“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

Friday, July 21, 2017

AUTISM: REACHING THE HARD TO REACH

I want you to watch the OUTSTANDING TED talk below, given by my Member of Parliament in Canada, The Honourable Mike Lake, with the assistance of his son Jaden who has autism. I'm fortunate to have such representative as Mike in Parliament. He works around the world for autism awareness. (He's also a Christian) -- Mark  


Sunday, July 16, 2017

MY RAINBOW CONNECTION

The rainbow does not mean what it has come to symbolize on recent years. Throughout the ages, beginning in the ancient mists of antiquity, the rainbow has been a symbol of God's covenant with the earth and its inhabitants.  


Since early childhood, I have been enchanted by rainbows. I did not believe there were pots of gold at the end of rainbows; no, I thought that if anybody was ever able to find the end of a rainbow they would find eternity. After all, rainbows were created by God. I was taught this by my father who read me bedtime Bible stories. We read in the book of Genesis, that God told Noah:

 This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:  I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9.12-17

Rainbows are God’s reminder of a loving covenant of hope He gave to the world.

Children instinctively rejoice when they see rainbows. It’s natural. They have not lost the ability to dream ― their imaginations soar so easily. Adults can occasionally experience a brief, fleeting hint of child-like joy when they unexpectedly encounter a rainbow after a violent summer storm. Perhaps that’s why so many poems and songs have been written about rainbows.

The Muppet Movie (1979) featured Kermit the Frog singing the Rainbow Connection. Composer Paul Williams wrote it.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it,
I know they’re wrong wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Many years ago my mother died on the same day that my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren moved away from our small town. It wasn't intentional, just coincidence. My mother had been in palliative care for sixth months with brain cancer; my daughter's family also had been planning to move for six months. As a small mercy, God kept me too busy accompanying my mother through her last months to think about my daughter and her family moving away. It just happened that my mother died and the move happened on the same day. 

It was a sad and lonesome day, or as my little granddaughter would have said, I was “sad and noney.” Yes, sweetheart, and I cried 'till there were no tears left. A hearse and moving truck marked that day. Then, my sadness of that day was punctuated by a thunder storm. 

When it passed, I drove my electric wheelchair to a small lake near my house. I needed to alone to think. A rainbow appeared in the distance and my eyes filled with tears. It was as though God was saying I am here with you.

American Poet John Vance Cheney (1848-1922) wrote, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”  I began to understand what he meant.

The second verse of Kermit’s song says,

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Someone thought of that,
And someone believed it,
And look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

 Throughout the following autumn, on sleepless
nights, I often laid in my bed wishing they would return. I would sneak up the hill from my house to the church and sit in the quiet Sanctuary. I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament that my grandchildren would move back with their parents.  

It could not be, and I knew it, but it broke my heart just the same. My prayers were answered by silence. Silence was the answer. I was not supposed to let my heart stay there. It was time to move on.

For the last decade, I have learned to be more attentively to my interior life. Thomas a Kempis said:

"O God my Truth. ... The more we are united to You and become inwardly simple. the more we can, and effortlessly too, understand sublime things about You, for we receive light and understanding from above."[1]

The most important and real truths are seen with the heart, not with the eye. A rainbow is not real ... and yet there it is for all to see if they just look. It is plain for all to see. My sorrow was real; it could not be seen, only felt. That's the price we pay for love. Anguish within anguishes is part of my journey home. 


"...while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things that which are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen eternal."[2]

God's love is the source of all eternal joy, as yet, for now, we only get brief inklings or longings for something else. The rainbow is God's covenant creation that has eternal love at its foundation. His love is my rainbow connection. Christ waits on the other side of my rainbow.




____________
Notes
[1] Thomas a Kempis, THE TEACHING OF TRUTH,  Chapter 3. 2, 3, The Imitation of Christ, (New York: Random House Inc.. 1998), p. 6.
[2] 2 Corinthians 4.18. NKJV

Thursday, July 13, 2017

CHARLIE GARD IN A SYSTEM OF DEATH



Dr. Paul Byne
Charlie Gard is almost one year old. Charlie has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). This condition is rare; however, Charlie's parents love him and wish to protect his life. Charlie's doctors have preserved Charlie's life. Charlie's brain and muscles have been affected.

Charlie is on a ventilator. A ventilator pushes air with oxygen into Charlie. Yes, this mechanical movement of gases is necessary for Charlie but that is all that the ventilator does. Charlie's lungs, heart and circulation do the rest. They function to absorb the oxygen, circulate blood with oxygen to all of Charlie's organs, tissues and cells. The blood picks up the waste product, carbon dioxide, and delivers it to Charlie's lungs. The ventilator does not and cannot make the body "respire" i.e., exchange the oxygen and carbon dioxide for the organs, tissues and cells. For carbon dioxide to get out, Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles must first have the ventilator push the air in. Then Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles can function effectively to allow movement of the air with carbon dioxide to go out of Charlie. The ventilator does not exhale. The ventilator does not respire. The ventilator does not make the heart beat. It is in the living Charlie that these things occur. The ventilator simply moves the air into the person who needs help or cannot do this movement on their own.

Charlie is alive because doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists are providing treatment and care to Charlie. Charlie also has a feeding tube to provide water and nutrition to Charlie. The ventilator and the feeding tube are commonly used in modern medicine. Pliable plastics and electronics are used in the ventilator. Does the ventilator and feeding tube cause discomfort and suffering for Charlie? No. After insertion, Charlie, like most patients on a ventilator, has become accustomed to the endotracheal tube and the feeding tube.

Charlie's parents want Charlie to live. This is normal behavior for parents. The doctors recommend that Charlie's life support be stopped. Charlie's parents do not wish to have Charlie's life shortened or his death hastened. Lawyers for Great Ormond Street Hospital have been arguing in the legal system to end Charlie's life. The UK courts ruled that it would not be in Charlie's "best interest" to receive any continued or new treatments. Note that Charlie's parents wish for the best treatment for Charlie, but the medical and legal systems conclude that it would not be in the "best interest" of Charlie. This is not simply semantics; it is brainwashing to use words in this way. The ordinary person does not readily realize what is happening.

Tools like a spoon or a feeding tube may be used because the person may be weak or unable to put food into their mouth, but neither these tools nor even the food itself can make the body digest and nourish the organs, tissues and cells. Likewise, the ventilator is a tool that brings the air into the person whose living body does the rest. We all need air, food, water and a way to eliminate waste products to live. Charlie just needs this mechanical help for the air and food to go in, but his living body does the rest.

The general public expects treatment if they go to a hospital. However, Charlie's parents have found themselves in a System of Death. In the United Kingdom, it is well-known that socialized medicine is in place. In the USA, the Secretary of Health sets the rules; doctors, hospitals and private insurance abide by the same rules. The collection and distribution of finances is varied but the control of doctors is very similar. The significance of control of doctors through CMS, which is Medicare and Medicaid, is then a major influence for payments by private insurance companies. This is not commonly known.

President Trump and Pope Francis have expressed concern and support. Such support is gratifying but President Trump and Pope Francis cannot know the System as well as Charlie and his parents have found it to be.

I have participated in the treatment and care of Jahi McMath. Jahi's mother wanted treatment and care for Jahi. Jahi was in a children's hospital in Oakland, California in 2013; a death certificate was issued on December 12. The doctors, nurses, and administrators referred to Jahi as a dead body. They would not call her by her name. Miraculously, a hospital in New Jersey agreed to accept Jahi as a patient. Jahi has had her 14th, 15th and 16th birthdays. Jahi lives at home with her family in New Jersey. Jahi cannot go back to California because she has a death certificate in California. How long will it take, if ever it does happen, that the legal system will admit that Jahi is alive in New Jersey?

Israel Stinson was one-year-old infant when he had an asthma attack in Sacramento, California. Doctors said that he was "brain dead." No doctor or hospital in the United States would treat Israel. He was transferred to Guatemala where tracheostomy and gastrostomy were done. Israel received thyroid medication and proper nutrition in Guatemala. Doctors refused to accept Israel back to the United States. Eventually, Los Angeles Children's Hospital agreed to accept Israel to their hospital. After admission to LA Children's Hospital, doctors refused further evaluation by CT scan, MRI or consultation from outside neurologists. Israel was alive when he went to Guatemala and when he arrived back in the USA at LA Children's Hospital. The legal system and medical doctors in California stopped Israel's ventilator, food and water. Then Israel was truly dead.

Mirranda Lawson was a 2-year-old girl who choked on popcorn. Within a few days doctors in Virginia told Mirranda's parents that she was "brain dead" but wanted to do the procedure called an apnea test. Note that this is not a test for sleep apnea; it is a procedure that takes away the life supporting ventilator for 10 minutes or longer. Even if oxygen is given without breathing support from the ventilator, carbon dioxide and acids increase. This is not told families. An apnea test could not benefit Mirranda and possibly could result in death. Nevertheless, the judge in Virginia ruled to do the apnea test. The ruling was immediately appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The legal system appointed a Guardian for Mirranda. It was so sad for me to observe a system that appointed another attorney to be Guardian for Mirranda and did not allow Mirranda's mother, father or any of her 4 siblings to be her Guardian. Mirranda's parents also asked for tests to evaluate thyroid function. Doctors admitted that she was likely to be low on thyroid hormone, but refused testing and treatment for this. Adequate amount of thyroid hormone is essential for healing and living for all of us. Doctors in Virginia refused to do a tracheostomy and a feeding tube so that Mirranda could be cared for at home. Before the Virginia Supreme Court would hear the arguments, Mirranda did die in the hospital, about 6 months after choking on popcorn.

Now we hear about Charlie Gard in England. Charlie needs a tracheostomy and gastrostomy so he can be treated at home. Tracheostomy is necessary whenever an endotracheal tube has been in place about 2 weeks. A feeding tube, commonly a PEG (per cutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube, is relatively simple to insert and more easily managed than a feeding tube inserted through nose or mouth. Yes, by all means, do the investigations and treatments of the rare condition of Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome (MDDS). Hurrah, if it is successful. If it is not, let Charlie be treated with a tracheostomy and a feeding tube so he can be at home. All of this can be done in England. He doesn't need to go to USA or Italy unless doctors in England refuse to treat Charlie. If doctors in England would have treated Charlie, the legal system might not be involved. But a doctor, a medical system and a legal system are needed to treat Charlie. Jahi, Israel, Mirranda and many others find themselves in a System of Death that is based on the mendacity (deception, lie) of "brain death." Hospice, Comfort Care, Palliative Care, and Futile Care Policies have followed and are part of the System of Death. All of these include less treatment, little or no care, and drugs for what is interpreted as suffering that may hasten death and shorten life.

We thank President Trump, Pope Francis and all those concerned about Charlie. We stand with Charlie's parents wishing the best treatments for their baby. We hope and pray Charlie will be treated with a tracheostomy and feeding tube (PEG tube), specific medications, ventilatory and nutritional support so that Charlie can be at home with his parents.
______________________
Printed with permission
Dr. Paul A. Byrne is a Board Certified Neonatologist and Pediatrician. He is the Founder of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, MO. He is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of Toledo, College of Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Dr. Byrne is past-President of the Catholic Medical Association (USA), formerly Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO and Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He was Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Pediatric Department at Oral Roberts University School of Medicine and Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the City of Faith Medical and Research Center in Tulsa, OK. He is author and producer of the film "Continuum of Life" and author of the books "Life, Life Support and Death," "Beyond Brain Death," and "Is 'Brain Death' True Death?"

Dr. Byrne has presented testimony on "life issues" to nine state legislatures beginning in 1967. He opposed Dr. Kevorkian on the television program "Cross-Fire." He has been interviewed on Good Morning America, public television in Japan and participated in the British Broadcasting Corporation Documentary "Are the Donors Really Dead?" Dr. Byrne has authored articles against euthanasia, abortion, and "brain death" in medical journals, law literature and lay press.

Paul was married to Shirley for forty-eight years until she entered her eternal reward on Christmas 2005. They are the proud parents of twelve children, grandparents of thirty-one grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ABORTION AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: IS CATHOLIC TEACHING INCONSISTENT?


Bill Tammeus
A few years ago, the National Catholic Reporter published a commentary under the title “Status of abortion, death penalty in Catholic teaching makes little sense.” Really? Why would a  Catholic newspaper publish this Op-Ed piece? It was written by Presbyterian Bill Tammeus who took issue with the Catholic Church and its position against abortion in comparison to its opposition to the death penalty.

Mr. Tammeus said, “In the case of prisoners on death row, we have human beings who have been around for years, having proved viable outside the womb .... By contrast, in the matter of abortion, we have a bundle of cells that may one day be born.” He goes on to assert that learned people “disagree on the question of whether and when those cells constitute a legally protected person.”

Catholic teaching recognizes society’s right to impose the death penalty in extreme cases for its own protection. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “... the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.” (2266) Having acknowledged this, the Catechism then states its preference for bloodless means of punishment for the common good of society and “conformity to the dignity of the human person.” (2267)

On the matter of abortion, Bill Tammeus shows a woeful ignorance of embryology. A “bundle of cells”? Again, why would a Catholic newspaper publish such uninformed drivel? Does Bill Tammeus not know that biology and medicine proved long ago that prenatal life is a separate human being? After reading this Tammeus’ commentary, I contacted the renowned American molecular biologist Dr. Dianne Irving of Bethesda, Maryland. She said:
“The human embryo/fetus at any stage of prenatal development is an organism, an already existing human being -- not a mere “bunch of cells”. Bill Tammeus is obviously grossly ignorant of the long-known objective scientific facts of human embryology. It has been internationally acknowledged for over a hundred years that in sexual reproduction the new human being begins to exist as a single-cell organism at the beginning of the process of fertilization.”

The Catholic Church has opposed abortion since the first century. This has not changed and remains unchangeable (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271). I doubt that will change because of an ill-informed Presbyterian.

The simple fact is that the Catholic Church does not hold a hierarchy of human rights or worthiness.  This is different from the truth that not all moral issues are equal. During the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a memorandum to American Cardinal McCarrick of Washington DC, under the heading  “Worthiness to Receive Holy communion: General Principles”. In that correspondence, Cardinal Ratzinger dealt with these issues. He said, in part:

“... The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them ... .”

Cardinal Ratzinger’s memorandum later stated:
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.” 

The holy man continued:
“There may be,” he declared, “a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

When it comes to capital punishment and abortion, only abortion is inherently wrong because it destroyed innocent life.

On the matter of justice, I understand there are individuals who are so damaged and dangerous that they must be removed from society. Perhaps they are so damaged they cannot be restored (barring a dramatic healing touch of Christ). Still, the Church believes in the inherent dignity of every human person as a bearer of God’s image. There is no human offence so vile that it lies outside God’s mercy, but neither is there any unborn child so insignificant that it is unworthy of love, life and protection.  We must never dehumanize others by our words or deeds.
No life is just a “bundle of cells”.  No man sinks beneath his humanity because of his criminal deeds.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to show love and concern for them – just as Christ showed love and concern for us. 
MDP

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

CHARLIE GARD: URGENT ACTION REQUESTED!

Below is a Tweet sent this morning to the Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. Dr. Peter Steer. This hospital is where baby Charlie Gard is being kept until his ventilator is turned off. It will result in the baby's death. You will notice that Prime Minister Theresa May, Pope Francis, President Trump and the European Union Court of Human Rights have been included in the Twitter Message.

I ask you to send a similar Tweet to Dr. Steer @GreatOrmondSt or the hospital's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Great-Ormond-Street-Hospital/251976511945677 --Thank you. They may kill Charlie at any time. This is urgent!

Monday, July 3, 2017

URGENT APPEAL TO HOSPITAL FOR CHARLIE GARD

[This blog post has been distributed widely.]

To: Dr. Peter Steer, Chief Executive, Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, London, England, @GreatOrmondSt

From: Mark Davis Pickup, North American Life & disability issues advocate, HumanLifeMatters.org, email: HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca, Canada.

Dear Dr. Steer:

URGENT: REGARDING CHARLIE GARD, PATIENT WITH MITOCHONDRIAL DNA DEPLETION SYNDROME                          

This communication is in support of Connie and Chris Gard, parents of 10-month-old Charlie Gard who suffers from mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital want to turn off the baby's ventilator which will result in his death. Mr. and Mrs. Gard want to take him to America for experimental treatment. They have raised £1.3million ($1.68 million US) for a medical flight and treatments. There will be no costs to taxpayers or the hospital.

I call upon Great Ormond Street Hospital for children to release baby Charlie Gard in the care of his parents. They have the resources to ensure their child has the best care during the medical flight to the U.S. and to cover medical costs while in America. Should Charlie die, the parents will have the consolation that they left no stone unturned for their baby. They have a right to try.

Please prepare baby Gard for release to his parents and a medical flight. Thank you.

Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, July 1, 2017

HIS PERFECT PEACE HE GIVES TO ME

Jesus said,

“But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 26-27.)

Perfect peace. Without Christ, the human longing for internal peace is either elusive or counterfeit. Do not discount this truth. Jesus is the author of all we know and all that is unknown (see John 1.1-5, 12-18). Even when our world seems to be falling apart we can have peace in Christ who offers salvation to all and deliverance from our sins through His sacrificial offering on the cross (see Colossians 1.12-20).
 
Jesus is the source of internal peace that transcends all understanding (see Philippians 4. 6-7). That peace has a transformative quality that has, throughout the centuries, changed even devilish people into saints. The history of Christianity is replete with examples of this.

On the other hand, the absence of Christ’s peace can turn gentle souls into cynical, stone-hearted people. The world’s cruelty can sear individual and even collective human consciences.  We see this in displayed in such things abortion, child and elder abuse, euthanasia and pornography.

And yet in the midst of human violence and spiritual corruption Christ still offers his peace to all who come to know Him. This peace has come to me ― even in the storms of life and the terrors of degenerative disability. I discovered a peace that came from beyond the ages. 

The darker my physical reality became, the more evident the light of Christ became. There were times when my physical circumstances threatened to engulf me. My prayerful cries were met with a deep peace that quenched the fear. I cannot explain it logically: it is that peace that The Apostle Paul mentioned that surpasses human understanding. An inaudible yet real message of assurance of the Holy Spirit descended upon me like the breeze from a dove's wings to subdue the terror and panic raging within me “Be not afraid, I am with you” (cf. Matthew 14. 27).


There is nothing in this world that can rob me of my eternal hope in Jesus Christ. As God tells us in His Holy Bible, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46.10). Earthly life may destroy my body but my soul is safe with Christ.  He is with me now and forever.  -- Mark