Monday, August 7, 2017

Readers Write: "Über Catholics Are Brought Up to Reflexively Gag at the Thought of Putting on Someone Else's Shoes"

There have been some spectacular comments left here in the past several weeks, and for a variety of reasons, I have not been able to respond to them as I would like to do — in a personal way. To enable more readers who may not haunt blog threads to benefit from some of the good conversations going on here, I'd like to lift several comments out for you and post them as a "Readers Write" posting. 

First, in response to my posting last week entitled "A Family Story: When "Pro-Life" Catholic Trump Voters Confront Sexual Abuse of Minors by a Priest — In Their Own Family Circle," Colleen Kochivar-Baker writes

After sitting on the sidelines watching my ex mother in law be treated in a very similar manner, I did quite a bit of thinking about what happens to folks who grow up in a very rigid form of Catholicism. I think the human capacity for empathy and compassion dies on the religious vine. Instead of fostering the idea that we need to try and 'walk a mile' in another's shoes, uber Catholics are brought up to reflexively gag at the thought of putting on someone else's shoes. They can't get past the surface thought of wearing someone else's smelly shoes. They are trapped in a prison of Divine terror which forces them to view the world as hostile, diseased, and threatening. The obsessive need for tight religious rules and perfect rituals is their armor protecting them from the 'diseases' of all those other people. 
In the end it's an abusive theology which bullies adherents into becoming abusive bullies. I don't know that there is a cure for this kind of personality disorder, but I'm hardly shocked they champion the cause of Trump, who is himself a walking talking personality disorder. Like attracts like.

In response to my posting entitled "Was Charlie Gard Euthanized? A Seriously Unhelpful Claim Emerges Among Catholic "Pro-Lifers," Giova Gallagher writes

Hi Bill. Your more-Catholic-than-Catholic relations are actually anti-Catholic. The principle of double effect that is used for ethical decision making in hospice-palliative care is based on Catholic moral teaching. I had a patient with lung cancer whose shortness of breath was horrific. Despite all our efforts his every breath was a gasp. He was transferred to a Catholic hospice where he was offered continuous palliative sedation therapy (CPST). After saying goodbye to his loved ones he was sedated around the clock until death. In a Catholic hospice! This was right and good. The intent -relief of intractable and distressing symptoms- outweighed the unintended (though foreseeable) side effect of a slightly sooner death. Do these more-Catholic-than-Catholic relations ever ask themselves how they would like to be treated in a similar situation?? Is their ideology so strong that they are impervious to fact and experience and empathy?This is all of a piece with their homophobia and shameful treatment of an abuse victim of course. I've met these types before, the more-Catholic-than-Catholic (or more Christian-than-Christian) and they always strike me as having NO faith.

In response to my posting entitled "A Family Story: When "Pro-Life" Catholic Trump Voters Confront Sexual Abuse of Minors by a Priest — In Their Own Family Circle," Mark Shumway writes:

William and all, Thank you for this topic and discussion. I am glad you brought up the case of Terri Schiavo. I understand the "pro-life" zealotry as a commitment at all levels to a cosmology of a divinely created and sanctioned hierarchy of a spiritual and transcendent order as follows. At the highest level is a male God and His angelic helpers, and then saints. The earthly order is humans who possess a soul where select males are the rulers of lesser humans (slaves, women, children). All humans may do what they will with animals, who are denied a soul and only purpose is to be of service and use to the superior humans. Plants also are soulless and only were created to be resources to humankind and their animals. Last in this order is the Earth and seas which are assigned to be dead matter only fit to be discarded after the "end times", and meanwhile to be used at will by the soul possessing humans. Here is one of the religious roots of ecocide and so many other human injustices. These zealots are motivated to "defend" any infraction against this vision, so the "life" of Terri Schiavo, becomes of cosmic importance.

Also in response to the discussion of Charlie Gard's death and questions about euthanasia, Brian Gallagher writes

What I sense from these people is more like nihilistic horror than faith and spirituality. I've known many of them and for a time I was one of them. In those days, stories like this would cause me to feel a very adolescent kind of anxiety about life and death. These stories were discussed as just more proof of the corruption of society. Years later I realized that the worse off the world appears, the better the elect see themselves in contrast.  
Regarding these end-of-life issues, there's an entire industry that gins up opposition to humane considerations. I've heard so many speakers and read so many articles in that vein over the years and all that time I never realized that exactly zero of them included the words of those who desire to peacefully say goodbye in a manner not approved (but often, in truth, theologically justified) by these people.
I really can't believe the limp sophistry of Charles Camosy's article in First Things. He appeals to the possibility of an experimental medical treatment but then claims that "physician knows best" is a "disturbing trend." 
Camosy is a Notre Dame Ph.D. and Fordham professor. Here's an excerpt of his argument published in First Things which humbly describes itself on its own 'About' page as "the leading intellectual journal of its kind in the United States": 
"And 'going to die anyway' is the condition of everyone. It is notoriously difficult to determine who counts as 'terminally ill,' especially when the person is not in the final stage of the dying process. (Charlie was pink, plump, and growing, right up until his life support was removed.)"
To think that Camosy gives lectures to halls full of students... incredible. 
It's encouraging to see that his argument is justifiably criticized in the comments below his article and some readers have pointed out an unspoken agenda involved in the story: 
"JP Leach • a day ago 
You have joined the long list of people poorly acquainted with the specifics of the diagnosis and with the UK health system. You have misrepresented his clinical condition and prognosis. As a neurologist in the U.K. I have been appalled to see this tragic case misused and misunderstood by individuals across the world. The 'expert' from the US was disgustingly peddling false hope founded in a treatment never before used in humans, full of the hope for fiscal gain and self publicity.  
The US ideological war against 'socialised' (i.e. Universally available) healthcare is content to use the case for its own end no matter the cost to the Gard family."

To repeat: I am so grateful for the quality of conversations going on here, from which I learn so much, and apologize to all of you who have left comments that I have not been able to respond to many of them. Please know your comments are valued. If I didn't lift one of yours into this posting, that doesn't mean that I value you and your comments less or the folks who left these comments and their comments more. It just means that I thought the comments I have selected provided sharp, helpful responses to key points in my posting, which move the conversation along. As do everyone else's comments!

No comments: