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Bob Cutillo: Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age

The Incarnation can help us come to terms with the body we live in, as well as the bodies medics treat.

What Cutillo posits at this juncture is that the incarnation can help us come to terms with the body we live in, as well as the bodies medics treat. Jesus’s work in the world was aided by his embodiment. In fact, without his body as it was, he could not have fulfilled his mission. Cutillo presents the idea that our bodies, in whatever form or condition they are, offers us opportunity to fulfil our human purpose. He argues that risk is the natural outcome to embodiment, and to avoid risk, we forfeit our purpose and destiny. Cutillo calls medics to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual and to view patients with the eyes of love—the love that God has for his creation. Moreover, he urges medics to be open to the bidirectional move of God’s spirit, which can open individuals up to letting go of the need to control the circumstances.

 

Death De-fanged

Underneath our need for control lies the ultimate fear—death, and that what we have is taken away. Our fear of death exposes our lack of reliance on God. Cutillo shows how the resurrection of Jesus changed death forever. Our hope is in the return of Jesus and a place in heaven, where there is no death. He does not discount the reality of pain and suffering we experience; however, when we can release our fear of death, not only do we learn to rely more on God to sustain us, we then can focus on helping others. We share with others because we have confidence that God will supply our needs. This parting thought of section three leads into the final section on a fairer distribution of healthcare.

 

It Takes a Village

Cutillo posits that only when we see ourselves as vulnerable, and yet are willing to care for others in more dire circumstances, can the community be healthy. We tend to our health as if it’s a possession to be clutched so as not to lose it, but the reality is that unless we make provision for those who cannot afford healthcare, we belong to an unhealthy community. Cutillo comments, “Most modern political and economic thought and action prioritize private and personal goals over communal care and the common good” (p. 142), as evidenced in the dichotomy between healthcare spending and the number of uninsured in poor health. Cutillo argues that because we are interdependent, we must pursue justice in healthcare and show concern for the poor in our community.

Medicine helps demystify disease.

Cutillo indicts both the medical and church establishments that have been complicit in the over-dependence on medical science. First, medicine is limited, and there are times when it does not have the cure for what ails us. The Church also can tend to see prayer as only a Plan B for when medicine fails. Instead, Cutillo suggests ways that faith and medicine can cooperate for the good of patients. One of the key areas where medicine contributes is in the sharing of knowledge about what is happening and what will happen in a patient’s body. The patient and loved ones can find mental relief in the demystification of the disease. The Church contributes to the spiritual well-being of the patients and their families by reminding them of the journey and life beyond the current one. Hope, Cutillo says, does not lie in the past or present, nor in the planned future, but in the redemptive promise of God.

As a doctor and Christian, Cutillo can see healthcare’s problems and possible solutions from both a medical and biblical perspective. His recommendations are radical insofar as we are so caught up in our self-preservation that we are desensitized to the needs of others. We may view caring for the marginalized as risky, but without the whole community healthy, we are merely applying a band-aid to a life-threatening illness. Cutillo’s book encourages us to focus less on our idealized pursuit of personal health and more on our responsibility to the health of the local community.

Reviewed by Michelle Vondey

 

Preview: https://books.google.com/books/about/Pursuing_Health_in_an_Anxious_Age.html?id=vhUZDQAAQBAJ

Publisher’s page: https://www.crossway.org/books/pursuing-health-in-an-anxious-age-tpb/

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Michelle Vondey, Ph.D. (Regent University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), has more than twenty years’ experience working in non-profit organizations. Her interests are focused mainly on developing followers in their roles in organizations. She teaches courses in leadership, critical reasoning, and Christian discipleship. 2012 dissertation LinkedIn

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