The Head Deatheater

His first act as president was to strengthen abortion rights.

Now he is chastising Christians for not co-operating with death to ease the health care burden.
In making a point about the importance of having a living will, ex-President Bill Clinton remarked that religious Americans are apparently hypocrites for not wishing to go quietly into that goodnight.

“It’s interesting to me that we always proclaim – especially certain numbers of us – that we’re the most religious big country in the world,” said Clinton. “It may be true, but we also seem to be the most reluctant to get to heaven.”

“Look, I only halfway mean that in the sense that I think that everyone has a moral obligation to live as long and as well as he or she can,” Clinton continued. “But I do think the living will will help to deal with the health-care crisis.”

I don’t know for a guy who is supposed to be so brilliant, whenever he talks I feel like words are missing from sentences.

Just so you don’t misunderstand. Clinton was making a snarky remark that the Christians, “especially some people” talk about faith, but they just won’t lay down and die, dammit, when costs start to climb.

This is the terrifying mindset of the complete bureaucrat. Love, transcendence and humanity are completely taken out of the picture, for the bottom line, for efficiency. For utilitarianism.

It is also the mindset of a Deatheater. Deatheaters, for those who do not read JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter books, are the minions of the Dark Lord, Voldemort (“World Death”) who is all about acquiring power, destroying all that is good and killing as many non-followers as possible…or even just the “too-human and frail” followers.

Some might feel that Clinton was only “making a poor joke” but I don’t think so. I think for some the whole concept of life being completely entwined with love has somehow been corrupted. The same mindset that shrugs over an abortion as “a practical choice” are more and more frequently espousing euthanasia as something “practical,” with the whole “begotten by love” part obscured.

I’ll give you an example. Last year, after reading one of Maureen Dowd’s terrifically unhappy columns, this time about Christmas, I wrote what I thought was the kindest Christmas messages that could be written in response. In it, I suggested to Dowd that by scorning Christmas she was leaving those who loved her with very little to work with, should she find herself, one day, in the circumstances being then-endured by my brother, S, who was in hospice and dying.

The post generated many comments, none of which were saved when I moved from Blogger, but one comment I remember distinctly: Fie on you (for being mean to Maureen) If your brother is so brave, why hasn’t he died yet? Doesn’t he want to go to heaven?

The sneer was unmistakable, and I felt bad for the person who communicated it, because she (I believe it was a she) was betraying a real break with her own humanity with that question.

But she is not alone. There is a creeping mindset out there that says, better dead than burdensome and better dead than less than perfect that goes against the whole idea of life being a precious gift to be fully experienced, rather than a throw-away. “Oh, get out of my way you old thing, you useless thing, you burdensome thing, just die already, so my inheritance is whole. Die and ease the public coffers.”

That is the way of the Deatheater. Abort more babies, especially if they are imperfect. Speed death along, even if it is not iminent and call it a “win” for personal autonomy.

Here is an equation that is anathema to Deatheaters: God is Love. Love is expressed in our lives, through our living. Thus, to snuff out life is to snuff out avenues of Love. Since God is Love, the snuffing out of avenues of Love is the closing of Ways tof God.

At the very least, it a muddying and disrupting of the Path.

I learned these things sitting by my brother as he slowly took his leave. He taught them to me. It was the great gift he gave to me before his passing – that our helping each other to die – on God’s timetable, not ours – is not a burden, or an inconvenience. It is not impractical. It is rather, a chance to learn about all the depths and fullness and riches of love, and therein to find ourselves, and each other, and God. To feel, as one never feels in an ordinary day, to love with an intensity that could never be sustained in an ordinary time. To trust as no one ever can trust on an ordinary journey.

It is extraordinary; both mortal and immortal, both natural and supernatural.

Is a living will practical? Sure, as far as it goes, but that’s the problem – it never goes far enough for every circumstance. But the remark Bill Clinton made, like the remark my commenter made, is not about practicality – it is about “dying, already!” It is about overtaking and subduing mystery and substituting it with routine.

I picked this article on Clinton up via Pursuing Holiness who had actually posted an excerpt from this old post of mine. I had forgotten I’d written it, but it’s actually a decent quote.

Before S, I would have said, “just let me go – no life support of any kind -”
Now, I am not so certain. Now, I think…why deprive my family of the opportunity to love? Why deprive myself of the chance to be loved and to love them back? I am too grateful for those extra weeks with S, that no one, not the doctors, not the nurses, not the chaplains believed we would have. Those weeks were so precious, and I learned so much – so very much – about love, and about how as long as love exists, as long as someone is being loved and trying to love back, no matter how feebly…you are in the midst of a Holy Mystery.

In everything I read, lately, on every front, it seems like we are not witnessing battles of ideas or between people, but something more essential. Perhaps we really do wrestle “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…”

Perhaps we need to get back to focusing on life as gift – and on examples of this great love.

But when I listen deep inside,/I feel you best of all/Like a moon that’s glowing white, and I listen for your call/And I know you will guide me, I feel you’re like the tide/You move the ocean of my heart, that’s open wide./O, Mystery, you are alive, I feel you all around/You are the fire in my heart, you are the holy sound/You are all of life, it is to you that I sing/Grant that I may feel you, always in everything.
– Paul Winter’s Earth Mass

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • newton

    The more you write about Bill, the more I wonder if he’s finished with what he really wants to do in this world…

    I hope and pray that he never gets a chance to do any more damage.

    Also, whomever gave you that comment on your brother punctured your innermost. That was cowardly. That was cruel.

    I hope that person never gets to be in a situation in which he/she can no longer cry for his/her life while others make the decision to “snuff it out” a la Terri Schindler. And you can quote me on this one.

  • JMC

    Yes. Love. That’s the whole key. Remember that Voldemort’s whole problem is his complete inability to love. That is so comparable to the present world situation. And, once, again, another point to prove how unbelievably DEEP Rowling’s books are, and how deeply Christian.

    How much do you want to bet the last book ends with Harry deliberately sacrificing himself to take Voldemort with him, simply to protect those he loves?

    Our post-Christian world could learn something from that boy.

  • karen

    Oh, JMC. Oh, my gosh. It could be. I still cannot believe the betrayal of Snape to Dumbledore. A part of me wants to believe he knew he would do what he did, but that it was under Dumbledore’s orders. Dumbledore was pleading-not for his life, but for Snape to do what he promised. Dumbledore may have been the human sacafice.
    A, thank you for bolstering me up when i’m down. You and J and newton really help me find what’s true, because according to a good friend(spudly) I live in lala land. W/the sands of dissention blowing all around, it gets in my eyes some days.

  • Joseph

    Here is an equation that is anathema to Deatheaters: God is Love. Love is expressed in our lives, through our living. Thus, to snuff out life is to snuff out avenues of Love. Since God is Love, the snuffing out of avenues of Love is the closing of Ways to God.

    -I don’t think that equasion quite balances. Death is as much an avenue for that Love as life. Nothing stops that Love from penetrating everywhere. We are all merely covering our eyes to “make it go away”.

    -What really inhibits the flow of that Love is the wish to hold something back, to defend a central headquarters of our own against both life and death, and, ultimately, against that Love.

    -You can hold back from Love by prolonging life through fearing death, as well as by seeking death to avoid pain and suffering. Neither lets you feel Love.

    Perhaps we really do wrestle “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…”

    -We wrestle with ourselves by projecting images of “evil” upon others, giving us the excuse to prolong the wrestling match.
    -The wrestling match is just another name for holding back, covering our eyes, defending our territory.
    -The secret is so easy most people simply can’t believe it. Stop wrestling, let go, quit holding back, taste what comes to you, whether life or death.
    -It all tastes of Love. Every last drop.

  • Donna

    Several weeks ago, the WSJ featured a story about a woman with Downs Syndrome who is planning her wedding to a young man with the same disease. Of course, both sets of parents are worried about them – they don’t understand how money works, they might have trouble living alone, who will watch out for them when the parents are gone and so forth. But the joy and love and excitement of that couple was unmistakable. The young lady never thought she would become a bride – she got to shop for a wedding dress! Both husband and wife have jobs and interests and hobbies. Very modest jobs, and very limited hobbies, true. They do things which would drive Maureen Dowd to suicide – like taking the bus and walking around shopping malls holding hands. But that young couple is living, living more fully and joyously than most “normals” are.
    Deatheaters (what a perfect term – makes me feel I should read the Potter books) like Princeton professor Peter Singer think that pair have no right to live. The woman who aborted her Downs syndrome child and wrote about it in the WaPo thinks their lives must be constant misery (not to mention “a horrible burden” on their parents, although their parents do not see it that way.)

    God knows better.

    What I fear, more and more these days, is the selfishness and heartlessness disguised as “concern” and “compassion.” The “compassion” which tells us that “inconvenient” people need to die ASAP, or better yet, that they should not be born at all.

    As for Billy Jeff, well, he might come to regret his words. Can you imagine Hillary ministering to him in his dotage the way Nancy cared for President Reagan? I can’t either.

  • Donna

    Joseph: I don’t think you need to tell the Anchoress what death is about. Go back and read her posts about her brother’s death.
    It’s one thing to accept one’s death and refuse heroic measures and artifical life support. It’s another thing for someone else to decide you’re wasting air and resources and therefore you should off yourself (or let them do it).

  • Joseph

    -I wouldn’t dream of telling The Anchoress what death is about. Nor life. Unquestionably those who deal death will receive death, those who give life will receive life.
    -But if that Love is not present for the dying even in the most violent and unnatural death, why are martyrs venerated?
    -You cut yourself off from that Love every time you think of a human being–any human being no matter what they have done–as an irredeemable evil demon.
    -Consider the case of the Good Thief. All of us are “redeemable”. That is the point. Denying this is merely making your own face up and looking at it in a mirror.

  • Tony

    The “living will” thing is interesting. In it, you are required to identify those cases where you want your life to be supported. There are thousands of ways that you can need your life supported. Are you going to think of them all? Miss one, and you’re dead.

    I wonder if a living will that says: “I want to remain hooked up to machines until my flesh rots off my bones” is legal.

  • Truthseeker

    Anchoress, Oh do I remember that comment from way back, “Fie on you (for being mean to Maureen) If your brother is so brave, why hasn’t he died yet? Doesn’t he want to go to heaven?”
    I remember being struck by the obvious sneer of the post. Sounds like that person and Clinton feel that we Christians should just drop dead at the first chance. After all, heaven will be better.
    While I do anticipate heaven, I also want to serve my Lord Jesus as long as I can. God put in us the will to live and gave us a commission to spread the gospel of His Son. I want to do His bidding and will stop and go home when He calls me.
    No, I will never forget that comment. It awakened anger within me that took a while to exorcise, because of the circumstances surrounding that comment and your dealing with the death of “S” during that time. I will never understand people that can make such comments. May God be merciful.
    May your memories of “S” continue to prevail over such comments, and may God continue to be with you and supply all your needs and those of your family. Yours in Christ, Truthseeker.

  • TomGrey-Liberty Dad

    Please consider that much of the Secularist anti-Christian agenda is driven by the reality of an Imperfect Church — full of imperfect human priests.

    With an allpowerful God who allows Evil: most secularists are sure that if THEY had the power, they would do a better job…

    And of course, w/o God, the only meaning of life is … will to Power.

    A similar rejection of real imperfection occurs in the anti-Americanism, because America policies are also not perfect.

    The lack of love is seen by too much Hollywood — lust equals love. Hollywood is good at showing lust satisfied in 90 minutes; but love is more subtle, more patient. Lust is feeling; love is commitment and follow-thru. Even when not easy.
    Especially when it’s not easy.

    Great DD line from the movie (trailer) is “the choice, to do the right thing, or the easy thing.” (Like LoTR)

    When HP 5 came out I wrote: Islamofascists are Deatheaters (but it’s lost on a Blogged-up system).

    Snape has long been the most curiously interesting character — a “bad” person, unfair, ugly, mean and mean-spirited; yet on the “good” side. Or is he?
    (He loved Lilly-95%; he helped her be so good in potions?) He’s likely to betray Harry, and Voldemort too, and possibly both in the end.

    Yes, Harry is likely to risk (certain death!) to kill Voldemort (to save his friends? Snape?). Snape and Wormtail will be involved (and Wormtail’s Voldy-given arm?). … HP 4 movie in Slovakia isn’t for another week. Can’t wait.

  • newton

    I don’t think you get it, Joseph.

    Death came into the world as a curse: a curse caused by man’s primeval disobedience. The thing about Death that is so painful for humans to fathom is that it is irreversible – once you’re dead, there’s no going back. Death has nothing to do with Love and everything to do with separation from those that you love and from Life itself. God is Love. He is also Life. Death is a separation that God did not intend for man to endure, but was made possible because man chose to rebel. For a Christian, Death itself is mitigated by the fact that it means to be in the Presence of God. For someone who doesn’t believe, that’s a different story.

    The only instance of Death being an avenue for love is in the event of sacrifice – “No greater love there is than to give your life for your friends.” Jesus did. Soldiers in our Armed Forces do so everyday, and we remembered them fondly.

    Snuffing out a life a la Terri Schindler because of being an “inconvenience” is not a “sacrifice”, and surely that is NOT an act of Love.

    And what people like Bill Clinton are suggesting is surely an act, not of Love, but of Hate… and of Death itself.

    Just wait until that argument gets thrown into the ultimate act of “tenderness”, in the words of Mary Flannery O’Connor: the gas chamber. If Bill sees that Christians really want to be dead, what would stop him from thinking that we can be rounded up like sheep and slaughtered in an hour?

    Fellas: persecution is coming. Big time.

  • Joseph

    Well, perhaps as a Buddhist, I don’t get it. I can’t claim primacy in any argument about Christian theology, but I’ve been given to understand that Christ’s sacrifice was for all humanity, and that Divine Love is infinite and eternal. This is Divine Love I am talking about and not mere human love.
    -The logical consequence of this, it seems to me, is that there is no hidden place anywhere that such Divine Love does not penetrate, whether sin and unbelief keeps us from seeing it or not.
    -I have tried as much as possible to speak in terms that the Anchoress herself, or her Christian commenters are used to using, and not impose my own religious viewpoint too heavily.
    -But, as a Buddhist who has received quite detailed teachings about the process of death and dying, I will venture one remark: If the first thing you see after death are cherubims like Ezekiel’s coming to escort you to heaven, will you be ready to go there with them?
    -Don’t just answer this automaticly, but go reread Ezekiel and think about it.
    Fellas: persecution is coming. Big time.
    Frankly, newton, I don’t think you have any notion of what real persecution is like.
    -My teachers, who are now old men and Tibetan, have lived with it, up close and personal, down to watching the bullets hit the snow around them as they made their escape into India.
    -They are very polite about it, but when you get to know them it is perfectly clear that they are both amused and bemused by how innocent Americans are about such evils, and how much Americans take their great religious freedom for granted.

  • newton

    Let me ask you one question:

    Why do you think that the Scriptures say so clearly that, one day, Death will be absorbed into victory? Why did the Apostle Paul say “Where is, o Death, thy victory? Where is, o grave, thy sting?” It wasn’t because Death is pleasant, for sure.

    The last of the evils to be destroyed by God before the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth is Death itself. It’s in the Scriptures. Check it out.

    Don’t tell me that Death is pleasant. The act itself carries plenty of suffering, of which I will not discuss here. Angels carrying someone to paradise? Fine. But remember: we wouldn’t have this discussion were Death not to exist in the first place… because of Man’s choice.

    Oh, BTW – You think I’m ignorant? How very ignorant of you, because you don’t know me, nor those that I know, who have seen it before their very faces. Have you heard of persecution of Christians around the world? Have you heard of Christians in China being rounded up and jailed because they will not worship according to what the Chinese government says? And what about in India? Many Islamic countries? In Africa? What about Christians being sold into slavery in Sudan? Even here, some kids are isolated from others because they dare speak about Jesus Christ and live Him every day. I didn’t have a nice time in school because of my beliefs, for sure.

    Plus, I have two little words for you, Joseph: Rachel Scott. Go check her name out. Then, come back and talk to me.

  • Joseph

    Well,newton, what I haven’t heard of is Christians being rounded up and jailed in Bangor or Council Bluffs.

    -I don’t expect to hear of it, and I think you are foolish to expect to hear of it, given the actual numbers of Christian believers in this country (not to mention our history, our traditions, and our laws).

    -I would also ask you, Did you go to school with Rachel Scott? And did your not nice time include anything even remotely approaching what happened to her?

    -There is an incredible difference and between mere social discomfort in a school and a martyr’s death or imprisonment, or, indeed any violent death such as Rachel’s.

    -And there is also a difference between a country where you can die, as Rachel did, at the hands of a couple of lawless criminals, which is just about any country, and a country where you have your heart in your mouth every time you hear a knock on the door because of the secret police, which, thank heavens, is not yet this country.

    -You do not comprehend these differences. You live in the safest country on earth to be a Christian, where the law is never on the side of a Klebold or a Harris and yet you talk of ‘persecution’. There are plenty of countries out there where a Klebold or a Harris would be the police.

    -Because you cannot comprehend this, even though you wave the very evidence of it at me, I repeat: You do not know what real persecution is like.

  • Annie Gottlieb

    I thought Voldemort meant “will to death.” Which is even better.