Saturday, November 21, 2009
A Tough Sell: Thanksgiving is a Time to Talk about End of Life Wishes.
The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine offers assistance for such conversations to ensure death wishes are understood.
To help a family have end-of-life conservations:
-- Gather around a comfortable spot such as the living room or the dining room table.
-- Set aside a period of time, an hour should be enough, depending on how many family members participate.
-- Take turns discussing end-of-life wishes, including what level of treatment and whether every possible medical treatment should be performed, and when treatment should be stopped once quality of life is severely diminished, discussing quality of life means and whether resuscitation should be performed.
-- Discuss who should be a healthcare proxy, a person who will make medical decisions for a person who cannot.
-- Write end-of-life wishes down.
-- End-of-life issues should be discussed long before they need to be answered, and discussed more than once over the years.
To help prepare for an end-of-life discussion, such as developing an advance directive and designating a healthcare proxy see: http://www.aah pm.org/patient/resources/directives.html.
Labels: end of life care
Aid in Dying and the Manhattan Declaration.
A culture of death inevitably cheapens life in all its stages and conditions by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, immature or inconvenient are discardable. As predicted by many prescient persons, the cheapening of life that began with abortion has now metastasized. For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries. The President and many in Congress favor the expansion of embryo- research to include the taxpayer funding of so-called “therapeutic cloning.” This would result in the industrial mass production of human embryos to be killed for the purpose of producing genetically customized stem cell lines and tissues. At the other end of life, an increasingly powerful movement to promote assisted suicide and “voluntary” euthanasia threatens the lives of vulnerable elderly and disabled persons. Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-20th century, they have returned from the grave. The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of “liberty,” “autonomy,” and “choice.”
We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion. We will work, as we have always worked, to bring assistance, comfort, and care topregnant women in need and to those who have been victimized by abortion, even as we stand resolutely against the corrupt and degrading notion that it can somehow be in the best interests of women to submit to the deliberate killing of their unborn children. Our message is, and ever shall be, that the just, humane, and truly Christian answer to problem pregnancies is for all of us to love and care for mother and child alike.
A truly prophetic Christian witness will insistently call on those who have been entrusted with temporal power to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to protect the weak and vulnerable against violent attack, and to do so with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination. The Bible enjoins us to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those who cannot themselves speak. And so we defend and speak for the unborn, the disabled, and the dependent. What the Bible and the light of reason make clear, we must make clear. We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.
Our concern is not confined to our own nation. Around the globe, we are witnessing cases of genocide and “ethnic cleansing,” the failure to assist those who are suffering as innocent victims of war, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS. We see these travesties as flowing from the same loss of the sense of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research. And so ours is, as it must be, a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances.
And the most oft quoted paragraph:
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.
More Manhattan Declaration.
First, let us say what this document is not. It is not, as the NY Times described it, a situation in which “Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues“. Indeed, this is but a segment of Christian thought, claiming the mantle of Christian history and tradition but excluding broad segments of the faith.
One need only glance at the signatories to know the nature of the alliance. Present are some who are well known names in the political culture wars who have long striven to impose their religious views by force of law on the unbelievers: Dr. James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, and Tony Perkins. Some are religious leaders who have been recently shifting their realm of influence away from faith towards secular domination: Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Jonathan Falwell.
But this is not just broadly social conservatives. There is, instead, a concentration of those who focus on “opposing the homosexual agenda”. There are a few religious activists who seem dedicated and committed (obsessed, one might think) to fighting equality for gay people: Ken Hutcherson, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Jim Garlow. And then, inexplicably, some who are not religious leaders at all but social activists whose primary occupation is in seeking the political institutionalizing of inequality to gay people: Maggie Gallagher, Frank Schubert, and William Donohue.
Perhaps the most difficult to explain, and by far the most troubling name present, is The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate, Anglican Church of Nigeria.
There is no explanation provided as to what relevance Akinola has on what is a uniquely American collection. But his participation is not accidental. And, as I will discuss momentarily, his is perhaps the key that explains the true nature of this manifesto.
This could be seen as nothing more that “the usual suspects”, a rehashing of the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition or any other of the loose groupings of religious authoritarians, were it not for one import inclusion. There are nine Catholic Archbishops who signed on to this document.
Ideologically as dissimilar as possible, these two Christian extremes – one whose doctrine is based in tradition, liturgy, and hierarchy, the other whose doctrine is based in reform, spirit-led worship, and direct divine revelation – have set aside ancient hostilities and theological beliefs that doubt the other’s right to be considered “Christian” and have now joined in a common purpose: denying your rights.
But as important as who is present, is who is absent.
Among the signatories I was unable to find any members of the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Friends (Quaker), Disciples of Christ, Unitarian Universalists or American Baptists. There was one United Methodist minister.
In short, a whole branch of Christianity, Mainline Christianity, was missing, including many who no doubt would agree with the goals of banning abortion and forbidding same-sex marriage. This exclusion is, I believe, integral to understanding the true purpose of this manifesto.
Kincaid draws the conclusion that this is a declaration of war by one segment of faith in the US against another, a showing of jealousy at the power that "mainline" religion in the US has garnered:
Note the presence of the second signatory, Peter Akinola? He is the Nigerian Anglican who has been missionizing the United States in an effort to hurt the Episcopal Church. His inclusion is a very clear message sent to the EC that they are a target for the Catholic Church and the evangelical churches who will use whatever political power they may wield in the future to thwart her position in the nation.
This manifesto is, I believe, less a declaration of war on gay people and those with unplanned pregnancies than it is a declaration of war on other Christian faiths.
This manifesto says, in effect, “We are the Christians. We are the ‘heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word’, and we alone will speak for the faith.”
Kincaid sees a clear agenda in the Declaration regarding the Kill Gays Bill in Uganda and AIDs in general:
Around the globe … take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS
The situations in Nigeria and Uganda are not accidental nor unrelated to the efforts of conservative Americans. Although virtually all of the spread of AIDS in Africa is related to heterosexuality, this will be an excuse to pass draconian laws seeking to repress, incarcerate, or execute gay men and women.
In addition to being a slam against the Episcopal Church, the inclusion of Akinola announces that pogroms against gay Africans will have the endorsement of both the Catholic Church and conservative evangelical churches.
We should not expect the calls for criminal prosecution of gay people to be limited to foreign soil. Should such a fervor be fostered internationally, it is unquestionable that this will lend support to efforts to reinstate or bolster oppression here.
It is no longer a matter of curiosity that the Catholic Church has not spoken out against the Kill Gays bill in Uganda. Nor had Dr. Mohler or Dr. Dobson. Nor, indeed, has any signatory of this document.
Addressed not only to Christians, but to President Obama, Congress, and civil authorities, the treatise will be available online for individuals to sign as well. When asked whether nonpayment of taxes would be an acceptable form of protest, George, who is also a lawyer, said he was currently representing a West Virginia taxpayer who is refusing to pay the small percentage of her bill that might go toward state-funded abortions (“Litigation is still pending,” said George). Institutions were also called on to participate in the civil disobedience if, for example, if a Catholic hospital is under pressure to provide services that go against Catholic beliefs. Although conscience protections do exist for many institutions already, there are areas, cited on Friday, such as when the Catholic Charities of Boston halted adoption services, rather than comply with state law and allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples.
According to the Declaration, “We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.” Yet similar documents, such as last year’s Evangelical Manifesto, have been unveiled with great fanfare butlittle consequence. Civil disobedience, especially giving up a job, is a lot to ask in the current economy and is a hard notion, even for some signers of the Declaration.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council tells NEWSWEEK the point of the Declaration is really to avoid mistakes of the past, such as when religious leaders did not stand up early enough against no-fault divorce, which he says led directly to the breakup of families and high divorce rates. “I’m a former police officer, and I have hard time with civil disobedience, but if it comes to the point where our religious liberty is at risk, I’d not only participate but would encourage people to resist.”