Religion, Spirituality, and Health (Fall 2018)

REL 348-01

 Professor John Schmalzbauer

Office: Strong Hall 263

Missouri State University


Phone: 836-5918 


Course Description

This class explores the religious history of American hospitals, healing practices in American religions (including Buddhism, Catholicism, and Pentecostalism), debates about religiosity and health outcomes, the medical uses of mindfulness techniques and Eastern meditation, and the heightened attention to spirituality in the health professions. Every effort will be made to relate course content to Springfield and the greater Ozarks, including local health care providers and religious communities. 


Course Goals

1.  Explore the sociological and historical aspects of religion, spirituality, and health

2.  Examine the religious origins of American hospitals and the development of hospital chaplaincy

3.  Understand the religious origins of alternative healing and mindfulness techniques

4.  Reflect on the social role of medical professionals in relation to religion and spirituality

5.  Explore the presence of diverse religious traditions in American health care

6.  Relate the topic of religion, spirituality, and health to Missouri and the Greater Ozarks


Required Textbook and Electronic Reserve Readings

1.       Wendy Cadge, Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine (University of Chicago, 2013).


2.       Barbra Mann Wall, American Catholic Hospitals: A Century of Changing Markets and Mission (Rutgers University Press, 2011).

3.       Jeff Wilson, Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture (University of California Press, 2014).

4.    Linda L. Barnes and Susan S. Sered, eds., Religion and Healing in America (Oxford University Press, 2004).

5.       Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care: Why, How, When, and What (Templeton Press, 2013)

6.       Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (New York: Random House, 2018).

Electronic Reserve readings will be posted on the Meyer Library ERES webpage. 


Grading and Assignments

Attendance Policy:  Attendance is required at all class meetings (except in cases of illness, family situations, religious holidays, MSU activities, and other approved events).  Participation grades will be penalized for excessive unexcused absences. 


Class Participation (25 points): Students will be evaluated on their participation in class discussions, familiarity with the readings, and the quality of their comments. 


Reflection Paragraphs (75 points): Several times in the semester, students will be asked to write one or more paragraphs reflecting on the readings.  This is an opportunity for the instructor to see how students are processing the readings.  It is also an opportunity for students to express their opinions.  They will be graded on the extent to which they show familiarity with the readings and for their thoughtfulness. Look for the letter P next to the reading on days when paragraphs are due.


Paper #1: Chapel Material Culture Observations (200 points): Students will complete a 5-6 page paper based on a field visit to a hospital/medical chapel in the Ozarks region. Papers will focus on the material culture of the chapel spaces, including objects, art, architecture, and physical artifacts. Students will relate observations of the spaces to readings from Wendy Cadge and Barbra Mann Hall, as well as the readings on Mercy/St. John’s and Cox/Burge hospitals. A separate handout will be provided. Due Monday September 24.


Paper #2: Taking a Spiritual History (200 points): Students will complete a 5-6 page paper based on an in-depth interview with a Missouri resident. Questions will be taken from several well-known spiritual assessment tools (see separate handout). This assignment will help students develop their interviewing skills. Papers will relate the spiritual histories of interviewees with class readings. Due Monday November 19.


Examinations (500 points total; 250 points each): There will be two examinations in this course.  The final will not be cumulative.  Examinations will be a mixture of short answer and essay questions.


The following grading scale will be used:

4.0 A: Outstanding Work (93-100)

3.7 A- : Excellent Work (90-92)

3.3 B+: Near Excellent Work (87-89)

3.0 B: Very Good Work (83-86)

2.7 B-: Good Work (80-82)

2.3 C+: Slightly Above Satisfactory Work (77-79)

2.0 C: Satisfactory Work (73-76)

1.7 C-: Slightly Below Satisfactory Work (70-72)

1.3 D+: Passing Work (67-69)

1.0 D: Minimum Passing Work (63-66)

0.0 F: Failed—No Credit (0-62); I: Incompelte

If a student is on the border of a grade, the instructor will take into consideration the overall performance of the student, class participation, and amount of improvement.


Academic Dishonesty: Missouri State University is a community of scholars committed to developing educated persons who accept the responsibility to practice personal and academic integrity. Students are responsible for knowing and following the university’s student honor code, Student Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures and also available at the Reserves Desk in Meyer Library. Any student participating in any form of academic dishonesty will be subject to sanctions as described in this policy. See  for more information. 


Nondiscrimination Statement: Missouri State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution, and maintains a grievance procedure available to any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against. At all times, it is your right to address inquiries or concerns about possible discrimination to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance, Park Central Office Building, 117 Park Central Square, Suite 111, 417-836-4252. Other types of concerns (i.e., concerns of an academic nature) should be discussed directly with your instructor and can also be brought to the attention of your

instructor’s Department Head. Please visit the OED website at  


Disability Accommodation: If you are a student with a disability and anticipate barriers related to this course, it is important to request accommodations and establish an accommodation plan with the University. Please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) (, Meyer Library, Suite 111, 417-836-4192, to initiate the process to establish your accommodation plan. The DRC will work with you to establish your accommodation plan, or it may refer you to other appropriate resources based on the nature of your disability. In order to prepare an accommodation plan, the University usually requires that students provide documentation relating to their disability.  Please be prepared to provide such documentation if requested. Once a University accommodation plan is established, you may notify the class instructor of approved accommodations.  If you wish to utilize your accommodation plan, it is suggested that you do so in a timely manner, preferably within the first two weeks of class. Early notification to the instructor allows for full benefit of the accommodations identified in the plan. Instructors will not receive the accommodation plan until you provide that plan, and are not required to apply accommodations retroactively.


Cell Phone Policy: As a member of the learning community, each student has a responsibility to other students who are members of the community. When cell phones or pagers ring and students respond in class or leave class to respond, it disrupts the class. Therefore, the Office of the Provost prohibits the use by students of cell phones, pagers, PDAs, or similar communication devices during scheduled classes. All such devices must be turned off or put in a silent (vibrate) mode and ordinarily should not be taken out during class. Given the fact that these same communication devices are an integral part of the University’s emergency notification system, an exception to this policy would occur when numerous devices activate simultaneously. When this occurs, students may consult their devices to determine if a university emergency exists. If that is not the case, the devices should be immediately returned to silent mode and put away. Other exceptions to this policy may be granted at the discretion of the instructor.  


Dropping a Class: It is your responsibility to understand the University’s procedure for dropping a class. If you stop attending this class but do not follow proper procedure for dropping the class, you will receive a failing grade and will also be financially obligated to pay for the class. For information about dropping a class or withdrawing from the university, contact the Office of the Registrar at 836-5520. See Academic Calendars ( for deadlines.  


Emergency Response Statement: At the first class meeting, students should become familiar with a basic emergency response plan through a dialogue with the instructor that includes a review and awareness of exits specific to the classroom and the location of evacuation centers for the building. All instructors are provided this information specific to their classroom and/or lab assignments in an e-mail prior to the beginning of the fall semester from the Office of the Provost and Safety and Transportation. Students with disabilities impacting mobility should discuss the approved accommodations for emergency situations and additional options when applicable with the instructor. For more information go to and  


Religious Accommodation: The University may provide a reasonable accommodation based on a person’s sincerely held religious belief. In making this determination, the University reviews a variety of factors, including whether the accommodation would create an undue hardship. The accommodation request imposes responsibilities and obligations on both the individual requesting the accommodation and the University. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their sincerely held religious belief shall be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious observances on which they will be absent by submitting a Request for Religious Accommodation Form to the instructor by the end of the third week of a full semester course or the end of the second week of a half semester course. For more information and a copy of the form, see 


Religion at a State University: Consistent with Supreme Court decisions regarding the teaching of religion at public institutions (Abington v. Schempp 1963), this course approaches the study of religion from a non-confessional standpoint.  We will focus on describing and analyzing the place of religion in American culture, rather than arguing for one religious tradition or another.  Students are free to express or not to express their own beliefs in class.  They will be evaluated strictly on the basis of their work.


Office Hours for Professor Schmalzbauer: Mondays and Fridays 3-4:30 p.m.; and Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.-1 p.m. in Strong Hall 263 (Religious Studies Department).


I.  Introduction: Religion and Spirituality in American Health Care

Monday August 20: Introducing the Course


Wednesday August 22: Medicine Rediscovers Religion and Spirituality  P

Reading: Wendy Cadge, “Paging God in Health Care,” Huffington Post.


Reading: Michelle Boorstein, “Study of Health and Religiosity Growing Despite Criticism.”


Reading: Martha Ross and Siddharth Kularni, “Health Care Remains Important Job Engine in Eighth District.”



II. Religion and American Hospitals

Friday August 24: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part I

Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 1-17.


Monday August 27: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part II

Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 18-50.


Reading: Paul Johns, “Mozark Moments: Lester E. Cox aids in Burge Hospital history.”


Reading: “Mrs. Ellen Burge,” Woman’s Home Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


Wednesday August 29: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part III

Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 51-76.


Friday August 31: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part IV

Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 77-127.


Wednesday September 5: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part V  P

Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 128-170.


Friday September 7: Religion in the Halls of Medicine, Part VI
Reading: Wendy Cadge, Paging God, 171-208.


Monday September 10: The Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Health Care in Missouri

Reading: St. John’s Mercy Hospital Building National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.


Reading: “Sister Mary Roch Rocklage In Person: An Oral History.”  


Wednesday September 12: Catholic Hospitals in America, Part I

Reading: Barbra Mann Wall, American Catholic Hospitals, 1-22.


Friday September 14: Catholic Hospitals in America, Part II

Reading: Barbra Mann Wall, American Catholic Hospitals, 23-54.


Monday September 17: Catholic Hospitals in America, Part III

Reading:  Barbra Mann Wall, American Catholic Hospitals, 55-72.


Reading; Barbra Mann Wall, “Science and Ritual: The Hospital as Medical and Sacred Space.”


Wednesday September 19: Race and Class in Catholic Hospitals

Reading: Barbra Mann Wall, American Catholic Hospitals, 73-102.


Friday September 21: Debating Catholic Hospitals P

Reading: Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, “How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America.”


Reading: Stephanie Slade, “What FiveThirtyEight Gets Wrong About Catholic Hospitals.”


Monday September 24: Reports from the Field

**Chapel Material Culture Papers Due Today**



III. Mindfulness and Health in American Culture

Wednesday September 26: Mindfulness and Health, Part I

Reading: Jeff Wilson, Mindful America, 1-42.


Friday September 28: Mindfulness and Health, Part II

Reading: Jeff Wilson, Mindful America, 43-75.


Monday October 1: Mindfulness and Health, Part III

Reading: Jeff Wilson, Mindful America, 75-103.


Reading: Paul Numrich, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America’s ‘Two Buddhisms,’” 343-357 in Religion and Healing in America.


Wednesday October 3: Mindfulness and Health, Part IV P
Reading: Jeff Wilson, Mindful America, 104-158.


Friday October 5: Examination #1



IV. Religious Diversity and Healing in America

Monday October 8: Mapping the American Religious Landscape P

Reading: Pew Research Center, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.”


Reading: America’s Changing Religious Identity.


Reading: Diana Eck, “New Neighbors.” Read essay and click on Kansas City. Look at the map of


Wednesday October 10: South Asian Religions and Healing in America

Reading: Prakash N. Desai, “Health, Faith Traditions, and South Asian Indians in North America,” 423-437 in Religion and Healing in America.


Reading: Queens Health Multicultural Services, Health Care Providers’ Handbook on Hindu Patients.


Monday October 15: Islam and Healing in America

Reading: Marcia Hermansen, “Dimensions of Islamic Religious Healing in America,” 407-422 in Religion and Healing in America.


Reading: Marcia C. Inhorn, “Islam, medicine, and Arab-Muslim refugee health in America after 9/11.” (on campus only).


Wednesday October 17: Jewish Healing in America

Reading: Susan S. Sered, “Healing as Resistance: Reflections Upon New Forms of American Jewish Healing,” 231-252 in Religion and Healing in America.


Friday October 19: Latino Religions and Healing in America

Reading: Inés Hernández-Avila, La Mesa del Santo Niño de Atocha and the Conchero Dance Tradition of Mexico-Tenochtitlán: Religious Healing in Urban Mexico and the United States, 359-374.


Reading: Patrick Polk “Miraculous Migrants to the City of Angels: Perceptions of El Santo Nino de Atocha and San Simon as Sources of Health and Healing,” 103-120 in Religion and Healing in America.


Reading: Gaston Espinosa “‘God Made a Miracle in My Life’: Latino Pentecostal Healing in the Borderlands,” 123-138 in Religion and Healing in America.


Monday October 22: African-American Religions and Healing in America

Reading: Stephanie Mitchem, “‘Jesus is My Doctor’: Healing and Religion in African American Women’s Lives,” 281-290 in Religion and Healing in America.


Reading: Kendra Hotz, “‘I Can Do For Me’: Race, Health, and the Rhetoric of Self-Love and Suffering.”


Wednesday October 24: Race, Religion, and Disability P

Reading: Nancy Eiesland, “Encountering the Disabled God.”


Reading: Kendrick Kemp, “Black Liberation Theology of Disability.” Read and listen to Kemp’s address:


Compare the approaches of Nancy Eiesland and Kendrick Kemp in your paragraphs.


Friday October 26: Southeast Asian Religions and Healing in America

Reading: Phua Xiong, Charles Numrich, Chu Wu, Deu Yang, and Gregory A. Plotnikoff ,” Hmong Shamanism: Animist Spiritual Healing in Americaís Urban Heartland,” 439-454 in Religion and Healing in America.


In-Class Film: Second Generation Hmong Shamanism



V. Exploring Spirituality and Patient Care

Monday October 29: Introducing Spirituality in Patient Care P

Reading: Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care, 3-22.


Wednesday October 31: The Case for Spirituality in Patient Care

Reading: Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care, 23-50.


Friday November 2: Taking a Spiritual History

Reading: Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care, 51-95.


Reading: “FICA Spiritual History Tool.”


Monday November 5: Spirituality in Nursing

Reading: Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care, 173-190.


Wednesday November 7: Spirituality in Rehabilitation and Mental Health

Reading: Harold Koenig, Spirituality in Patient Care, 200-228.


Friday November 9: Debating Religion, Spirituality, and Health Care P

Reading: Richard P. Sloan, “Religion, Spirituality, and Medicine.”


Reading: Butler, Koenig, Puchalski, Cohen, and Sloan, “Is Prayer Good for Your Health?”



VI. Case Study: Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason

Monday November 12: Introducing Kate Bowler

In-Class Podcast: “A Stage-4 Cancer Patient Shares The Pain And Clarity Of Living ‘Scan-To-Scan.’”


We will listen to and discuss Bowler’s interview with NPR’s Terry Gross.


Wednesday November 14: Understanding the Prosperity Gospel P

Reading: Kate Bowler, “Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me.”


In-Class Podcast: “Kate Bowler’s History of the Prosperity Gospel Movement”


Friday November 16: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part I

Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, xi-28.


Monday November 19: Reports from the Field

**Spiritual History Papers Due Today**


Monday November 26: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part II

Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, 29-52.


Wednesday November 28: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part III

Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, 53-87.


Friday November 30: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part IV P

Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, 88-124.


Monday December 3: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part V

Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, 125-166.


Wednesday December 5: Everything Happens for a Reason, Part VI P
Reading: Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason, 169-175.


Reading: Kate Bowler, “What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party.”


**Final Examination: Monday, December 10, 8:45 am to 10:45 am**