Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine

Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine

Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine

Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine

Excerpt

Prefaces provide a happy place to acknowledge indebtedness and to express gratitude. If all my debts were to be acknowledged, however, the preface itself would be a book. Short of that, permit me to explain briefly how I got interested in bioethics, and to say something of the genesis of the chapters in this book.

I am not a physician or the son of a physician. I managed to stay out of hospitals quite happily when I was young. I never had a class in bioethics in college or in theological seminary or in graduate school. It was, after all, the decade of the sixties, and students had other issues on their minds. How then did I get interested in bioethics? I am the husband of Phyllis, and Phyllis is a nurse, an excellent nurse. We married in 1965. Newlyweds think, of course, that they will never run out of things to talk about, but then they do. And the conversations then frequently begin with the question, “How was your day?” Well, in the late sixties my day had usually been spent reading Scripture or Aquinas or Barth or Calvin, trying to master the ABCs of moral theology. Phyllis would listen patiently, yawning only occasionally. Her day had usually been spent at a hospital, caring for others. Her accounts of those days were sometimes tedious, to be honest, but also sometimes full of joy in the simple art of caring for another and sometimes full of anxiety about what was being done or left undone. It was, after all, the sixties, a decade of quite remarkable developments in medical technology. A hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, for example, where Phyllis worked for a time, had one of the nation’s first neonatal intensive care units, and hard choices had to be made about which infants to treat aggressively and which to keep comfortable as they lay dying. Conversations that began with “How was your day, honey?” led quite naturally . . .

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