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February 29, 2008

Daily roundup

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Rolley Haggard

If Barack Obama is going to talk about Terri Schiavo again, so should we.

Two tributes to Terri. May we never forget. God forgive us that we ever let it happen.


Terri Schiavo and the Death of Civilization (Written just before Terri died)

I haven’t slept much the past few nights. I couldn’t imagine anyone making even a dog go eleven days without food and water.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The courts have ruled that this torture-murder of a helpless, innocent young woman is legal. Dozens of conscientious friends have already gone to jail trying to give Terri a drink of water.

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. -- Matthew 10:42, NIV

But then, should I really be surprised that our legal system can countenance such an outrage? After all, we’ve aborted 45 million innocent people since 1973 all in the name of convenience -- legally. With Terri’s death, our final, feeble claim to civilization dies.

An unjust law is no law. – St. Augustine

I profess to be a Christian. But news reports also describe Judge Greer – the man who had the power to save Terri’s life – as “a conservative Christian”. There is no way that two who are so diametrically opposed on so important an issue can be worshippers at the same altar. At least one of us is committing a great sacrilege. May God have mercy on that one.

But not until that one has mercy on Terri.

Goodbye, Terri. God bless you.

***

“Terri.”

Terri stirred slightly, aware of a presence with her. Weakened by a seeming eternity without food or water, it was all she could do to open her bleeding eyes.

A gentle hand touched hers. “I’ve come to take you home.”

Dimly, she saw the figure standing next to her bed. Though she could not speak, she wondered, “Who are you?” She was vaguely delighted to discover that her visitor understood what she was thinking.

“I think you know who I am.”

Motionlessly, she took and squeezed his hand. “I knew you would come”, she said. “But I hurt so bad.”

“I know”, he said, his voice breaking.

They were both silent for a long moment. From the edge of consciousness, Terri realized she could think clearly again for the first time in years. She struggled to savor the sweetness of thought.

“Why?” she wondered. “Why did this happen?”

“I don’t know, Terri. Someday we’ll ask them.”

“Did it have to be this way?”

“No.”

“Will things ever change?”

“Someday.”

“Why do they want me to die?”

There was no answer. Afraid that she might be alone, Terri opened her eyes again. Impossibly, she found herself standing next to her hospital bed. Her friend was lying there, gasping for breath. Dull thought overwhelmed her: This is a delusion.

Then she heard her own voice cry out, “Help him! Somebody help him! Please, he’s dying! Please, somebody!”

Cruel silence.

Terri, unable to move, lifted a tiny paper cup of water to her friend’s parched lips. Gently, tenderly, she let the cool drops trickle into his mouth. Ever so gradually, she felt the excruciating pain ebb away from her wracked body. How, she wondered, could water taste so wonderful?

She felt his hand take hers once again. It was trembling, and cold with sweat. She knelt by his side.

“Terri!” he said, urgently.

“Yes, Lord?”

“Terri, take me home!”

***

Jesus said, “I thirst”. (John 19:28).

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40, KJV)

---------------------------------------


Donald Herbert and Terri Schiavo - Coincidence? (Written Thursday, 5 May 2005)

I read with interest the CNN article about the brain-damaged Buffalo, NY firefighter who after ten long years in a near persistent vegetative state suddenly regained consciousness. According to the report, Donald Herbert spent the past decade “unmoving in a wheelchair, drooling and barely aware”.

Some years back, Nikos Kazantzakis penned the following lines: “I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God.’ And the almond tree blossomed.” It was written in commemoration of a transformative event in the life of St. Francis. According to legend, St. Francis spoke to the tree on a cold winter’s day and then watched in amazement as it miraculously burst into bloom.

I, and many others, had hoped that a similar miracle might blossom in the life of Terri Schiavo. And then, this week, it came.

“Lord, speak to us of Terri Schiavo,” we had prayed in language too deep for words, so deep that even we ourselves did not know what we were asking. And in the cold winter of a nation’s soul, Donald Herbert regained consciousness.


benjamin ady

I for one totally understand Obama's regret over his vote in the Schiavo case, and applaud him for owning up to it.

Rolley Haggard

I assume, then, that you applaud the Supreme Court's decision in the Dred Scott case, because it proceeded on essentially the same principle: namely, that some people are intrinsically more valuable, and more entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" than others.

But don’t worry – even though you and I disagree on a matter of infinite importance, I would still fight for your life for all I’m worth if you were ever to wind up in Terri’s situation. Your only worry would be from those who agree with you.

benjamin ady

rolley,

I'm a bit confused about the connection between the dred scott decision and the terry shiavo case. Maybe you can help me out. =)

I'm very sorry to hear that you would "fight for my life for all you're worth" should I ever end up in Terry Shiavo's position. My beautiful, delightful, amazing, wise, brilliant wife, who knows me infinitely better than you and infinitely better than the U.S. senate, or any court in the country, is far more qualified to make decisions in such a scenario, and I can imagine you rallying lots of powerful people who had never heard of me before to fight my lovely wife in her already astoundingly difficult decision. I hope that will not be the case--that you and others would just back off and show a little respect if it were me and my wife we were talking about. =)

Rolley Haggard

Benjamin, follow this link for a treatment of the parallel between Terri Schiavo and the Dred Scott case:
http://www.citizensoldier.org/dredscottterrischiavo4f.pdf

And for a concise summary of the scrupulously documented facts about Terri Schiavo, there is an excellent, non-polemical brief at:
http://www.citizenlink.org/FOSI/bioethics/eoli/A000002299.cfm

My remark about fighting for your life for all I’m worth was predicated on the assumption that were you ever in Terri’s situation, you, like Terri and her family, would want to continue to live. However, if you and your family were bent on withholding food and water from you – and it were clear beyond all doubt that that was, indeed, your mutual wishes - then although I still oppose all compromises of the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” and corollary initiatives to legalize assisted suicide, I can assure you that my efforts to oppose such a sad decision would be confined to vigorous debate and dialogue in the marketplace of ideas, and would not extend to a personal crusade to get the governing authorities to overthrow your individual decision. Neither would you need to fear that I would trouble you or your wife with a personal visit to try and change your mind. I might make the personal visit, but it would be simply to let you know that you are infinitely precious and, come what may, I love you in all sincerity.

benjamin ady

Rolley,

thank you for the links. Is it true that there are some 300,000 people in a minimally conscious state in the U.S? That's an astounding figure. Is it costing $5000/month to care for each and every one of them? While 3 Billion people on the planet suffer along on $60/month or less? I wonder what that means?

I'm glad to hear that you wouldn't interfere with my lovely spouse's decisions about my care, unlike what happened in the Schiavo case.

Rolley Haggard

Benjamin,

Surely one thing it means is that we’ve got our work cut out for us. We need to spread mercy’s net a lot further to try and do what we can to help those 3 billion. Even as every child is infinitely precious to every loving mom and dad (regardless of how many children they have or what physical/mental condition those children are in), so every person on the planet is precious beyond measure to God.

You say “unlike what happened in the Schiavo case”, but that is precisely where you and I differ. The ones who interfered in Terri’s case were those who wanted Terri to die, not those who wanted her to live.

benjamin ady

"so every person on the planet is precious beyond measure to God."

I just can't figure out this idea. I mean it sounds really nice. But such large numbers of people are born into darkness and a horror of suffering, spend their lives that way, and die with no relief. You and my very favoritest of Christian authors, George Macdonald, seem to agree that in spite of all that, there is some kind of unseen bottom line that means that God loves them, and it gets fixed in the end, somehow. I used to find that profoundly satisfying and hopeful and comforting, but over the last couple years it really stopped working for me, as I opened my eyes and my senses more and more to the present reality on the planet. In a way, I envy you. =)

Rolley Haggard

Benjamin,

I hope you will read my post on Regis’ segment about “Reasons to Believe”. (I think I posted right after you did, so you probably have not yet seen it.) Obviously, it does not provide definitive answers, but I believe there’s some good food for thought along these very lines nevertheless.

And if we liken the breathtakingly passionate love of God to a mighty, tempestuous ocean, there is, tucked away in those paragraphs, I believe, the faint but unmistakable hint of salt spray.

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