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June 16, 2005
The autopsy report on Terri Schiavo was released yesterday, and some pundits were quick to jump to conclusions. The report indicates that the pathologist who conducted the autopsy was unable to determine either the cause of the cardiological disruption that caused her brain injury or the precise nature of her mental state after the injury. In any event, an autopsy is unable to determine whether a patient was in a “persistent vegetative state” or a “minimally conscious state.” The pathologist did argue that Mrs. Schiavo was blind and that therapy would not have improved her mental state.
Of course, we will never know if that judgment is accurate or not, since her death by legally-inflicted dehydration ended any possibility of further treatment. The pathologist also ruled that Terri Schiavo died of “marked dehydration” rather than starvation.
In a news story released by The Washington Post, the reporter seemed to claim that Mrs. Schiavo had died back in 1990 when she suffered the injury. The lead paragraph of the article, posted on the newspaper’s Web site Wednesday afternoon, read like this: “Terri Schiavo died of the effects of a profound and prolonged lack of oxygen to her brain on a day in 1990, but what caused that event isn’t known and may never be, the physician who performed her autopsy said today.” When did Terri Schiavo die? The structure of this sentence would seem to suggest that she died back in 1990.
This is profoundly not the case. Terri Schiavo was not brain dead in 1990, and she was not brain dead until she died of court-ordered dehydration. She was not on a ventilator and she could even swallow. No medical authority attempted to classify her as brain dead during the course of the controversy. This is not just a quibble over language — it is a battle for the recognition of human dignity.
In a revised version of the article, posted to its print edition Web site for today, The Washington Post offers a much different lead: “Terri Schiavo suffered severe, irreversible brain damage that left that organ discolored and scarred, shriveled to half its normal size, and damaged in nearly all its regions, including the one responsible for vision, according to an autopsy report released yesterday.”
All this underlines once again the vast power of the media, especially in terms of framing a debate. The difference between dying in 1990 and dying in 2005 is huge, and the very definition of human life hangs in that balance.
SOURCES AND LINKS: David Brown and Shailagh Murray, Schiavo Autopsy Released, The Washington Post, Thursday, June 16, 2005. Other coverage from BBC News, Indianapolis Star, USA Today, ABC News, The New York Times.
June 16, 2005
Human Events asked “a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public policy leaders” to identify the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. The list:
1. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
2. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
3. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao Zedong
4. The Kinsey Reports by Alfred Kinsey
5. Democracy and Education by John Dewey
6. Das Kapital by Karl Marx
7. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
8. The Course of Positive Philosophy by Auguste Compte
9. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
10. General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes
It’s hard to argue with that list, but it seems a bit weighted toward economics. I would argue for putting The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in the top ten, and Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead wouldn’t be far behind. Any suggestions?
SOURCE: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Human Events, May 31, 2005
June 15, 2005
June 14, 2005
The Houston Chronicle
reports that more and more churches and denominations are turning to
media advertising as the way to raise their public profiles, attract
new members, and stem membership losses. The article
by Richard Vara is truly interesting. Take Alan Fletcher and Stephanie
Hoverman, for example. Vara reports that they were attracted to a
billboard on Interstate 10 in Houston.
June 13, 2005
June 13, 2005
The issue of day care for children has been hotly debated for
decades, with only a few dedicated souls brave enough to speak the
truth. A stable, loving home environment with a caring mother is best
for children. Where this is not the case — even where this is not
possible — it serves no honest purpose to deny the truth.
June 12, 2005
The following is a pastoral prayer by John Piper that concluded his sermon on Romans 8:3-9, How the Spirit Does What the Law Could Not Do. Dr. Piper’s prayer is a wonderful distillation of the Gospel:
O Lord Jesus, I am by nature a rebel and find more pleasure in what you made than in you. I am sick and corrupt. O Christ, how plain it is to me now that I need something so much deeper and more powerful and more personal than the law. I know your law is good. But I am flesh, and powerless to obey. And so, Lord Jesus, I turn away from the law, to you. You are my only hope. I turn away from my own resources and bank on your blood and righteousness for acceptance, and on your help for holiness. I turn away from all earthly pleasures and take you, and you alone, as the all-satisfying joy of my life. I renounce Satan and all his ways and all his works. I repent of all the sins I know, and those you know and I don’t.
And, O Lord, I pray that you would have mercy on me, and open the eyes of my heart to see you as you really are in all of your surpassing beauty. I pray that you would display your glory to me in the gospel. What I see and know of you now, I embrace with all my heart. I receive you as my Savior and Lord and Treasure. And ask you to dwell mightily in me and make yourself the Victor in my life so that when I love my brothers and my enemies – as I intend to do with all my heart – the glory will go to you.
This message, and so much more, is available through Desiring God. How the Spirit Does What the Law Could Not Do was preached November 11, 2001 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
June 12, 2005
Are we witnessing the moral abandonment of the human embryo — by evangelical Christians? The Orlando Sentinel published a release from Religion News Service yesterday, indicating that conservative Christians are shifting toward the use of human embryos in stem cell research, even when they know that this means the embryo’s destruction.
June 11, 2005
The Church of England Newspaper reports that bishops of the Episcoal Church, USA will meet next month in an unprecedented conference. The issue of homosexuality — most recently broght to the point of crisis by the election of an openly-gay bishop — may be the catalyst for a division of the church.
Here’s how the article opens: “American bishops will meet for a critical summit next month to discuss ways that the Episcopal Church’s assets can be divided up amongst liberals and conservatives if they are unable to reach a way forward together. A group of bishops will gather in Los Angeles, with options on the table ranging from vows of continued episcopal bonhomie, to a trial separation, to a division and distribution of the Church’s assets. A cross-section of liberal and conservative bishops hopes to ‘sort out the complicated relationship between parishes and dioceses and properties,’ one southern bishop said.”
More: “The genesis for the settlement meeting arose from discussion among the members of the cross-party coalition that put together the “House of Bishops’ Covenant” which pledged to halt the consecration of all bishops — not just homosexual ones — in deference to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. . . . Conservative activist, Canon David Anderson of the American Anglican Council, questioned the propriety of a bishops-only meeting but agreed something needed to be done. “There is a pressing need for open and honest conversation about irreconcilable differences in the Episcopal Church. Whether the meeting would be genuine or duplicitous, only time will tell.’”
SEE: American Bishops in Final Bid to Resolve Differences, The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2005.
June 11, 2005
The Advocate, the nation’s most influential homosexual magazine, has published a most interesting article at its Web site. Finding Inspiration for Gay Rights by Julie Dorf presents the basic arguments promoted by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (a non-governmental agency), which she founded in 1990.
Her article points directly to the fact that the gay rights movement has used the international context to its advantage. Beyond this, she ties this context directly to recent court decisions. Note these sections carefully:
While South African LGBT and HIV activists still have serious battles to fight, the fact of their unprecedented constitutional protections serve as an object lesson for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates here in the United States. As US citizens and as LGBT people, we should not think of ourselves as an isolated movement, nor can we afford to. The struggles and triumphs of LGBT people worldwide are our struggles and triumphs. We strengthen our own movement when we look beyond our own borders.This is why, in 1990, I founded the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission-an organization that fights against human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Today, as US activists celebrate 15 years of working in the international human rights movement, it is time to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished, and what we have learned; and remember how far we still need to go to achieve equality and safety for ourselves and for others around the world.The LGBT movement in the United States has benefited tremendously from the successes of other countries. Case in point: the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy, drew from extensive citations of laws on the books in other countries as diverse as Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Congo.
Though this trend goes far beyond the courts, Julie Dorf’s article is a reminder that the selective use of foreign legal precedents presents a real and present danger to the legitimacy of American courts –and to the moral legitimacy of American culture.
June 11, 2005
Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, continues to sell in record numbers. The suspense thriller is actually an undisguised attack upon Christianity. In my initial review, Deciphering the Da Vinci Code (written just as the book was published), I explained: “The human characters take a back seat to the grand conspiracy that gives the book its plot, and in that conspiracy is the heresy. The Da Vinci Code’s driving claim is nothing less than that Christianity is based upon a Big Lie (the deity of Christ) used by patriarchal oppressors to deny the true worship of the Divine Feminine. Still hanging in there? If you thought The Last Temptation of Christ was explosive, The Da Vinci Code is thermonuclear. The book claims that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, that a child was born of this marriage, and that Mary and her child fled after the crucifixion to Gaul, where they established the Merovingian line of European royalty.”
In other words, “Brown has crossed the line between a suspense novel and a book promoting a barely hidden agenda, to attack the Christian church and the Gospel.”
Now, faculty members at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have responded to the book with a two-day workshop that is available on-line in audio form. Professors consider the novel in terms of its central charges, its impact, and the Christian challenge of responding to this publishing phenomenon. [To access the audio files, go here.]
These helpful materials are especially timely as the summer reading season is upon us — and as the film adaptation of the novel is in development.
June 10, 2005
Dear readers, your letters and e-mails mean a great deal to us. That’s why we are especially distressed that our e-mail files (filled with thousands of messages) have disappeared into the ether of empty nothingness. They have simply vanished. The reason for this is highly technical (which, being interpreted, means that I do not understand it). Nevertheless, all this means that if you have written us, we have no record, and we have no means of response.