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Heroic Measures: Dilemmas in the Care of Sick Children

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In early 1978 I became the father of a very small baby. She was three months premature and weighed 980 grams at birth. There followed a three month adventure, during which she lived in an “isolette” in the neo-natal intensive care ward of the Ottawa Civic Hospital. During this time her mother and I sometimes came into conflict with the doctor who ran the nursery and his staff. Usually, the issue, at bottom, was: whose baby is this? Ten years later, memories of this trying time woke up, when we heard the story of the Gordon family whose infant son Andrew had just been “apprehended” by Catholic Chiildren’s Aid as a “child in need of protection.” In this case the parents had been unwillig to consent to the treament the Hospital for Sick Chidren in Toronto wanted to administer.. I decided that it was time to investigate some of the issues involved with doctors, nurses, parents, journalists and lawyers who had found themselves caught up in such “dilemmas.“ The following two programs were the result. The participants were:

Part One: John Watts Gaylene Leveque, Robin Whyte, Vivian Wahlberg, Maggie Waligora, Andrew Whitelaw, Laura Sky

Part Two: Agnes Gordon, Frank Carnevale, Joseph Magnet, Bob Haslam, Diane Lister, Stephen Smart, Laura Sky, Maggie Waligora, Jeff Lyon

DC - Heroic Measures (audio/mpeg )

Radical Orthodoxy

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In 1970, when Ivan Illich was enjoying, and suffering a moment of world-wide celebrity, he explained to me what he thought had caused this vogue. His views were so utterly orthodox, he said, and so deeply rooted in the first Christian millennium that he appeared enticingly radical to contemporaries who had completely lost touch with these roots. Perhaps it was this remark that persuaded me to pay attention when I first heard, nearly thirty years later, of a theological movement called Radical Orthodoxy. It began when my friend Lee Hoinacki urged me to read Catherine Pickstock’s book After Writing: On the LIturgical Consummation of Philosophy. From there I was led to John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory, the manifesto-like magnum opus that first announced this new tendency, and to an anthology called Radical Orthodoxy in which these two writera and co-conspirator Graham Ward were joined by other thinkers who shared their view that the gateway to the future lies in a reappropriation of a misappropriated past. In 2006, on a visit to England, I was able to interview Pickstock and Milbank and to present the following thumbnail sketch of their thinking. Pickstock had been up with a sick child the night before she met me at her Cambridge college and insisted that she was barely compos mentis, but, in my view, she rose admirably to the occasion. Later, I met John Milbank at his home in Southwell, a old cathedral own in Nottinghamshire that I had known of old because my mother’s family came from nearby Mansfield. Five years later, I interviewed Milbank again, for a more extensive treatment of his thinking. That program can be found on this site in the series called The Myth of the Secular.

01 Audio CD.mp3 (audio/mpeg )