Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wendy Cadge on Intercessory Prayer Studies

Over at Religion Dispatches, sociologist Wendy Cadge, who currently teaches at Brandeis University, asks, "Can the efficacy of prayer be determined through a double-blind clinical trial? Do studies measure prayer in ways that even make sense?" She herself suspects that we might be "learning more about medical science than about the healing power of prayer" through these studies. This is a good piece for chaplains to take note of.

Earlier this year, Dr. Cadge authored another must-read piece for Religion Dispatches entitled "Bearing Witness: The Work of Hospital Chaplains". The author is currently at work on a book called Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, which "examines the historical and current institutional presence of religion and spirituality in hospitals." As part of her research, she's apparently spoken to quite a lot of chaplains.

Interestingly, Cadge has also contributed significantly to the ever-growing canon of literature about Buddhism in America. She's the author of a tremendously important book that I'd recommend if you haven't read it already: Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravāda Buddhism in America. It's an ethnographic study of both immigrant and convert communities in the United States, and offers insights that wil be valuable to American readers regardless of what Buddhist tradition they study and/or practice.

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