Living at the Boundary

Healing and Incurable Illness
Pages: 32


The word “healing” shares the same root as the word “whole.” This book explores what it means to heal and be healed, especially when facing the challenges of chronic illness. Healing relates to whole-person care, to the preservation of a sense of personal well-being, dignity and integrity. Even when physical cure is not possible, we can promote—and receive—healing.  Healing is not a solitary endeavor. It involves all of us—family members, friends, caregivers, as well as health professionals.

In reflecting on healing, it is vital to recognize how the values of contemporary culture inevitably shape the meaning of illness. The countercultural values of authentic Christian community provide an alternative perspective—one that transforms the meaning of illness and dying and that affirms personal worth in all circumstances.


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Kay Toombs is associate professor emerita of philosophy at Baylor University in Texas. In her work she explores the ways in which contemporary values and the context in which we live our lives impact our efforts to develop a sustainable culture and to form caring communities. In her work related to illness, disability and healthcare, she combines her training in philosophy with her experience of living with neurological disease (multiple sclerosis) to reflect on the experience of illness and disability, the care of the chronically and terminally ill, the relationship between health care professionals and patients, and the meaning of suffering and healing, both in the context of Western culture and within the context of intentional Christian community.