1st Edition

Still Waters Run Deep Theological Reflections on Dementia, Faithfulness, and Peaceable Presence

Edited By John Swinton, Elizabeth MacKinlay Copyright 2024

    This book brings together theologians, clergy, people with dementia, carers, clinicians and others to offer a holistic, interdisciplinary exploration of dementia which focuses not only on what dementia is and what it is not, but more importantly, what it means to live well with dementia and to find hope where sometimes it feels like there is no hope.
    Located within practical theology and theological anthropology, the diversity of perspectives on dementia presented in this book offers deep insights into what it means to be a human being, to live humanly in the midst of difficult situations, and helps us understand and navigate the complexities of the dementia journey. In offering foundational practical and theoretical knowledge, the book helps cut through the false consciousness of modernity and enter a world where personhood is defined not by our capacities or the loss of them, but by God’s loving presence. It offers a contextual theological framework to look beyond what we assume to be obvious and to recognize the “hidden” depths that can be discovered and encountered within individuals as they journey into dementia. In doing so, it takes seriously the lived experience of people with dementia and allows that to shape, form, and perhaps reform our understandings of God, human beings, and what it means to live well. Taken as a whole, the book posits that together, we can reflect upon and act out a hopeful future that makes people’s lives meaningful, purposeful and loving even in the midst of the challenges that Dementia brings.
    Still Waters Run Deep will be a key resource for academics, researchers, and advanced students of theology, divinity and religious studies, gerontology, psychology, mental health, and nursing. The chapters included in this book were originally published as a special issue of Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging.

    A Word From the Editor
    James W. Ellor

    A Word From the Guest Editors
    John Swinton and Elizabeth MacKinlay

    1. A Spiritual Journey Into the I-Thou Relationship: A Personal Reflection on Living With Dementia
    Christine Bryden

    2. My Glorious Opportunity: How My Dementia Has Been a Gift
    Jennifer Bute

    3. Journeys With People Who Have Dementia: Connecting and Finding Meaning in the Journey
    Elizabeth MacKinlay

    4. Epiphanies: Small Miracles in Everyday Experiences of Dementia
    Ann Zubrick

    5. God’s Faithfulness and Dementia: Christian Theology in Context
    Rosalie Evelyn Hudson

    6. Lost in Eden: Dementia From Paradise
    Aileen Barclay

    7. The Lived Experience of Dementia: Developing a Contextual Theology
    Christopher C. H. Cook

    8. "I Am Still With You": Dementia and the Christian Wayfarer
    Warren A. Kinghorn

    9. What Happens to the Person With Dementia?
    Stephen Ames



    John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care and Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. For more than a decade John worked as a registered mental health nurse. He also worked for a number of years as a hospital and community mental health Chaplain. In 2016 John’s Dementia: Living in the memories of God won the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ramsey Prize for excellence in theological writing.
    Elizabeth MacKinlay is a registered nurse and priest in the Anglican Church of Australia. Inaugural Director of the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies until 2012 and now Professor in the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University. Her book, co-authored with Corinne Trevitt, Finding meaning in the Experience of Dementia, won the Australasian Journal on Ageing book prize 2013.