“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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sickness seen through a lens of Christian faith

My wife was in the basement going through an old box filled with personal mementos and yellowed family photographs. She came up the stairs and put a old love letter in front me that I wrote to her in 1973 -- the year we married. We were both very young. At one point in the letter I wrote,

“We may be as poor as church-mice but we are rich with hope for the future. This is our great blessing. Both of us have seen people who do not hope: Whether it was a broken spirit, loneliness or disillusionment, something drove them to despair and made them strangers of hope. …”

“…What about our health? Health is like money in that it can be taken away. If either of us were to lose our health, we can be thankful for having known good health. There are thousands of people who have never had the gift of good health; they live with sick or twisted bodies that have never been whole. We have so much to be thankful for but most of all, we have each other.”

My wife asked why a healthy, athletic twenty year old man would make a comment about health in a love-letter? The hope and health comments seemed to be a deviation from the romantic sentiments in the rest of my letter.

Health is uncertain

I think it was because I had been sensitized by my father to the understanding that healthy people can be stricken without warning by illness or disability. He was a robust, strong man who enjoyed excellent health until he suffered a series of devastating heart attacks at the age of fifty and died of heart failure two years later, when I was sixteen. Needless to say, it had a profound impact on me to see how easily and quickly health can be stripped away from people. I was introduced early to the idea that life is tenuous and uncertain.

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of thirty. Contrary to my earlier youthful words in a love-letter to my wife, I was not thankful I had known good health after it was gone. I was angry I lost it!

Fear overcame me about what lay in store for me. I knew multiple sclerosis is a serious disease that often has a catastrophic impact of the lives of people it strikes. I knew people with MS: often their lives were torn apart as their marriages crumbled, careers shattered, and they were abandoned to a living hell.

Multiple sclerosis devastated my life. It stripped away my health, layer by layer, like pealing an onion, and eventually left me triplegic and in an electric wheelchair.

Looking back over more than twenty years of increasingly profound and crippling disability I must say that I have become one of those people I wrote about who lives with a sick and twisted body. Yes, there were times when my heart broke – along with the hearts of those loved me. There were times throughout the years when it was me (not someone else) who was on the verge of despair. Protracted suffering seemed to isolate me in sorrow – just as my wife’s sorrow seemed to isolate her. At other times we lived two solitudes rooted in the same overwhelming and inexpressible sorrow.
The only way for our two broken hearts to unite was to kneel together before the cross and ask Jesus to console the inconsolable within us.

When people unite their suffering and sorrows with Christ’s Passion, a mysterious solidarity often occurs with other sufferers; solitudes of human anguish come together in mutual comfort at the foot of the cross. Christ’s outreached arms bid welcome to all heavy-hearted people, calling us beyond ourselves and our pain to find our consolation in Him.
Sickness seen through Christian lens

What is the purpose of sickness when viewed through the lens of Christian Faith? Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a hint when he said,

“Sickness is seen by Faith as coming from the hand of God, either to detach us from the spirit of the world, or to offer our sufferings in union with Christ’s for the salvation of the world.”

My isolation in sickness and suffering, sometimes to the point of despair, has had the transforming effect of separating me from my attachments to the spirit of the world. It creates a desire of the Spirit of heaven. It has taught me that at the hour of death (mentioned with each Hail Mary) all things of this world, including my decrepit body, will fall away and my spirit will cross the threshold of eternity. It is the same threshold all humanity must cross.

How does suffering contribute to the salvation of the world? I’m not sure. Perhaps Saint Paul’s words give us insight not only in assisting the salvation of the world but the unity of the heavy-hearted with Christ’s suffering that I just mentioned. The Apostle said,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.” (2Corinthians 1.3-5)

Saint Paul’s example was to unite his sufferings with Christ. This enabled him to encourage others in their afflictions. Our pain enlightens and encourages not only us individually but helps others to divest the spirit of the world and stand in union with Christ. In this way, Christians can use their afflictions for the salvation of the world through faith, patience and perseverance.

Like Saint Paul, we too can say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion who encourages us in our affliction.”

Mark Pickup
The content of this blog also appears in the February 4th 2008 edition of Canada's Western Catholic Reporter under the title "Sickness, seen by faith, comes from the hand of God: Yet for the person enduring it, the journey can be devastating"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King and the new struggle for human rights

In America, this long weekend commemorates the life of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. He was one of those moral giants God raised up to guide a nation toward a new stage in its collective moral development. Like Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and others, he played a pivotal role in opening a window for the fresh air of human equality to flow across America. The curtain of ignorance separated, inviting people across the land to breathe freely. On the air that flowed through that open window came the sweet hope of the Almighty’s sacred and intense light to illuminate anew the inalienable truth that all humanity is created equal and deserving equal opportunities to live and flourish with dignity for no other reason than they are created in His image.

Forces for human darkness

There were those who were afraid of the light and tried to shut the window and close the curtain of ignorance which would plunge people back into previous darkness. They preferred the darkness because the light would show their deeds, corrupt hearts, and the poverty of their characters. They killed King (as they killed Lincoln) for daring to open the window to truth and the ideal of human equality. They wanted to alienate inalienable human Rights and confuse self-evident truth.

Their bullets killed Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln but could not stop the truth that enables men to breathe and live free and emerge into new moral understanding about the brotherhood of man, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
First & highest human right
If we truly believe that there is such a thing as universal human rights then those rights must apply to all humanity, not just some. That’s what makes them universal! The first universal and inalienable human Right is the Right to Life: It is the first and highest human right because it is the foundation upon which all other rights stand. All other rights are meaningless if human life is not allowed to exist. This truth must not be overlooked or discounted. It is the first and highest universal human right, … if universal human right really do exist.

Yet the Right to Life has been under direct attack since 1973 in America and earlier than that in Canada. Until Roe versus Wade is over-turned, and Canadian law is passed affording unborn children protection and care, then we will show, by our actions, that we do not believe in universal human rights that are inalienable.
Dr. Alveda King

A couple of years ago I delivered the key-note address to the U.S. National Right to Life Prayer Breakfast. People from every state in the Union were in attendance. After my address, I was introduced to Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King. She had been in the audience throughout my address. I was embarrassed. It should have been Dr. King who spoke, not me! In true King fashion, she was gracious, kind and encouraging.
The Kennedy’s may be America’s aristocrats but the King’s are America’s nobility. In keeping with the noble calling of her uncle, Dr. Alveda King stands with the greatest civil rights struggle of the 21st Century: The Right to Life.
The great King family legacy
The blood of 50 million unborn children pollutes American soil, their voices cry out from the ground to God, for justice ! People of America, tremble and know that God is just.
He is also merciful. If America will turn from the great evil of abortion and repents of the sin resulting from Roe V. Wade, maybe God will hold back His judgment, Perhaps it is not too late.
Join with the leadership of Alveda King in her commitment to stop abortion. God has raised up Dr. King as a moral leader -- in the noble legacy of her uncle -- for a time such as this. Rally behind her to champion the universal human right of all America's children to exist and breathe the fresh air of life and acceptance within the greater Human Family!
Dr. Alveda King website is http://www.kingforamerica.com/
Mark Pickup

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Canadian winters are a metephor for life

My latest column in Canada's Western Catholic Reporter is entitled "Spring's promise melts Winter's ice" can be accessed at

It originally appeared in my personal blog earlier this month.

Mark Pickup

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Canadian women's Pro-Life organization

I want to bring Canadian readers' attention to the following news release about a new grassroots women's pro-Life organization. See below.

Mark Pickup


Canada without abortion. By choice.


For immediate release

January 14, 2008 (Ottawa)— Today marks the launch of Canada’s first pro-woman pro-life group, ProWomanProLife, which can be found online at http://www.prowomanprolife.org/

ProWomanProLife celebrates women, life and freedom and is being launched to mark the Morgentaler decision of January 28, 1988, which removed all restrictions on abortion in Canada at any stage of a pregnancy.

The founding director of ProWomanProLife, Andrea Mrozek, says it is time women took a non-partisan, non-religious stand against the idea that abortion is good for women and furthermore, not just a choice, but a “right.” “We have no hidden agenda here but a very open one: To eradicate abortion in Canada, not by legislation or force, but because that is what women choose. Women should band together to remove abortion from our cultural landscape,” she says. Mrozek is joined by a board of five professional women: Brigitte Pellerin in Ottawa, Raji Shankar in Toronto, Rebecca Walberg in Winnipeg and Dr. Sheryl Alger and psychologist Teresa Fraser in Calgary.

Mrozek notes that abortion has become a pressing issue of freedom of speech. “Pro-lifers are told what they can and can’t say in politics, and pro-life clubs are currently being banned on our university campuses. No Canadian should be comfortable with this suppression of dialogue, irrespective of how they feel about abortion,” Mrozek said.

To address the freedom of speech issue as well as the harm that abortion does to women, children and families, ProWomanProLife will blog with abandon. Our long-term goal is to become a charity that offers women better choices. But the first step is to raise our voices against the conventional, harmful wisdom that a willingness to kill her unborn child liberates a woman.


For further information please contact founding director Andrea Mrozek at 613-875-5888 or at andrea@prowomanprolife.org

ProWomanProLife.org is the grassroots endeavor of the founding board, is not affiliated with any other organization and depends entirely on donations of time and money from individuals.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To view my latest blog "The Death of Primordial Joy and the Hope of Joy Regained" go to http://markpickup.blogspot.com/

Mark Pickup

Sunday, January 13, 2008

To read my latest blog for 13 January 2008, "The primordial nature of joy" go to http://markpickup.blogspot.com/

Mark Pickup

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Planned Parenthood Sells Sex

In American Life League's latest video report, they illustrate how Planned Parenthood "farms" their business by promoting sexual promiscuity so they can sell more contraceptives and more abortions.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Euthanasia and Samuel Golubchuk

The email following this preface note was recently received to me from the American organization called CURE (Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia, http://mysite.verizon.net/cureltd/index.html). The email incorporates an article from the December 26th edition of the Jerusalem Post; it deals with the proposed euthanasia of a Canadian Orthodox Jew named Samuel Golubchuk (84) at the Salvation Army Grace General Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada.

I wrote to hospital officials asking that they intervene and stop the decision by hospital doctors to hasten Mr. Golubchuk's death by detaching his respirator, administering morphine and withdrawing food from him. This action by doctors in the name of futile care will be against the family's wishes.

Not only is this decision to euthanize an old man a violation of his faith, it has incensed the Jewish Community across North America (as you will read in the email below). It should also incense Christians because the euthanasia of Samuel Golubchuk -- in a Christian hospital -- will be a violation of our common Judeo-Christian moral code dating back into antiquity, with God's Commandment "Thou Shalt not kill." (Exodus 21.13. Cf. Genesis 9.6.) The killing of an old man in a Christian hospital is indefensible, and I told hospital officials this.

If you would like to make your voice heard in defence of Mr. Golubchuk (and his family's wishes), send a note to Commissioner John Nelson, President & CEO, Salvation Army Grace General Hospital in Winnipeg, or Dr. Elizabeth Cowden, Chief Medical Officer at the hospital. Fax number for both is 1-204-831-0029.

Now read below the email I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

Mark Pickup

Copy of CURE email
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2007 6:44 AM
Subject: [Bioethics] Family Fights Euthanasia Axis' Bid To Murder Samuel Golubchuk

Doctors at Grace General Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada, are waging a legal battle to detach a respirator [ventilator--it assists not assumes breathing] and hasten the death (via morphine and halted feedings) of [i.e,, kill via poisoning and starvation] 84-year-old Orthodox Jew Samuel Golubchuk - against his family's wishes. [May G-d bless them for their stand, but if they aided and abetted the conspiracy to murder Mr Golubchuk, it would still be a crime against humanity.]
The case, which has aroused anger and fear within the North American Jewish community that the case will set a precedent for doctors to have exclusive power over life and death decisions, has been widely reported in the local press. Rabbinical and community leaders worry that budget-conscious hospital systems may decide to shorten patients' lives to save money or free up beds [a.k.a. "checkbook euthanasia."].

Rabbi Asher Bush, chairman of the Halacha Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America (the world's largest organization of Orthodox rabbis), said: "We find this lack of respect for life and the denial of the patient's and family's right to choose life to be most disturbing and against our most sacred principles of the sanctity of human life."

Dr. Leon Zacharowicz, a New York neurologist and co-founder of an international seminar series on Jewish medical ethics run by the Jerusalem Center of Research: Medicine and Halacha, told the Post: "I have... lectured about, discussed and studied end-of-life and critical care matters with some of the greatest physicians and scholars in Judaism [for] more than a decade, and I do not know a single one who would deem what is being proposed by these doctors as acceptable. To my knowledge, the doctors involved have not had a neurologist come in and perform a thorough neurological examination, nor have they obtained serial EEGs and brain-wave tests, both of which might better detect the patient's true level of neurologic function and might help exclude reversible neurological conditions. The Hippocratic Oath, which doctors have taken for millennia upon graduation, clearly states: 'I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.'" [No doubt, that is why the Hippocratic Oath is being reworded--or even jettisoned--in many medical schools.]

Prof. Shimon Glick, a leading Israeli medical ethics expert and former dean if Ben-Gurion University's Health Sciences Faculty, commented: "From a halachic point of view, removing a feeding tube from a patient who has any brain function is active euthanasia, equivalent to murder ... But here, in addition, unless the patient has specifically indicated by advance directive that such is his desire, one has a violation of the patient's autonomy, as well."

The US Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists discussed the case earlier this week at its annual meeting in New York, passing a resolution of grave concern about this case. Agudath Israel of America has also expressed its concern. The Orthodox Golubchuk family has gone to court to sue the hospital and doctors in a last-ditch attempt to stop active euthanasia. The hospital says the patient suffers from "minimal brain function." The family lawyer says the hospital has not conducted an electrocardiogram or asked a neurologist to determine his level of consciousness and that turning off the respirator against his will should be regarded as "assault."

The Golubchuks' lawyer also said the patient is not "lower brain dead," [so-called "brain death" is a legal fiction coined to promote the organ trade and euthanasia], meaning his heart beats on its own and he even holds his relatives' hands.

According to a national Canadian survey of over 1,000 adults, two-thirds support the family on the right of patients and their legal guardians to make decisions on ethical issues such as quality vs. sanctity of life.

A lawyer representing one of the hospital doctors said that Canadian courts have ruled that the removal of a respirator by hospital staff does not constitute assault, as it is only a matter of withdrawing treatment and is a daily and acceptable practice in Canadian hospitals. [In other words, if the law sanctions murder, it is "acceptable"--logic straight out of the Third Reich!]

Another hospital lawyer told the court that doctors "have the sole right to make decisions about treatment - even if it goes against a patient's religious beliefs." [The fact that the Decalogue condemns murder, does not confine it to a "religious belief." All civilized people and societies should condemn the killing of the innocent.] Golubchuk's doctors claim he is in pain, and that if they continue to perform invasive procedures, they could be involved in "abuse." [Euthanasians always claim to be "mercy" killers, but those who kill are scarcely scrupulous when it comes to telling the truth.]

(Judy Siegel-Itzkovitch,"Family Battles Plan To Turn Off Father's Respirator," Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2007; bracketted comments by CURE]Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia ](CURE) ... Caring When Care Is Critical

Additional reading at "Family Fights To Keep 84 year old on Life Support, CTV News Online, 17 December 2007.(http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071217/Golubchuk_alive_071217/20071217?hub=TopStories)