“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, February 20, 2013


Mark Davis Pickup
Followers of this blog may be interested in my latest column for Canada's Western Catholic Reporter. It deals with what I call a river of grief that confronts people with sudden onset of serious disabilities or chronic illnesses.  My column states, in part:

"... For example, the sudden catastrophe of spinal cord injury can be the source of deep despair and bitterness for the individual who finds himself facing paraplegia or quadriplegia, often in the blink of an eye.

All it takes is a fall or car accident. It is a terrible shock to lose partial or complete use of one's limbs. A severed spinal cord irrevocably and drastically alters how a person lives his life.

Grief is like a river that can block the sufferer from continuing his life journey. It is imperative to cross the river of grief and discover what is on the other shore. After the initial shock passes, it becomes critically important to actively and intentionally rebuild one's life and incorporate the new reality.

The individual must develop a new self-identity that includes his disability or condition and his loved ones must encourage this process and accept the new person and how he perceives himself. But the individual's new reality should not be focused on his disability. This transition phase is uncertain and even dangerous.

Some people refuse to rise above their circumstances and face their new reality. They want their old life back or they want no life. They are unwilling to cross the river of grief and can become suicidal. Unresolved grief in people with disabilities (and their loved ones) can fuel calls for euthanasia and assisted suicide."

To read the rest of my column go to http://wcr.ab.ca/Columns/OpinionsStories/tabid/70/entryid/3686/Disability-forces-one-to-cross-a-river-of-grief.aspx

Mark Davis Pickup

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


On a number of occasions I have written about the loneliness of disability. I suppose readers might be apt to think loneliness is not unique to people with severe disabilities, and they are right. Most lonely people are not disabled. You don’t even need to be alone to be lonely; a person can be lonely in a crowded room. The issue is interconnectedness with others.

Humanity was created for relationships.  We are hardwired for connections with others and for intimacy.  I’m not referring to intimacy in a sexual context ─ although that is important in marriage ─ I am referring to a broader context of intimate human friendship and belonging.

Being cut-off from intimate human friendships and the accompanying sense of not belonging to a social group is a source of deep loneliness.  In his brilliant and penetrating 1943 essay entitled The Inner Ring, C.S. Lewis wrote about the human desire to belong to certain social groups and the terror of being excluded from them. He described the rings of social groups in society like skins of an onion.

All people may, at any point, be included in or excluded from a desired social Ring, or try to pierce through to a Ring, or be in the process of being thrown from one.  Lewis said:

C.S. Lewis
“I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.”

The desire to be on the inside of a society of people may not necessarily be for the snobbery of high life.  A person may desire to be part of a particular grungy artistic cĂ´terie or some intellectual or political clique.  It is an aspect of life people may not speak about – particularly when they are trying to get into a new group − when they are still one of “them” rather than one of “us”.  

We see this desire to belong blatantly displayed with teenagers.  The yearning to fit into a particular group will propel a young person to do odd or drastic things to gain acceptance. It can become all-consuming for them. Behavior, clothing, general appearance and morals will change to identify with, and be accepted by, a particular social group of teens ─ often identified as the “in” group. In order for there to be “in” groups, there must also be “out” groups.  An “in” group maintains its elitism by remaining small and making entrance difficult for some and impossible for others. They create terror for the excluded by cruel and humiliating reminders of their exclusion. The excluded will try to find some point of affinity with another group to which they stand a chance of gaining acceptance. The drive to be accepted and enjoy intimate friendships is very strong.  When it is denied the soul aches, the heart breaks. Being rejected by all social groups is too horrible to contemplate and creates unbearable dimensions of loneliness.

For many people with profound disabilities, they are often excluded from all social groups. 

Before my own disability, gaining acceptance within certain desirable social groups was easy. Once inside the group, I built my status as relationships were established.  (This was immensely useful to my career and raw ambition.) That all changed the day I was diagnosed with an incurable and degenerative disease.  Doors to my social rings of people quietly closed and did not reopen. Intimate human relationships of friends grew cool and eventually went cold.  It all happened with the greatest of politeness and aplomb but there was no mistaking it: I went from warmth of “us” to cold shock and dismay of being with “them”. 

The unstated rejection was complete: Invitations to intimate discussions huddled with like-minded people ceased.  The warm reassuring winks, nods and subtle smiles of acknowledgement about some esoteric point of understanding, agreement and approval disappeared and were replaced by blank stares or worse:  expressions of pity! I cannot express in words the horrible shock of becoming an outsider.

 It was only when I eventually discovered that it didn’t matter. I was accepted by the Holy One who died as an outsider, rejected by men.  There is no need to strive to reach for an invisible ring of earthly acceptance or fear of losing it. My desire for intimacy is fulfilled in a relationship with Christ. I have unconditional acceptance by the creator of intimacy. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Statistics for the HumanLifeMatters Blog surpass 135,000 hits

As of February 1st 2013, statistics indicate that the HumanLifeMatters blog hits have now exceeded 135,000 visits from all over the world. When I started the blog a few years ago, I had no idea it would generate such interest. 
Not surprising, the most interest comes from the United States, followed by Canada and then Europe, but I am consistently surprised by the level of hits coming from China and Russia.

If you would like to have an bioethical or Life issue opinion piece published on the HumanLifeMatters' blog send your email of inquiry to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca

Mark Davis Pickup