Mar 23, 2005

Whose will be done?

A statement issued Feb. 25 by Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick.

"Judging from various news reports, it does not appear that Ms. Schiavo has entered irretrievably into the dying process," Kieschnick's statement reads. "Therefore, administering food and hydration would belong in the realm of ordinary care and should not be withdrawn. Removing Terri's feeding tube will not allow her to die, since she is not dying. Removing her tube will, in fact, cause her to die."

The court struggle, Kieschnick says, "has the potential effectively to legalize and set a dangerous precedent for this type of killing in our country -- a precedent that would have profound effects on our culture as a whole. Our society is shaped by the value we place on human life. If we believe that the life of every human being is of special worth, we will choose to treat each person with care and respect. As we face often-difficult end-of-life issues, our aim must always be to care, never to kill."

A statement from Johann Christoph Arnold: Spiritual Leader of the Bruderhof Christian Community.

As a culture, we have become too reliant on science and technology. We have also become dangerously dependent on the State to make decisions for us. Shouldn't we rather try to discern what God would have us do? In Terri’s case it should not be the end of the world to remove a feeding tube. Where medical knowledge and capability end, there God can begin to work. And if it is God’s will for Terri to recover, she will: for Jesus is truly the only physician who can heal the sick and raise the dead. If Terri should die, it will be painful, but no cause for despair: we all have to die one day.

We are too afraid of death and dying. We forget that those who are dying are stretched out between earth and heaven, between the physical and the spiritual, between the finiteness of life on earth and the eternity of life beyond. Every dying person has a message to the living. Even in her current condition, Terri’s living is not in vain; all who come in contact with her have an opportunity to be taught love and compassion to others.

That an intensified struggle over Terri’s life is occurring right at Easter highlights the message of Good Friday, when we think of the death of Jesus, who longed to reconcile everything in the universe. His crucifixion remains the supreme example of suffering that was not in vain.

-- I respect the opinions and guidance of both these men, and I agree with them both... even in contradiction. I have signed two DNR orders for dying relatives: my father and my god-mother. In my god-mother's case, I also had her feeding tube removed, as she was being kept in a state of agony by artificial means. I've seen both of my parents quit eating as they prepared to die, not by their own "choice", but by their body's design and readiness for the end.

Based upon my own experiences, I fear that Terri Schiavo's body is being denied the ability to implement its own transition to death.

A Christian friend recently remarked to me that he views death as a "graduation" to new-life. He's not afraid of death, but he also said that he just doesn't want a long "graduation ceremony".

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