“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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

NEW DOCUMENTARY ON END OF LIFE DECISIONS

I am available to address the perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide or a Christian perspective on suffering. For bookings write to me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca
__________________

HumanLifeAlliance (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has made a new
New end-of-life documentary
video called Informed: Life is Worth Living. This documentary provides information and individual perspectives for making informed medical decision revolving around incurable disease and end of life issues. 


The U.S. based Pro-Life Health Care Alliance featured the production in a recent email newsletter. They stated, in part:


"Informed: Life is Worth Living is an essential resource to communicate pro-life healthcare information. Viewers will learn about the dangers inherent in today's end-of-life decisions. They'll be equipped with information from individuals who have first-hand experience in navigating these crucial choices. Chapter titles include:
  • Understanding Critical Medical Decisions
  • Peter's Story: When a Child Dies
  • Brain Death: Jennifer Hamann's Story
  • The Hidden Story about Organ Donation
  • Living With a Deadly Diagnosis
  • Facing the Disability Challenge
  • Understanding Depression and Dying
  • Hospice: Making an Informed Decision
  • What about Food and Water
  • The Myth of Physician Assisted Suicide Safeguards.

"Available in DVD format or online, "Informed" includes interviews with leading pro-life advocates such as Julie Grimstad (Life is Worth Living), Mary Kellett (Prenatal Partners for Life), Jennifer Hamann (CA Nurses for Ethical Standards), Dana Palmer (cancer survivor), Mark Davis Pickup (disability rights advocate), Dr. Karl Benzio (Lighthouse Network), and Jo Tolck (Human Life Alliance)."

"More than just a sound bite, at a runtime of 56:49, this video offers an introduction to end-of-life decisions with depth. "It provides densely packed information. Viewers will want to watch this series more than once to get the full message," HLA Executive Director, Jo Tolck pointed out. "Informed: Life is Worth Living will save lives. This informative series is perfect for churches, small groups, and all of us who need to make critical medical decision."


Copies can purchased in DVD format or online at humanlife.org.

Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiGA_ztiD_Y to see my interview Facing the Disability Challenge because, well, this is my blog. Having said that all eleven segments of the video are worth seeing and I highly recommend getting a copy of Informed: Life is Worth Living.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

THINGS FOR SUFFERING CHRISTIANS TO REMEMBER

Christians who suffer must always remember that something far greater awaits us in eternity. Our present pain will be dwarfed by eternity's joy. Saint Paul wrote:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared the glory that which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8.18)

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, we see more assurance that the Christian's present afflictions produce a weight of glory in heaven that is beyond comparison.

What we see is transitory, what is unseen is eternal.[1] This moment's freight of pain is incomprehensible; it must be seen through eyes of faith where it is possible to accept in humble submission and alignment with Christ's redemptive suffering.

We have a prize of God's upward calling in Jesus Christ. We who are losers in this world must keep our spiritual discernment firmly fixed on the unseen reality of Christ. His image and glory will yet come into clear focus. Our inheritance is with and in Christ and will be our ultimate joy.

God has set eternity in the hearts of men.[2] That is the source of the insatiable longing within you and me which began in our earliest childhood – like a distant and indistinct inkling of something that cannot quite be remembered.

It is a desire to give and receive perfect love, which are both
just out of our reach and it breaks our hearts to realize it. Our hearts, the core of our being, must be perfected to receive and give perfect love which is the essence of God. Suffering can achieve this when we place our pain in Jesus' pierced hands.

We were made for heaven yet we are incapable of understanding what God has done and prepared for us. The anticipating is almost as sweet as the having.

My earthly losses have only increased my desire for holiness in preparation for the next world. I want to be presentable to God and be able to accept his perfect love for me and, return a perfect love for my heavenly Father, through Christ. This can only be done once I have been thoroughly stripped of pride and self-centredness that crippled my life more than disease.

I'm beginning to understand that sickness and disability are the vehicles to excise my infernal pride. I have ceased to ask "Why did God allow me to become crippled and sick?" I know why. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "We, too, need to shed our skins of pride through suffering." Discovering real truth involves suffering. Truth without tears is a shallow truth indeed.

Do not be afraid of weeping when you suffer or mourn. Jesus said you will be comforted (Matthew 5.4). You may cry now but will laugh with joy. In heaven God himself will wipe away every tear you have ever shed. He knows your present pain. Christ is with us.

That brings me to another point. The last chapter of Matthew concludes with a promise. Christ said, "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." We do not suffer alone.
Mark
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[1] cf. Hebrews 11.1

[2] See Ecclesiastes 3.11. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

SPEAKING ABOUT EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE

Mark Davis Pickup has lived with degenerative multiple sclerosis for over three decades. He has spoken across North Amerca about the perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Mark understands issues surrounding positive Christian responses to counter cultural acceptance of medical killing. He has a unique Christian perspective of suffering. To book Mark to speak in your area, contact him by email at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca 

View a short video message below.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SPIRITUAL IMAGERY OF KINTSUGI ART

I encountered a post on a Facebook page of a dear friend. It featured a bowl (see right). The image was accompanied with the following note:

"This is the Japanese art of Kintsugi. It is the process of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver in order to highlight the value of an object rather then disposing of it because of its breaks and cracks. 

To repair an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

The application of the precious metal not only increases the value of the piece but adds to its unique beauty displayed through its imperfections. 

Isn't God Good! His effect on our lives is the same. It is to always add value to us and to display the beauty of who we are because of what He has brought us through rather then to remove the remembrance of it at all - no matter how painful it was initially.

The addition of His heavenly elements to our broken places makes each of us uniquely beautiful and irreplaceable. 

Thank you Lord, You make all things Beautiful in time .. Even from the ashes comes the Crown.

There is such profound spiritual imagery here -- particularly for those with broken bodies, broken hearts or broken minds. Still, Christ is the light of the world who can touch even the deepest sorrow and pain. Although written in a different context, and I've referred to it before, I am reminded of a beautiful song written by Leonard Cohen called Anthem. It carries the lines that seem appropriate to this blog entry. 

"You can add up the parts, you won't have the sum,
You can strike up the march, there is no drum,
Every heart, every heart to love will come,
But like a refugee. 

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering, 
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That's how the Light gets in."

[See Leonard Cohen's song Anthem at link below, or here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDTph7mer3I ]






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

IN CHRIST, OUR SUFFERING WILL ONE DAY MAKE SENSE

When I met Moira (not her real name) she was completely broken-hearted. As the old song says, “I can tell by your eyes, you’ve probably been crying forever.” That was Moira. 

This forty-two year old mother had developed severe chronic progressive multiple sclerosis which put her into a wheelchair within a year of her diagnosis. Moira’s husband left her and their only daughter went with him. She had nothing left she cared about and she wanted to die. The curtains in her darkened apartment were drawn to shut out the daylight – like a sad metaphor of what her life had become. What could I say to comfort her? Moira was inconsolable. Her dreams had come true for a brief period of time then were snatched away. The loss in her body paled in comparison to the loss in her heart.

Why do I share this with you? There are millions of people like Moira in the world. Their hearts have been crushed by lost health, lost love, and lost dreams. The beating of a broken heart is a tender thing that needs the soothing balm of loving care from those around the individual filled with sorrow.

For those who grieve, there is a God who understands. Christ’s heart was also broken. He wept too and knew sorrow: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26.38.) He knew what it was to feel abandoned: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46.) He knew the feeling of being homeless: “Foxes have their holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9.58.) Jesus knew excruciating physical pain as we see with His Passion and crucifixion. There is no anguish that Christ does not understand. We can approach him with confidence. I know this from personal experience.

Throughout thirty years of incurable and generative disease I have continually called out to God in my physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. At my lowest points Christ has sent his consoling spirit to comfort me. (Perhaps that’s one reason why the Holy Spirit is also referred to the Comforter.)

I wish that Moira had turned to Christ in her sorrow. Maybe she eventually did, but I haven’t seen her in years. Moira had a special opportunity to grow spiritually through her anguish. It is often through suffering that humanity is offered the prospect of transcendence. But what sort of transcendence?

Christ offers us the possibility of transcending ourselves and our situations, if we are open to His leading, and completely trust Him.  It is hard. I also know from experience the struggle between fear and faith. The question is this: Which will prevail?

This is something Jesus struggled with as He entered his Passion at the Mount of Olives. In his prayer, he was horrified at the physical destruction that lay before him.  Pope Benedict XVI addressed this in his book, JESUS OF NAZARETH:  HOLY WEEK:  FROM THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM TO THE RESURRECTION (2011):

The Pope tells us of the struggle between two wills found in Jesus’ prayer. There is the “natural will” that resists the “appalling destructiveness of what is happening and wants to plead that the chalice pass from him; and there is the “filial will” that abandons itself  totally to the Father’s will.” (see p.156)

In a lesser way each of us who are confronted with suffering also has a struggle between our two wills. We have the natural will that recoils at the inevitable “appalling destructiveness” of disease, progressive disability, or old age. Then there is the “filial will” as children of God ― a desire to follow our heavenly Father in childlike trust and expectation of his joy and the divine that lies just beyond reach in our earthly state.


There is a yearning deep within the human heart for the perfect
love of eternity. It has been there since earliest childhood. It is there because God put it there. I think this is what is meant in Ecclesiastes when it says that God “has put the timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering it, from beginning to end, the work God has done.” (3.11.)  

Suffering has the capacity, if we let it, to intensify that yearning for the perfection of the Eternal. It is not a desire for death, rather a desire to see the face of God. It will be then, in His perfect love, that all our earthly suffering will make sense.


I BELIEVE JOHN KENNEDY WOULD BE HORRIFIED

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking at the historic Washington Cathedral about the sanctity of human life and disability inclusion. The beautiful 19th century red brick Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle is steeped in American history of the Capitol.



As I was speaking, I could see on the floor, a foot or so in front of me, a plaque honoring President Kennedy. His body laid on that very spot for his requiem mass after being assassinated in 1963. 




It was 10 years before Roe v Wade that began the great and
terrible abortion holocaust began in America that has slaughtered more than 58 million children before they ever
saw the light of day. It was a generation before legalized medical killing of the sick and disabled in Oregon, California, Washington state and Vermont. Would John Kennedy be horrified at where his nation has gone? I believe he would.

See historic footage of President Kennedy's Funeral November 1963 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KJQkn6zUvM

To book Mark to speak, send email to HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca 



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

AMERICA'S STARK CHOICE

Abortion extremist Hillary Clinton
My previous blog post about abortion extremist presidential candidate Hillary Clinton brought a negative response from an American reader, implying that, as a Canadian, I should mind my own business.

What happens in America does impact Canada (as it does the rest of the world). Although Canadians like to think we are so very independent of America, we are, in actual fact, very dependent on our southern neighbors and are saturated with America culture. 


Most of my pro-Life and disability advocacy over the past 20 years
has been in America. I have a deep love and abiding respect for America and its people. Many of my posts are about America; they are motivated by that love and respect. 

I am very concerned about the dismal choice facing the good people of American this election. As the Presidential race sits at this moment, Americans have one of 
Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine
two bad candidates to choose from. Hillary Clinton will increase the prenatal bloodshed across America. She has an abortion supporter as a Vice presidential running mate. She is surrounded by Democratic abortion ideologues. She has vowed to appoint pro-abortion Supreme Court judges. 


If elected as President, Clinton will open wide the gates to killing unborn children. There is zero chance she will represent tens of millions of pro-Life Americans and the most vulnerable of the human family, whether they at the beginning of life or at the end of life.*  Not only will Clinton increase prenatal bloodshed at home, it is a safe bet her administration the evil of abortion internationally. 


Mike Pence and Donald Trump

If Americans choose Donald Trump, he will have a moderating influence in his conservative, pro-Life, Christian Vice President, Mike Pence. As President, Trump will have to make overtures to Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives (many of whom are pro-Life). The chances are better that conservative life-affirming judges would be appointed to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump is a bad choice for President, granted, but he may well be surrounded by good people who will have a moderating influence on him. 

That's more than can be said about Hillary Clinton. 

[There is also a third Libertarian Party represented by Gary Johnson. He also supports abortion and euthanasia.]

At this point in American history, the choice is not who will make the best President, rather who will do the least harm. Despite his bombast I think Trump should be the choice. Don't look at him, look at the people who will play supportive roles to his Presidency.

  
 God bless America. -- Mark

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Hillary Clinton is also in favour of euthanasia and assisted suicide. (See http://2016election.procon.org/view.answers.election.php?questionID=002054 )

Monday, August 8, 2016

BIGOTRY IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

People have accused me of being a one-issue voter, about abortion. Not true. I care deeply about the economy, the environment, national defense, health care and a host of other issues. 

There are, however disqualifying issues. For example I could not vote for a pedophile or racist no matter how good their economic policies. In the same way, I could not, in good conscience, ever vote for someone who supports abortion.

Hillary Clinton
For a candidate to deny any segment of the human family the right of full legal protection and care makes that person unfit for public office. Hillary Clinton is one such example. She said that "The unborn person doesn't have constitutional rights", ... and she believes should be that way. 

In my view that disqualifies Hillary Clinton from public office -- and certainly not the U.S. presidency -- regardless of the dismal alternative. To hold such an extreme position is bigotry or sophistry. Let me give an example to illustrate my point: Replace the word "unborn" with the word "Black", or "female", or "homosexual." See what I mean? Bigotry has no place in the White House. Universal human rights belong to everybody. 

Trump's running mate Mike Pence
If I was American I could not support Hillary Clinton no matter the dismal alternative. Perhaps Vice President nominee Mike Pence can have a moderating influence on Donald Trump. He is, after all, a devout pro-Life Christian.

I plead with American readers of this blog: Please do not put Hillary Clinton in the White House. See the following short video on Hillary Clinton's abortion extremism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3Kk7m8LV_4

Mark

CBC'S ANTI-DISABILITY PREJUDICE SYMPTOMATIC OF LARGER EXCLUSION

Up until 1991, I worked for the Canadian federal Commission promoting employment equity in the workplace for Canadians with disabilities. One of the worst of offenders of disability employment discrimination was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Every year the federal human rights commission filed its annual report in the Canadian parliament showing the CBC failed BOMBED in flying colours to meet expectations of federal corporations to hire and retain people with disabilities (or other target groups). 

I could not persuade senior management of the CBC Alberta/NWT region to consider qualified disabled workers for a broad spectrum of employment across the CBC -- and particularly not as broadcasters. They just could not imagine the possibility of including skilled disabled writers, researchers, producers, directors, editors, and particularly television reporters and anchors. 


Year after year, the federally funded CBC failed to meet expectations for an internal workforce that reflected the mosaic of Canadian society. This was particularly true with regard to disability. 



My training and experience prior to my disability included television and radio so I convinced my Commission to offer me on secondment to the CBC for a year to work with a program team for a radio show as a writer/researcher. Of course the CBC bit. It was free labour for them and an opportunity to look past disability. Even after the year's secondment, and glowing performance reviews of my work, senior management remain resistance to the point of defiance at employment equity for qualified disabled workers. 



At the end of the secondment, I met with CBC Alberta/NWT
senior management, for a debriefing. They admitted that I proved to be a valued employee who only required minor workplace accommodation. They admitted their dismal employment record for disability -- they could not deny the horrible statistics -- particularly television on-air reporters/anchors. One executive cynically mused about getting employees who wear glasses to self-identify as disabled to get their numbers up. At one point in the meeting I asked this: "Why wouldn't you consider a visibly disabled reporter or anchor?"


Silence. 


One manager said, "A reporter in a wheelchair would be distracting to viewers." I responded, "Initially, perhaps, but I think you under-estimate your viewers' ability to accept

difference. They simply want the news and quality programming." I reminded them there was a time in the 1960s when the same argument was said about women reporters and  anchors.



An uncomfortable program executive feigned openness to the idea and said, "Well, I suppose we could hide their wheelchair behind a desk or take waist-up shots."
I replied: "Why are you presuming a wheelchair, and secondly why would you hide a person's disability?"

Another producer erupted, "This is bull****!" He stood, threw his file on the conference table, and stormed out of the room. The meeting ended shortly after that. 

Patrick Watson
President of CBC
1989-1994
It was clear that I failed to break through a corporate culture that discriminated against considering qualified disabled workers across a full spectrum of employment opportunities. (What was ironic was that the national President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was an amputee (Patrick Watson)).

In fairness to the CBC, a month or two after I returned to my regular position with the employment commission I received a call from a senior CBC executive in Toronto about a new show they were developing to explore issues of Canadians with disabilities. They  wanted me to consider hosting it. 

The CBC flew me to Ottawa to meet with the executive producer and discuss the idea of the 13 week trial on their newly established news channel. It was hardly attractive: They offered me half of my salary and I would have to uproot my young family and move to Ottawa for the tenuous prospect of hosting a show that could easily end after 13 weeks. I turned down the "offer".
  
Why was I persistent in my push for the CBC to consider disabled broadcasters? Young people with disabilities needed (and still do) positive employment role models in the broadcasting industry for them to aspire to (and other professions too). The broadcasting industry needed to be introduced to the prospect of employing skilled, talented people despite disabilities. They still do. Society needed to aspire to full inclusion of people with disabilities as indispensable citizens who have contributions to make to the greater good (society still does.) 

I hope things have changed, although I still do not see a visible disability presence on television. The CBC seems is so quick to point out the prejudices and failing of everyone else but loath to admit their own.


Why am I blogging about a 25 year old experience I had with
the CBC? I'm doing it precisely because so little seems to have changed in a quarter of a century. 


 The general employment prospects for workers with disabilities in Canada and abroad remain appalling. Such horrendous unemployment/under-employment rates that are experienced among the disabled would not be tolerated in the rest of the workforce.

You see, I used my experience with the CBC as a segue into the larger issue of disability discrimination. The cultural deck is stacked against disability inclusion. The disabled face discrimination in every meaningful aspect of life from employment to finding decent housing, transportation, recreation, proper education and supports, health care and home care that may be spotty, inconsistent or piece-meal. 

Many disabled Canadians feel marginalized and excluded
from mainstream society. The frustrations of living with serious disability can breed despair -- particularly with newly acquired adult disability.

It is into such an environment that Canada has introduced the legal option for medically assisted suicide for the disabled under the guise of supporting autonomous choice. Some autonomy! Some choice! We are not offered real equality in life, only contrived equality in death. 

That is the ultimate exclusion of the grave.