“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

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's no longer about Wall Street, it's about YOUR street

To read Mark Pickup's latest blog, "It's no longer about Wall Street, It's about YOUR street" go to http://markpickup.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exile and comfort in suffering

Read Mark Pickup's latest blog "Exile and comfort in suffering" at http://markpickup.blogspot.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crisis in the family

There have been no blog entries this week due to a crisis in my family. See http://markpickup.blogspot.com

Thank you.

Mark Pickup

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lethal Labels

The blog entry below also appears in the September 15th edition of Canada's Western Catholic Reporter at http://www.wcr.ab.ca/columns/markpickup/2008/markpickup091508.shtml

Eight years ago, Kevin Monk of Casper Wyoming was in a terrible car accident. He suffered severe physical and brain injuries. For eighteen days after the accident Monk had no brain function and remained in a coma for another three months. During that time, his doctors tried to persuade is family to let him die.

Contrary to the doctors’ predictions that Mr. Monk would never recover, he did waken from his coma. In a recent interview with the Casper Star-Tribune, Monk (33) said, "Some of the doctors told Mom and Dad to just pull the plug," His mother added, “From every place we went, they told us he'd never be anything but a vegetable." Some vegetable!

Today, Kevin Monk is well on his road to recovery and even walks unaided.

Why does modern society believe that catastrophic injury changes
a human being into a vegetable? If an apple falls from the tree, it is a bruised apple, but it remains an apple. If a race horse breaks its leg, it is an injured race horse, but it remains a horse. Why is it then that a severely injured man somehow becomes a vegetable? The fact is, he does not –- and most rational, reasonable people know that in their heart of hearts. It is sinister motives that believe otherwise.

Referring to a comatose human being as a vegetable is intended to distance them from their humanity. It’s easier to starve and dehydrate a person to death if they are not viewed as human. It releases doctors from any responsibility for care usually afforded to people.

Words are powerful but not so powerful to change a man’s species, regardless of how wounded he may be.

This phenomenon is of great interest to me: I may be called a vegetable at some point in the not so distant future. After all, I am incurably ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis that is slowly stripping me of function. When will utilitarian bioethics decide my transition from man to vegetable is complete? I’m triplegic now. Does that make me half vegetable? The last time I looked in the mirror my hair had not yet turned into leafy tops.

Will my transition from man to vegetable be complete when I’m quadriplegic or bedridden or no longer able to communicate? When will it be! What will be the criteria for medical bioethics to strip me completely of any claim to humanity? I know it’s not brain wave activity because Kevin Monk was considered a vegetable even after his brain function returned. I heard Terri Schiavo referred to as a vegetable and she had brain function.

Princeton University professor and animal rights champion, Peter Singer, has suggested using comatose patients for medical experimentation instead of animals. In other bioethical circles it has been suggested using comatose and terminally ill patients as sources to harvest organs for transplantation.

There you have it. Strip a person of their humanity with terms like ‘vegetable” and “persistent vegetative state” -- dismantle the notion of the sanctity of human life  and any barbarity is possible!

No human being is a commodity or property for the use of others: This sort of appalling, stone-hearted mentality has marred the history of mankind. It takes different forms: It occurred as slavery through racial prejudice and subjugation, forced child labour, oppression of women. All these groups of people were seen as commodities or property at one time or another. Twenty-first century bioethics sees the people labeled as being in a persistent vegetative state as commodities to do with as they please.

A year before he died, Pope John Paul II commented on the derogatory term “vegetable.” He said, “A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a "vegetable" or an "animal".”[1]

The Pope reminded the world’s health care professionals:

“The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.”

Catholics must always resist cultural pressures to subjugate or devalue any members of the human family. We are people of light not darkness. We must shine the light Christ’s love and compassion for all to see. We are called to reflect the light of that love and compassion through our lives and witness. How far does the light of Christ’s love and compassion extend? To all human life from the youngest in the womb to the oldest near the tomb and every state or stage between those two points. Even comatose people retain their full human dignity. I know this because John Paul II said it.

He then reminded us: “The loving gaze of God the Father continues to fall upon them, acknowledging them as his sons and daughters, especially in need of help.”

Pope John Paul II’s suffering in his last days illustrated this truth so very poignantly. His last public appearance at the papal apartment had to be cut short because he could no longer speak. To me, it was his most eloquent moment for he showed his solidarity with the disabled and incurably ill of the world who can not speak for themselves. One day I may amongst their ranks.

Thank you Holy Father.

Mark Pickup

[1] Address John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress of "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas.:, March 20 2004. See http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2004/march/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20040320_congress-fiamc_en.html

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bodies of disabled sold in China

Sometime disturbing to my attention by Dr. Dick Sobsey, the Director of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada). Apparently, there is a demand in China for the bodies of disabled people. See http://icad.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/hong-kong-murder-for-corpse-ring .

It’s ironic that in the wake of Paralympics hosted by China that various news sources have reported a gang in Guangdong province has been arrested for kidnapping and killing between 100-400 people with disabilities. Their bodies were sold on the black market to wealthy families who want to bury their own deceased. Cremation is the only legal way of dealing with the dead in China so they present for cremation the corpse of the disabled person they purchased for about $1,500 Cdn.

Apparently Chinese tradition considers cremation disrespectful. This is why wealthy families buy murdered bodies of people with disabilities to present for cremation instead of their loved ones.

Not only do China’s disabled live low and desperate lives but the final insult to their existence is given in death. (I don't know why I'm singling out China!)

Dr. Sobsey said, “If this story isn't disturbing enough, it is almost as troubling that Reuter's and Time have covered this story in sections of their publications reserved for quaint curiosities and silly oddities rather than serious news.”

We should not be surprised. That’s the way people with disabilities have been treated throughout history? Curiosities and oddities.

Mark Pickup

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin: a politician for a time like this

My latest blog is enitled "Sarah Palin: A politician for a time like this". It's pro-Life subject matter involved too many visuals and footnotes for the HumanLifeMatters blog which has been compromised to prevent more complicated entries. Therefore I posted this entry on my personal blog. It can be read at http://markpickup.blogspot.com

Mark Pickup

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pro-Life appeal

My wife LaRee is the provincial Director of Alberta Pro-Life (Canada). She asked me to post a general appeal on the HumanLifeMatters blog. I am pleased to do this and encourage readers of this blog to support pro-Life advocates as they battle the culture of death that has firmly gripped North America. Abortion is widely accepted, available and practised across North America. Public attitudes have become so coarsened and callous that Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler has been given the highest Canadian civilian award: The Order of Canada. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are gaining public acceptance. Over 70% of Canadians support euthanasia and assisted suicide for the terminally/chronically ill.

The work of pro-Life advocates throughout North America is truly an steep uphill battle. We need to sacrificially support their courageous work to educate and illuminate a new Dark Age we are entering.

Please see the general appeal below and support the Alberta Pro-Life. They need help to update their website. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration and assistance.

Mark Pickup


Alberta Pro-Life Alliance Association and its community groups are a primary provincial voice for Life issues surrounding abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. [1]

In the late 1990s, Alberta Pro-Life was one of the first pro-life groups in Canada to launch a website. We have updated it and revamped it over the years but it has been about five years since we have redesigned the site. More sophisticated technology and higher computer use have rendered our site "old", and we need to rebuild and update. (See www.albertaprolife.com.)

I am appealing to all Pro-Lifers to help underwrite the approximate $10,000 we need to transform our website to be the cutting edge educational tool for Albertans to access information about the sanctity and dignity of every human life. This is the mid-range price of the three estimates we've received.

Why a website? Undoubtedly, you have heard, Henry Morgentaler, who runs a string of private abortion clinics and admits he has aborted over 100,000 babies, was awarded the Order of Canada on July 1st. This is Canada's highest civilian honour. How could someone who denies the humanity of Canada's tiniest, most vulnerable human beings, be so elevated? In part, because so many Canadians, and Albertans, are ignorant about abortion and other life issues.

I want the Alberta Pro-Life website to include an informative assortment of 4D ultrasound video showing prenatal development, video clips from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition's extraordinary 2007 production, Turning the Tide, selected essays about abortion, prenatal life, end of life issues, pain management, euthanasia and assisted suicide from some of North America's foremost authorities in their respective fields. There is good information on all these issues already available and we want to ensure people can come to our site and find what they need either through original material or through links to other sites. A webpage will be dedicated to international stories about Life issues. Users will be able to order educational and other resources (books, brochures,
t-shirts, videos, DVDs, etc), find pro-life speakers throughout Alberta and up-to-date information on campaigns, events, petitions and much more.

Alberta Pro-Life asks all Pro-Lifers to prayerfully consider contributing to the cost of creating this dynamic website under the auspices of Alberta Pro-Life Alliance Association . My husband Mark has advanced multiple sclerosis. He is known throughout North America for his work against euthanasia and promoting disability inclusion and equality. We would be happy to speak to you or your organization/business, about this funding request.

For more information, call LaRee Pickup, Director, Alberta Pro-Life Alliance Association at 780-421-7747 or toll free 1-877-880-5433

LaRee Pickup
Director, Alberta Pro-Life
Box 11479
Edmonton, AB
T5J 3K5
Toll Free: 1-877-880-5433

"Defending the sanctity and equality of all human life."

[1] Alberta Prolife Association is a federally registered as a non-profit organization. Due to its political activities, the Canadian government will not issue a charitable number to APL for tax deductible receipts.