Terri’s Wishes: Another Perspective

Mike Russell of Eternal
has some interesting views regarding the plight of
Terri Schiavo. They’re sort of an examination of conscience particular
to this context. Here are some highlights:


Schiavo: Maintaining Focus

It is a recurring nightmare:

Months or years from now, long after we have won the battle to keep
Terri alive, her painful and agonizingly slow therapy reaches the point
where she is finally able to think clearly and speak for herself. It is
a great day: all who have prayed for her and followed her dramatic,
near-tragic saga eagerly await her first words. And then they come:
“Why didn’t you let me die? Why have you made me endure this pain and
suffering? I wanted to die! I still want to die!”

Then I wake up.


I hope Terri has the chance someday to speak for herself. The idea that
her bottom-feeding husband has the right to murder her is comprehensible
only in a godless society such as ours…But then there’s my nightmare
ending. If that were to happen, then Terri would suddenly go from being
a cause in the eyes of Christians to being an enemy and someone to be
resisted. From darling to damned in a matter of minutes.

I have no reason to expect anything like this to happen….But the
Christian community must see past Terri and remain focused on the bigger
issue, which is that life is valuable and not to be dismissed casually.
Right now that principle has a face – a lovely, endearing face – but the
principle has been around long before Terri and will be around after
her, too. We are not fighting for a life but for life itself. Terri is
important because she has life; life is not important simply because it
happens to belong to her and is threatened at the present time. Terri’s
life is no more – or no less – important than the lives of the thousands
of children dying in the Sudan. Life is the issue.


about Terri…

Without a doubt, I have read and blogged more about Terri than I have
prayed for her. I’ve spent hours doing the former and less than an hour
on the latter, but my total time of praying specifically for Terri is a
very small percentage of the total. What does that say about me and my
belief in the power of prayer? More importantly, what does it say about
how I view God?

Speaking only for myself, I wonder if my faith has been more in the
government and “good” elected officials or in God. If my faith is in
God, why did I feel so defeated when I read that the judge had been so
lacking in mercy?

Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup of suffering from Terri
Schiavo; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

10 thoughts on “Terri’s Wishes: Another Perspective

  1. theomorph

    Pulling the plug on Terri Schiavo will directly cause her death.

    Is it that clear? Plugging her in in the first place directly delayed her death, but is the cessation of efforts to delay death equal to causing death?

    If your efforts are keeping another person alive who could not otherwise life, and you cease those efforts, have you caused the death of that person? Or merely allowed other causes already in action to follow their course?

  2. Keith

    Advanced directive a nice phrase which means suicide and nothing more.

    We have no right to die, we have no right to take our own life.

    We may choose to take our life, we may choose to employee another to take our life for us, but rights come from God and Gid alone.

    God gave us not right to die.

  3. Tom Smith

    For the same reasons that I don’t think that abortion constitutes murder, I don’t think it stands to call the Schiavo case murder.

    Murder implies illegality, first off. Since those who wish to see her let go are working within the law, they aren’t murderers. Killers, maybe, but not murderers.

    Secondly, murder implies a malicious intent. Does Michael Schiavo really loathe his former wife, to the point of wanting to kill her? I don’t know; we really can’t judge that. I don’t think so. He feels her an inconvenience, obviously, but is that malice? Do those who support her euthanasia have malice towards Terri Schiavo? From the sheer number of those in this nation who’ve been fired up by this event, I’m sure there are those who favor her death sheerly for malice. But those that do probably aren’t the ones working directly to get her plug pulled.

    Pulling the plug on Terri Schiavo will directly cause her death. But causing death is not the same as murder. The equivocation that the use of the term “murder” causes, perhaps inadvertently, puts everyone who supports Terri Schiavo’s death

  4. Tom Smith

    I’d say that when the feeding tube was emergency intervention, it wouldn’t’ve been causing her death to get rid of the tube; rather, it would’ve been only allowing her death.

    It strikes me that the feeding tube is no longer an emergency intervention, but has been established as a status quo (if you will); removing it would be causing her death. Just as denying food to a locked-away prisoner is killing, so it is in this case.

    (Just some thoughts. I could be persuaded otherwise.)

  5. gbm3

    I’m responding to the plea (this is my first post to any blog):
    “What say you, Christian readers of my blog?”

    My reply:

    His initial statement is false. In GodÂ’s infinite love and wisdom, he has given free will to the human race. The acts of suicide and murder are not wrong in so far as they take away GodÂ’s desires for the course of our life.

    Think of it in terms of macro and micro life management. God desires that we live out our lives in the pursuit of loving him and our world (agape love) in parallel with God and others loving us. How we fulfill this is up to us, with His grace and guidance, or by ourselves in rejecting Him.

    Murder and suicide are manifestations of rejected love. With faith and hope, love blossoms. Prayer, medicine, and other medical technologies give hope and manifest love from caregivers and others.

    As far as when medical means are futile, the RCC says that ordinary means should be maintained indefinitely, whereas extraordinary means are optional, i.e., feeding and providing water for someone versus employing an artificial breathing device.

    (Catechism of the Catholic Church Reference ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM ):


    2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

    2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons.
    It is morally unacceptable.

    Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
    The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

    2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment.
    Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.
    The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

    2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
    The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable
    Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity.
    As such it should be encouraged.)

  6. theomorph

    If suicide or murder are wrong because they contravene God’s alleged desires for the course of a life, how can you not apply the same reasoning to technological attempts to extend a life in the face of otherwise insurmountable difficulties? I.e., if a person would die without medical intervention, how is medical intervention also not a contravention of God’s apparent desires? If “rights come from God and God alone,” then the right to live also comes from God and God alone, does it not? How does one ascertain when God has removed that right, beyond which point all human efforts to maintain life are in opposition to the will or desire of God?

  7. theomorph

    Still with the “murder” talk.

    How is it “murder” to cease the technological alteration of a course that would have naturally been death? Would it have still been “murder” if she had formulated an advance directive or living will twenty years ago and explicitly asked that a feeding tube or other life support be removed after medical hopelessness had been ascertained? Or would it be “suicide”? Would that be any better, from a religious standpoint?

    If we create medical technology that allows us to tinker with a person’s metabolism despite the body’s inability to sustain itself naturally, are we then obligated to use it? Can it be merely the prior decision of the individual in question (i.e., the presence or absence of an advance directive or living will) that creates the opportunity to commit murder, in which case the action of removing the feeding tube would be absolutely identical in either case except for the presence of a document? By introducing the concept of “murder” have we not backed ourselves into an ethical corner created not by any divine decree but by the vagaries of our own legal system? But if we are going to operate within the parameters of our legal system, why should we call it murder if that system does not call it murder?

  8. Pingback: Ales Rarus - A Rare Bird, A Strange Duck, One Funky Blog » Life, Death, and God’s Sovereignty

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