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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just Because You're a Bishop Doesn't Make You God

A commenter on Whitehall links to a piece in the Daily Mail (UK) about a bishop in the Church of England, the Rt. Rev'd Tom Butler of Southwark, who officially speaking for the Church proposes that doctors be allowed to let sick newborn babies die: that "there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die." While this may seem a reasonable point of view to the compassionate, if casual, thinker, in reality it is a dangerous notion and, unfortunately, all of a piece of the New Religion: that God should serve the individual, not the other way around; that if a dogma results in suffering, the dogma is faulty and must be revised, for God does not intend for us (me) to suffer. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

As Christians, we must believe life is a gift, the greatest gift, from God, as recounted in Genesis. If God is omniscient and omnipotent, as we believe Him to be, we cannot dictate the terms of His gift to us, otherwise we are questioning His supernal qualities and making Him one of us. If he really is one of us, however, we really don't need Him, do we? We can handle matters quite well without Him, can't we? If we do so, however, we are playing God ourselves, and unfortunately we are just not that good at it.

Consider the following quotation then guess who owns it.

Today, however, civilization has brought sympathy, pity, tenderness and other lofty and worthy sentiments, which interfere with the law of natural selection. We are now in a state where our charities, our compensation acts, our pensions, hospitals, and even our drainage and sanitary equipment all tend to keep alive the sickly and the weak, who are allowed to propagate and in turn produce a race of degenerates.

Give up? Those are the words of the patron saint of feminism, Margaret Sanger (you won't find them on the website of Planned Parenthood, the institution she founded, nor will you find mentioned the fact she accepted an invitation from the K.K.K. to speak about the very "problem" of which she wrote: the "race of degenerates"). The "civilization" and the attendant qualities she questions are, of course, Christianity and Christian charity. I would not accuse +Butler of espousing such hideous notions as Sanger's, he surely does not, but unless one is uncompromising when it comes to the sanctity of life, it is all too easy to slip into thinking thoughts as, "Surely God did not intend this person to suffer so" or "Isn't keeping this poor soul alive costing a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere?" Thence leads to the murderous philosophy of Utilitarianism and its weaseling proponents like Peter Singer (a professor of bioethics at Princeton!) and from there it is but a short journey to Final Solutions.

I have a cousin who was born paralyzed from the neck down but blessed (or cursed) with a first-class mind. The difficulty of her life I cannot begin to fathom but she bears her burden well and manages to possess a wicked sense of humor. Still, I wonder if +Butler, upon witnessing the protracted suffering my cousin has gone through in her life would think that it would have been better she had not been born or allowed to live. I hope, at least, he would ask her first.


father wb said...

Amen. Amen.

"I hope, at least, he would ask her first."

A big part of the problem, I think, is that Butler's recommendation are really constitutive of a systemic refusal to ask. Its like "Let's kill these people before they become pains in the ass -- to society, to their families, and to themselves." It really is diabolical.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bloviator,

Are you perhaps a member of St. James', Lake Delaware? I visited there last winter - have we met?

Drop me a line - ctcan(at)swbell(dot)net.