Chaplain takes on author over religion in medicine

Worcester News: David Southall David Southall

A HOSPITAL chaplain from Worcestershire has called comments by a bestselling author that religion should play no part in medical decision-making “a little frightening”.

Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival this week, Atonement writer Ian McEwan criticised parents who refused treatment for their children on religious grounds.

But Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Rev David Southall said he felt the writer’s opinions were “somewhat overstated”.

Speaking about his forthcoming novella The Children’s Act – the story of a Family Court judge forced to make a decision on the future of conjoined twins whose Catholic parents refuse to allow them to be separated – the Booker Prize-winning writer said: "I found generally that religion was distinctly unhelpful in making reasonable judgments.

“In the whole, the secular mind seems far superior in making reasonable judgments.”

But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions.

“I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said.

“I note that he is talking about situations at the edge of people’s common experience – the illness of a child, the abuses and neglects which are commonplace and the perceived selfishness of modern parents.

“It seems that he takes exception to religious doctrine imposing practices which to him seem to be ‘inhumane’ and many, including myself, might find some resonances in what he has said.”

Rev Southall said it was more important to understand the contexts in which people facing tragedies make rational decisions, saying: “Isn’t that what we all do in the end, whether secular or religious?”

Describing the argument that those with a secular viewpoint are more able to make reasonable decisions as “a little frightening”, he said there were countless examples of both religious and non-religious people making what could be seen as ‘inhumane’ decisions.

“And I think that humanity is enriched by different minds and ideologies dialoguing in understanding,” he said.

“After all, does Mr McEwan want all decisions passed by him in some sort of autocratic way?

“The issues mentioned by McEwan are serious and involve human tragedies. I suggest that the way forward is humble conversation rather than a polemical diatribe.

“But then that doesn’t sell as many books.”

Comments (8)

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12:46pm Tue 1 Apr 14

voledog says...

"But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions.

“I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said."

Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless.
If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist.
"But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions. “I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said." Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless. If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist. voledog
  • Score: 1

12:53pm Tue 1 Apr 14

PaulMeUnder says...

voledog wrote:
"But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions.

“I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said."

Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless.
If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist.
What Voledog said!
[quote][p][bold]voledog[/bold] wrote: "But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions. “I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said." Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless. If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist.[/p][/quote]What Voledog said! PaulMeUnder
  • Score: -1

1:42pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Hwicce says...

Well Rev Southall would say that. He's got a vested interest being the hospital chaplain. He's hardly going to agree.
Well Rev Southall would say that. He's got a vested interest being the hospital chaplain. He's hardly going to agree. Hwicce
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 1 Apr 14

PaulMeUnder says...

“The issues mentioned by McEwan are serious and involve human tragedies. I suggest that the way forward is humble conversation rather than a polemical diatribe.

“But then that doesn’t sell as many books.”

I don't think the reverend is any position to make this comment bearing in mind what has been said by his peers in order to sell more copies of "the good book".
“The issues mentioned by McEwan are serious and involve human tragedies. I suggest that the way forward is humble conversation rather than a polemical diatribe. “But then that doesn’t sell as many books.” I don't think the reverend is any position to make this comment bearing in mind what has been said by his peers in order to sell more copies of "the good book". PaulMeUnder
  • Score: 0

1:55pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Martin Hodson says...

Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Rev David Southall said he felt the writer’s opinions were “somewhat overstated”.

I would say, 'seriously overstated.' Sure, a minute number of parents refuse treatment for their children on religious grounds. Many people, both religious and non-religious, would be concerned about this. But it is absurd to conclude from these rare and extreme instances that religion is ‘distinctly unhelpful in making reasonable judgments.’ I’m pretty confident that the core principles of religion, such as kindness, generosity, justice, self-sacrifice, truthfulness, perseverance and humility are non-negotiable in making good ethical judgments.
I'm glad we have a chaplain who exposes this woolly thinking.
Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Rev David Southall said he felt the writer’s opinions were “somewhat overstated”. I would say, 'seriously overstated.' Sure, a minute number of parents refuse treatment for their children on religious grounds. Many people, both religious and non-religious, would be concerned about this. But it is absurd to conclude from these rare and extreme instances that religion is ‘distinctly unhelpful in making reasonable judgments.’ I’m pretty confident that the core principles of religion, such as kindness, generosity, justice, self-sacrifice, truthfulness, perseverance and humility are non-negotiable in making good ethical judgments. I'm glad we have a chaplain who exposes this woolly thinking. Martin Hodson
  • Score: 3

3:57pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Litte by Little says...

It seems to me that any guidance can be discounted if taken to the extreme. That's why a face to face discussion is far more useful. The written word carries no emphases. It does not smile. But surely having a belief, a faith in something larger, bigger than oneself that encourages us to be better than we are is helpful when we are considering issues such as euthanasia, patient care, staff conditions. Without it organisations such as the NHS become management solutions to accountants' problems i.e., soul-less.
It seems to me that any guidance can be discounted if taken to the extreme. That's why a face to face discussion is far more useful. The written word carries no emphases. It does not smile. But surely having a belief, a faith in something larger, bigger than oneself that encourages us to be better than we are is helpful when we are considering issues such as euthanasia, patient care, staff conditions. Without it organisations such as the NHS become management solutions to accountants' problems i.e., soul-less. Litte by Little
  • Score: 4

8:23pm Wed 2 Apr 14

pinkfluff says...

PaulMeUnder wrote:
voledog wrote:
"But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions.

“I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said."

Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless.
If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist.
What Voledog said!
Me too.
[quote][p][bold]PaulMeUnder[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]voledog[/bold] wrote: "But Rev Southall said he did not entirely agree with the author’s opinions. “I think he perhaps needs to take the historical long view on the compassionate and caring traditions which faith groups have embedded in society over centuries,” he said." Yes, let's look at the historical long view... taxing the poor to pay for lavish palaces, stealing land, starting numerous wars, executing people who didn't believe in their religious nonsense for heresy, persecution of other groups who worshiped a deity in a slightly different way, suppressing scientific discoveries...the list is endless. If that's what centuries of religious 'compassion and caring traditions' have given us, I thank god I'm an atheist.[/p][/quote]What Voledog said![/p][/quote]Me too. pinkfluff
  • Score: -2

10:20pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Holowczak says...

Why do I think that Hilter and Stalin probably had one thing in common in that they weren't religious?.......
Why do I think that Hilter and Stalin probably had one thing in common in that they weren't religious?....... Holowczak
  • Score: 1

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