“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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

CANADA'S NEOBARBARISM OF STATE SANCTIONED KILLING: A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE



2016 was the year Canada legalized medical killing which we euphemistically call "medical assistance in dying" (MAID) -- previously known as physician assisted suicide. The euphemism is intentionally deceptive. Not all recipients of MAID are dying. Although the legalization of assisted suicide in Canada occurred in June, the Canadian Press reported in early October that about 200 Canadians had died this way (an average of 50 medical killings a week). 

Were these people all dying? No. In my province of Alberta we know that MAID was given to non-terminal people. A spokesperson with Alberta Health Services said the most cited health conditions were cancer, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).[1]  We know that ALS and many cancers are terminal, but multiple sclerosis is not.  In fact, people with MS have nearly the same life expectancy as the general population.[2] Medical assistance in dying doesn't apply to MS; a more precise term is medical killing.

I have had multiple sclerosis for over 32 years. Granted it is a tough disease and I have been severely disabled by it, but it is not terminal. 

Orchestrating changes to public moral consensus happens gradually. The extent of the real agenda is not revealed until the public mindset has be massaged and suitably numbed. Look at abortion. 

Forty-five years ago, it was initially presented to the nation as being restricted to cases where a woman's life or health was threatened, all the while not disclosing that health included a very loose definition of mental health. Within a decade abortion was widely available, at taxpayers' expense, to Canadian women for any reason or no reason whatsoever. Things got so bad that by 1983, abortions outnumbered live births in Canada's largest city of Toronto. Acceptance of something so horrible as the killing of unwanted children prior to birth was imbedded into Canadian society.  What was unthinkable in the past becomes accepted in the present and commonplace in the future. 

The same will happen with assisted suicide. The real objective of advocates of assisted suicide is to initially ignore the law's requirement for death to be reasonably foreseeable (whatever  that means) then mount a legal challenge to have that clause struck from the law. 

We must be clear what is being referred to here: Assisted suicide is targeted directly and exclusively at the sick and disabled. That is not progressive, it is regressive. Canada is marching forward into the dark past and a neobarbarism of state sanctioned killing of the weakest and most defeated. Welcome to 2017. 

What are Christians to do? I propose establishing a network of freestanding, Christ-centered, hospices in the model of crisis pregnancy centers that are situated across Canada, and supported, in large part, by churches.  These community hospice services would clearly and unequivocally invite the sick, disabled and dying into the embrace of Christian love, hope and inclusion. 


The Martyrdom
of Telemachus
I think of Like Saint Telemus who jumped into the Roman coliseum and got between fighting gladiators and shouted "In the name of Christ, stop!"[3] He was martyred on January 1st, 404, but the deadly games stopped. We must take his example to stand for life for the sake of Christ. Let us begin on January 1st, 2017 (exactly1,613 years later) and cry out to the 21st century with our words and actions and snatch suffering people from the abyss of assisted suicide. As in ancient times we bring the Good News to the poor in spirit whose circumstances overwhelmed them with despair. We bring the freedom of Jesus Christ to those who are captives of disease or disability. We offer community to those alienated by profound disability. We help the pain-ridden find relief through a vast array of palliative pain medications and techniques. To those considering suicide (assisted or otherwise) we offer a hand of friendship and care and urge them: "In the name of Christ, stop." There is a better way. Human dignity is not found at the end of a lethal injection or poison. That is abandonment not dignity. 

I can personally attest to God's ability to reach through serious disability and incurable illness with eternal hope and joy. Only in Christ can true human liberty be found.

You can see a short video (3:35) about the story of Telemachus entitled "The Story of a Liberty Man" click on the link below. The manner of Telemachus' death may be disputed (a sword in the chest or stoning) but the fact that Telemachus was martyred is beyond dispute.


________________
Footnotes
[1] "About 200 Canadians have had physician-assisted death since June, Toronto Star, 06 October 2016. (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/10/06/about-200-canadians-have-had-physician-assisted-deaths-since-law-came-into-force.html
[2] "MS Prognosis and Your Life Expectancy", Healthline website (http://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/prognosis-and-life-expectancy#Notfatal,butnocure1
[3] See Catholic Online website, Saint Telemachus, (http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=740 ). Also: Favourite Monks "Telemachus: The monk who ended the coliseum games" (http://prayerfoundation.org/favoritemonks/favorite_monks_telemachus_coliseum.htm )

Friday, December 30, 2016

CHRIST'S INCARNATION AND HUMAN DIGNITY

St. Peter Chrysologus
Saint Peter Chrysologus (406-450) was a Bishop and Doctor of the Catholic Church. The New Advent website states that his piety and zeal for the faith won him universal admiration. His oratorical skills won him the name Chrysologus.[1]

In a sermon about Christ's incarnation and human dignity, Peter Chrysologus said the following words which speak across the centuries to you and me.

"...Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonour when you are honoured by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars." 

"The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvelous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God's new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord's representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol." 

"And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity."
[2]




All human life has immeasurable dignity, sanctity and worth regardless of state or stage in the spectrum of life, and time. This has been known through the ages dating back into antiquity. 


To see a short video dedicated to Saint Peter Chrysologus, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL58g24NgWPIzvBk2IQVES_xC4WTm6-CDI&v=TkeA5GL7uYI 
________________________________
[1] New Advent: St. Peter Chrysologus, (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11762c.htm)
[2] Peter Chrysologus, "The sacrament of Christ's incarnation" in CHRISTIAN PRAYER: The Liturgy of the Hours, (New York: CATHOLIC BOOK PUBLISHING CORP.) pp. 1956-57. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

ASSISTED SUICIDE AS A MATTER OF COURSE

An odd and unsettling thing happened yesterday. I was talking to a fellow who said (in the most matter of fact way) that after Christmas he's going to be attending a friend's assisted suicide. His friend has early ALS. Curious how quickly that which used to be unthinkable has become a matter of course. (It's only been 6 months since Canada legalized assisted suicide.)

Government health care costs are skyrocketing in Canada; I have had MS for over 32 years; I'm expensive to keep around. How long will it be before the current right to die will become a future duty to die? -- Mark

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

IF I WAS AMERICAN, I'D WRITE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Trump
Although I'm not American, I have a deep an abiding love for America: I want the best for that great nation. I’ve been thinking about ways to promote a moral shift in America that the New Administration can encourage toward a national life-affirming consensus: A consensus that seeks a place for unwanted unborn children and ways to support their parents. 

I believe a cultural shift toward a culture of life is possible and can be encouraged through federal mandates. But they must be implemented at community levels. After all, the concept of universal human rights within a culture of life must begin at local community levels where they have meaning in people's lives. 


Eleanor Roosevelt spoke about this in 1948, while pondering the new UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The great woman said this about human rights:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. ... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

Indeed, if a the culture of life, that includes all human life, is to take root once again in America, it must be realized in the places where people live. 

Can the U.S. federal government provide targeted block funding to individual states or districts to implement specific mandates and programs? If I was an American, I would write to my president-elect to usher in a new American golden age of enlightenment where every human life is protected and cherished. I would say:
 
Dear President-elect Trump:

I want to begin by congratulating you on your election victory to become the 45th American President. Expectations are high that under your capable and visionary Presidency, you will "Make America Great Again". Nowhere is this more needed than in the value of human life.  Stop the abortion holocaust that has claimed the lives of 60-million unborn children over the past 43 years.


Implement policies that actively discourage abortion. An obvious way is to make one of your first actions as President is to immediately remove entirely the $500 million annual federal funding Planned Parenthood receives. Put those funds, in part or in whole, toward programs that support maternal and infant health before and after birth.  Give support to crisis pregnancy care centers across America in the form of grants for programs that affirm the lives of BOTH mothers and their babies and discourage abortion. Under the general oversight of Health and Human Services (or one of its agencies) provide block funding transfers to state levels to make federally governed annual funding available to community based pregnancy centers that:

    Have established community and/or faith based partnerships; 
    Provide accurate science based information about fetal development from a child's conception to full-term;
    Make prenatal ultrasound services available to abortion minded women;
    Provide or make available psychological and medical services as required;
    Give education for women with crisis pregnancies in areas of life-skills, early childhood care, nutrition, parenting & establish mentoring relationships, educational upgrading and/ or occupational skills upgrading where required;
    Assistance with obtaining gainful employment and quality childcare;
    Help women in crisis pregnancies to obtain legal services as required.
    Monitor clients' success and development over a specified period of time.  
    Make available to schools life-affirming and science based programs about fetal development and problems associated with teen pregnancy and promotion/supports for abstinence from sexual activity until marriage.

The goal for funded agencies would be to encourage self-sufficiency of their clients to move away from welfare or other forms of government support.  Funded agencies would provide annual financial accountability and prove successful attainment of their contracted objectives to state oversight agencies in order to be considered for future funding.  (Any referrals or counselling for abortion would result in immediate termination of funding agreements.) States' HHS would provide annual reporting to their federal counterpart to ensure future program mandate block funding." 

A disabled nobody writing to the leader of the most powerful nation on earth? Yes, I would do that. I would do it because I love America and what She has represented and stood for, and can stand for again. I would do it because 60 million unborn children will never feel the warmth of the sun on their shoulders, breathe fresh air, or find their places in the world. I would write to President Trump because the bloodshed of the nation's most defenceless must stop. At this blood-soaked time in history, there is no higher, no nobler, no holier aim than to find a way to end abortion. 

If I was an American, I'd write to President Trump. -- Mark

Saturday, December 17, 2016

GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR SUFFERING PEOPLE AND THOSE WHO LOVE THEM

http://www.beyondsufferingbible.com/
I recommend the Beyond Suffering Bible for all evangelical Christians concerned about a suffering or disabled loved one. It gives important insights and wisdom of a host of Biblical scholars and Joni Eareckson Tada.

Joni has been a dear friend of mine, and the HumanLifeMatters ministry, for years. She has encouraged me when I was down; I hope that, in some small way, I have encouraged her in her Christian disability ministry which has a global influence. Joni asked me to review the Beyond Suffering Bible. I could find enough praise to adequately describe my excitement for this indispensable resource. (See my review here: http://beyondsufferingbible.com/reviews/)

The Beyond Suffering Bible is an excellent Christmas gift and a critically important resource for evangelical Christians affected by disability. Get your copy at your local bookstore or Amazon.

Hurry. It's almost Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

THE CENTER FOR FAMILY AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The following link is to the 15 December 2016 "Friday Fax" for the Center for Family and Human Rights and the United Nations. https://c-fam.org/ I receive it regularly and want to highlight the outstanding Christian Advocacy of Austin Ruse and the dedicated people at C-Fam. Please keep them in your prayerful and financial support.

Mark

Thursday, December 15, 2016

CHRIST HAS COME. HE WILL COME AGAIN. I CAN SAY ALL IS WELL

Martyrdom Of St. Ignatius
by Pier Ghezzi (1674-1755)
Saint Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch overseeing 1st century Syrian Christians and was a disciple of the Apostle John. He wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus as he was being transported to Rome to face wild beasts in the arena. He said, “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit.” Yes, Christ’s coming was God plan from the beginning of history with the catastrophe of Adam and Eve’s sin which drove a wedge between humanity and God.

Original Sin and Banishment From
The Garden Of Eden (c. 1510)
by Michelangelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564)
Although they were severely punished, we should note that neither Adam or Eve were cursed by God. (That distinction was reserved only for the serpent.) God made provision to bring those he created in his image back to him. This is alluded to in God’s comment to the serpent in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” 

Biblical scholars have often referred to this verse as protoevangelium (the first good news). God alluded to Christ’s victory over sin. The New American Catholic Study Bible footnote to 3.15 states because “the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1Jn 3.8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.” God’s gracious promise was Christ to deliver fallen mankind from the power of Satan.
What we are celebrating in Advent is so much more than a joyful, festive holiday. The joy associated with Christmas is more rightly directed toward Christ. His coming in the flesh is evidence of God’s immeasurable love for all humanity.

To quote another early Church Father, Saint Irenaeus (c. 140-202):  “If the flesh were not in a position to be saved, the Word of God would certainly not have become flesh.” Through the first Adam we offended God (Original Sin) and brought death into the world, the second Adam (Jesus Christ) overcame death. (see Romans 5, 1Corinthians 15.20-22, 45-49.) In the flesh man fell, in the flesh man was raised.

From the moment of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, Golgotha cast its long, dark shadow over his cradle.  The spiritual wheels were set in motion with the baby’s first cry in the manger that would change the course of eternal destiny for millions upon millions of people for 2,000 years, including me.

Christ coming in the flesh meant he knew the aches and pains of normal life and the suffering of an excruciating death. Because of his life and death, there is no agony I can experience that Christ cannot sympathize with from his own experience. His suffering exceeded anything you or I will experience in this life.

This has been a great comfort to me during more than thirty years of degenerative neurological disease. Not only does Christ understand my pain, he has been with me throughout it all. He invites me into his redemptive suffering.

When my death comes, I trust he will be with me then too. My eyes will see Christ and His Mother; the Mother of God has so often prayed to her Son on my behalf and that of my family: ("... Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.")
 
And just as Christ was the first fruits of resurrection, I will also rise in Him at the Resurrection of the body to spend eternity with Him. My broken and diseased body will be made perfect. Yes, Just as Christ rose from the grave and is now with God the Father. He will raise me too. What we will be has not been revealed but Christ promised through the pen of John the Apostle that we shall be like Christ, and “we will finally see him as he is.” (1 John 3.2.)

God himself will be forever with those who love his Son. The Promise that was made in Eden will come to fullness for Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  You see, Christ is the gift of Christmas. He is the hope of mankind. That is the reason the heavens aligned in the Star of Bethlehem.

It is late and tonight I am sitting in my wheelchair gazing at the lights on the Christmas tree; embers are glowing in the fireplace; I can say that all is well; Christ has come and He will come again. The desiring and the having are melting into one.  Like Job, I know my Redeemer lives.

Mark