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

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About Elizabeth Scalia