“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, May 30, 2009

One night on the Michael Coren Show

The Michael Coren Show on Canada's CTS television network airs three times a week across the nation. It's a panel talk show covering various subjects ranging from current affairs to religion. I like the Michael Coren show: It's a guarantee of lively debate with a slightly intellectual but not snooty quality.

The casual viewer can not tell whether Coreh is right or left on the political spectrum. Michael Coren has both left and right, liberal and conservative representation on his panels. He's demanding but fair with his guests and demands fair and thoughtful responses and is quick to challenge pat answers, slogans or Newspeak. For example, last evening his conservative guest was columnist and author Clare Hoy. The liberal guest was Marianne Meed Ward. The token representation from western Canada was broadcaster Rob Brackenridge.

One story they covered was out of Swaziland. Member of Parliament, Timothy Myeni, for a solution to the AIDS epidemic in his country: compulsory HIV testing of the population. HIV-positive people with receive a tattoo on their buttocks.

Marianne Meed Ward objected to the idea. At one point she used the phrase "sex trade
workers." Michael Coren interrupted her liberal diatribe with something to this effect:

MC: "You mean whores?"
MMW: "Yes."
MC: "Why do to try to dignify prostitution? Dignify the person but but the activity."

Well done Michael.

My view of the Swaziland proposal is one of support for the MP's idea. Desperate measures are sometimes required for desperate times. HIV has made these are desperate times for Swaziland (and other African countries). It's a reasonable requirement to save a population threatened by the AIDS epidemic. If the choice is privacy versus public health of life threatening disease, I side with public health. My only concern was placing a tattoo on the buttocks of an HIV-positive individual may not give a prospective sexual partner enough warning. A tattoo should be placed discreetly in view such as the palm of the hand or in the scalp.

Mr. Coren then changed the topic to the recent assisted suicide in the state of Washington of a woman suffering from pancreatic cancer. Predictably, Marianne Meed tried to defend assisted suicide with the outdated argument of dying people living in a drug induced stupor from pain medications. Obviously she had not done adequate research or she did the research and did not like what she found. It doesn't play well for euthanasia supporters.

After the show ended, I sent Email to Michael Coren saying that
Marianne Meed Ward made a weak case for assisted suicide in musing that pain management causes confusion. Not necessary.

If pain medications are properly administered by medical professionals with current and up-to-date understanding of pain management medications and techniques -- complete pain relief can be achieved without the loss of lucidity or confusion to the patient.

Ward (and Rob Brackenridge) tried to reverse the argument for assisted suicide by asserting the state does not have a right to force people to live. (?) Talk about confusion! Ward and Brackenridge did not even have medication to blame!

The point is this: The state must never support suicide or assisting suicide. Legalized assisted suicide, such as in the states of Oregon and Washington, are striking deviations from Anglo-American historical legal traditions and law. I spoke about this in my previous blog. For more than 7 hundred years common law has discouraged or punished assisting suicide.

Because Canada no longer punishes people who attempt suicide is not an an endorsement of it. It simply acknowledges that prosecution an inappropriate response to a suicidal person. They need psychologically help not prison. Ward alluded to the argument of a disabled person who can not kill themselves. So what! If Canada does not support suicide, why would they support assisted suicide.

I said to Michael Coren in my email: "I have suffered from aggressive multiple sclerosis for more than 25 years. My condition has degenerated significantly since you interviewed me in 1995. I am now triplegic and in a full electric wheelchair. My brain and CNS are riddled with lesions; only my left arm remains unaffected by MS."

"I do not need a community or society that assists me in my suicide. I need a society that holds up my value even when I cease to believe in it. And I have an obligation to the Common Good not to seek assistance or support of my suicide. For me to ask that society or other people to assist me in my suicide would be to support the notion that there is such a thing as a life unworthy to be lived. The ramifications of accepting that notion would have a detrimental effect on others with disabilities, the incurably ill, those who have sunk beneath the waves of depression or circumstances, ... and posterity."

I told Mr. Coren that it is better to live in my state of degenerative disease and disability that to compromise my own humanity (or my responsibility to humanity) for the sake of my personal relief.

Contrary to the popular slogan it's NOT all about me. Autonomy is a myth.

Mark Pickup

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alberta's 2009 March for Life

Last Thursday (May 7th) the second annual March for Life was held in Alberta's Capital city of Edmonton. It was supported by all Alberta's Catholic bishops, and attended by clergy from Eastern Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic denominations. Sadly representation from evangelical denominations were conspicuous in their absence. Still, hundreds of people from throughout the province showed up at the steps of the provincial legislature to hear speakers of which I was one. My speaking notes are at the end of this post for information of readers.

The crowd marched through the streets of downtown Edmonton. It stretched three and a half blocks long, four and five marchers deep, and required police escort as traffic and the hustle of commerce was disrupted while we snaked through the streets with placards and banners declaring the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Bystanders watched respectfully from the sidelines at the striking witness for Life before their eyes.

It was interesting but expected to note that Edmonton's major daily newspaper, The Edmonton Journal,did not report the event at all. According to their censorship of ideas the event did not occur. It was reminiscent of another pro-Life march that occurred in the city of Toronto in 1984. Twenty-five thousand people (police estimate of crowd size) silently march past the Morgentaler abortuary. Participants said it was eery to hear feet walking in silent protest of the killing of innocents occurring inside that terrible place. The silence was complete: The Globe and Mail, the CBC and other media did not report it. It was as though the massive protest of citizenry didn't happen. Shhh!

(Yet if a dozen abortion advocates, homosexuals or transvestites hold a demonstration and its news for days.)

When the marchers arrived back at the steps of the provincial legislature, I delivered the following short address:

We have entered a moral storm that’s breaking the ancient western moral code that governed the moral ethos of generations. Although people may have occasionally failed to behave the way they instinctively knew to be right, there was a consensus that the most vulnerable and weak of society must be protected.

For centuries, abortion was considered a serious crime. The Hippocratic Oath for doctors dating back thousands of years forbade abortion (and euthanasia). The Catholic Church has maintained the moral evil of abortion since the 1st Century. Ancient and persistent Common Law traditions dating back into the Middle Ages treated abortion as a “grave crime.” In 1802, England codified in to law what had been considered a criminal offence by custom, and made abortion a criminal act. What I am trying to illustrate to you is that considering abortion on demand as a right (as Canada and the US do) is a recent development and an aberration from the course of human history.

As I speak these words to you there are preborn children being slaughtered not more than 10 blocks away from us. These children are being killed because they are unwanted or inconvenient to their parents. All across Canada abortion can be obtained for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever.

Now Canada is about to consider decriminalizing assisted suicide. It has already been embraced by Oregon, Washington state, Holland and elsewhere. This, too, is a deviation from centuries of Common law that discouraged, prohibited or punished assisting in the suicide of a person. Civilized and compassion societies did not kill their weakest or those who had sunk beneath the waves of circumstance.

Canada has abandoned its Christian roots. It has abandoned the ideal that there is something sacred to human life. The nation of my birth has coarsened to the point that I can scarcely recognize it. I feel like an alien in my own country. Public opinion polls consistently reveal that 70 % of Canadians agree with euthanizing (or helping the suicides) of the terminally or chronically ill people and the severely handicapped (people like me). That means that 7 out of 10 of my fellow Canadian citizens I pass on the street agree with helping me to kill myself if I despair of my situation. Apparently they believe it’s my freedom to choose.

But choices made from the perspective of abandonment, depression or desperation are not free at all. Do not talk to me about the freedom to choose unless all my choices are equally weighted and people have access to good supportive services and feel included within a tender embrace of community. There is no freedom of choice for the incurably ill person who feels the cold winds of abandonment or sees the world from beneath the dark veil of depression. There is no freedom to choose for a desperate woman is crisis pregnancy who is being pressured to have an abortion.

If Canadians really are “pro-choice”, why is only one choice so heavily funded? I propose a balanced approach. Provide equal funding for women who choose life for their babies. Provide funding to homes for unwed mothers where they can finish their education and receive prenatal care and life skills training. Provide funding for community and faith based partnerships with government for shepherding homes where women in crisis pregnancies can be mentored and establish or re-establish community connections. Give women positive choices not just negative choices.

Ensure modern techniques of palliation, pain management are strengthen in medical schools. Create government and community based hospice options where the dying and incurably sick are loved and included within their communities.

Until the choices for desperate people have equal attention, the idea of the freedom to choose is a hollow lie.

You are a critical minority who still believe in the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Stand firm in the present Dark Age. Make your witness matter for a culture of life in a prevail culture of death. Do not tire or flag. Do not succumb to intimidation. You can turn the tide! I believe this with all my heart. I have to, the alternative is unthinkable.

Mark Pickup