Shuman, Joel James
Shuman, Joel James
Home—PA. Office—Department of Theology, Kings College, 133 N. River St., Wilkes- Barre, PA 18711. E-mail—[email protected].
Duke University Divinity School, Raleigh, NC, instructor in theological ethics; Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, associate professor of theology.
The Body of Compassion: Ethics, Medicine, and the Church, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1999.
(With Brian Volck) Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine, Brazos Press (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.
Joel James Shuman is an associate professor of theology and the author of several books on the relationship between medicine, ethics, and Christianity in modern society. The Body of Compassion: Ethics, Medicine, and the Church does not address the more sensational issues plaguing the relationship between religion and medicine, such as questions of abortion or euthanasia, but instead looks at how the more classical issues of medical ethics in and of themselves create the current belief that autonomy is a necessary moral category. Religious institutions, according to Shuman, must resist the sway of modern culture, and instead use Christian practice to transform bioethics. Mark E. Gammon, in a review for Science and Theology News Online, remarked: "The real power of Shuman's work is the narrative specificity he brings to what often appears in biomedical literature as abstract and sterile case studies. The book begins with a discussion of the death of Shuman's grandfather and how that tragedy opened the author's eyes to the moral problems inherent in modern medicine." He concluded that "the only weaknesses of the work are its omissions," and that "Shuman has laid the theological groundwork for a radical shift in the way Christian ethics engages issues of health and medicine, and his clarion call for a new approach is both important and welcome." Courtney S. Campbell, in a review for the Christian Century, concluded: "Shuman joins other Christian theologians, such as Lisa Sowle Cahill, Margaret Farley, Gerald McKinney and Gilbert Meilaender, in exploring the theological significance of the body for bioethics. While not as careful in his critical analysis as he should be, he has much to offer to this emerging and important dialogue."
Heal Thyself: Spirituality, Medicine, and the Distortion of Christianity, written with Keith G. Meador, looks at the use of faith as a healing tool in modern medical practice, and of spirituality as a means of maintaining good health. The book addresses how medicine and faith, generally so divergent in their aims, have slowly come together and reached a peaceful accord. In a review for America, Brian Volck remarked that the authors "ask Christians to understand health as one among many ordered goods. Sickness and death are enemies, but never ultimate enemies." He went on to add: "Rather than demanding that God give us health and give it now, we are encouraged to live in apocalyptic hope, awaiting the wholeness God is making present to the community gathered in Jesus' name." Shuman's book demands that Christians take their faith into consideration in all aspects of their health and medical decisions.
Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine, written with Brian Volck, once more addresses how Christians look at modern medicine and its effects on the body in relation to one's faith. A contributor for Publishers Weekly called the book "brilliantly reasoned and artfully written."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 1999, Steven Schroeder, review of The Body of Compassion: Ethics, Medicine, and the Church, p. 1560.
Christian Century, November 3, 1999, Courtney S. Campbell, review of The Body of Compassion, p. 1059; March 21, 2006, review of Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine, p. 40.
Ethics, April, 2001, review of The Body of Compassion, p. 668.
First Things, October, 2000, Thomas D. Kennedy, review of The Body of Compassion, p. 76.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Graham Christian, review of The Body of Compassion, p. 86.
Publishers Weekly, October 10, 2005, review of Reclaiming the Body, p. 55.
America: National Catholic Weekly, http://www. americamagazine.org/ (April 26, 2006), Brian Volck, review of Heal Thyself: Spirituality, Medicine, and the Distortion of Christianity.
Science and Theology News, http://www.stnews.org/ (February 1, 2001), Mark E. Gammon, review of The Body of Compassion.