Theodicies and professional quality of life in a nationally representative sample of chaplains in the veterans’ health administration
(Abstract:) This study examined the role of theodicies or theological/philosophic attempts to resolve existential dilemmas related to evil and human suffering in chaplains’ professional quality of life (ProQOL). A nationally representative sample of 298 VHA chaplains completed the recently developed Views of Suffering Scale (Hale Smith, Park, & Edmondson, 2012) and ProQOL-5 (Stamm, 2010). Descriptive results revealed that 20-50% endorsed strong theistic beliefs in a compassionate deity who reciprocally suffers with hurting people, God ultimately being responsible for suffering, and that suffering can provide opportunities for intimate encounters with God and personal growth. Other results indicated that chaplains’ beliefs about human suffering were differentially linked with their sense of enjoyment/purpose in working with veterans. These results suggest that theodicies might serve as a pathway to resilience for individuals in spiritual communities and traditions in USA, particularly for clinicians and ministry professionals who are committed to serving the needs of traumatized persons.