Friday, 11 November 2011

Kindling a Spark for Electronic Readers


A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to fly home and visit my family back in New Brunswick. While I was traveling I noticed a number of people using electronic readers*. In recent weeks and months friends and family have been asking I'm going to purchase one.

I'm of two minds when it comes to electronic readers. I really don't know if I'm going to purchase one of these new contraptions. Perhaps the biggest roadblock I'm facing is my love of real books. I love everything about real books. I love holding them when I read. I love the smell and feel of real books. I love watching real books pile up on my shelves. I also love the idea of marking up real books as I read them.

In saying this, however, I also have to admit that I like the idea of having something small and light to carry around while I spend time in airports and on airplanes. I'm also becoming aware of the sheer convenience of being able to download books that are either out of print or extremely difficult to find.

If I do buy one there is one thing for certain: I will not be taking it into the bathtub with me. A friend of mine does that and I'm waiting for the day when we receive word that something has happened to his reader while he was bathing and that he is now literally sleeping with the fishies.

I've heard arguments on both sides of the question of whether or not to purchase an electronic reader. I'm still torn and maybe I always will be. If I do take the plunge I'm sure there will be more than a little buyer's remorse. I'll probably wind up buying one of the foolish things, however. There's a book on process theology I want to borrow from a library in Singapore.

*That's probably not the correct technical term for the things but I'm a little wonky when it comes to all things technology so it will have to do for now.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Perspective on Grief

For decades professionals such as clergy have relied on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages when dealing with grieving people. We've learned and talked about the need for people experiencing loss to move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are so widely known most of us can probably recite them in our sleep.

In recent years these stages have come under close examination and reconsideration. Perhaps the book that best addresses this reconsideration is Ruth Davis Konigsberg's recent book entitled The Truth About Grief (Simon and Schuster, 2011). While this is not a religious book I have found it extremely helpful in my work with bereaved and grieving families. I have found it critical in my work of helping people respond to and recover from the loss of a loved one.

A couple of important things that Konisberg addresses are the human ability to cope with loss and the time needed for this grieving to happen. All too often grieving people are confronted by people bringing unrealistic expectations to conversations and encounters that wind up being less than helpful. How many times have people questioned decisions around renewed and new relationships? How many grieving people have been told to "Get over it" and move on with their lives?

One of Konisberg's main points is that we all grieve differently. It's almost impossible to identify one particular process we all go through when experiencing loss. It's impossible to develop a timeline for when certain things are supposed to happen as we grieve. What we can do is be aware of certain needs we may have and recognize times when emotions spike and threaten to overwhelm us.

Konigsberg's realistic approach and critique is refreshing, comprehensive, and thought provoking. Reconsidering the five stages of grief is long overdue and it's critical religious professionals join in the process so that we can serve our parishioners in a more humane and sensible way.

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