Book Reviews

DEATH AND CONTEMPORARY MAN: THE CRISIS OF TERMINAL ILLNESS, by Carl G. Carlozzi (Eerdmans, 1968, 79 pp., $1.45, paperback).

This little book, written by an Episcopalian minister who served for a time as an assistant chaplain at a metropolitan hospital, attempts to deal with various aspects of what is called “terminal illness,” that is, illness which is incurable and which therefore will end in death. After an introductory chapter on “Death and Contemporary Man,” the subject of terminal illness is viewed from the viewpoint of the patient himself, the family in the terminal setting, the pastor’s ministry, and the physician’s function. The book, therefore, is one which lies in the area of poimenics, or pastoral care. 

There is no question about it that the subject with which this book deals is an important one and a practical one for a pastor. For sooner or later in his ministry any pastor will come face to face with the situation in which one of his sheep, along with his family, is confronted by “terminal illness.” How must the pastor deal with such a situation? What constitutes proper pastoral care of those involved? 

This little book is not very helpful, in my opinion, for three reasons. One reason is that the book tackles a very large subject in the short space of 79 pages. For this reason, it hardly scratches the surface of the subject; its value probably lies mostly in the fact that it will set a pastor’s thoughts in motion on the various problems involved. The second reason is that the entire approach of the book is only very vaguely Scriptural. The third reason is that the book suggests, in my opinion, some highly unethical answers to grace ethical questions, particularly in the discussion of euthanasia (mercy killing) and anti-dysthanasia (so-called indirect euthanasia). In general, my evaluation is: not very helpful.