Archive for March, 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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By all accounts, Taliban-style Islam did not set well with the Afghani
people. Afghani Islam is rooted in the Sufi tradition, with an accepting
attitude toward folk devotion, dancing and the human attributes of faith.
Suicidal "martyrdom" is foreign to the Afghan mind, and there was widespread, if
quiet, resistance to the puritanical tendencies of the Taliban.

I mention this because there is a tendency among Western commentators to
identify the modern Islamist movement with Islam itself. In fact it is,
historically, perhaps the harshest and most inhuman expression of that Faith. It
is as if the Taborites, or other violent puritanical Christian sects, had become
a dominant force in Christianity.

Islam has at times, been the bearer of advanced culture, with a fairly
tolerant attitude toward the other "People of the Book", Jews and Christians.
Indeed, Orthodox Christians at times preferred the "Turban" to the "Tiara"; ie,
Islamic to western Catholic rule, as the Muslims tended to interfere less with
their internal  affairs. Of course, one can find plenty of examples of even
these more humane forms of Islam behaving in oppressive ways, just as one can
find plenty of examples of otherwise humane kinds of Christian rulers behaving
sinfully, but the fact is most  historic expressions of Islam make the
Wahhabists and Jihadis look pretty narrow and brutal.

In fact, it seems that the human soul cannot long endure that which
militates against human nature. The descendents of the New England Puritans
became Unitarians, and who could have guessed a generation ago that Marxism
would collapse of its own weight?

This of course does not negate the short-term danger of Wahhabist
militancy, but it may give us a different perspective over the long run.

On the other hand, as in the case of the struggle against Marxism, perhaps
the greater danger historically will be consumerist capitalism, which is
seductive, rather than hostile, to fallen human nature.

The children of darkness seem to intuit this; Howard Stern has suggested,
with all seriousness, that the way to defeat Islamist militants is to fund huge
shipments of pornography to the Middle East, and for the American government to
build strip clubs in Islamic countries.

And we wonder why they hate us?

Daniel Nichols

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Some Icons

When I meet former readers of Caelum et Terra they inevitably ask me what I
have been writing since the magazine ceased publication. The answer is that
aside from one book review for New Oxford Review (the review itself is not online) I have written nothing until I started
posting on this website.

I have been writing theology in line and color, however. That is, I have
been painting icons. I have completed around fifty icons in the last three
years. Below are some examples of my recent work.

Daniel Nichols

Christ The Way

Mother of God Eleousa

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Local Heroes

Nothing particularly Catholic-related this week–the heroes referred to are the musicians of my local small-city symphony orchestra who dared to perform Mahler’s 1st this past weekend. Read it here.

Now that I think about it, though, there are some implications of a C&T-ish nature in the story.

Maclin Horton

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Use the contact information below to fight for Terri!  And don’t forget to pray first.

March 7, 2005 – As you may already know, Terri’s case has reached a critical point. Judge George W. Greer has ordered that her nutrition and hydration be removed on March 18, 2005. This will begin a long and painful death process for Terri if his order is carried out.

There are still some things that can spare Terri, and disabled people like her, from this type of forced death. Some of them require your help.

1. Florida’s House and Senate are considering a dehydration and starvation protection act that would require stronger evidence of informed consent prior to removing assisted food and fluids from an incapacitated patient. If you are a Floridian, a disability advocate or an elder care advocate, you can let Florida’s lawmakers know that you want them to consider such an act.

Contact Florida’s Lawmakers:
www.flsenate.gov – Senate
www.myfloridahouse.com  – House

2. The US Congress will consider a bill titled  the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act on Tuesday, March 8, 2005. This bill, if signed into law, would entitle incapacitated persons to the federal review of their rights (known as habeas corpus) and would help ensure that they have been fairly represented. You can encourage your representative to give favorable consideration of this act.  Habeas corpus protections are currently available to the worst convicted criminals; this new law would make it clear that disabled Americans are entitled to at least as much legal protection.

Contact your representative here.
www.house.gov/writerep  – US House of Representatives
www.visi.com/juan/congress  – US Congress

3. Seventeen doctors – neurologists, physicians and pathologists, have signed statements in Terri Schiavo’s guardianship proceedings to support new neurological testing protocols for her. This is important because of recent findings that may support the position that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state and can be trained to communicate in spite of her limitations. Disability advocates across North America are calling for an immediate moratorium on deprivation deaths for disabled people like Terri until these new protocols can be enacted as an updated avenue of testing. We ask that you contact your state representatives and ask that they consider such a moratorium.

Contact your state house and senate.
www.house.gov/writerep  – US House of Representatives
www.visi.com/juan/congress  – US Congress

4. The Justice Coalition has petitioned the Governor of the State of Florida to invoke statutory protections for Terri Schiavo pending an investigation into abuse, neglect and exploitation against her.

Sign the petition here: www.justicecoalition.org/petition2.htm

5. Terri’s family have filed a number of motions and petitions to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas and Pasco Counties and continue to process several different appeals in the Florida courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the latest here: www.terrisfight.org

6. National press and media continue to misreport and misrepresent Terri’s situation. Such reporting does a tremendous disservice to vulnerable people and elderly and disabled persons throughout the United States. You can help by contacting the editors of your local newspapers and letting the truth be known.

Download the talking point list here: www.terrisfight.org/talk.pdf

7. Over 200 internet bloggers have joined forces to support Terri Schiavo by publishing articles, commentary and information about her situation and legal case. You can join their ranks, read their updates and pass the information along to your friends.

Check out the blog sites here: www.blogsforterri.com

Finally, on behalf of the family and legal team working hard to protect Terri Schiavo and vulnerable citizens like her, we thank you for your time and compassion and we hope that you will contact us with links, suggestions and your personal stories. Your continued support is beyond value.

Emai the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation here

Julianne (Loesch) Wiley

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I’m going to confess that I haven’t been following this as closely as I probably should have. Worse, my first reaction was, well, it’s probably one of those very gray-area things where it really isn’t 100% clear who’s right and what should be done.

But the more I learn the more wrong that seems to be. It looks like something really monstrous is happening here.  Fr. Rob Johansen is on the spot–read his list of things the judge in the case has just ruled that Terri’s family cannot do, and if you’ve been negligent like me, prepare to have your eyes opened.

Maclin Horton

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