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November 29, 2009

John Wyatt’s Matters of Life and Death (2nd edition now out)

by quaesitor

With impeccable timing (i.e. the week we had our Christians Facing Issues service on Assisted Suicide), one of the key people involved in the service (you can see him introducing the whole issue very helpfully in the first youtube clip I posted) has a book out. Prof John Wyatt originally wrote his Matters of Life and Death in 1998 (based on his 1997 London Lectures of the same name). This has been fully revised and updated to include a number of recent developments in start and end of life debates. It is an excellent book and he really knows what he’s talking about (he is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College, London).

For some bizarre reason, IVP asked me to write an endorsement – quite why, I don’t fully understand for I am by no means an ethicist nor at all medical (though perhaps being married to a nurse-midwife is some sort of qualification – a stretch I realise) – but John is a faithful and long-standing member of All Souls, so here it is anyway!

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, 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.

So all I can say is check it out! Matters of Life and Death is the simply best thing I’ve read on these difficult issues and will certainly help to get you thinking.

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