Friday, April 29, 2011

Jonathan Dudley

Jonathan Dudley is a graduate of Yale's Divinity School and currently a M.D. student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In his new book, Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics (published by Crown), he writes about the evangelical Christian community that raised him.

Recently I asked Dudley what he was reading. His reply:
I'm currently spending about ten hours a day reading First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, a condensed summary of the first two years of medical school. It's a great book if you're preparing for the boards as a second year med student (as I am), but I wouldn't recommend it to a general audience.

One fascinating book I read recently was A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life, an autobiography by the pioneering geneticist J. Craig Venter. Venter takes the reader through his time as a subpar high school student, a Vietnam medic, a community college student whose academic talent is becoming apparent, a rock star graduate student, and a rock star scientist. He ends the book by discussing the present efforts of his research institute to discover new genes in the ocean's microorganisms and to create synthetic life. I liked the book because I share some aspects of Venter's life story and temperament; I was also a mediocre high school student who only started excelling in college, and I'm also somewhat rebellious by nature. I also liked the book because Venter models a unique and alluring way to be a scientist, with heavy ties to industry, a commitment to academic excellence, and the freedom to pursue a host of different projects at the frontiers of biology.

Another book I read a few years ago that I keep returning to and rereading is Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation, by Dale B. Martin, a professor of New Testament at Yale. Martin argues that the meaning we find in texts is a consequence of the method we use to interpret them and that there is no one "orthodox Christian" method for interpreting the Bible. He explores the implications of this line of reasoning for sexual ethics, all-the-while critiquing popular Christian thought on topics like marriage, homosexuality, and gender identity. This book opened my eyes to the contingency of what communities take as "what the Bible says"--and led to an ongoing obsession with philosophers like Foucault, Derrida, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.
Learn more about Broken Words at Jonathan Dudley's website.

The Page 99 Test: Broken Words.

--Marshal Zeringue