Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
As the Supreme Court considers the abortion issue, people are protesting from both sides . . . there is too much shouting and polarization to allow for reasonable points to be made. The abortion issue is not easily easily settled with a 'Yes' or 'No' law. It is complex and multi-faceted.
The first point to consider is that conception is the first step to the transmission of life and the protection of human life is our highest value. That makes it a moral issue--but does not automatically give us the answer.
The next point to consider is that a moral choice in always the responsibility of the individual affected by it. When a moral decision is called for, it involves a dilemma . . . a forced choice between equally undesirable alternatives.
Laws are general guidelines, but laws cannot encompass all moral issues that arise. For example, the 6th Commandment is 'Thou shalt not kill' . . . and yet we recognizethere are times when the law ceases to apply as when an innocent life is threatened, that seemingly absolutist position is modified.
In the abortion debate the Pro-Life stand is taken from an absolutist position that it is NEVER right to take a life, even (and perhaps especially) a potential one. This fails to take into consideration the moral dilemma of the pregnant woman.
The Pro-Abortion side takes the absolutist position that argues for NO restriction on abortion, thus failing to give credence to the moral value of protecting human life.
It is unfortunate that when the Roe v Wade debate was settled into law it did not include a limited time frame for undertaking the procedure; that would have avoided its becoming the intractable situation we now have. Society has been appalled at seeing piles of aborted babies in different stages of development and stories of babies aborted within days of delivery.
The coming-to-be of a human life is an evolution. The new life goes through stages of development. Within 24 hours after fertilization the egg rapidly divides into many cells, within 3 weeks it becomes an embryo, gradually becoming more complex as systems develop. Between the 8th and 9th weeks it is called a fetus as it takes on the recognizable form and functions of a baby.
Conception begins the life process and various religions argue about when a fetus becomes 'human' (heart beat? soul enters? viability?), but from a non-sectarian standpoint most would agree that if a pregnency is to be terminated, the earlier the interruption, the more humane.
There is another issue that permeates this debate and that is "Who has the right to decide?" It is within the rights of government to put limits on the timing of the procedure, but it is not the role of a government to make moral decisions. It is the responsibility of each woman seeking the procedure to come to the decision within her own conscience.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
We are encouraged to seek ‘The Good’.
Take a slow and thoughtful look at our world:
--Nations under siege
or collapsing without leadership
the world awash with refugees.
--a measurable increase in violence:
the violence of war
mass killing in schools
and the marketplace
increasing violence in the streets
violence as our prime entertainment source
in movies, on TV, in video games . . .
--loss of restraint and civility:
fist-fighting on airplanes
at school board meetings
children’s soccer games
threats and insults on social media
--a news headline:
‘Billionaires’ wealth surged during pandemic’
Half the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1%
In our world in the 21st century, God has become a non-issue, something to perhaps give a nod to one day of the week—or once a year; but otherwise not actually having an effect on lives. God is ignored.
Whatever you consider to be God’s name or how ‘he’ should be worshiped, it is understood that ‘a god’ represents to humanity all that is good. Losing awareness of our God (by whatever name) brings with it, the loss of focus on ‘the good’ . . . and little by little evil creeps in until it becomes overwhelming.
God doesn’t need us, but we need God in order to remember ‘The Good’.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Those who lack those qualities commit malhuman acts. Putin’s troops are trained to slaughter innocent people; children, women, old people as well as men in uniform. He orders the bombing of hospitals, schools, living quarters, buildings marked ‘CHILDREN’. In areas which they invade but cannot hold, they stealthily plant booby traps where people will walk and shoot captives with hands tied behind their backs. They rape and torture women before killing them, and some when they don’t kill, wish they had. It is total depravity, equal to the Nazi horrors of WWII. Russia had no particular enmity against Ukrainian culture, Putin simply wanted the territory and moved in with his armies. This man is evil! It was blasphemy for him to be pictured blessing himself for the cameras in a church at Orthodox Easter.
I borrow a paragraph from my earlier blog of September 13, 2014 titled ‘Malhuman’. . . “we search for words with which to describe them and their deeds—all our strongest words seem inadequate”; they have transgressed the boundaries of civilization. It is inaccurate to call their actions ‘beastly’ or ‘inhuman’. Beasts instinctively kill for survival but don’t commit these horrors; humans act through conscious choice. They can’t rightly be called inhuman (lacking human identity) or unhuman (not resembling or having qualities of human beings) for these are heinous actions consciously chosen by humans. . . choices arising out of pure evil.
I’ve searched dictionaries for the word malhuman, and I get ‘no match found’. I can’t understand why it is not in our lexicon. I offer it as the word which best describes what we are witnessing.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
Ukraine wants to be part of NATO. NATO is the alliance of democratic nations who agree to mutually support each other if attacked by a rogue nation. Putin does not want Ukraine in NATO and has chosen to call a war to mercilessly attack Ukraine to prevent its joining. This is not Russia’s war, it is Putin’s. Putin controls his nation’s communications so Russians don’t have access to the truth. The US and other NATO nations are doing all they can to support Ukraine short of sending troops—as that would trigger WWIII. We all know this much.
What calls for a closer look is that a world war would immediately become a nuclear war. The world stockpile of nuclear weapons is estimated to roughly be 12,700 warheads. 90 percent of that is held between Russia and the US in more or less equal amounts. Do we realize what a terminal danger this world is in? We have created the possibility of destroying the earth as we know it!
In Deuteronomy 30:15 God’s words are quoted as: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so your children may live.” Living by God’s laws is simply, ‘Do to others as you would want done to you’. Later Jesus added, ‘Love your enemies’. Living by God’s laws promises life; opposing those laws spells death. . . and that is true, whether or not you believe in a God.
The Bible story of Cane and Able tells of older brother, Cane, who out of jealousy, kills his brother Able. It is a cautionary tale.
On March 16th Pope Francis led a meeting of students in St. Peter’s Basilica at which he read a beautiful prayer by Archbishop Battaglia:
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, we implore you to stop the hand of Caine; enlighten our conscience, let not our will be done, do not abandon us to our own doing.
Stop us, Lord, stop us, and when you have stopped the hand of Caine, take care of him also. He is our brother.
Forgive us if, not content with the nails with which we pierced your hand, we continue to drink from the blood of the dead torn apart by weapons.
Forgive us if these hands that you had created to protect, have been turned into instruments of death.”
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Sunday, February 20, 2022
This past month has brought me to consider the issue of Death with Dignity.
Twenty days ago my sister, my only sibling, died. We were very close; when at my Connecticut home (across the driveway from hers) I visited with her daily . . . the doctors say she died of Corona although she was vaccinated and boosted—I believe a broken heart was the responsible underlying cause. In those few months, she had lost her daughter, her home, her freedom and her husband.
She and her husband lived on the farm that she and I grew up on. It had been in the family through 4 generations, 132 years. They moved in with Mom following my Dad’s death in the early 1980’s. Their children had married or moved away but often gathered ‘on the farm’, first with grandchildren and later great-grandchildren. Sometime around 2000 their oldest daughter moved in with them as her husband had died and her only son married. That daughter looked after them for their last 10 years when Parkinson’s disease limited my sister's normal abilities and for the last 5 years she walked with a walker but her mind was clear and she became an avid reader. For this last year, each week I got several large-print book for her from the library. . . and she read every one. Her favorite author was Mary Higgins Clark, followed by John Grisham then James Patterson. The reading helped her tolerate her confinement.
This past June, the daughter living with them died unexpectedly. From that point on everything seemed to go wrong . . . During that summer her husband was twice rushed to the hospital but first they could not find the problem. The next time he was near death; he was found to have an embedded tick and was diagnosed with lyme disease. He pulled through but his previous vigor was diminished—yet he was still independent. They had a series of home health-care workers. Their two remaining children began to talk of a nursing home for them (neither lived close to the farm). They did not want to go. He was adamant, but to their two children, my sister remained passive By Fall, they finally acquiesced to their suggestion.
The intent was to have them share the same room in the couples wing but the lack of an available space placed them temporally in different rooms in the ward. Soon she was transferred, expecting he would join her. But he began spiking high temperatures and was several times sent to the hospital—finally diagnosed with failing kidneys. He was often quarantined so at times my sister could not even visit him. January 2nd he died—alone.
Of course my sister was shaken, but strong. She attended his funeral Mass and the dinner following. There, she was alert and conversational, enjoying seeing all the family and a few friends. I had long visits with her for several days before returning to Florida (where I stay for the winters). She seemed OK but I could see the depression moving in. The weather was bad, she urged me to “go back where it is warm”.
In 2 weeks I got the call that she was in the hospital and expected to die. I got an immediate flight, but on arrival I couldn’t see her, she was under Covid restrictions. She hadn’t wanted extreme measures to prolong her life so when she reached the critical point she was removed from nourishment and fluids in preparation for her expected death. At that point the hospital allowed one and only one, person per day to say their good-by . . . I was third; after son and daughter. I give the hospital credit for allowing a visit, but by the time I saw her, my sister was already gone. She was unconscious and unresponsive, with a morphine drip in her arm. Her mouth hung open and there was an oxygen tube in her nose—why? Was that keeping her hanging on? . . . but she had already left us, there was no response to human touch, she wasn’t ‘alive’ any more yet the end dragged on a few more days. She was alone at the time of her death. We treat our animals better; quietly putting them to sleep when the possibility of recovery is gone. I believe that should have been available for my sister.
And this is the story that brings me to the issue of Death with Dignity laws which allows one who is medically terminal the opportunity to say good-by to loved ones while still able to communicate.
What is Death with Dignity—also known as the Right-to-die? Very simply, it is an end-of-life option to allow a physician to assist in hastening the death of a terminal patient. In the U.S. it is the state, not the Federal Government which determines allowability.
The-Right-to-Die movement emerged in Oregon in the 1990’s. It began as a citizen’s initiative in 1994. In 1997 Oregon enacted the Death With Dignity Act. It faced much opposition and was brought to The Supreme Court. In 2006 The Federal Government lost the case against the Oregon law, thus allowing other states to make similar laws.
At present there are eleven states in which ‘medical aid’ in dying is legal. In alphabetical order they are: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
Every minute of its existence, the medical field strives to interrupt the course of disease or disorder to improve the quality of the life of its patient. That is not considered an 'act against God's will'. To strive to give dignity to one's dying is to honor that person's life . . . and so honors God, the author of life.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
This month I write of my works of fiction. My two novels, although very different, are connected to my firm belief in a God beyond my knowing—this theme was presented in my first blog eight and a half years ago Aug 19, 2013—the long poem ‘Un-Named God’. That poem encompasses all that I write about. I often make references to Teilhard de Chardin who saved my faith and enabled me to embrace ‘Mystery God’. Teilhard foresaw religions moving out of the static state of absolutism and into a dynamic evolutionary world view wherein religion and science are seeking, by different paths, the Truth of our existence.
‘The Stations’, my first novel is about an artist commissioned to create Stations of the Cross for a proposed shrine. It has an allegorical quality in that the artist must plumb the depths of his soul and challenge the establishment to give new meaning to an old church symbol in the face of resistance from the conservative arm of the Catholic Church. The artist shares Teilhard’s vision of the need for humanity to expand our vision to find sacred meaning in the secular world. Many of our religious symbols have become static and inert—thus idols. Symbols need to be suggestive and speak to us of where we are in our development so they come alive with insightful perceptions. Much of our world resists transformative change. The search for new meaning in religion is not a denial of historical spiritual tradition; it’s each era’s attempt to reach closer to Truth (which cannot be reached, only approximated). New knowledge is always built upon the old with the understanding that it is the way we grow. Not denial; rather a transformation to incorporate elements of an ever-changing world.
My new novel, ‘The Conflagration’ carries the theme of transformation. The old world is nearly destroyed by a nuclear WWIII at the end of the 21st Century. The shock, that near world destruction actually came to be, is enough to awaked the survivors to realize war is never the answer and they see the need to recognize the planet as One World. Their descendants cooperatively abandon war and embrace universal values to assure continuation of the species; shaping their choices by relying upon the demands of sustainability and guided by global ethics. The protagonist is in effect a ‘time traveler’ from the 21st century and we watch as she resists, then gradually adapts to the new world and is haunted by the question “Was the Conflagration inevitable?” For her Masters thesis she looks back at the signs of danger that were there for all to see yet were ignored.
(Although a work of fiction, all references to issues of the 21st century or earlier, are researched and accurate.)