Monarch Books Oxford, 2010
Reviewed by Rev Dr Noel Park, minister-in-association in the Nambour congregation.
NEARLY 20 years ago I was one of five Australians chosen to attend a World Congress on Suicide Prevention held in Hamburg, Germany.
One of the speakers was an elderly psychiatrist from a strong Freudian background.
He told how he had been completely opposed to euthanasia or assisted suicide but had recently experienced the loss of close friends.
They were both medical doctors and both had terminal cancer.
They died as the outcome of a mutual suicide pact.
With tears streaming he talked of what this had meant to him and how he had had to reconsider his previously strongly held views.
I came back to Australia convinced that we needed an objective debate among both Christians and non-Christians in respect to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Sadly after all this time I believe we are yet to see such a debate.
The subject has polarised people’s views and often simply entrenched attitudes without any consideration for other views.
This has also marked the responses from the main stream churches and Mr Pitcher’s book highlights the problem.
George Pitcher is an Anglican priest with a strong journalistic background and a reputation as an author.
His book is well written and relatively easy to read.
Much of its content is framed as a rebuttal to another Anglican priest Professor Paul Badham who wrote the book Is There a Christian Case for Assisted Dying? Voluntary euthanasia reassessed.
As is often the case when proponents of either side of this debate go to print, the case examples and specific legislative actions cited are too carefully selected and extrapolated rather too broadly but they still offer much material for consideration.
For those who have an immovable view on either polarity of this topic will either warmly welcome this book or simply reject it.
For a congregation that wishes to undertake a considered examination of the topic Mr Pitcher offers a clear, even if dogmatic, position statement.
If considered alongside other views it will be a helpful book for group study.