Book Review: Joshua Mitchell, “American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time”

Joshua Mitchell is a specialist in political theory who has contributed one of the few scholarly works addressing the issue of “identity politics” in a liberal society. This phenomenon has exploded on the cultural and political scene in the last twenty years and has caused heated debate across the political spectrum. Moreover, it indirectly affects the theory and practice of medical ethics. Race and gender issues have converged through intersectionality, which has brought together advocates of racial theory, LGBTQ activists, and academics in mutually reinforcing, though sometimes tense, relationships.

Book Review: Carl Trueman, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution”

Carl Trueman, a church historian by training and, in recent years, a cultural analyst, has given the evangelical world—and others willing to listen—a sophisticated historical and philosophical genealogy of the current cultural crisis in the West. It is a “how we arrived at our present situation” book, filled with evidence and intellectual connections over about 300 years. Trueman searches for the roots, not only of our sexual mores and practices, but of the broader ideas that form what many would label the reigning worldview.

Book Review: Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen, “The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession”

Sometimes a book has pages filled with the reality of truth. The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession, by Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen, is one such work. In a relatively short and readable volume, the authors explore and analyze the how’s and why’s of medical practice, from the ancient model of Hippocrates to the modern “service-provider model.” Using case examples, moral theory, foundational ethics, and experience, they charge after the conflicts between the modern model and the more ancient “way of medicine,” which they espouse as “a practice oriented toward the patient’s health as one basic human good” (p. 54). Their central questions are: “what is medicine?” and “what is medicine for?” They answer these by embracing clinical practice as a profession, not a job.