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Durham University

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Publication details

Cook, Christopher C.H. (2016). The lived experience of dementia: developing a contextual theology. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging 28(1-2): 84-97.

Author(s) from Durham


A variety of themes are explored as the basis for developing a contextual theology of dementia. These include impairment, loss, dislocation, isolation, decline, and death. These themes represent immanent human concerns with various kinds of experiences of “self-emptying.” It is suggested that dementia presents a kind of “malaise of immanence,” within which there is progressive inability to focus on abstract transcendent concerns, and increasing preoccupation with the immediate immanent context. A contextual theology of dementia that exaggerates the importance of the immanent frame is likely to emphasize, and draw to our attention, concern about such things within that frame as cognitive decline, dependence upon others for care, and loss of hope. However, a Christological perspective is offered within which it is acknowledged that such places of self-emptying are also places of transcendent encounter, and that in Christ we may understand the participation of God in the darkest moments of human experience.