From nucleus - Winter 2018 - Review
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book: The Book that made your WorldI had never done this before, never stopped to really think about the world we live in. What made it how it is? What shaped the values that we hold so dear? Why do we make music? Why are we passionate about education? Or rationality? Morality? The breadth of this book (that made your world) is extremely impressive. The way the Bible has shaped the world is truly breathtaking.
Vishal Mangalwadi is an intelligent and gentle guide, helping us think through some fairly fundamental questions of life. At the same time he is unafraid to speak the truth, a refreshing trait in a 'post-truth' era. He pulls no punches when talking about the realities and failings of worldviews and how they had a negative impact on the view of humanity.
For example: 'Three thousand years of Hinduism, twenty-six hundred years of Buddhism, a thousand years of Islam, and a century of secularism had collectively failed to give [people] a convincing basis for recognising and affirming the unique value of a human being'.
This thought occurred to Mangalwadi after a fellow Indian family had let a female child die instead if seeking treatment, because they didn't see her individual value in their worldview.
Two chapters stood out to me. The first was 'The West without its soul: From Bach to Cobain'. At first I thought this was a curveball. In a book about the Bible, why start with music? I very quickly realised that music is a reflection of one's soul. The music of one god might make you sing 'I hate myself, I want to die'. I became thankful for this chapter but even more thankful for a God that causes us to sing.
The next chapter which jumped out at me was 'Compassion': Mangalwadi explores the world of medicine and how different worldviews have created or neglected healthcare systems. The most intriguing point was that while many worldviews have a conception of compassion as a virtue, only biblical Christianity has made it a commitment to serve the poor and sick selflessly. Mangalwadi quotes Malcolm Muggeridge, a British journalist who later became a Christian:
'I've spent a number of years in India and Africa where I found much righteous endeavour undertaken by Christians of all denominations, but I never, as it happens came across a hospital or orphanage run by the Fabian society, or humanist leper colony... Compassion could not have built a modern medical culture on its own.'
I just have two pieces of advice when reading this book. First be ready to concentrate. There is a lot of information and history. Second, the author trained in Eastern philosophy. So be prepared to be challenged in our slightly arrogant western rationalism. All in all, this is an eye opening and brilliant book!
Conor Perring a medical student at St George's, University of London, currently a CMF Deep:ER trainee and UCCF relay worker