'The grace that is the health of creatures can only be held in common,' writes Wendell Berry in What Are People For?
'In healing the scattered members come together. In health the flesh is graced, the holy enters the world.' Rather than approaching the complex topic of modern medicine from the standpoint of Christian ethics or endorsing an alternative Christian medical establishment, Joel Shuman (a professor of moral theology) and Brian Volck (a pediatrician) predicate their approach on the theological traditions of the church in the hope of establishing a working relationship between Christians and modern medicine. Shuman and Volck begin their discussion with a diagnosis: 'most North American Christians approach medicine without much consideration of its relation to their theological convictions.' Categorizing medicine amidst the New Testament's 'powers and principalities' (institutional entities from which we derive much good yet which have the capacity to entangle us), they set about rediscovering the many theological meanings of 'body,' interacting with the texts of Wendell Berry, Alexander Schmemann, John Howard Yoder, Aidan Kavanaugh, Elaine Scarry, Gregory of Nyssa, Stanley Hauerwas, and more. In the remaining chapters they address particular situations such as fertility treatment, healthcare in third world countries, and the ability to die well. While Reclaiming the Body
offers no hard and fast solutions, it solidly reminds us to live as Christ's Body by serving one another (especially in sickness) for the health of all.
An Eighth Day View:
We live in an age of incredible medical technology, and with it, a great emphasis on health and well-being. We fully entrust the care of our bodies to the medical profession, often taking its solutions and judgments as gospel. But what role, if any, should our Christian faith play in all this?
In "Reclaiming the Body, " a physician and a theologian take a critical look at some of the assumptions we draw from the medical profession and explore what theology has to say about medicine, our bodies, our health, and the Body of Christ. The authors deal with such issues as suffering, caring for the sick, children and reproductive technologies, medicine and the poor, our obsession with physical perfection, and death and dying.