Insurance cos. promote abortion to save money, killing disabled babies?

Looks mighty suspicious here.  I speak as a disabled person!

IOTM also to ask who’s more “disabled”: a person with special needs who maybe drives his family and neighbors and teachers and acquaintances crazy … or a world that would rather do without us?

“Suffering”?  I know a little about that subject, though definitely not as much as many of us disabled.  But killing us in the wombs of our mothers denies us even the chance that we’ll struggle and overcome it, or others will cure it or at least lessen our suffering.  Who ever said life was supposed to be free of suffering?

I also speak as an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  In original Christianity suffering has an honored place: it can make us more like our Founder, who suffered a bit Himself.  I don’t mean ‘Suffer like Jesus suffered’ — that’s just masochism.  But Orthodoxy teaches that suffering* may help cure us of our own will and inadequate understanding … and Orthodoxy itself directs us to the Will and Understanding of One Whose Will and Understanding are infinitely perfect.  In fact, many ancient Christians envied the original Holy Martyrs, and found the real and difficult Struggle was ordained for those who lived in the Faith to a ripe old age.  Furthermore, Orthodoxy says that even though we Orthodox with long-term illness/disability might not or ought not, for instance, participate in the Church’s fasting rules and Traditions (i.e., abstaining from certain foods at certain times), God Himself has as it were fitted us with this special ascesis to purify us of sinfulness,** He has allowed this to happen to us.  Some admired, sick Orthodox have taken this teaching so to heart that they have ceased desiring to be cured — again, understanding that it may be easier than the “normal” Orthodox ascetic spiritual path, and blessed by God.  If I may paraphrase St. Raphael of Brooklyn, ‘Man — or demons — may have meant this to me for bad, but God means it for the good.’  Orthodoxy also still teaches that miracles do happen, by the Graciousness of God.

(I don’t say this as someone who has reached such wisdom or dispassion himself yet.  But it does seem most reasonable.)

I also have some expertise in Western Christian ethics or moral theology.

As for calling aborting someone saving his or her life, that reminds me of “destroying the village to save it,” or “killing the Indian to save the man” — real Orwellian, and I don’t say this lightly to a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, even as an infant.  More than 40 million Americans have been electively aborted under color of law, few without the dubious benefit of genetic testing of them or their parents.  Now it’s being sold to us as a large-scale, historic, positive good?

(*–This is ‘redemptive suffering.’  In Peace Studies they talk about some “myth of redemptive violence,” which however I never heard of till then.  Violence does not redeem!  [And real “martyrs” don’t die killing others intentionally, even vengefully!])

(**–Orthodoxy also remembers and teaches that all creatures suffer sinfulness from the first moments of their lives, thanks to the choice of our first parents — what one Western wag once called “Christianity’s only self-evident doctrine.”)

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Advice on Native American spirituality

Of course, if we’re to take this writer seriously, maybe we shouldn’t even take him seriously! 😉

Political Puritanism

Why do some denominations in America try to legislate their version of personal morality on the rest of us?

I’m something of a theological social ethicist, and I think it’s because either their churches don’t do a good enough job of regulating their own members (as Stanley Hauerwas opined), or because most Americans don’t belong to their denomination (whatever it may be) to begin with.  Or both.

Putting it another way, religious pluralism (the second reason above) inspires some religious Americans to try to force persons who don’t believe as they do to act as though they do.  You don’t see this so much anywhere else in the world except maybe the post-Communist Orthodox countries, also coping with a pluralistic situation, recovering from generations of state-sponsored militant atheism.  This is because these are the most religiously pluralistic countries in the world, where no one sect is all-powerful or very influential.  As if to prove the point, we’re starting to see this Europe-wide, as Catholics, conservative Protestants, and some Orthodox Christians get together against perceived secularization, even though each European Union country itself has a state or dominant-cultural religion / sect, witness recent controversies over “God” in their proposed constitution, homosexuality, abortion, etc.

If they can’t get us to join their sect through “evangelism” / proselytism, they’ll try to impose their views politically and/or socially.  (Or they’ll seek the state’s help in enforcing even with their own members, though at least this latter option has a long history in religion worldwide!)  Alcohol Prohibition or limitations, adultery or (consensual) sodomy as crimes, Gay adoption prohibition, Blue Laws, government support for religion, “God/Christianity” in the Constitution, censorship, etc. – nothing ever presented seriously with true public policy implications, mostly religious or “for your own good.”  (*I* have some good public-policy, not-explicitly-religious reasons for Blue Laws, but that’s for another post!)

Cynics say there’s a third reason: that the effort isn’t sincere at all, just a “wedge issue” to energize particular religious-political constituencies.  And one has to wonder, when formerly-reasonable-seeming Republican politicians from the ’80s and before, turn into Bible-thumping censors in more recent years: Are they for real, or just playing politics?  And when some of them get caught with their pants down etc.

Orthodox vision of human rights?

Last week the quadrennial Council of all Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church from throughout the world promulgated a statement, The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights, discussed here by Interfax’ religion service.  It’s been a topic of discussion and continuing work since the release of the year 2000 Council’s The Basis* of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as of course ongoing human rights criticism of Russia, Serbia, and some other Orthodox and neighboring countries, the spread of the U.S./NATO/EU eastward into the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, and threatening in Belarus and Mongolia, as well as notable contradictions in Western human rights and election practices itself.  It doesn’t seem available on the Web in English yet, but Interfax emphasizes its confrontation with what some Russians, using a term echoing the “militant atheism” reference to Communism, are now calling “militant secularism”:

According to the authors of the Orthodox vision of human rights released Thursday, “blasphemy shall not be justified by the rights of artist, writer or journalist.” Under the pretence of human rights protection, civilizations “should not impose their lifestyle patterns on other civilization{s}” and the human rights protection “should not {be used cynically to} serve interests of certain countries.”

The right to education provides for gaining knowledge with a view to cultural traditions and visions of a family and a person. Most world {cultures} are based on religion, therefore, any comprehensive education and upbringing should include the basics of religion which created the culture where such person lives,” the Basics read.

The document also states that private life, vision and people’s will should not be subject to “total control”. “Manipulation of people’s conscience and choice by government agencies, political powers, economic and information elites is dangerous for the society. It is also unacceptable to collect, concentrate and use information on any aspects of person’s life without his/her consent,” the Basics’ authors believe.  {Corrections, emphases, and clarifications Tiernan’s.}

Of course, most Russians living today well remember the abuses alluded to in the last paragraph!  I can’t endorse it without seeing it in detail, but I commend its reading, at least, to all of us who seek to deal rightly with Eastern Europe, the Orthodox World, and ultimately the whole Two-Thirds World.

(*–Sometimes translated as Bases, the plural of Basis.)

Is McCain a Christian Zionist like Hagee?

That’s the worry of English journalist Victoria Clark, author of the recent book Allies for Armageddon.

Will McCain try to do what W. has (so far) failed to do, and “bring back Jesus“?!?!?!  (Yes, it’s total heresy – see here for a little info – but that doesn’t stop them from screwing the rest of the world!)

See also “McCain’s Christian Zionist, Subprime Mortgage Pimping Problem” for some more people and more importantly, THINGS HE HAS TO REPUDIATE.