Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder
by Nat Hentoff, March 29th, 2005 (The Village Voice)

"For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history.

She is not brain-dead or comatose, and breathes naturally on her own. Although brain-damaged, she is not in a persistent vegetative state, according to an increasing number of radiologists and neurologists.

Among many other violations of her due process rights, Terri Schiavo has never been allowed by the primary judge in her case—Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, whose conclusions have been robotically upheld by all the courts above him—to have her own lawyer represent her...

...In February, Florida's Department of Children and Families presented Judge Greer with a 34-page document listing charges of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of Terri by her husband, with a request for 60 days to fully investigate the charges. Judge Greer, soon to remove Terri's feeding tube for the third time, rejected the 60-day extension. (The media have ignored these charges, and much of what follows in this article.)...

Terri Schiavo has never had an MRI or a PET scan, nor a thorough neurological examination. Republican Senate leader Bill Frist, a specialist in heart-lung transplant surgery, has, as The New York Times reported on March 23, "certified [in his practice] that patients were brain dead so that their organs could be transplanted." He is not just "playing doctor" on this case.

During a speech on the Senate floor on March 17, Frist, speaking of Judge Greer's denial of a request for new testing and examinations of Terri, said reasonably, "I would think you would want a complete neurological exam" before determining she must die.

Frist added: "The attorneys for Terri's parents have submitted 33 affidavits from doctors and other medical professionals,all of whom say that Terri should be re-evaluated."

In death penalty cases, defense counsel for retarded and otherwise mentally disabled clients submit extensive medical tests. Ignoring the absence of complete neurological exams, supporters of the deadly decisions by Judge Greer and the trail of appellate jurists keep reminding us how extensive the litigation in this case has been, 19 judges in six courts is the mantra. And more have been added. So too in many death penalty cases, but increasingly, close to execution, inmates have been saved by DNA...." ( Complete article found here. )

This article by Nat Hentoff is significant because Hentoff is writing from a left wing political perspective, and as an avowed atheist. Also in today's news, Jessie Jackson has expressed support for keeping Terri alive. My more or less conservative brain may want to view Jackson's involvement as opportunistic, but I'm not so sure such is the case.

What is significant is that the issues surrounding the Terri Schiavo case are cutting across the political and ideological spectrum. It's not just a bunch of wacko right wing lunatics objecting to the Neo-Nazi death mentality that is behind what is taking place. What have we come to when a hospice, which can and often does serve a good and useful function in a community, has one of it's rooms turned into a government sanctioned death camp?

There are two issues involved in this case; two questions that have not at all been satisfactorily answered. What were Terri Schaivo's own wishes regarding the prospect of her continuing existence in a vegetative state? The answer to that question is not clearly known beyond a reasonable doubt, and in such a case, the presumption should be to continue her life.

The second question is this. Is she actually medically speaking, in such a vegetative state? There is much debate about that among medical people familiar with the case. Once again the presumption should and ought to be in favor of life. What kind of judicial system is it that can not see these fundamental presumptions. Presumptions for life are given to convicted murderers, (and rightly so), but not to Terri Schaivo.

May Almighty God have mercy on us....

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, March 21, 2005

Renowned neurologist: Schiavo can eat with aid & is not in "persistent vegetative state" -
(BP) Mar 21, 2005 By Joni B. Hannigan

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (BP)--A doctor close to the Terri Schiavo case told the Florida Baptist Witness that the 41-year-old disabled woman could actually be fed orally if it were allowed.

"The important thing for people to understand is that she can eat and swallow right now," said William Hammesfahr, a neurologist who has examined Schiavo. He is in many of the videos circulated through the news media showing that Schiavo is at times responsive and aware.

"They are truly withholding food from a person who is awake, alert, and can eat and swallow," Hammesfahr said. After spending at least 10 hours with Schiavo several years ago, he told Florida Judge George W. Greer that she can improve with therapy.

Hammesfahr said his credibility had been questioned at the time, but he has since been vindicated in court and currently maintains a thriving private practice in Clearwater, Fla. Despite reports attacking him, he said he has never lost his license to practice medicine and currently is involved in litigation surrounding the ordeal.

Hammesfahr was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1999 for his work in brain injury and stroke. He is a recognized expert in treating neurological disorders, having successfully treated thousands of patients using vasodilator therapy, which increases blood flow to the brain, thus healing conditions previously thought to be untreatable.

Standing with a handful of supporters outside of the hospice late in the evening Mar. 19, Hammesfahr told the Witness Schiavo previously has swallowed pudding and daily swallows almost two liters of water by virtue of being able to process her own saliva and sinus drainage.

"That's liquid and that's the most difficult thing to swallow," Hammesfahr said of her saliva. "If she can swallow that she can swallow food or pudding."

Other doctors who testified before Greer in 2003 had limited exposure to Schiavo and did not complete standard evaluations for brain injuries, Hammesfahr said. The court-appointed doctors maintained Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), with no chance for recovery.

"Terri's not that bad," Hammesfahr said. "She is like a child with cerebral palsy. She can speak. At least when I saw her, she would speak very slowly. She would sort of form words, she would move her arms and legs at command. She could understand questions in English."

Hammesfahr said there are at least 50 physicians he knows of, in private practice and related to medical universities who have said Schiavo is not in a PVS or in a coma.

In 1990 Schiavo suffered brain damage after her heart stopped. Nearly a decade ago, Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, petitioned the court to halt the dispensing of nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube to his disabled wife.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, as well as family and supporters have argued that she could improve were she provided rehabilitation services. Michael Schiavo has refused to provide those services since around 1993, they say.

Although Michael Schiavo says his wife would want to die, no written request from her exists. Terri Schiavo’s parents have challenged his continued guardianship of their daughter, citing conflict of interest. Michael Schiavo has lived with his girlfriend, by whom he has fathered two children, for 10 years.

Greer ruled Feb. 25 that Schiavo's nutrition and hydration be discontinued and in subsequent decisions ruled she cannot undergo more medical testing and cannot be fed by mouth. Greer also rebuffed a request by Florida's Department of Children and Families for a 60-day stay of his motion so that they could investigate allegations that Michael Schiavo has abused and neglected his wife.

Hammesfahr said that about 30 percent of his cases are more severe than Terri Schiavo’s, and that she most likely could improve, whether by his approach or another.

"You can get almost anybody with a brain injury or a stroke better," Hammesfahr said. "I think that’s the long and short of it.

"It's not that [Schiavo simply] deserves a chance, she deserves rehabilitation," Hammesfahr continued. "She's not going to get the rehabilitation if she gets killed off here."

Each day Schiavo is off the feeding tube increases the chance that she will end up in a coma, Hammesfahr said. He described what happens to the human body when it is deprived of food and water.

"People who die of starvation, their acid eats through their stomach, they develop infections in their body, their body starts to dissolve from the inside out, they develop seizures, [and] frequently it breaks their back," he said. "They have to have medications to essentially put them into a coma to not have their body break their back or something of that nature."

He explained that the process of putting someone in a coma after withholding nutrition and hydration is part of an "exit protocol" that involves delivering powerful drugs like Morphine and Valium to the patient when they are expected to die.

"The danger for Schiavo is that if she is in a coma, she will not have the type of monitoring that could help her recover if the feeding tube is reinserted.

"Putting a person in coma is very dangerous," Hammesfahr said, and after 7-8 days she might end up in an irreversible coma or with further brain damage.

Angel Watson, a Pinellas Park, Fla., resident who works with the Caring and Sharing Center for Independent Living, said she once was considered to be in a PVS, after a skiing accident left her paralyzed, but that she made remarkable improvements because of her strong will to live.

Referring to the two other times Schiavo's feeding tube was removed and surgically re-inserted, Watson said it is wrong to treat Terri as if she would not want to live.

Watson questions Michael Schiavo's insistence that he loves his wife and cares deeply for her. Michael Schiavo, Watson said, has had ample proof that his wife wants to live.

"She's the embodiment of a living will," Watson said. "She is a living will. He's tried to kill her twice and she has the will to live.

"What more [evidence] could you possibly want?"

What more evidence indeed! And how can Michael Schiavo say he loves his wife when he is living in open adultery with another woman? The most pitiable person in this whole story is not Terri, but Michael. The truth of his character, or lack thereof, is exposed for the whole world to see. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

This case will be a real turning point for America. It remains to be seen if the turning is for good or evil. Those judges who have ruled for Terri's death have proven themselves grossly unqualified for the judicial bench. The doctors who have vouched their professional opinion in favor of Terri's death have only proven they are grossly unqualified to be medical doctors. The lawyers representing Michael Schiavo have only proven they should be barred for life from ever even pretending to practice law. And the mainstream media failure to tell the whole truth about this case stands as an indictment against that media greater then the Dan Rather debacle.

We once fought a major world war against a death camp mentality. Unfortunately that left wing Neo-Nazi mentality is still with us. Hitler and Goreing would be proud. They have come for Terri Schiavo. Who will they come for next?

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Shame of a Christian Church: We were at a banquet for Baptists for Life Thursday night. The keynote speaker was a Christian lady who does pro-life sidewalk counseling outside of a local abortion clinic. Pro-life sidewalk counselors need our support and prayers. It is a daunting task God has called them to.

What was most heart rendering of all the stories she told were the young women who have some kind of obvious Christian background, evangelical or otherwise, who come to the abortion clinic for an abortion. One case in particular struck a nerve with both my wife and me. Here is a summary of that story as told by this sidewalk pro-life counselor.

The young lady was pregnant outside of marriage. She came to the abortion clinic for an abortion. The sidewalk counselor was able to engage her in conversation, and sought to dissuade this young lady from going through with the abortion.

It turned out she was a member of a local church affiliated with one of the Dutch Reformed denominations in this area. If I was to give the name of this particular Dutch Reformed denomination, those familiar with this particualr group could tell you that sadly, what follows would not be unexpected from this particular denomination.

Why was this young lady from a Christian background so adamant about going through with an abortion? She told the sidewalk counselor that though she knew it was wrong, she would rather kill her baby then have the elders of her church find out she had gotten pregnant outside of marriage. The counselor told her they would help her find another church that would be more supportive of her and her baby, but that offer was to no avail. She went on into the clinic and another baby died.

Why? Where was her church? What kind of church is it that has an atmosphere and culture where a young un-wed mother would rather abort her child then have the elders find out she had engaged in sexual sin outside of marriage? Would this happen in a church whose atmosphere and culture was characterized by the compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ? Possibly, but much less likely...

The shame in this story is not that a young lady got into "trouble". The shame is in a local church that evidenced an atmosphere and culture that became a stumbling block to a frightened, vulnerable young lady. Such a thing is not of the Spirit of Christ.

Shameful! Absolutely shameful!
"It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, then that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."
(Luke 17:1-2)

In His love and tears,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Prayer of St. Patrick

"I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation. "

Monday, March 14, 2005

Theological Musings - Another Reformation? This past week I was in a workshop at a ministries conference when the workshop leader, a respected seminary professor, made the statement that the Evangelical church may very well be on the brink of another reformation. The context of this statement was his presentation on Post-Modernity and the Emerging Church movement.

He did not say that the Evangelical church may very well be on the brink of returning to the reformation of the 1500's. Nor did he say the Emerging church movement was possibly the forefront of a possible reformation. He did say that continuing to approach theology as we have done in the Enlightenment context of the Reformation would prove to be insufficient for dealing with the Post-modern world. He was very specific by what he meant in that statement. The Puritan approach to theology was adequate for it's day, but would prove inadequate in dealing with the Post-modern world, and he knew he would make enemies making that statement. (Please note that the Professor did not say the Puritan approach to theology was totally useless; a critical distinction.)

Are we on the verge of another reformation? I don't presume to know, but I know theological thought in the Evangelical churches has not been static over the last 50 or more years. Nor has all of that relatively more recent theological development been of a negative nature, but on the contrary some of it has been very positive.

What does it profit if I have all knowledge and have not love? Is doctrine the central focus of the local Christian church, or is that central focus Jesus Christ? Is community the central focus of a local Christian church, or is that central focus Jesus Christ? Both doctrine and community are important, but it is the person of Jesus Christ Himself that is to be supreme in any church's life and ministry.

Over the last 500 years since the last reformation, we in our different rooms in the Evangelical church have done quite well at defining our differences with one-another. Perhaps if there is another reformation, it will be marked by how we define those things we hold in common. In any event, that which will bring another reformation is the same thing that brought about the first reformation, the making of Jesus Christ central and supreme above all else.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, March 04, 2005

Henry Moore Art Images On-Line: ArtNet.com has pulled together in one spot a number of on-line images of the work of Henry Moore. This is the link: Henry Moore Art Images.

I'm posting this link as a follow up to my review of a local exhibit of Moore's work, Lines, Shades, and Forms - The Art of Henry Moore. Cheers, ~ The Billy Goat ~
Cornerstone University
Spring Break LA Mission Trip

"What do you get when you mix six on-campus students, two commuters, one graduate, and one adult seminary student? The Los Angeles CCM Spring Break Team. Read about their experiences with ethnic foods, interacting with homeless people, and serving at different ministry sites all over the city. Nobody knows what we're doing each day - the schedule has been kept top secret, enhancing the learning experience and cultural immersion of the trip. Read and stay up to date on the happenings of the trip!"

My daughter, the one who blogs as Elfstone, is one of the two commuters who are part of the Los Angeles CCM Spring Break Team from Cornerstone University. The team has set up their own blog site for posting updates on their experiences on this trip. (See link above.) They leave bright and early tomorrow morning, and our prayers go with them. Please pray for travel safety, God's protection on them while in LA, and that much good will be done for the inner city people the team seeks to serve.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Line In The Sand: John W. Howe, Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida, has drawn a line in the sand with regard to the on-going controversy in the world wide Anglican Communion over the American (ECUSA) and Canadian Anglican Church's actions on homosexual issues. Bishop Howe states explicitly, "...if the Episcopal Church decides to walk away from the Anglican Communion it will also walk away from me." Here are some excerpts from Bishop Howe's statement.
"Both Churches, the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church of Canada, have been asked by our brother and sister Anglicans from around the world to choose whether we wish to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or, in the words of the Windsor Report, to walk separately. We have been generously given until our General Convention in 2006 to make this choice (and, actually, we could take up until 2008 to do so, although the only presently available venue for the Episcopal Church to make this choice is next year's General Convention).

We have been told that our membership and fellowship in the Anglican Communion is highly valued, and no one wishes to kick us out or excommunicate us, but there must be conformity to the Communion's common understanding, teaching, and practice if we are to continue to enjoy that status. We have been given the space to make this choice carefully, prayerfully, and in a leisurely manner.

The unstated implication is inescapable. In the words of one of the leading Primates of the Communion, the Communique is written in extremely gentlemanly and diplomatic language, but it is unambiguous in what it says: Communion with those in the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Anglican Church in Canada who will not repent has been irretrievably broken. He went on to say that the Primates are equally clear that it is the Anglican Communion Network (which Central Florida joined in September of 2003) and those who will submit to the recommendations of the Windsor Report who are the true Anglican presence in the USA.

In my opinion we are at a pivotal point in Anglican history. Faithfulness to the teaching of the Scriptures and the whole of the catholic and Anglican tradition has been reaffirmed, and revisionist innovations have been rejected.

The choice before us is between genuine repentance, and with it restoration to full participation in the Anglican Communion ... or permanent separation. True repentance in this context would not merely consist of expressing regret that others are troubled by our decisions and actions, but full compliance with the Lambeth Resolution that homosexual practice is incompatible with Holy Scripture AND a radical commitment to the pastoral care and concern for homosexual persons and the repudiation of any kind of discrimination or abuse toward them. (Bishop Howe's complete statement can be found here.)

The Bishop's "line in the sand" along with the ominous legal state of affairs in Canada as noted in The Billy Goat's March 1 report on the Same-Sex "Marriage", "Hate Crimes", and the New Totalitarianism article by Michael D. O'Brien, points to an inevitable crisis of conscience and faith facing the North American Anglican Communion. Our conservative and evangelical Episcopal friends need our prayers and moral support. Their struggle is our struggle. May God be with them, and keep them faithful to His truth.

For His glory,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

LifeSite Special Report - Same-Sex "Marriage", "Hate Crimes", and the New Totalitarianism
by Michael D. O’Brien
LifeSite Special Report - Monday February 28, 2005

"...Proliferating crime is endemic to contemporary democracies, it seems, and the Western world is awash in so many laws that one hardly dares guess what will next be made illegal. Strangest of all is that so much of the new legalism is directed not at criminals but at the moral structure of private life...

The recent passage of Canada’s Bill C-250, which amended the hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, is a case in point, and the looming “same-sex marriage” bill is another. A number of aspects of the new hate crimes law are especially disturbing. For one thing, previous to the passage of this law there already existed in Canadian law abundant protection of human rights, including protection against discrimination on grounds of “sexual orientation.” What is distinctive about the new law is its criminalization of negative criticism of homosexuality as such.

...Of course, the ink is still wet on the document, and charges have not yet been layed. For the moment we are in the eye of the storm, a temporary calm. There is a widespread drawing back as journalists, teachers, and pastors ponder their options. At the same time activist homosexual groups have been bombarding a number of pro-family, pro-life organizations in this country with mockery and threats, planning strategies (in open forums) for neutralizing all opposition, warning that those who don’t keep silent on homosexuality will go to court, and to jail. The high level of emotional violence in homosexual militants’ strategy is at times astounding. They seem consumed with hatred and determined to bring about an entire social revolution in their favor...

...Is it so far-fetched to consider the possibility that we are in a downward slide toward totalitarianism? Few people would go so far as to maintain that we are living in the early phase of an Orwellian 1984 or alternatively a softer form of totalitarian government such as Huxley’s Brave New World, yet the elements of State-enforced social reconstruction are now in operation. We should also consider the fact that in just over one generation we have been shifted from a society in which homosexual acts were a crime under the then existing law, to a society in which homosexual acts have become a government-protected and fostered activity, while voicing criticism of it “publicly” has become the crime. Call it by any name you like, but this is Thought Crime. As Orwell predicted, we have arrived at a situation in which “some of us are more equal than others.” ...

...More difficult to identify is the idealistic tyrant who expands his power in a sincere effort to protect what he considers to be the good of his subjects. He will reduce crime, balance the budget, bring order and a measure of material plenty to the nation. He will surely labour to make a better citizen of the raw material of his subjects. There can be a reassuring sense of security in all this—in the beginning. We feel so much safer in a milieu of dependable public services and an ordered economy, though we would, perhaps, remain uneasy about trading away certain freedoms in exchange for them. But it is precisely the elimination of personal responsibility which is the new totalitarian’s ultimate goal, for this is what he sees as our fatal flaw.

It must be understood that the highly motivated idealist is not merely interested in improving the exterior forms of society. Ultimately, he wishes to reform us to the core, to save us from ourselves. Of course, he will find that basic human nature is rather difficult to remold, and as time goes on he will need to continuously expand his power until his control approaches the level of totality. If he is clever at it and fills up the world with beautiful rhetoric, and takes care not to grossly infringe upon our pleasurable rights, and if, at the same time, he takes upon his own shoulders our unpleasant rights, the ones which demand effort and sacrifice, then he may get away with it. This is never more possible than in a historical period of extreme stress. In such a climate the lifting of our responsibilities is not felt as deprivation; it feels, rather, like relief from intolerable tensions. Somebody at last is doing something about the human condition! A sick society is getting therapy! A cancer patient puts himself into the hands of his doctor, so why shouldn’t a “dysfunctional” people entrust itself to its sociopolitical physicians?

Somewhere during the therapy there is a decisive transfer of power and responsibility. When this happens on a massive scale something is seriously amiss. There may not be brown-shirts and jackboots marching in the streets. No public book-burnings. No grotesque executions. In some cases there may even be no visible dictator, only a system or a social philosophy which permeates and controls everything. Indeed, the world may appear to be perfectly normal. The philosopher Josef Pieper points out that this is the most dangerous form of totalitarianism of all, almost impossible to throw off, because it never appears to be what, in fact, it is..."

(Complete article found here.)

Oh Canada! Oh Canada!
Which way will you go?
When tyranny calls,
Will the Maple Leaf fall?
Or to truth and liberty hold?

~ The Billy Goat ~