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Matters of life and death (2nd Edition) Paperback – 20 Nov 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: IVP; Second edition (20 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844743675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844743674
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Publisher

Today's healthcare dilemmas in the light of Christian faith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

When I was a medical student in London in the 1970s, I received just one lecture on medical ethics in my six years of undergraduate professional training. I was taught that all the practising doctor needed to know about the subject could be summarized under five A's: Abortion, Adultery, Alcoholism, Association (with non-medically qualified physicians or `quacks') and Advertising. Of these evils, which the General Medical Council was dedicated to stamping out, it was widely held that the most objectionable was Advertising.

But the world has changed. Medical ethics has been transformed from an obscure and unimportant branch of professional practice into a high-profile media activity. `Shock horror' tabloid journalism and highbrow television documentaries have brought the issues to a world audience. A single medical case can now achieve the same media prominence as the latest disclosure about the British royals or a soap opera scandal.

What are the underlying forces behind the modern transformation in medical ethics? And how can people who wish to be faithful to the historic Christian faith respond to the challenges and the opportunities of recent and dramatic medical progress?

This book attempts to formulate a Christian perspective on a number of central ethical dilemmas raised by modern medical practice. While writing from my individual perspective as a practising clinician and Anglican layperson, I have tried to reflect a broad theological position of historic or `foundational' trinitarian Christianity, a theological position which takes a high view of Scripture and of the doctrines of the ancient creeds and councils of the Early Church. I am not a professional philosopher or theologian. For most of my professional life I have been a practising paediatrician and a Christian believer who has had to face some of these agonizing dilemmas as part of my daily medical practice. What I do have to offer is a view from the coalface. It is a view which has been created in my personal struggle to understand what is going on in the world of modern medicine and the attempt to develop an authentic Christian response.

These questions are not just matters for an interesting academic debate, of the sort that philosophers, ethicists and students love to engage in. These dilemmas touch us at the most intimate, painful and vulnerable part of our lives. Many of the people who read this book will be carrying secret sorrows which they cannot share with others. The statistics show that more than one couple in seven will suffer from some form of fertility problem, and many will never be able to have children naturally. Some parents who pick up this book will have watched their child struggle and die, or will have given birth to a stillborn baby. Some will have had an abortion, although even their closest friends and relatives may not know. Some will have watched a close relative die in pain or emotional distress. A few will know that they suffer from a major genetic disorder which is likely to curtail their life, and they are wondering how they and their families will cope with the future. Many more of us are unknowingly carrying genes which may result in major illness, disability and death later in life: diseases such as Alzheimer's, stroke or breast cancer. Virtually all of us are carrying the genes for devastating illnesses which we might pass on to our children. Many people who pick up this book, for instance, will be carrying the gene for cystic fibrosis, though they are completely unaware of it.

So these are not just ethical issues `out there': they touch us at the core of our being. Nobody is immune: we all share in a common humanity, a physical nature which is painfully vulnerable and deeply fl awed. As you read the following case histories, you may well find them disturbing and painful, as indeed I have done. A French philosopher of the Enlightenment once said that `death, like the sun, should not be stared at'. Yet that is precisely what we shall be doing in this book: staring at death and at the questions and fears that it raises. ...

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Putting cards on the table now: Am a friend of John Wyatt, as we are members of the same church, and IVP asked me to write an endorsement for this new edition of the book, which I was very happy to do. But that shouldn't divert from the fact that this really is an excellent book! I'm not just saying that because i was asked to! This is what I wrote:

"The experience of shrill headlines and some scientists' over-reaching claims can be bewildering at the best of times. But when that feeling is coupled with the vague unease that ethical boundaries have been crossed, it is a great relief to know that wise guides like John Wyatt are at hand. I am immensely grateful for the new edition of this book. Skilfully combining the insights of a scholar (he is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College Hospital, London), the compassion of a practising doctor and the nuanced convictions of a mature Christian, Wyatt is uniquely qualified to write it. His style is readable and fluent, but never superficial or sloganeering.

Because he takes care to tackle difficult ethical questions head-on, applying biblical wisdom and drawing on a wide range of case studies (some of which derive from his own professional experience), I cannot recommend this book enough, to medical professional and concerned onlooker alike."

This is quite simply the best thing I've read on these issues. So check it out!!
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If you are confused about Christian attitudes to bio-ethics read this brilliant book. Clearly and sensitively, with reference to empirical studies and philosophical debate, this book separates the great successes of modern medicine from its excesses.

A simple but insightful paradigm is developed to distinguish the two: human beings, says Wyatt, are liked flawed masterpieces. Rather than treat human beings as lego-kits, medics and scientists should preserve and restore us as an art curator would a masterpiece.
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Continuing on from the new insights that Professor Wyatt brought to the Contemporay Christianity series of lectures he has developed his thought to produce an outstanding book. This work is an invaluable resource for doctors or lay people struggling with the issues at the beginning and end of life. It is clear that Dr Wyatt is a commpassionate doctor struggling at the frontline of these problems.
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It is difficult to do justice to this book in a short review. I had the privilege of hearing Professor Wyatt in person at a Faraday Institute lecture, and read this book afterwards. It is a most moving, intelligent, unsettling, horizong expanding and heartfelt work which I strongly recommend if you care about the matters of life and death. It can be overwhelming at times, and may leave you shaken, but is certainly worth it.
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I read this book whilst training in 'Christian pregnancy skills'. I found the book useful on all issues of life and death, conception, 'trying for a baby' and living with disabilities. I found this book rather medical and quite hard going, but understandable in short chunks. I have just taken my time in reading it!
I think it deals with many life and death issues that Christians do not discuss on a deeper level. Many Christians are "pro-life" without any grounding or understanding of the body or medical issues. Wyatt provides information on this with a personal perspective and in a non-judgemental attitude. A great read for anyone working in Christian life and death issues: abortion, euthanasia, fertility issues, etc.
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This is a brilliant book which puts complex issues in clear language. The clarity with which Prof Wyatt writes is enviable and extremely helpful to those of us grappling with end of life issues and/or ethics. I heartily recommend this sensitive book to anyone.
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I also have gladly done a cover commendation for this unique distillation of wisdom from many years of both clinical medical practice and costly Christian discipleship, because it simply is the best in its field and little wonder it has become a worldwide best-seller
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