Monday, April 04, 2005

"Culture of Life" or just really anti-death?

One thing that has struck me about this whole Terri Schiavo affair (aside from being thankful that I am not in the US to witness what must have been a constant media presence in the poor woman's hospital room) is that the discourse from the conservatives seems to me much more anti-death than pro-life. I came across two posts recently in the blogosphere that confirmed this sentiment. From Amy Sullivan and Andrew Sullivan (scroll down) - a liberal and a conservative, both Christians. (no relation between these Sullivans, as far as I know)

As a Christian myself, I find it rather odd that we would place such a prime on remaining in "this world." The Apostle Paul, himself, prayed that God would allow him to simply pass on and join Him in paradise, but added that should he ask him to stay in this world that he be given strength. He more or less resigned himself to remaining here in this world when what he really wanted was to get to the next. There is a certain fear of death that I think comes from having made it pretty comfortable for ourselves here. If you want to read a great chapter about death, read the chapter on fecundity in Annie Dillard's "A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek." It deals with the mind-boggling ubiquity of death in God's creation. It is everywhere, all the time. Like Job, Dillard asks why and comes away with silence. If the next world is so great, as our Sunday school classes are wont to remind us, then why do we go to such great lengths to artifically extend this stay? Matthew Yglesias (no relation to Julio, as far as I know) asks the obvious question of why Christians don't just start "offing" themselves to get to the next life. Because Matt, it's the nihilists and surrealists that consider(ed) suicide the ultimate act of the personal will, not Christians. There is much to celebrate and enjoy in this world. And there's a rather significant difference between taking your life and accepting your death.


At 14:35, Anonymous Anonymous said...

March 24, 2005

To: Legislatures, Judges, and the President of the United States

Re: Terri Schiavo

A response to the last several week’s lead news story, seems in order as providers of Hospice and Palliative Care services. We are most dismayed at the response of our elected officials and our President. What is happening to this individual and her family is both a tragedy and a travesty.

It is a tragedy in that death is seldom expected or welcomed in someone this young. It is a tragedy in that Terri never put her wishes in writing. It is a tragedy in that this family is being torn apart. It is a tragedy in that Terri is not being allowed to die with dignity. It is a tragedy in that death is not being viewed with the knowledge that we will all at some point die and there are things in this life that are worse than death, one of them being a prisoner in your own body for fifteen years. It is a tragedy in that hospice care is not being recognized as care that ushers in death with compassion, competence, and caring.

It is a travesty in that this has become a media circus. It is a travesty in that family wishes, in this case that of the husband and Terri, are not being honored. If this is being argued from a moral, Biblical basis, the Bible is clear that when someone marries, they leave their biological family and become “one flesh” with the marriage partner. It is a travesty in that Terri is constantly being shown on TV (footage that is at least five year old). It is a travesty when thousands, maybe millions of dollars are being spent on court fees, flying our President to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night, and the list could go on, when every day, a thousand or more people die of starvation and have no hospice care provided to them. It is a travesty because that is not justice and that does not make the front page of the paper each day.

Much more could be said but we know that you are busy and that you were elected to serve the people of the United States, not just one family. Do not turn this into a political agenda. It is a very personal and private matter.

Ellen Van Arsdale, MSN, RN

At 20:33, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

I could not have said it any better. That pretty much sums it up. - J2T


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