“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Sunday, August 31, 2014

INCLUDING PEOPLE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA

Mental hospital where Dora lived
My wife, LaRee, never knew her maternal grandmother: Her name was Dora and she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Dora was institutionalized in a mental hospital in 1932 at 34 years of age.

Eighty-two years ago the shame and stigma of having a family member in a mental institution was so great that few people in the family ever mentioned Dora, after that. She never got out of a mental hospital and eventually died there. Life went on. It was as though Dora never existed; it seemed that everyone forgot about her — but my wife did not forget.

Throughout LaRee's life her grandmother was a mystery, the lost member of the family who needed to be restored to her rightful place of respect in our family tree.

LaRee tried to find information about Dora from aunts and uncles but their recollections were sketchy and vague. Inquiries to government authorities in charge of the hospital were met with refusals to release information. 


Then one day in 2011 another attempt to get information fell on the sympathetic ears of a bureaucrat who sent LaRee the long-closed, dusty and yellowed file of Dora.


ISOLATED PRISONER

LaRee sat in our living room looking at a rare and faded
photograph of her grandmother that was in the file. Through tears LaRee read the sad details of a tortured life -- her grandmother's life -- a life crippled by devastating mental illness that isolated Dora from the world and all she loved.

A casual observer might conclude that Dora's life was tragic and wasted. But that would not be entirely true. Granted, her life was tragic and sad but it was not wasted.

Dora gave birth to LaRee's mother who gave birth to LaRee who has been the love of my life for more than 40 years. LaRee is the mother of our children who gave us five beautiful grandchildren and they bring immeasurable joy to our lives.


LaRee and me
If Dora had not been here, my world would not exist. Dora did not know much love in her life, but because of her, LaRee and I know love. No, Dora's life was not wasted. She is an indispensable part of our heritage; we owe a debt of gratitude to her. Her picture will sit in its rightful place in our home.

UNFOUNDED PREJUDICE

I have been physically disabled for many years (multiple sclerosis). In the hierarchy of disability, mental illness is near the bottom of the heap. Paranoid schizophrenia is at the very bottom of the bottom. Paranoid schizophrenics don't even fit into the world of disabilities! People with schizophrenia are often social outcasts.

That is the bad news. The good news is that things have vastly improved with anti-psychotic medications and treatments for schizophrenia in the decades since Dora died. There are many effective therapies that can help schizophrenics to live productive and useful lives if they stay on their medications and don't get caught up in the destructive downward vortex of addictions that often plague schizophrenics.


Our Lord showed mercy for the deranged and so should his followers. The Catholic Church has a history of caring for the mentally and physically sick. This not only involves actual care but advocacy for better care of the mentally ill. 

I am reminded of a homily given by Cardinal Lozano Barragan on the 2006 World Day of the Sick. The cardinal stated, in part:

"The treatment for a mentally ill patient should be a treatment of loving care, tenderness and kindness, in order to help him cope with his imaginary world, perceived as an enemy, a world in which he often drowns."

The Cardinal recognized the importance of devising treatments
Cardinal Barragan
designed to draw patients from beneath their circumstances of deep psychic suffering. He reminded his audience that many people suffering the worst psychosis "often lose their sense of human relations and feel persecuted by a hostile surrounding environment." Such people 
need Christ's love so very badly.


CHRIST'S WITNESSES


Indifference of communities to the needs of its mentally ill people can actually threaten their security and safety. They can end up homeless, wandering the streets of inner cities across North America. As health budgets tighten or cut back, the mentally ill can fall between the cracks of service.

Mental illness can strike any family. An ideal opportunity exists to expand Christian outreach and expressions of Christ-like love to the mentally ill and their families. Christ works through his Church. Unconditional love is His great witness to a society where love is selective and arbitrary and hearts so cold.

[Click below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMPCNrWNCg8 for "Who am I" by Casting Crows.]




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Originally published in the Western Catholic Reporter (Canada) 3 October 2011.

THE REAL MEASURMENT OF MEANING AND PURPOSE

I have been such a stupid man. It took me a lifetime to learn that the real meaning in life is not measured by what we get rather what we give. Three year old Emily James already understands this truth. Click below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwQZggdZrOo to see her message.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

BRINGING CHRISTIANITY TO THE PUBLIC SQUARE: CANADIAN LORNA DUECK

An Op-ed piece appear in the 28 August 2014 edition of Canada's
Lorna Dueck
Globe and Mail newspaper entitled "Christianity and the good death". It was written by journalist, TV show host, and devout Christian, Lorna Dueck. We've been friends for years and I hold her in high esteem.


Lorna is an evangelical Christian who brings Christianity to Canada's public square through her television show CONTEXT and through her poignant, thought provoking and timely articles in secular publications such as the Globe and Mail. Lorna is a great example for us all of a Christian who refuses to be silenced or sidelined because of her faith. She uses her voice to bring a Christian moral voice forward from behind the headlines. Lorna Dueck courageously stands out in a sea of Canadian secular and anti-Christian media. Read Lorna's latest offering at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/christianity-and-the-good-death/article20227849/ 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EXPAND CHRISTIAN HOSPICE

The Washington Post recently carried an article by Peter Whoriskey entitled, "As More hospices enroll patients who aren't dying, questions about lethal doses arise". See http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?

I want to bring this situation to your attention -- whether real or feared. It is that natural outcome of increasing societal acceptance of euthanasia. The old and disabled become afraid of what motives and intentions lie behind the treatment they receive. Many of us old stalwarts in the pro-Life movement have been warning that once the sanctity of human life cultural ethic is abandoned, the weakest and frailest of society would be in increasing peril. That is where we have come to; imposed death and fear of imposed death are now a reality. 

Welcome to the brave new world of the 21st Century.

The need for more orthodox Christian hospices have become a necessity to counter a culture of death that pervades many secular institutions.[1] We need to see an expansion of Christian centers of excellence for continuing and end of life care.  People must rest assured in the knowledge that they or their loved one's will receive care as though it was Christ himself being cared for.


Christian staff of these hospices must operate by this standard of care for all residents because that is the standard Christ gave: "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."[2] Christian and non-Christian alike would be welcome into these life affirming, Christ-centered care. Evangelical denominations and Catholic dioceses must cooperate to ensure an expanded blanket of Christian hospice care covers the landscape. 

The hostility of Obamacare being faced by American Christian institutions must only instigate a redouble efforts for life-affirming care -- even in the face of withering opposition of Obamacare or state policies that are anti-life. Our witness for the natural, God-given dignity of all human life can stand in sharp contrast to the prevailing culture of death and its disdain for the vulnerable. 

Remember, a candle burns brighter the darker it gets. Stand firm for Christ. Stand firm for the value and dignity of every human life. Expand the reach of Christian hospice.

Mark
_________________________
[1] My definition of the word "orthodox" or "orthodoxy" is the same as G.K. Chesterton's in his book of the same name: "When the word "orthodoxy" is used here it means the Apostles' Creed, as understood by everyone calling himself a Christian until a very short time ago and the general historical conduct of those who held such a creed."
[2] Matthew 25.40.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FATHER OF DOWNS CHILDREN RESPONDS TO RICHARD DAWKINS

My previous post "INCLUDING PEOPLE WITH DOWNS"
Richard Dawkins
referred to Richard Dawkins' disgusting and bigoted comments that mother's carrying a Downs baby have a moral responsibility to abort the child. That brought a welcome comment from Tom Reynolds referring me to an OPEN LETTER TO RICHARD DAWKINS, by J.D. Flynn, published in FIRST THINGS -- America's most influential journal on religion and public life. It is an excellent letter. Please read it here: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/08/an-open-letter-to-richard-dawkins


What Dawkins does not understand is that people with Downs call the world to a higher standard of love.

Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfuaNhXI1Ao for a beautiful song written by Steve Mosher, the father of a daughter with Downs. It is perhaps the most poignant response to Richard Dawkins' comments.


Monday, August 25, 2014

INCLUDING PEOPLE WITH DOWN'S

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news blog featured a story about a new line of clothing for people with Downs Syndrome that has been launched. Karen Bowersox of Mentor OH, has developed a clothing line specifically for people with the condition. See
http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2014/08/clothing-line-for-people-with-down-syndrome-finds-success-on-kickstarter.html

Being an advocate for people with disabilities, I took note of the story. It's not a major human rights story, but I suppose it may be a concern -- especially for a person with Downs. This small good news story was refreshing after a bigoted and odious comments by Richard Dawkins last week. The lofty Oxford professor said it is immoral not to abort a child with Downs.[1] That's how coarse and anti-disability our culture is becoming -- that such cruel comments would come from a prestigious university as Oxford. 

Inclusion not elimination of people with disabilities of various kinds must be a goal for enlightened society. Unfortunately nearly 90% of pregnancies involving babies with Downs syndrome end in abortion. And so a story about a loving grandmother of a Downs child developing a clothing line for people with the syndrome was sweetness in the wake of Dawkins' awful words. 

Christians should stand in contrast to such sentiments and advocate for life and inclusion for all humanity as image bearers of God, supporting families facing a prenatal diagnosis of Downs or other disabilities. We can set a standard of inclusion! 

Where does inclusion occur? It occurs in the daily lives of people
with disabilities and the accommodation of their needs. Inclusion occurs with accessible housing and transportation, education and recreation, proper nutrition and access to equal medical care to the rest of the population. And yes, it can occur even in the simplest and ordinary aspects of life such as having clothing that fits. It occurs by including people with disabilities and their families in our community and church life.

Make your church, community and family disability friendly.

Mark
[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIK5st2s3kA for a message of hope to mothers caring a Down's baby.]



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[1] "Richard Dawkins: 'immoral' not to abort if foetus has Down's syndrome: Scientist says a mother has a responsibility to 'abort it and try again' if she knows her baby would have the disorder", The Guardian, 21 August 2014. See http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/21/richard-dawkins-immoral-not-to-abort-a-downs-syndrome-foetus

Friday, August 22, 2014

THE DISSONANCE OF A PRO-CHOICE THINKER

Linda Couri
I want you to listen to a talk delivered by former Planned Parenthood counsellor Linda Couri. She discusses, in part, the dissonance of a thoughtful pro-choicer. Although it is 51 minutes long, her presentation is very revealing and enlightening. Click link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e42gurhnbpA