How to Retire and Keep on Working in Six Quick Steps.

Retirement planning

In November, my successor, Representative-elect Shane Stone, will take the oath and begin his new job of work as the Representative for District 89 in the Oklahoma Legislature.

Up until then, I’m still the Rep, even though session is over and I’m not doing much with it. I asked Shane to attend my committee meetings between now and when he assumes office, even though he can only sit in and is not allowed to vote. It’s a way for him to get his feet on the ground and look at the process without having to jump off into the deep while he’s doing it.

It’s a scary business, taking those first votes. Nothing prepares you for it. One day, you’re a private citizen, the next day you are making decisions, one after the other, for millions of people. The stress, the responsibility, and as time goes by, the battering, never let up.

I am glad to be out of it. In fact, I could write a book (or two) about all the reasons why I’m glad to be out of that pressure cooker.

However, with my never-give-myself-an-even-break way of living, I jumped from one competitive line of work to another without a breath between. In fact, I started this blogging thing years before I pulled up the legislative stakes. Then, within a month of casting my last vote for the people of District 89, I took on two full-blown book projects.

Somewhere in all this, I’ve lost my footing, so to speak. I’m still adjusting to the enormous change of life involved in walking away from the constant pummeling of full-contact politics, and, at the same time, I’m also trying to figure out a whole new line of work. Add to that my wandering Mama, and there are days when I feel like I’m thrashing and pawing the waves instead of swimming.

Obviously, I have a lot of learn about this “retirement” gig, including, it seems, how to retire and keep right on working without missing a beat.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned (and a couple I need to learn) about how to make this big life change.

1. Get the money part straight.

I put this first because it’s so critical. It’s a bit like slamming into a wall, looking at those figures on the balance sheet and realizing, this is it; this is what I have to spend for now and forever.

In my case, it’s been a mostly pleasant surprise. I’m a saver from jump street. I saved my allowance when I was a kid and bought a camera, a watch and other things. Other kids spent their allowances as fast as they got them on candy and stuff. I bought my first savings bond when I was in the first grade by purchasing a savings stamp each week with my allowance.

Needless to say, I’ve been rat-holing money away for decades. That means two things: I have enough saved back so that I can eat three squares and an occasional steak dinner for the rest of my life, and my income needs are relatively low because I’ve been reducing my income to save and already gotten used to living on less than my income.

Despite all that, there have been some negatives; primarily taxes. Nobody in my family ever made enough money in retirement to pay taxes before. I guess I thought retirement was tax free. I may end up paying more in taxes now than I did when I had a regular paycheck. Go figure.

2. Inhabit your new freedom.

Not a day goes by that I don’t have to remind myself that I am free of the old deadlines and go-go-go of constantly being under the gun. There is competition in writing. Of a sort. But comparing it to holding political office is like comparing blowing soap bubbles to a tornado. One delights. The other kills.

I had no idea how much pressure I was under until it stopped. I find myself feeling antsy and pushed, like I’ve got to get busy and hit the road running, and then I have to remind myself that I am free and I can stroll, not flail, my way through my day. For the first time in decades, nobody’s out to get me. Strange as this sounds, it’s devilishly difficult to get used to the idea that I’m not in the legislative jailhouse any longer.

3. Inhabit your freedom, but don’t become a slug.

My husband pointed out to me that I was getting up every morning and sitting down to write and that I would end up in the afternoon, still wearing my nightclothes.

You need a routine. He told me.

My sons let me have it for spending too much time in the house and too many hours sitting in the recliner. You need to get up and get going. I don’t want you to sit there and die. One of them told me.

So, I’m trying new things, like get up, eat breakfast, put on some clothes and then wander into my office and sit down to write. I’ve always been a self-motivator and a self-starter. So this deal should be ez pz for me compared to someone who has spent their life waiting to be told what to do next. I’ve already hatched up a couple of things I may take on, both of them involving my faith in Christ and my political skills. We’ll see. The point here that applies to everyone is don’t veg out. Move. And live.

4. You have to let go of the past thing to fully grasp the next thing.

While I’ve been trying to figure out the how-to-retire part of this deal, I’m also trying to figure out a brand new job of work that I’ve taken on. I’m already a blogger, and it looks like I’m also gonna write books.

(May I stop for a moment and tell you that I love the idea of this? I feel so blessed by the opportunities God has given me in my life and this new challenge is not the least of them.)

But, figuring it out while I’m dealing with figuring out everything else is confusing. I’ve got the letting go part down intellectually. But doing it 100% takes a bit of time. And grasping the new is a reach into unseen territory.

I feel a bit like a member of a high wire act who is letting go of the bar to reach for their partner’s hand. There is a moment when that high wire artist has let go of the bar and is reaching for but hasn’t touched their partner’s hand. In that moment, they are suspended in air, between the two. I’m in that moment right now.

What it takes to keep from panicking and going into a deadly free-fall is faith; faith in yourself that I can only describe as self-confidence and faith in God that this is His design, His plan and He is there with you, guiding your hand and the one reaching out to grasp it.

You have to let go of the old thing to reach out to the next thing, and when you do, there will be a moment when you are suspended, floating, between them. In the world of high wire acts and the laws of aerodynamics, that moment is just a blink. But in the world of major life changes, you will be suspended for weeks and months of confusing time.

There’s nothing for it. You just have to go through it. The trick, if there is one, is to really, truly let go of the last thing.

5. Re-learn time management for your new reality. 

This is akin to, but different from, #2 and #3. Yes, you must inhabit your new freedom. And Yes, you must also not be a slug about it. But there’s more. If you retire but keep on working, you are also going to have to re-learn time management. The keep-on-working part demands the new time management. But it is different work and a new reality. Or, at least it is if you switch from an all-inclusive high-powered my-job-never-ends line of work like elective office to a nebulous, make-your-own-hours, never-see-your-colleagues line of work like writing.

Time management for an elected official amounts to one thing: Choosing which of the endless list of things you need to do that you actually will do. You have to have a nose for what matters and what doesn’t because you can not do everything. As in, it is not possible. That may also be true of writing. I’m too new to the profession to say.

What I will say is that writing is a lot more demanding than I knew before I started it. I thought that when I left the House I would have time and more time for every little thing I hadn’t had time for in the past. Now, I find that I am having major problems getting everything done. I am right back at making choices and setting priorities all over again. True, it’s not the screaming triage of politics. But it is confusing to me, precisely because I’ve never done it before.

After 18 years in elected office, I could do that deal with half my mind. Figuring out this new thing is taking all my brain cells and a couple of them a smoking.

6. Realize that your life span is limited. 

I don’t mean that as a downer. I mean it as a simple fact. My productive years are limited. I’ve got a lot of things I want to accomplish (If I can.) before I stand before God. Most of the big ones are things that I want to do in response to what I think He’s asked of me.

I also need to get ready to die. I don’t mean so much the practical things like write a will and tell everyone I love them. I mean that I need to learn to be, as Margaret Rose Realy OSB says, “pleasing to God.”

That’s a lot easier for someone like Margaret than it is me. She’s gifted with a naturally sweet disposition. I’m what a priest friend of mine once called “edgy.” It was a back-handed compliment that I treasure: God loves to get His hands on edgy people like you because He can do so much with you.

That pleased me so much when it was first said to me. The idea that God might actually find me, with all my edginess, useful, was a ray of light. I’ve treasured the comment ever since.

However, being pleasing to God is not a thing that comes easily to someone as strong-willed, untrusting and downright contrary as I am. But I need to work at it. Because someday not so very far in the future, I will meet Him face to face.

These are the six quick steps I’ve learned that each person must take to retire and keep on working. I think that they apply, in one form or another, to anyone who is retiring, even if they don’t take up another gainful occupation. We all face the same challenges at every major change in our lives. If memory serves, the transition from legislator to full-time, stay-at-home mom involved these same things.

Life is change, and it has many seasons. The best overall advice is to follow Margaret Rose Realy’s admonition, no matter the season of your life, and strive always to be pleasing to God.

Send it Back: Surrogates and Killing Their Manufactured Babies

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It’s the new hot trend. Go online and pick an egg donor from photos and order up a harvesting of her body in order to design a baby, made to your specifications. Then hire a “surrogate” (read that breeder) to carry the baby to term for you. And if the thing goes wrong, as biology is wont to do, why, then, order the surrogate to kill the baby for you. You know, like a Roman Pater discussing the upcoming birth of his child with the family Mater in this love letter from the front:

“Know that I am still in Alexandria…. I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered (before I come home), if it is a boy keep it, if a girl, discard it.”

This lovely practice of “discarding” baby girls — along with babies with birth defects — runs throughout recorded history. It is still practiced in parts of the world today. Babies abandoned 1 Early Christians labeled the practice infanticide. They went out into the streets, got these baby girls, brought them home and raised them. The idea that there is no Greek nor Jew, no male nor female but all are one in Christ Jesus was a startling Christian innovation. The teaching, which was formalized in writing as early as the Didache, that all human life, including unborn human life, is sacred, is another peculiar Christian innovation. Today’s version of “discard it,” at least in the “civilized” West, is abortion. The neat tidiness of legal killing in a clinical situation has it all over any other mass killing field in history. There are no furnaces belching out smoke to run day and night disposing the bodies. No one sees the carnage except the medical staff. Even the receptionist who sits out front is left innocent of what is really happening. Combine this take-a-number-and-wait killing field with the highly-lucrative business of harvesting and renting women’s bodies as if they were farm animals in order to manufacture made-to-order babies for sale, and you have the total commercialization of human life and human beings. Call it “creating families” or whatever pretty little phrase you want to paste over its ugliness. This is the practice of commercialized medicine for hire, put to the service of creating, buying and selling people. It has nothing to do with the healing arts or medicine practiced to save lives. It is the ultimate prostitution, and the “doctors” who do it are the ultimate pimps. It degrades women and babies to the level of chattel for the express and openly acknowledged business of buying and selling people. The tripping up part, of course, is what if the baby-buyers decide at the last minute that they don’t want their new human widget. What if, say, there’s a divorce? Or the manufacturing process goes awry and the baby has a cleft palate or down’s syndrome or spina bifida. What if those designer genes turn out to be somewhat idiosyncratic? Jh6 In that circumstance, our “modern” baby buyers do the modern thing. They order the baby killed. It is, after all, their possession that they bought in good faith that it would be delivered as ordered. Now, it’s defective. They’re behaving the way anyone would if the factory delivered the wrong purchase. They are sending it back. Consider these stories:

1. An Australian couple who was paying a woman from Thailand to carry their twin unborn babies as a surrogate asked the woman to abort one of the babies because testing had revealed one of the babies has Down Syndrome.The couple enlisted the woman, whose family was heavily in debt, to become their surrogate and to use IVF to become pregnant. She was subsequently found to be pregnant with twins but the initial joy turned to rejection when testing showed a boy nicknamed Gammy was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.The couple wanted the mother to have an abortion, but she refused and eventually gave birth to Gammy and his twin sister in Bangkok. The couple then refused to take Gammy back with them to Australia and left him in Thailand.

2. A British surrogate mother said yesterday that she is raising a disabled baby as her own after the child’s intended mother told her she did not want a ‘dribbling cabbage’ for a daughter.The healthy boy was taken home by the childless British couple whom the surrogate mother claims then rejected his unwell sister because of her disability.‘I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a ****ing dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child”.’She is now raising the baby – identified only as Amy – with her partner and their other children.

3.  A British woman who agreed to become a surrogate mother for an American couple is suing them for allegedly backing out of the deal because she is carrying twins.Helen Beasley, 26, claims Californians Charles Wheeler and Martha Berman demanded she abort one of the foetuses because they only wanted one child.When she refused, they allegedly refused to have anything more to do with her.Miss Beasley, who is six months pregnant, wants to put the twins up for adoption. But under Californian law, parental rights in a surrogacy agreement go to the intended parents, not the surrogate mother.Miss Beasley, a single woman from the Midlands, already has a nine-year- old son. The two of them arrived in the U.S. a week ago.She said she could not afford to support the twins, so adopting them herself was not an option. But she claimed to feel very responsible for the babies.’You can’t help but get attached to them, and I just want the best for them,’ she said last night. ‘When they’re born, what happens to them? I can’t have them. I can’t do anything with them. They’re not mine.

4. “The View” host Sheri Shepherd reportedly wants “nothing to do” with her unborn childnow that her marriage has folded. Shepherd reportedly used IVF to conceive a child with her husband Lamar Sally but now is not interested in caring for the baby, who is being carried by a surrogate mother. 5. Doctors told surrogate mother Crystal Kelley, 29,five months into her pregnancy last year that the baby she was carrying had a series of disabilities. When the child’s parents told her they wanted to abort the foetus, she fled from Connecticut across the country to Michigan, where under state law she had legal rights as the child’s mother. … The baby was suspected to have a cleft palate, a brain cyst and serious heart defects. Doctors were unable to locate the child’s spleen or stomach, and gave the baby only a 25 percent chance of living a normal life They offered her $10,000 to have the procedure but Ms Kelley refused, demanding $15,000 instead in what she says was a “weak moment”. The parents refused, and reminded her of her contractual obligation to abort the foetus if it displayed signs of abnormality. If she refused, she would be sued for the fee she had already received, plus all the medical expenses and legal fees.

Richard Dawkins on Down’s Syndrome Babies: “It Would be Immoral not to Kill Such a Baby in an Abortion”

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I’m not going to say too much about this. It speaks for itself.

Dr Richard Dawkins got into this Tweet exchange earlier this week:

<@InYourFaceNYer I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.

>@RichardDawkins Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.

That caused a bit of an internet dustup. So, Dr Dawkins clarified things by switching from the impetuous medium of Twitter to a column where he supposedly had more time to think through what he was saying and get it out as he meant it.

Here’s his more introspective take on the question of aborting babies with down’s syndrome.

“For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort,”

…“I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare,”

I only have two thoughts to add to this, and I’ll get through them as quickly as possible.

Thought one: Eugenics.

Thought two: This is where a “morality” based on “the desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering” leads to: Putting other people out of your misery by killing them.

That’s all folks.

Robin Williams is Dead. Does that Mean We Win?

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I confess. I haven’t been all that interested in the obsessive coverage of Robin Williams’ death.

My feelings about Mr Williams before his death were generally positive but mostly disinterested. I enjoyed his movies and wished him well.

I knew, as soon as I heard that he had died, that we would be in for another of these 24/7 whatevers that the media does when someone famous dies. Sure enough, I flipped briefly to the news last night, and I saw a talking head interviewing one person after another eulogizing Mr Williams.

I don’t want to say anything bad, negative or dismissive about Robin Williams, his tragic suicide, or the hell his family and the few people who truly loved him must be going through right now. I’m also not going to say anything faux profound about depression or suicide.

What I do want to write about is one thing: Why?

Why do we go into these orgies of obsession every time someone famous dies?

It is so predictable and so bizarre that I am beginning to think that these griefathons serve some sort of purpose for us as individuals. The media is consistent about intoning gravely that we are engaging in a “national mourning” and then carpet-bombing our senses with what begins as worshipful eulogies spiced with titillating details about how the person died, and finishes with sordid details about their personal failures and picadillos.

It’s a script. The media follows it like a cooking recipe, and we eat it up like it was dessert.

What’s the purpose? I don’t mean the obvious purpose of getting ratings and a kind of prurient interest in other people’s pain, but what is the real purpose for this obsessive and downright irrational behavior?

And it is irrational. Because, my friends, you didn’t know Robin Williams. You didn’t know Michael Jackson. Or Sonny Bono. Or Princess Diana. Or Marilyn Monroe.

You didn’t know any of them.

They were two-dimensional representations of themselves on big screens and little screens and videos to you. This does not belie the fact that they were people and that other people loved them deeply and suffered the extremes of grief and emotional dislocation when they died.

But the fact is, you are not one of those people. You did not know them. You did not love them. Before their passing, you did not even think about them all that much.

But the minute they die, we focus on them and the endless blabbing about their “contribution,” “genius,” and their saintliness begins and goes on for days and weeks until we finally wear it out and turn to something else.

We stop working, stop talking to our families, stop thinking about paying the bills and taking the dog for a walk, just plain stop our lives and sit transfixed in front of the tube watching hour after hour of celebrities being interviewed by talking heads who are themselves celebrities, saying the same trite things over and over about the newly departed. We are like spotlighted deer, staring at the images of this person we didn’t know and pushing ourselves to a kind of vicarious grief over their death.

Later, as the inevitable take-down starts and the tawdry details of their lives drip through, we extend the obsession into fascination and tut-tut our way through more wasted time and energy.

What’s going on here? People give whole days and weeks of their lives over to emotion about someone they never met, and then turn around in six months or a year when another big celebrity dies and do it again.

What are they getting out of it? What beast in the subterranean oozy places of our minds is this feeding?

Maybe it stems from that thing we know but don’t really believe: Our own mortality. Does this have something to do with an affirmation that Robin Williams/Michael Jackson/Sonny Bono/Princess Diana/Marilyn Monroe are dead … but we are alive?

Is this a backdoor way of dealing with the fact that we are all going to die and that this knowledge haunts us all of our living days? Robin Williams threw away the one thing that any of us ever truly possesses: His life. He refused years of living.

I don’t want to say anything about suicide or depression. I have no deep thoughts to add to that conversation. But it is a fact that Robin Williams revoked his own lease on life. He gave up what most people would fight with everything they had to keep: Life.

I have no doubt that this titillates us.

But what makes it writ large is that he had everything that the gods of this world have taught us makes life worth living. He was a success on an international scale. He was up there as high as you can get in his very public profession; one of the handful out of the billions who walk this planet today. He had more money than we can count and the adulation of millions. He had everything we have been taught to spend our lives striving to get; every “if only” we think would make us happy and fill the holes in us that keep us awake at night.

That fascinates because if affirms in a silent sort of way that maybe all those things we’ve been taught to want and never got — the fame, success, endless money and pretty young things on our arms — don’t matter all that much after all. If the rich and famous can tumble to our feet like this, then maybe we aren’t missing all that much. Maybe we’re more ok than the same media that is now riveting us to Robin Williams’ death tells us we are.

Maybe our old jalopy and our two-bedroom house with the leaky faucet and our humdrum jobs that bore us to tears and our sadistic bosses from hell aren’t all that bad after all.

Because there’s this: He/She/They are dead. And we’re not.

Maybe the fascination lies in the fact that if the richest and most successful among us can die by their own excesses or even their own deliberate intent, then, maybe, in spite of all their glitzy success and our lackluster workaday lives, we, in fact, win.

Former Euthanasia Supporter Testifies Against British Bill: We were Wrong. Terribly Wrong.

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Photo Source: Catholic Herald UK

My heart goes out to Dr Theo Boer.

He doesn’t sound as if he gets it, at least not yet, but he’s come far enough to know, in his own words, that he was “ … wrong … terribly wrong” to have supported euthanasia in the Netherlands.

What he doesn’t seem to get — at least not yet — is that euthanasia is not wrong because abuse of legalized murder is always going to happen; because in his words, “once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.”  Euthanasia is wrong because murder is wrong. It is wrong to kill people.

He doesn’t sound as if that has seeped through to him yet.

Who is Dr Theo Boer and why does his opinion matter? Dr Boer is a Dutch professor and ethicist, who The Mail calls “a European assisted suicide watchdog.” He is, in short an expert on how legalizing euthanasia is playing out in the real world. And his knowledge has taught him regret.

According to Dr Boer’s testimony before the House of Lords, he advocated for the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands. But the resulting use of the practice to kill anyone who’s troubled for whatever reason has changed his mind.

Professor Boer argued seven years ago that a “good euthanasia law would produce relatively low numbers of deaths.” Now he now wonders if “the very existence of a euthanasia law turns assisted suicide from a last resort to a normal procedure.”

He also said that he worries about changes in the law to allow the killing of children, those with dementia and those who are simply depressed He sees the “the mobile death units of traveling euthanizing doctors” and has come to the conclusion that “activists continue to campaign for doctor-administered death … and will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to everyone over 70.”

I don’t know if it’s fully come home to him what this means, but Dr Boer will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his days. His comment that you can’t get the genie back in the bottle again sounds as if he’s come against the terrible truth that un-doing evil is much more difficult than doing it in the first place.

My heart goes out to him because I’ve been there. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t unkill people. You can go back to the people you led astray and say, “I was wrong,” but you can’t make them listen to you. The downward trajectories you helped set in motion keep rolling on and nothing you do can stop them.

I’ve also learned absolutely and without doubt that I am not God. That’s why I don’t quibble — ever — with the 2,000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church. If I had followed those teachings and looked for other ways to deal with the injustice and suffering that led me into doing wrong, I would not have done wrong in the first place.

I don’t think Dr Boer has arrived at that place yet. He knows a bit of the horror he helped unleash. He’s evidently a man of moral courage. I say that because it takes moral courage to admit you were wrong about something like this.

Most people won’t do it. They will keep on justifying their mistakes right down to the grave. They will not admit that they have done a terrible thing, that they have been somebody’s monster, that they were, in Dr Boer’s words, “terribly wrong.” And they die and face God in their sins.

I thank God for Dr Boer’s courage. I pray that he goes all the way down this road until it leads him to the only place where these things can be made right, which on his knees in front of the cross.

Here, from the Daily Mail, is Dr Boer’s testimony. I also urge you to read the Daily Mail article which accompanied it.

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‘ASSISTED DYING: DON’T GO THERE’: DUTCH ETHICIST THEO BOER’S THOUGHTS ON EUTHANASIA IN FULL

In 2001 The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia and, along with it, assisted suicide. Various ‘safeguards’ were put in place to show who should qualify and doctors acting in accordance with these ‘safeguards’ would not be prosecuted. Because each case is unique, five regional review committees were installed to assess every case and to decide whether it complied with the law. For five years after the law became effective, such physician-induced deaths remained level – and even fell in some years. In 2007 I wrote that ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.’ Most of my colleagues drew the same conclusion.

But we were wrong – terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilisation in the numbers was just a temporary pause. Beginning in 2008, the numbers of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year. The annual report of the committees for 2012 recorded 4,188 cases (compared with 1,882 in 2002). 2013 saw a continuation of this trend and I expect the 6,000 line to be crossed this year or the next. Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.

Alongside this escalation other developments have taken place. Under the name ‘End of Life Clinic,’ the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away. On average, these physicians see a patient three times before administering drugs to end their life. Hundreds of cases were conducted by the End of Life Clinic. The NVVE shows no signs of being satisfied even with these developments. They will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.

Other developments include a shift in the type of patients who receive these ‘treatments’. Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades.

Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting towards considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. A law that is now in the making obliges doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a ‘willing’ colleague. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases relatives’) wishes can be intense. Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for their wellbeing, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request. Not even the Review Committees, despite hard and conscientious work, have been able to halt these developments.

I used to be a supporter of the Dutch law.  But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a very different view. At the very least, wait for an honest and intellectually satisfying analysis of the reasons behind the explosive increase in the numbers. Is it because the law should have had better safeguards? Or is it because the mere existence of such a law is an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort? Before those questions are answered, don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.

Theo Boer has been a Member of a Regional Review Committee since 2005. For the Dutch Government, five such committees assess whether a euthanasia case was conducted in accordance with the Law. In the past nine years, Prof. Boer has reviewed almost 4,000 euthanasia cases. The views expressed here represent his views as a professional ethicist, not of any institution.

Conversion Story: Finding Jesus in Prison

Those who are forgiven much, love much.  Jesus Christ

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Pope Francis Excommunicates the Mafia

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Pope Francis excommunicated all members of the Mafia today.

It is rare indeed for a Pope to say that every single person who is member of a group is excommunicated by reason of that membership. But, in my opinion, this particular excommunication is long overdue.

Pope Francis went to Calabria, a region of Italy that is reputed to be heavily corrupted by the Mafia, to issue this excommunication.

He called the Mafia an “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated,” he said.

The fact that the Holy Father chose the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi to issue this excommunication is deeply symbolic. The Body of Christ, which is present in the Eucharist on all the altars of the Catholic Church in the world, must not be profaned by allowing those who live by murder and corruption, destroyers of life, to partake of it.

Salvation is available to anyone who repents. I hope that this excommunication results in two things: A cleansing of the Church, and a changed life for at least some of these people who have chosen the Mafia as their little g god.

In the meantime, we need to pray for the safety of our brave and honest Holy Father, Pope Francis.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis concluded his one-day trip to the southern Italian region of Calabria with strong words against the Calabrian mafia, calling it “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated,” he said to applause.

The Pope made these statements on Saturday during the feast-day Mass he presided for Corpus Domini on the plains of the small town of Sibari, a once-important city in the Hellenistic period of Calabrian history.

Organizers planned for 200,000 faithful to attend. They gathered under the hot sun, with temperatures flirting around the 30-degree mark. Sitting in the first rows of the assembly were those with illness and disability, rather than local dignitaries—a decision the local bishop chose to underline ahead of the Pope’s trip.

The Pope’s visit to the region, marked by violence and corruption and renowned for mafia activity, was highly anticipated by the locals, who in recent months were rocked by the murder of Fr. Lazzaro Longobardi, as well as the death of a three-year-old boy, the innocent victim of a mafia homicide.

In his homily, the Pope spoke about the evils that can occur when adoration of God is replaced by adoration of money.

Police Arrest Suspect in Fatal Priest Shooting. Suspect had Been Out of Prison for Two Months.

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Gary Michael Moran. Photo Source: KTAR.com

Gary Michael Moran has been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Father Kenneth Walker, Associate Pastor at Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church in Phoenix AZ.

Mr Moran has also been charged with first degree burglary and armed robber with a deadly weapon. He was arrested after DNA evidence linked him to a van which was stolen during the robbery/murder. It sounds as if Mr Moran may have confessed to the crime since an article from KTAR.com says that he told police that he “shot one of the priests after the man came to the aid of the priest struggling with Moran in a hallway.”

It appears that Father Walker attempted to help the parish’ Senior Pastor, Father Joseph Terra, when he was being attacked by Mr Moran. I’ve read that Father Terra gave last rites to Father Walker after he was shot. Father Terra called 911. He told the dispatcher that Father Walker was not breathing at that time.

From KTAR.com:

PHOENIX — Bail was set at $1 million Monday for the man accused of fatally shooting one priest and brutally beating another at a Phoenix church.

Gary Michael Moran, 54, was charged with the first-degree murder of Rev. Kenneth Walker at Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic church near 15th Avenue and Monroe Street last week.

Rev. Joseph Terra was also attacked, but survived. He is expected to recover.

Police arrested Moran late Sunday based on DNA evidence lifted from a van belonging to the church that was taken from the site but found several blocks away.

Moran also was charged with first-degree burglary and armed robbery with a deadly weapon. In court documents, Moran told police that he shot one of the priests after the man came to the aid of the priest struggling with Moran in a hallway.

Walker was shot with a gun that was inside a rectory bedroom.

According to the state’s Department of Corrections website, Moran had been in prison on aggravated assault charges from 2006 until late April.

Told Ya This was Gonna Happen

Whenever Oklahoma gets on the national news, it’s always something bad. We pretty much get ignored unless we are hit with a massive tragedy or some Okie manages to make a real mess of one sort of the other.

Our latest foray into national attention is no exception.

Oklahoma has developed real problems executing people. Between lawsuits and botched executions, we’ve shown ourselves to be downright incompetent in the area of administering the death penalty. All this led to the second kind of national attention we usually get, which is to say a derisive critique.

This situation came about because of the zealous fight put up by attorneys for the two men slated for execution by the State of Oklahoma this year. After exhausting years of appeals, the attorneys switched from defense to offense. The object of their attack was the method of execution itself. They managed to intimidate the drug companies that supply drugs that are used in executions to the point that the state had problems getting enough drugs to kill someone.

When it came time to execute one of the two men, the prisoner — who had a history of assaulting and trying to kill people while in prison, particularly guards — resisted being moved from his cell. The guards had to taser him. Maybe the aftereffects of that hit with electricity was why things went so awry later.

All I know for sure is that the doctor couldn’t find a vein to use to administer the drugs and finally had to put the needle in the prisoner’s groin. According to news reports, the needle “blew” the vein, which led to a thoroughly botched execution. The prisoner ultimately died, but it was 45 minutes later, after the doctor stopped the execution.

The governor has issued a stay until next November for the other prisoner.

I wrote at the time that the attorneys for these two men needed to consider carefully what they were doing. I knew that Oklahoma has the laws on the books to use a firing squad as a means of execution. I also knew that the legislative will was to do exactly that.

Now, my colleague, Representative Mike Christian, wants to conduct hearings on what process would be necessary to switch to death by firing squad as the preferred method of execution in Oklahoma. Representative Christian, who is a retired Highway Patrolman and fellow Southsider, has said that he would be fine with beheading or feeding prisoners to the lions as methods of execution. In my opinion, that pretty much sums up the prevailing attitude among the people I worked with.

I guess I get to say I told you so.

I don’t want to behave like a seeress, but with me gone, the number of legislators who will be voting against the death penalty next year just dropped by one. Not that we had enough votes between us to matter. Legislators who oppose the death penalty in Oklahoma are a tiny group. If it comes to a vote, the chances of legislation passing that would enable the use of firing squads in Oklahoma is just about 100%. And that’s assuming that legislation is even necessary. Oklahoma already has this means of execution on the books.

I understand that the attorney for a death row inmate operates from the idea that any delay is a good delay. If they can buy their client one day, they’ll do it. But this particular delay may not play out to be all that pleasant for those who will be executed.

I’ve never seen an execution, and hope sincerely that I never have to. But people who have seen executions by lethal injection tell me that it looks painless for the prisoner. No one can say that for other means of execution. They may be quick, but they don’t look painless.

Killing people is grisly business. Lethal injection is certainly the most painless way we’ve found to do it. As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not favor the death penalty except in rare situations that almost never, and shouldn’t ever, arise in America. However, I am aware that I am an outlier on this.

Most people in this country, and certainly most people in Oklahoma, favor the death penalty. The feeling runs so strong that even the Supreme Court had to overturn itself back in the 1970s when it ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. Of course, the Supreme Court didn’t say it was overturning itself. But that’s what it did.

Americans want the death penalty. Not many elected officials are going to argue with them about it. As it turns out, not many judges will, either.

If death row inmates had the wherewithal to donate millions to political campaigns, that would change in a heartbeat. You’d suddenly see elected officials all over this country developing a tender conscience about the death penalty. But people on death row are almost always poor, which eliminates that possibility.

So that’s where we stand. All I can do is repeat one more time: I told ya this was gonna happen.

China: Tiananmen? What Tiananmen?

TiananmenSquareMassacre Protest

In China, June 4, 1989 is the day that wasn’t.

Tiananmen Square is the massacre that didn’t happen.

And on this anniversary of the massacre that didn’t happen, nobody inside China had better say anything that intimates that it did.

Welcome to the world of our trading partners. You know; the country to which we have exported our industrial base.

I’m talking about the last major Communist stronghold, which America has cunningly built into a world economic power by sending our jobs and our manufacturing base to them.

I am referring to the land of forced abortions and murdered baby girls, the bastion of slave labor, persecution of Christians and censorship. I mean the country that did not slaughter thousands of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

If you think that perhaps the Tiananmen Square massacre actually happened and that I’m exaggerating about our trading partner’s censorship, just try to send an email to anyone in China with the words Tianamen, June 4 or massacre in it. It will go nowhere.

The Chinese government forbids discussion of Tiananmen Square, the massacre it wreaked on its own citizens, and the brutal aftermath of persecutions, torture and re-education that followed it. The Chinese reaction to today’s anniversary of that tragedy is the reaction that totalitarian governments always use: stone-walling and silence that is enforced by threats, lies and raw power.

A few Americans have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice by dismantling our industrial base and moving it to China. The rest of us, not so much.

How this will play out in the years ahead, I am not sure. I only know that this Chinese leopard has not really changed its spots. That, and the obvious fact that our corporatists have weakened this country greatly feeding their greed.

From USA Today:

BEIJING – Tight security around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square Wednesday combined with a months-long crackdown against dissidents and a quarter century of enforced amnesia to prevent public commemoration of the crushing of the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

In Hong Kong, China’s semi-democratic enclave, more than 100,000 people attended an evening vigil to mark the bloody end to seven weeks of demonstrations for a fairer, cleaner government 25 years ago.

On the mainland, China’s ruling Communist Party forbids citizens from discussing the movement. Thousands were believed to have been killed on the evening of June 3 through June 4, 1989, when the same party sent army troops into central Beijing to quell protesters.

In the past two months, about 50 people have been detained in a pre-anniversary crackdown that Chinese activists and human rights groups have called the most severe ever.

China’s state-run media all but ignored the highly sensitive date, while the censor’s trigger finger was busy Wednesday blacking out television screens showing CNN and BBC whenever the foreign broadcasters aired segments on Tiananmen.

 

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