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

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Taylor & Francis, Apr 5, 2002 - Health & Fitness
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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 life

    The 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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I loved this book. I felt as if someone finally felt the struggle I have gone through in being an ill, but healthy-appearing adult, living in a culture that only values a person by what he/she can produce. This book brought me back to the truth that my value is not as a "human doing", but as a human being created in the image of God. I may not be able to predict how I will feel and/or function from one day to the next, sometimes not even from one hour to the next, but I can offer wisdom to my granddaughters and have worked to better my community in my healthier moments by doing things like writing letters of community support for a huge grant to expand a park, playground, and exercise area for our small town that eventually was built to be ADA accessible due to my input. That playground has now benefited children with disabilities as well! We don't have to quit because we are unable to work a regular job schedule, but we don't have to allow the world to devalue us (or heaven forbid! only provide palliative care or euthanize us) because we can't produce a certain dollar amount to satisfy our society that we are worth something to them.  

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