March 26, 2005

this post

I know I promised no more Terri Schiavo posts until her demise, but Andrew Sullivan wrote:

A MUST-READ: From one of my favorite conservative-libertarians, Neal Boortz . His is the Christian position I hold. There are worse things for a Christian than death. Let Terri go. She has suffered and been used enough.

Andrew's link takes you HERE. I absolutely must post my thoughts on Neal's column and will simply die if I don't.

As Rush opens the hour he has a question; a question for “you liberals.” He wants to know “Why do you want Terri Schiavo to die?”

I’m on the opposite side of this issue from Rush, Hannity, Liddy and most of my not-liberal talk radio colleagues. So the question intrigued me. Why, indeed, do I want Terri Schiavo to die?

Rush’s question deserved an answer. Not some glib response, but an honest, heartfelt answer. So, … here’s mine.

I want Terri Schiavo to die because I believe she’s earned it.

Let me be presumptuous and say that I don't believe that either Andrew Sullivan or Neal Boortz believe in God. I think they're like me; athiests or agnostics, depending on their state of wonder at the time. I think that Boortz is presenting a theological argument that supports his inclination to "let Terri go" because he desires to engage Believers on their own turf, not because he, himself, is a Believer.

But, like I said, I'm being presumptuous and I have no idea what Andrew or Neal really think in their quiet moments, only what they choose to write. Anywho, with my skepticism now outed, Neal writes:

I don’t view death as the end of the journey of a human soul. I view it as a transition. The God I believe in would not waste the total life experiences of a man or woman made in his image on a total and complete death; a dead end, if you will, with nothing to follow. I cannot believe that it is God’s plan that the life experiences of a man; wisdom gained, lessons learned and love experienced, should, upon death, disappear as if they never were. I believe that there’s something to follow the life we know on this earth; and I believe that most of the people fighting to keep the body of Terri Schiavo alive feel the same way.

Here Neal is invoking the existence of a Hereafter as a salve to our disgust at Terri's pointless death. But, if he is a God-fearing man, I would remind him that Jesus asked Peter "'Who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Throughout the gospels there are references to something called "the God of the living".

I was sitting on a bar stool in my sister's kitchen when my ex- said to my sister, "Bob believes in God, but he doesn't believe in an afterlife." I almost corrected her on the first part. But, I realized that that might explain exactly the way I see it. What I call "God", others would call the Laws of physics, mathematics, chemistry, biochemistry. It's what I think of when I hear the term "Natural Law".

When I release a hammer it'll fall to the ground because God told it to. When I pull the nob on my television set it'll turn the set ON because God told it to. When I betray someone close to me she will suffer immensely because God tells her to. Nicheren Buddhists call it "myoho"; the mystical law of cause and effect. But there's not too much mystery about it. We're geared to work within it because God told us to.

Our bodies know how to live. They can grow from one cell to two. From two to sixteen. Our bodies know how to grow in the womb and how to push ourselves out into the world. Our bodies know how to suckle, how to see and listen, how to accomplish puberty, how to fight an infection and heal a wound, how to grow old and, at our end, how to die.

It's when our bodies are fighting infections and healing wounds that God is most obviously present. Absent modern medical care, we can't do those things for ourselves. Our bodies are instructed, by God, to do them for us.
What the God of the living wants, then, is for us to have eternal Life. But that same God knows that that's impractical. If we all lived forever then the planet would be shoulder-to-shoulder with animal creatures. No one would die except by accident or deliberate killin'. So, instead, we have youth, adulthood, old-age and a death process. Call it "planned obsolescence".

And, yes, there is a "death process". Our bodies know when we're going and our brains instruct it on how to do it right. Certain synapses will be deprived of oxygen and they will then disconnect. The healing mechanisms go from treating a wound to preparing a body and it's consciousness for their end. Whatever consciousness Terri Schiavo has, it is now being told that it's ending has come... and it is comforting her at the same time.

I believe that Terri Schiavo's brain stem sent her signals, in the first few days, that she was starving and dehydrating. Eat! Drink! I am causing you pain because we are suffering! And I believe that she suffered then.

But I also believe that her near-reptilian consciousness knew that it's warnings and directives were going unheeded. Somewhere along the line her "Carteasean theater" showed her that all was lost and that it was time to say good-bye. Our bodies know how to die.

She is breathing and, so, her extant synapses remain intact. She may be dreaming. If so, we can only hope that what's left of her brain knows how to make all of her dreams pleasant ones.

Recent reports say that her eyes and tounge are dried and bleeding. Her skin is dried and flaking. Her body, hopefully, knows that the battle is lost and is delivering every comfort to her awareness that God allows it to give to her. She is at peace. I believe that. God, at this point, wouldn't have it any other way.

Neal correctly asks two different questions. They each address a more fundamental question: Does the soul leave a body when the consciousness leaves or only when Life leaves? (Of course, I believe that it's when Life leaves; it's the end of the sweet tangle of matter and ghost.) Neal makes an argument addressed to both, each conclusion favoring death for Terri. Then Boortz asks:

Where do your concerns truly lie, with the eternal soul of Terri Schiavo, or with her earthly body?

They are one and the same. Her soul is lying in a bed. Hungry. Thirsty. To care for her soul is to feed it. The God of the living would do no less. What we are forgetting about here is that God instructs us on how to live. This is IT, folks. This is the Test. This is the time. This is who we are. Right frickin' NOW!

Neal continues....:

Most of us are aware of the stories related by people who have near-death experiences. The usual scenario is a surgical procedure or some other medical emergency. These people describe a sensation of leaving their body at the very time the heart stops beating and the brain ceases functioning. They tell of floating above their body while watching doctors below working hard to resuscitate, to bring them back to life. As the heart once again starts beating and as the brain resumes its functions, they tell of a sensation of falling back into their own bodies to resume life.

We don’t hear from the patients upon whom resuscitation efforts are not successful. We don’t hear from them because they’ve left us. They’re gone to experience whatever lies beyond. They died.

I don't believe in any of that. That's just '70's wacko mystical shite that belongs in a bin with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot stories. If they saw themselves outside of their bodies then it's because their bodies let them imagine it. We can't see without eyes when we're dead anymore than we can when we're asleep. (Like I said, I'm being presumptuous today...)

Neal concludes:

Is it possible that the soul of Terri Schiavo has been floating – held in some prolonged and excruciating limbo – waiting for doctors to stop interfering with the process of her death? I believe that this is so, and that is why I have supported her husband’s desires to have her feeding tube removed. Terri Schiavo isn’t being murdered. She’s being allowed to die. Death will not be an end for Terri Schiavo, it will be a beginning. She will finally be allowed to claim the reward that ultimately we all seek, a reward she’s earned and deserves.

Wow. That's pretty wacky. "Allowed to die"?! Should a guy, with 3rd degree burns on his hands be "allowed to die" because he can't feed himself? I'm guessing not. What Neal is accepting/endorsing -- no matter how much he feigns to appeal to believers -- is the ending a God-given life that need not be ended. Et tu, Neal?

Posted by Tuning Spork at March 26, 2005 08:48 PM

This whole case reminds me of that movie about euthanasia (I can't spell it) that Der Furher commissioned so Germans would be more accepting of his clearing out the mental hospitals and sanitariums via "flu epidemics"...

P.S. Happpy Easter!

Posted by: Susie at March 27, 2005 09:51 AM

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. As the bible says. I think Paul was trying to say that they're both great for a believer. If you live, you live in Christ and if you die, you gain eternity's blessings.
But that in no way was a call to end your life. No one in the bible was lined up to get killed in the latest Christian martyrdom lion fest or anything... I think your view is more Christ-like and biblical than the self professed Christians.

Posted by: Jody at March 27, 2005 09:05 PM
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