningful vision of what makes life worth living for anyone, well or ill, young or old. Scholars and practitioners in anthropology, medical sociology, social work, the health professions, pastoral care, and theology will find it a powerful aid to understanding the world of the disabled and treating others with respect. The disabled and those who care for them will call it a blessing.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Informa Healthcare
Pages   141
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.35" Width: 5.97" Height: 0.45"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 15, 2002
Publisher   Informa HealthCare
ISBN  0789014939  
ISBN13  9780789014931  

Availability  0 units.

More About James M. Rotholz, Roberto Patarca Montero & Jim Rotholz

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Disorders & Diseases > Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Disorders & Diseases > General
3Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > General
4Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Mental Health > General
5Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Mental Health
6Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Personal Health > General
7Books > Subjects > Medicine > General
8Books > Subjects > Medicine
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living

Reviews - What do customers think about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture: Between God and an Illness?

Unique perspective on chronic illness  Jan 31, 2005
This short and insightful reflection is unique and uniquely needed in at least two ways. First, it is a near-miracle that the book exists at all, given the fact that the author was struck down with chronic fatigue syndrome (or CFIDS, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome) several years before writing it. Those familiar with this cruel disorder know that mere survival presents a challenge to its sufferers. The rigors of writing a book elude most healthy people. Second, the subject matter is (to my knowledge) unique. There are many books on treating chronic fatigue and coping with chronic fatigue and there are a few books that attempt to help loved ones understand this disorder in order to provide intelligent and caring assistance. However, this is the first book to put the experience of chronic fatigue into a larger cultural and theological framework.

There are also numerous books on the problem of evil (of a philosophical and theological bent) and books on the vicissitudes of suffering through evil (of a pastoral and psychological bent). But these efforts nearly always ignore a category of evil and suffering that afflicts millions of people: chronic illness. Those in the vice grip of chronic illness-whether chronic fatigue, lupus, MS, irritable bowel syndrome, or other disabilities-must often endure a double malady. They not only lose their health, their dreams, and any semblance of normal life; they also end up becoming opaque mysteries even to those closest to them. This phenomenon lies in the nature of those chronic illnesses that are "invisible" to the uncaring eye. An invisible illness is one that is real, but not easily detectable visibly. Many who endure the life sentence of chronic illness "look fine" but feel miserable-more disconsolate than can be imagined by the those not stricken. Many unsympathetic friends and relatives put pressure on the sufferers to "buck up" or "stop feeling sorry for themselves" and "just get on with life." After all, they are not in a wheel chair, they can see and hear, they have all their limbs, and they don't have cancer.
So, what, exactly, is their problem?

James Rotholz writes from a place of understanding and wisdom. Trained as an anthropologist, he knows the dynamics of cultural values. As a Christian, he knows that pain and suffering are part of a universe that groans in travail awaiting its final freedom. He further knows that in Christ there is hope and meaning for even the most debilitated human being. As a chronic fatigue victim, he knows the fear, disappointment, anger, and frustration of this dark fate. After his wife fell ill with chronic fatigue, this young professor succumbed as well. (His wife eventually improved.) He was forced to leave the academy, yet try to provide for his family and carve out a meaningful existence in spite of it all. Rotholz tells his story without lapsing into either self-pity or pious platitudes. Those not touched by chronic illness need to listen to his tale-especially pastors and caregivers. Rotholz grants that many believers and non-believers have suffered nobly. Nevertheless, chronic illness is a bitter pill that must be swallowed again and again.
Rotholz's first-person narrative unveils a world of which most people know nothing. It is a world about which many would rather remain oblivious. His account is not a diversion from the unpleasant, but an immersion into the unspeakable. Those who are ignorant-willfully or otherwise-of the sufferings of others are exempting themselves from part of the human condition. In avoiding knowledge of the experience of pain, such people cheapen their own relatively painless lives.

After two chapters explaining his descent into the illness and his coming to terms with it, Rotholz utilizes his anthropological background to reflect on the larger questions of how American culture responds to and evaluates chronic illness. He explores the American "culture of success" and how it marginalizes the disabled, who cannot perform economically or culturally in the ways deemed worthy.

But Rotholz is not content merely to level accusations at American insensitivity, however needful this is. The remaining chapters present an alternative understanding of worth and meaning before God. Instead of emphasizing material achievement, the Bible calls us to value character and faithfulness. Instead of valorizing the wealthy, the beautiful, and the influential, God calls us to value all people-no matter how lowly-because they bear the image of their Creator. Our ultimate achievements are not quantifiable, but are matters of qualities-qualities of the soul as it rests in and gives glory to God, come what may.
Rotholz wrestles with some of the deeper philosophical and theological problems in the concluding chapter, "Called to Dignity." Rotholz finds meaning through his suffering in the wise providence of a sometimes mysterious God. As he notes in the previous chapter, "A New Vision of Success," naturalism offers exactly no meaning or explanation for human suffering. "Any view of human life that is devoid of God must ultimately be dehumanizing, for it means that human life has no real purpose, thus, it is meaningless. Suicide would then become a reasonable response" (101).

"Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Christianity, and Culture" is not a feel-good, self-help manual. It doesn't tell you how to be "successful" in a worldly way (or how to be successful in a worldly way while pretending to be spiritual). It is not a "success story" as our culture defines it. The author is not a celebrity. Instead, this book tackles a subject most people would rather ignore or forget. But never mind that. By composing a contemplative book on a neglected topic, James Rotholz has won a moral and spiritual victory. His readers will find a story that ends not in despair, but in hope. This is a book for all those who want to honor and minister to a largely forgotten subsection of "the least of these, my brethren"-the chronically ill.

Douglas Groothuis

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