Archive for March 18th, 2005

The Russian Church has a name for those innocents who, while not martyred for their faith, nevertheless are unjustly killed: they are called Passion-Bearers, and their suffering is seen as a participation in the sufferings of Christ.

Terri Schiavo, by an eerie coincidence and barring judicial intervention, is scheduled to begin starving to death during Holy Week, when we commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Strangely, as recent news stories have convered the struggle of Ms. Schiavo’s family and friends to save her life, another news story reported that scientists are realizing that they may have long underestimated the ability of apparently unconscious patients to perceive external occurences. Formerly comatose patients reported being aware of conversations and events, when to all appearances they were oblivious to them.

Human consciousness is a mystery, and no one can know how much Terri Schiavo perceives. What is certain is that she is a baptized Christian soul who is being unjustly thrust into the suffering of Christ. As such, as a participant in the Passion of Christ, her suffering is salvific. And whether conscious, semi-conscious or unconscious, she is about to share in the agonizing cry from the Cross in a more literal way than most of us ever will: "I thirst". We must pray and work that her life be spared. If her death cannot be stopped it may be seen as a defeat for those who struggle to defend human life. But spiritually, it will not be a defeat, anymore than the Cross was a defeat. Terri Schiavo the Passion-Bearer bears the power of that Cross; in her suffering may lie the seeds of our eventual victory.

Daniel Nichols


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Right-to-lifers in the blogosphere are vigorously debating this statement from The New Pantagruel encouraging civil disobedience in the matter.

Prescinding from the abstract moral questions regarding civil disobedience, from the purely practical point of view I would expect–I hope I would be wrong, but I would expect–that the result of any kind of forceful civil disobedience would be the demonization and marginalization of the movement against euthanasia.

The pro-life movement hoped in vain that civil disobedience campaigns such as Operation Rescue would eventually be recognized as being similar to those of the civil rights movement–humble citizens fighting for the rights of the weak against entrenched power. They were right in principle. But the all-important difference is the attitude of the media, for which OR was a welcome opportunity to show the world that pro-lifers were a bunch of wackos. One movement’s humble citizen becomes another’s demented ignoramus. All mass movements have their wackos–I can assure you that from personal experience that the anti-Vietnam-war movement had more than its share of dishonest, deranged, and potentially or even actually violent people. But in general it was treated sympathetically by the press.

Here is a New Oxford book review I wrote a few years ago which dealt with the role played by the media in the civil rights movement and toys with the idea of what would have happened if that movement had been treated by the press as the anti-abortion movement has been.

However, there’s been a new development that might cause things to work out differently: the blogosphere. The iron grip of the mainstream media on the control of a story has been broken. "Gay pride" parades for instance, which have long been sanitized by the big media, now sometimes have their seamier side displayed on the Internet.So it might be possible for a c.d. movement disliked by the big media to get some kind of public relations foothold now that would have been impossible ten years ago.

Maclin Horton

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