Starving patients to death

starvation_by_ivnkadsyra-d4f57bcEuthanasia laws have a way of expanding.  Once a society accepts the concept that sick people should be “put out of their misery,” the benefit can be applied ever more broadly–to those who are not terminally ill, just depressed; to people who cannot give consent; to the mentally handicapped; to children.  What begins as a humane-sounding way to end heart-breaking suffering, to be used only in rare and carefully defined cases, turns into something ever-more brutal.

Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997.  A new law would allow caregivers to deny food to those who have written an advance-care directive allowing for non-treatment.  Not just intravenous nutrition, but actual eating and drinking, even if the patient is hungry and wants to eat. [Read more…]

Bringing back the woolly mammoth

The two kinds of romantic love

8096547973_367546a4eb_zOne kind of romantic love leads to life–to marriage, fruitful sexuality, children, family, virtue.  The other kind of romantic love leads to death–to sin, sterile sexuality, abortion, family destruction, ruin.

These two kinds of romantic love are explored in one of the most morally illuminating books of literary criticism I have ever read:  Love in the Western World by the Swiss Christian scholar Denis de Rougement.

A romance novel will often set up a triangle in which a woman has to choose between two suitors:  One is a good guy who cares for her, whom her parents like, and who would make a good husband.  The other is nearly a villain, an “anti-hero” who sometimes mistreats her, is a social outcast from her circles, and who even seems dangerous.  Young adults novels are often built around the same pattern,  with the choice between an all-American popular boy and a troubled, misunderstood, passionate “bad boy.”  Many literary novels have been about a happily married man who is lured away from his angelic wife by an exotic, sensual, forbidden beauty.

Sometimes the characters make the right choice in committing themselves to the good person.  But, more often than not, they choose the one who is bad “in society’s eyes,” but who offers them excitement, passion, and the thrill of transgression.  Romance and young adult novels often stop when the choice is made, imposing a “happily ever after ending.”  But honest works of literature, like Anna Karenina, show what happens next, with the forbidden love resulting in ruin, despair, and even death.

More importantly, the pattern keeps asserting itself in real life.   [Read more…]

An obituary for a contemptible life

Memento_mori_(3690813647) (1)Obituaries summarize the events of the life of the deceased, a way of honoring the dead by looking back on the life they have lived. They often turn into eulogies, praising the character and good deeds of the person who died.  Lutheran funerals try to keep the focus away from the person’s good works as something to comfort the family, instead emphasizing Christ, the Gospel, and the persons’ faith.  The funerals of non-Christians are trickier.  (I’d be curious how you pastors handle those.)

A woman recently wrote an obituary for her father, who, she said, would “be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend.”  He died at age 74, “which was 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”

“At a young age,” the obituary said, he “quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive.” “Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides [quick-witted] sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.”  “Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.”  And that’s not all.  You can read the entire obituary after the jump.

My first impulse was to laugh, then to appreciate the brutal honesty, then to be disturbed.  Is this breaking the Commandment about honoring your father and your mother?  It certainly breaks the taboo against “speaking ill of the dead.”  A news story confirms that the man abused his family, having been arrested several times, including for pouring boiling water on his wife.

But imagine living a life that inspired your family to write an obituary like this. [Read more…]

Why millennials are having less sex

2314507559_f0b038bfb8_zMillennials are having less sex than their peers in previous generations.  But it isn’t, for the most part, because they are embracing Christian sexual morality.  Rather, it is largely because their sexual desires (especially for men) are being slaked by pornography.  And because their main relationships are often online rather than in the flesh.

Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene, of Lutheran Satire fame, has a provocative article on this phenomenon in The Federalist.  He makes the case that pornography and virtual relationships are uniquely crippling emotionally and morally.  Whereas the sexual desire that leads to a relationship with a real person and then to marriage creates a whole range of virtues.
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Conform to reality or subdue reality?

Justin Taylor quotes from C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man.  Peter Kreeft calls these lines “the single most illuminating three sentences I have ever read about our civilization.”

Read those three sentences after the jump.

Then consider what Kreeft says about them and my point about how one of these ways of thinking can now be found virtually everywhere in contemporary life.
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