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    sketch by Michelangelo with a heart rate line and strand of DNA

    Plough Quarterly No. 17: The Soul of Medicine

    Summer 2018


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    The Soul of Medicine What we need is a vision of how medicine might serve the good of the whole human person: the body’s health, yes, but also the health of that “piece of divinity in us.”


    Science and the Soul How does the mind relate to the brain? What about the soul? This question is central to my professional life. Patient Perspective I truly believe this form of community is an expression of the kingdom of God, of how he wants us to care for one another. Adirondack Doctor I am an old-school family physician who has spent the last thirty-eight years in the center of upstate New York’s Adirondack Park. What’s a Body For? My body is the exterior expression of that interior personal reality that Scripture names the “heart.” Begotten Not Made What are we to think about the possibility of genetically engineering future generations? The End of Medicine Euthanasia and the campaign to “take death back.” If we really want to take death back, we need to bring the dying back into our churches, and into our homes. Let Me Stand My sister died of an opioid overdose. But first, she forgave me. All Sorts of Little Things A dialogue of compassion, a binding of ourselves together in love, might be all we have left. The Measure of a Life Well Lived What is the measure of a life well lived? Clare Stober asked herself this question at her father’s death, and then the deaths of three close friends seemed to hold out an answer.

    Personal History

    Perfectly Human When I first found out about Cerian’s deformity and made the choice to carry her to term, it felt like the destruction of my plans and hopes.


    Beyond Racial Reconciliation As I come closer to the end of my journey, I am aware that community development can only take us so far – because this is a gospel issue. Christ the Physician “For because we could not come to the physician, he has vouchsafed to come to us himself.”


    To Be Plucked by a Strange or Timid Hand This grip of patience, after the scythe / cuts in. Most have dropped – relieved – / into gathering arms – brusque, adequate, / but this foolish remnant holds their roots.

    Editors’ Picks

    Editor’s Picks Issue 17 Discover four good reads, recommended by Plough’s editors.

    Family and Friends

    Family and Friends: Issue 17 News from Plough’s family and friends around the world: Celebrating 75 years at Koinonia and the legacy of Clarence Jordan; studying the theology of the people of God; the Bruderhof in World War II Britain.

    Another View

    Carry Me My desire is to make present and visible people who have been culturally marginalized, people who many view as profoundly “other.”


    Siegfried Sassoon’s “Before the Battle” A watercolor illustration of Siegfried Sassoon’s “Before the Battle.”


    Readers Respond: Issue 17 Josiah Royce and a Beloved Community built on Christ. Seeing neighbors in those beyond our neighborhoods, and even borders.


    On Being Ill Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable. On Eternal Health And so it seems that the infirm are brought by force to the magnificent feast of eternal health. Our Task Is to Live We dare not give up on those who are sick and dying, for it belongs to our human dignity and calling to nurture life.


    Money-Free Medicine What’s it like to practice medicine in a community where doctors don’t charge and patients don’t pay? Plough interviews two Bruderhof physicians.

    The Naturalist

    The Hunter Notes from a naturalist’s journal: After some minutes, the barred owl was spotted by a white-breasted nuthatch passing by. The smaller bird immediately started scolding.


    The Beguines “Men try to dissuade me from everything Love bids me do. They don’t understand it, and I can’t explain it to them. I must live out what I am.” Meet Hadewijch and the Beguines.

    Featured Authors

    front cover of Plough Quarterly No. 17: The Soul of Medicine

    About This Issue

    Medicine, so long as you don’t need it, is a tangential part of life, just one more profession among others. Until, that is, a loved one suffers an accident or falls sick. Then, suddenly, medicine is quite literally a matter of life or death. Medicine is also big business. Doctors have been reclassified as “service providers,” and patients are “clients.” Such commercialism breeds false incentives and inequalities, even in nations.

    We need a vision of how medicine might serve the good of the whole human person: the body’s health, but also the health of that “piece of divinity in us.” We need love and reverence for humans as they are, not humans as technology may someday engineer them to be. Jesus, the healer from Nazareth, showed what it means to love the imperfect, the frail, the average. The glory of the medical profession is that it is dedicated to these works of mercy. In today’s money-driven healthcare industry, such tasks are often poorly rewarded. Yet they’re at the heart of medicine’s original mission.