In Should We Live Forever? Christian ethicist Gilbert Meilaender puzzles over the implications of the medical advances that have lengthened the human life span, wrestling with what this quest for living longer means for our conception of living well and completely. As he points out in his introduction, "That we often desire, even greedily desire, longer life is clear; whether what we desire is truly desirable is harder to say."
The six chapters of this book take multiple perspectives on issues surrounding aging and invite readers to consider whether "indefinitely more life" is something worth pursuing and, if humans are created for life with God, whether longer life will truly satisfy our underlying hunger.
Gilbert Meilaender is Phyllis and Richard DuesenbergProfessor of Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University inIndiana and a member of the President's Council onBioethics. His many other books include Faith andFaithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethics;Body, Soul, and Bioethics; and Things That Count:Essays Moral and Theological.
Ethics & Medicine "Meilaender's work frames aging exceptionally well, while bringing his characteristic depth with his rare economy of words."
Farr A. Curlin, MD — MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics "In this masterful little book Gilbert Meilaender interrogates the project to extend human life indefinitely and shows that longer life cannot satisfy the deeply human longings that animate that project. Better, he proposes, to cultivate the virtue of patience in the face of our mortal limits. Not a patience of resignation, but a patience marked by gratitude for the gift of life, including its limits, and by eager hope for the fullness of life promised by the God who died so that we might live."
David H. Smith — Yale University "Gilbert Meilaender has been for several decades one of the two or three most provocative, insightful, and clear writers on religion and ethics. He's not afraid of uncertainty but wants to put it in the right intellectual space. Aging is a topic of extraordinary importance, and not only for those of us who are doing it. Meilaender's style is vintage, disciplined, and forceful."
Thomas G. Long — Candler School of Theology "As we have come to expect from Gilbert Meilaender, this is an intellectually rigorous and probing exploration of an urgent ethical issue. And as we have also come to expect, it is finally an eloquent and wise theological witness. Meilaender calls us to leave behind the futile search for meaning merely in an ever-extended human life span and urges us instead to see life as a journey shaped in freedom by God, who crafts for us a hopeful ending that we cannot always see but can always believe and trust."
Abigail Rian Evans — Georgetown University Medical Center "Meilaender combines a poetic style of writing from a theological perspective with a scientific rigor of analysis to give us a book that is hard to put down. He rightly argues that human flourishing, or virtue, is more crucial than preventing aging or prolonging life."
Interpretation "This beautifully written little book both summarizes and advances the conversation about retarding the aging process and prolonging life. . . . I recommend it for students and teachers, for pastors and for those who, like me, are aging and reminded of their mortality. It will not eliminate the ambiguities of aging, but it does nurture the comfort and the courage to face those ambiguities and the wisdom for a more faithful journey through them."
Christian Century "Meilaender argues that the essence of human life is found in a multistage process that has not only a beginning and a middle but also a worldly end. Like Augustine before him, he holds that this human journey, no matter how long it is extended on this planet, can never be complete until it finds rest in God."
Lutheran Quarterly "A rich, informed, and readable book."
Church Times (UK) "This is a book that readers will find a thoughtful, careful and creatively theological study of the ethical issues that surround aging and our desire to postpone death."
Zygon "Given that life is finite, this brief book that raises many questions in an evocative way is very valuable. . . . Meilaender invites us to love the finite human life."
First Things "Drawing insights from and making arguments with diverse thinkers and cultural figures from Aristotle to Groundhog Day, Meilaender shows why aging is good, even as it also can be right to slow it down."
Theological Book Review "The title of this book might confuse those coming to it without a background in current discussions in bioethics, where the push to bestow upon humans extended and even unending physical life (immortality according to some) has attracted quite a following. . . . The driving force that will bring it about is, we are told, scientific achievement and a new medical revolution whereby medicine will be able to `cure' death and provide dramatically rejuvenated bodies to all and sundry (at least for some in some societies). This is the backdrop for Gilbert Meilaender's very helpful analysis with its assessment of the science of aging, anti-aging remedies, and the narcissistic quest for continued youthfulness. For Meilaender, what is needed is a fuller conception of our humanity together with a richer and fuller understanding of love."
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