Sunday, April 03, 2005

Reminders . . .

I have not been thinking a whole lot about religion lately, but a few things have brought it to my mind lately. For one thing, I'm at my Grandparent's house right now, and they are in the other room listening to "Dr." Kennedy spouting his usual venom about the evils of secularity. Like how atheists cannot be good, loving, parents--because only a "God-centered" family can raise good children. How secular education is hurting our children. Whatever . . .

Anyway, what is really on my mind is two high-profile deaths from the past week. Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. What is the common thread between these two people? The reason these both made me think again of Christianity was one concept that I noticed in relation to both of these. Suffering. The centrality of suffering to Christianity.

In the case of Terry, the "right to life" people expressed the idea that she should be kept alive at all costs. That she was suffering in obedience to God.

In the case of the late Pope, I heard more than once about how he considered his suffering to be born in obedience to God. Here, at least, I have no moral objection since John Paul II was at least able to choose to go on with his physical problems. Unlike Schiavo, who had reportly said that she would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state.

What is it about suffering that is so virtuous? I read an editorial the other day in The Courier Journal about how the religious right seems to care more about avoiding death than in the quality of life. They say they want a "culture of life" but what this turns into is a culture of living death. The idea that a life of terrible suffering is to be enforced over the right of people in such a state to end their life in the way they choose. The idea that suffering, for its own sake, when one could seek relief, is virtuous. What sort of BS is this?

But then, what do you expect from people who are convinced that our life belongs to God? But where were the religious who said that those keeping Terry alive artificially were the ones "playing God?" Why couldn't God support her without a feeding tube if he so desired? Is he not strong enough?

I've also heard those who are worried that all this means that people who are kept alive with feeding tubes do not deserve to live. I just don't see it. If they choose to live, they should live. It is their choice. They can CHOOSE to live with their suffering or they can CHOOSE to die. This is freedom of choice! They just shouldn't be able to dictate the choice for everyone else in the country. The Pope decided to live until the end and I respect him for it. It was a choice for him and no one else to make.

Sadly in Terry's case, if her brain was damaged to the extent that I've heard, the person that was Terry was already gone before the feeding tube was pulled. At that point she could not choose. I can't help beliving that when the brain activity stops, the person is gone. How could they not be? If she was seriously showing a possiblity of recovery things could have been different. I'm waiting to see the results of that autopsy . . .

Well, what really triggered this rant was listening to Kennedy as I mentioned at the beginning. Sometimes I can use a reminder of how hideous the religious right can be. They give lip service to religious liberty, and then insist on turing their belief into law. Such as their idea that our lives belong to their father in the sky, therefore we must live as they say. And die as they say.

Anyway, here are some links related to the late Pope and Terry Schiavo:

'Precious' Suffering: About Pope John Paul II

The Culture of Living Death :The article which inspired this blog.

Culture of Life or Culture of Living Death?


coffee goddess said...

welcome back...

Actually, I'm inclined to think that the Pope really didn't have much of a say in what was going on. I'm not Catholic, so I'm no authority on this, but I've done a bit of homework on the subject. My understanding is that the Pope is considered God's personal envoy in the flesh. When elected by the red-robed princes of the church, he cannot turn the 'appointment' down.

A pope is the pope until dead (I posed the what-if question to that learned dad of mine and even in a long-term vegetative state the fellow would still be pope).

The man was clearly ill and both physically and mentally unable to carry-out his duties for some time now. I wonder how much the internal workings of the Vatican would have had to do with his level of care, etc. I doubt that he - and he certainly would have family of some extent - had much personal say in his care; whether he would have wished to prolong his life further or let things run their course some time ago.

Just a thought or two.

Mikayla Starstuff said...

Yea, you have a point Robin. I just hadn't thought a lot about it before. The Pope really probably doesn't have much control over his own life, does he?

Digger said...

The Pope can in fact resign from the papacy, its just that nobody has done so for about 600 years. So that makes it a tradition, which in Catholicism takes it close to law :)

But considering how ill he was for so long, and pretty incapable of doing much at all, it does make me ask how much of his role is merely as figurehead?