“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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Earlier in my life numerous people tried to lure me to central Canada and away from my little French town in the hinterland of western Canada. Perhaps the most tempting that I remember was being offered a job to host a national TV series the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was planning in 1990. The series was about issues surrounding disabilities and showcasing the lives of Canadians with physical and mental challenges.

The CBC flew me to Ottawa to meet with a senior official at an elegant restaurant who presented me with the idea. There was only one catch: I would have to uproot my family and move to Toronto or Ottawa (I can't remember which city) and leave our small town life. It was an extraordinary opportunity to be sure -- one of the best I was ever offered during my short career. I must admit that I was tempted. 

But the timing was wrong: My children were young and settled; to uproot them would have been too disruptive to their lives. Besides, we had extended family near who needed us. I looked out the restaurant window while the executive producer for the series sat across the table waiting for my response to her offer to host the show. That still small voice inside me said, "Let it pass." Reluctantly I turned down the opportunity.

Dreams of grandeur becoming reality were not mine to have. God planned something else for me: Quiet contemplation in the midst of physical struggle rather than a television show. To the world, God's plan might have seemed laughable compared to the lights and glamour of television. 

Looking back now, as an old man, God wanted to teach me something critically important that can only be learned in quietude: The art of true love (both human and divine). God wanted me to stay put and wait on Him. Sometimes people see clearest looking through the blur of tears.

Just over a year later my disability forced me to retire and live on a
modest disability pension. My disease kept ravaging my body and forcing my type A personality into stillness and contemplation. Days, months and years were spent convalescing while looking out my kitchen window as seasons passed. Successive generations of blue jays flew to my backyard’s maple trees. My hair turned white. Grandchildren were born. That still small voice whispered, “Be open to love for in love you will find God.” I discovered it is true. The meaning of my life did not come in a thunder-clap of glory rather in a breeze and ordinary rhythms of life. 

I am reminded of a conversation in a 1985 television production Anne of Green Gables where Anne says, “I went looking for my ideals outside myself and discovered it’s not what the world holds you, it’s what you bring to it. The dreams that are dearest to my heart are right here. I don’t want sun bursts and marble halls. I just want you.”

The meaning of my life was to be found in front of television cameras, rather in the love of God and family. I have been as effective alone pecking away on a computer keyboard about Life and disability issues, as in any television studio in central Canada. 

This blog has developed a large following with  425,000 page views to date. Thousands of people visit the HumanLifeMatters blog each month and its beginning to attract attention.

Recently a documentary film maker flew out from Toronto to interview me at my Alberta home about assisted suicide. As you may know, Canada is about to embark into a bold and brutal world of state sanctioned assisted suicide of the sick, disabled and depressed. As the TV lights were being set up in my living room and sound levels checked, an old fantasy bubbled up in my little grey cells. 

I have often thought of revisiting the earlier idea CBC presented to me of hosting a series of television programs profiling individuals and families living with disabilities or chronic diseases. The series would be different from the CBC idea in that it would have a Christian orientation. It would delve into topics such as:

- People's realities with disability, chronic illness and exploring solutions to support life with dignity and purpose for individuals and their families; 
- the state of disability housing, education, transportation access and equal access to medical care in various jurisdictions;
explore advances in palliative medicine and the folly of introducing euthanasia into end of life care;
- bioethics behind futile care and withdrawal of treatment policies within various hospitals, or organ transplantation as it relates to equal access for people with disabilities;
- the coming tsunami of dementia among an aging population and public and community policies to support families in this situation;
- Profiles of various Christian hospice facilities and explore specialized care such as perinatal hospice; 
- Profiles of people who have been confronted with adult onset disabilities, how they adapted to their new realities, and were changed by their situations. If they did not adapt, what prevented them?;
- termination of pregnancies involving disabled children (90 percent of pregnancies involving a Downs baby end in abortion) and ways to support parents prior to and after making their decisions;
- Christian approaches to mental illnesses and care for the mentally ill and reclaiming a Christian moral consensus about the value of all human life.

Each topic would be cast against a backdrop of the true and fullest meaning of universal human rights, and the sanctity of human life within a context of the Common Good that seeks to help every individual reach their full potential. 

The television/new media series would attempt to counter and contrast the constant barrage of life denying secular media that promote unfettered personal autonomy and a right to death for oneself or others. This series would have a life affirming perspective that seeks to educate, understand and embrace full inclusion of people with disabilities or incurable illnesses, and their families, as indispensable members of our communities.

Perhaps the response to state sanctioned killing of the sick, disabled and old people within a dark culture of death should be told by an old man who has been incurably ill and disabled for half of his life (me). After all, assisted suicide and euthanasia targets the sick, disabled and old. I'm all three![1] I found purpose and meaning despite (or because) of suffering and adversity. Maybe it is time. The light of faith in Jesus Christ has guided me through personal and cultural darkness that did not prevail against me.

If I could only find a production house or television network prepared to take on the series and someone to finance it. I would revisit an idea that's been percolating in my little grey cells for 25 years.

[1] I have a background in the media. I am a widely published writer. I graduated from Radio and Television Arts from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1975. I wrote, produced and narrated the 2001 euthanasia documentary "To be, or Not To Be -- the Human Family" aired and distributed by EWTN.

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