Category: Religion


On many occasions, I encounter those who make their daily obsession with legalism above real love. As such, they are unable to see beyond their own “shadows of bigotry” and refuse to allow all to experience God as commanded by Christ. To highlight, I offer two contrasting stories: the first from twenty-two years ago and the second from today.

In the fall of 1996, I attended a weekend retreat at a northern California Monastery. During a Saturday night Eucharist, the Benedictine monk explained mass is a privileged time when we offer ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord along with the gifts of bread and wine, and, by receiving him in Holy Communion, allow him to transform us too into the Body of Christ, just as surely as the gifts are transformed.

One-by-one, each retreatant moved from the congregational seats and proceeded to receive the Eucharist. Just before ending, the monk noticed a lone woman remained three rows deep. With offering in hand, the monk stood to the woman’s side as tears flowed from her eyes.

“Please?” the monk gestured.

“No, I cannot” the woman responded.

“Why not?”

“Father, I have immigrated from Iran. I have not Catholic and am forbidden to receive the Holy Communion.”

“My dear child,” the monk whispered. “I am most certain Christ will not mind.” The monk outstretched his arm, placed the communion in his fingers, “The Body of Christ.”

“Amen,” said the Iranian woman as a river of tears flowed from her heart.

Contrast the story above against that which was witnessed today.

An Asian woman was the Taiwanese daughter of a Protestant Pastor. Having spent all her life giving to Christ and to the mission of God, she immigrated and found a home in an eastern Missouri city.

After years of dedication and service, she received her PhD in counseling and Christian theology. As a result, she was highly coveted speaker in the Christian arena and was actively recruited by a local Catholic seminary to teach seminary students, priests and nuns counseling and Christian faith.

As she often does, she attends mass almost daily and receives communion regularly.

Just like all other days, she proceeded to receive communion, but today was unlike all other days. The Jesuit Priest knew she was not Catholic and when her turn for communion came, the priest publicly refused her Communion.

This servant of God was publicly called out, not for her love, dedication and communion with Christ, but simply because she was not Catholic. As a river of tears flowed from her heart none of her peers challenged the priest.

Verily I say, those who pretend to be above it all are the ones to worry about. These are the ones who destroy the relationships of Christ. Be careful, for Christ calls them “blind guides.”

In both stories, Christ witnessed a river of tears. Yet, which servant will Christ honor?

I looked at the yin-yang symbol for nearly a decade and always thought I understood the hidden dynamic. Rooted in Chinese philosophy, are often thought to be opposing forces versus complimentary forces.

Others propose a more defined view, that everything has both yin, the darker, more passive force, and yang, a more active positive force. The message insinuates that yin cannot exist without yang. Vice versus, yang cannot exist without yin. Lastly, some taught that neither yin nor yang could exist without the other.

I refined my personal perspective after watching the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In Rogue One, we learn that the same material used by the Death Star to destroy planets also powered the Jedi’s light saber. In The Last Jedi, Rey learned the Jedi hold no exclusivity rights to the Force, for the Force is in everything and everyone has equal access. Thus, as Christ would say, each one of us has the ability to accomplish what Christ did and more.

Moving forward, I ask the following question: “What if there is neither a yin nor yang?” What if the world’s yin and yang happen to be derived from the same one life force? What if our own personal yin and yang are derived from the very same force? If true, what becomes of yin and yang?

I propose both yin and yang are breathed to life via personal choice. All of us, will at times, choose yin. Likewise, all of us, at times choose yang. Christ talked of such a view in Matthew 15:19,”For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” The challenge lay in choice.

In Rogue One, the blind spiritual master Chirrut Imwe, was in constant dialogue with “the force” as he chanted “I am one with the force, the force is with me.” We must be in constant dialogue with the Father if we want to know what he wants us to do and where to go.

I conclude from the story of a Cherokee grandfather teaching his grandson about life.

A fight is going on inside me,” the elder said. ”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.

So, which will you feed? The yin? Or the Yang?

KingEddie Glaude Jr. made a stunningly insightful comment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. James Baldwin wrote, “... we had to invent the word “nigger” to justify the crime.”

In other words, if we wish to conceal ignorance and the openness of our own prejudice, create a word to cover it. Need to conceal your racism of Hispanics, call them ‘rapists.’ Need to dodge your hate of Muslims, classify them as ‘terrorists.’ Dislike a reporter or news service, call them ‘liars,’ ‘dishonest‘ and ‘fake news.’ Blame a company (Amazon) for congressional leadership inability to lead (US Post Office). Need to demean your predecessor(s), call them ‘cheatin‘ [sic].

Factual support of any claim is secondary or tertiary. No need. Simply represent yourself as the ‘truth, the light, or the way’ just as a famous politician proposed in July 2016 when he asked Americans not to place their trust in God, but him. “I am your voice. I alone can fix this.” And like those on the Exodus, we crafted our golden calf, placed it unto our personal alter and believed that he … alone … could solve our problems.

Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King shared many ideologies. But they both probably share that our current desire for the golden calf is born from hatred not from wisdom. Hatred. Jealousy. Bitterness. A person who suffered much fear, anger and violence comes from such darkness.

As such, this level of darkness lives not in the possible, but from scarcity, “there’s only so much pie to go around, and if you get some there will be less for me“.  This mindset could be viewed as a “scarcity mentality” and is part of the Lose-Win paradigm.

Stephen R. Covey explained in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“: The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

“People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production.  They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people – even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.  It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

Although they may verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are eating their hearts out.  Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else’s success, to some degree, means their failure.  Only so many people can be “A” students; only one person can be “number one”.  To “win” simply means to “beat.”

It’s difficult for people with a scarcity mentality to be members of a complimentary team.  They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.

Luke 6:38 states “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

I am sure the question Dr. Martin Luther King would ask you to ponder is, which gift will you choose – anger or love? Unfortunately, it appears that 50 years after Dr. King’s death, we’re still embracing the golden calf.

The Devil You Get

Some thirty years ago, coworkers complained, whined and suggested they required new management to solve office malaise and downtrodden funk. Without batting an eye, a middle level manager piped up, “Be careful, the devil you get may be worse than the devil you got.”

It’s in that context that I look upon Mark Lee, a recently interviewed Trump supporter who offered that if Jesus Christ told him Trump colluded with Russia, he’d still defer to the president on whether or not it was true. Of course, he’s one guy who’s hopefully exaggerating for effect, but then again, thirty-years ago, nearly half of Louisiana voted for a Klansman. And we (the John Q. Public struggled to explain why.

Accordingly, America was so eager to rid the world of Obama and Clinton era’s, they voted Trump. And now they’ve to a new Devil.

The problem Mr. Lee and other Trump have supporters is that they bought into the candidate’s vision of himself as a savior of the working class. In a lot of ways, Trump mirrored campaign pages of the Klansman. Trump abhors welfare, foreign aid, affirmative action and outsourcing. He attacked Washington’s political-action committees, big money and the subversion of the common man. He even tried to appeal to black voters.

So, who’s the model? Klansman David Duke.

Writer Adam Serwer accurately denotes America’s current paradigm. “These supporters (Trump) will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

As a Buddhist, when someone states they are the one true information source for followers, competing ideas and facts are not just wrong; they are demonic. As such, anyone not with you becomes “liars” and “sick people” “trying to take away your history and your heritage.” Pat Robertson said those who oppose Trump are “revolting against what God’s plan for America is.” Paula White, Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida and a Trump spiritual adviser, told her congregation that resisting Trump is tantamount to “fighting against the hand of God.”

It is important to remember that diversity is a strength. And if God actually said something important, leave the President out of it. Why? Because the President just supported Roy Moore’s senatorial candidacy. Like Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a Moore backer, said in support of Moore:

“… take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

And Trump, in supporting Moore:

I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

So, we’ll accept a potential child predator.

Sigh … the devil’s we openly accept.

gods-calling-1200x800_cAlan Binder’s NY Times article Falwell and Graham Reinvent Their Fathers’ Legacies was an interesting read. Binder wrote that while Falwell and Graham, ponder the rewards and perils of creating identities apart from their fathers say there is no rivalry between them as they pursue different ways of engaging in politics.

Falwell endorsed Trump and Graham simply wants more Christians in office. Graham said, “I want to get Christians to run for office at every level. The Christian voice needs to be heard.”

That got me thinking. Why can’t Graham comprehend God is everywhere?

I mean think about it, God has been everywhere in this election has told almost every candidate to run. Need convincing? Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Scott Walker, the infamous Wisconsin Governor, was convinced God called him:

I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling — not just man’s calling. I am certain: This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.

  • John Kasich wanted a message from God before becoming the 16th candidate to enter the GOP foray.

“… what does the Lord want me to do with my life? You know, he puts us on Earth, all of us on Earth, to achieve certain purposes, and I’m trying to determine if this is what the Lord wants, and I’m not going to figure that out laying in bed hoping lightning strikes, so I’m out there one foot in front of another. We’ll see what happens.”

  • Ben Carson’s belief was that God would make it clear if that’s something he was supposed to do. Carson also told Fox News last August:

“… that he would run “if God grabbed him by the collar and asked him to run.” 

  • Rick Perry wife’s likened him to Moses, describing his decision to run as heeding signs from above.

“He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president,” she explained. “He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush, but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’”

Later, Perry told CNN, “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

  • Rick Santorum family had a divine understanding of what compelled his presidential ambitions.

“… defending God’s truth …” and “… it really boils down to God’s will. What is it that God wants? We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants.”

  • Mike Huckabee asked his audience that he couldn’t think of a worse place in the world to be than in the Oval Office without God’s hand upon him. He’d rather not get near the place, but if that’s a (God’s) purpose, so be it.”

During the 2011/2012 GOP Presidential race, God told Rick Santorum (again), Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain (the same Cain who infamously quoted as being a brother (to the Koch brothers) from another mother, to run as well.

I am amazed the same God reached out Falwell, Graham and all these candidates. The ironic theme running through every message is that it’s from the same God.  You’d think all the candidates would compare notes. ” What? God told you to run too?” But while they’re somehow qualified to run the country, they can’t figure out how bizarre it is for God to have called everyone.

That means either God is extremely confused or has a huge a problem with commitment. I mean this is the same God that parted water, turned water into wine, had His Son killed, raised and then left for vacation. He could have selected any one for president, but each either failed or will fail. So what does this mean for God and for the candidates that claim to be doing his work in running for president? I sort of expect God to call and say, “Sorry, My bad!

At the end of the day, God is either a particularly cruel practical joker, He never really endorsed any of them or most Americans don’t give a crap. The first would be hilarious but the third is most likely.

There is no universal agreement among Buddhists about the right solutions to political issues or even how to prioritize them. There can be agreement, however, about trying to not make one’s political actions the product of greed, aversion, or delusion, and about acting mindfully and employing right speech, etc. That’s where many politicians fall short of God’s calling.

Loopholes

LoveI admit up front, EMDR has wonderful benefits, so my spin on the rest of this blog post is not about EMDR, its use or merits.

I recently learned an acquaintance has been seeing a psychotherapist for depression. The counselor practices Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.

After a year of counseling, he found himself significantly improved from his 20-year battle, to the point of calling himself cured. Newly awakened, my acquaintance, a husband and father, has decided he should never have married and is seeking a divorce. He finds his marriage unwelcoming, even to the point of mechanical. He believes the Catholic Church will allow annulment. How so? Well, his logic is based entirely upon mental state, that since he was mentally handicapped (i.e., in depressed) when married and accepting his vows, he can seek freedom and receive God’s grace.

As Philip Yancey would say, anyone who writes about grace must confront grace’s ugly side, loopholes. Retrospectively, if Moses and David could murder and God still loved them, why not a father freed from the prison of depression?

Loopholes have both personal and moral consequences. Of course his decision to leave will mostly likely inflict heavy, permanent damage on his wife and children. Even so, the force of living propels him forward, unto a new and brighter world. In essence, when most of us ask for grace, we confuse condoning and forgiving.

What my acquaintance is actually doing is simply ignoring the fact of his marital bonds, as he neglected to request and accept forgiveness. A man who admits no guilt cannot expect to receive grace. While I am happy he overcame depression, does he rationalize his decision as a way of escaping marriage?

In truth, many of us rationalize ourselves with accusers seen in life. Everyone wants to rip the flesh of some poor soul who deserves it, often chillingly destroying that person’s life forever. Think I’m wrong, just read the New York Times or any tabloid magazine.

My larger point is not whether the husband or wife mentioned should stay married or not. Certainly, I am unaware of their marital dynamics and I wish not to negate nor diminish those who have to separate. Still, often times we can only advance in God’s love by trembling, being humbled and without excuse, and begging for mercy, i.e., grace. I rarely see this very humbling experience and wonder what true repentance looks like, even in myself.

We need to move away from the “Yeah, I know it’s wrong, but I will ask for grace later” mentality.  For me, just as blood nourishes and keeps life flowing, loving one another actually nourishes our spiritual freedom, and in turn, love is kept flowing. By severing relationships so easily, we actually sever our true path of freedom, the one God calls “a religion of love.”

Love is the path to full spiritual liberation. Too bad most of us miss it.

WhiplashI apologize to all my readers for being off the radar for the last 20 days. I thought I could weed through recurring heart palpitations, but I had to drastically change my entire lifestyle, including diet, exercise, stress and a few other items.

While off, I had an opportunity to watch Damien Sayre Chazelle’s second film Whiplash. Whiplash glorifies the grueling and bloody drive to become better, to push harder than body and soul should allow. There’s this inane recurring idea in both film and life that to reach the pinnacle of your career, one must be tortured by said career.

According to Terence Fletcher, the sadistic jazz instructor, “Good Job” are the two most harmful words in the English language. If you’re not driven mad to perfection, then you’re some kind reprobate who’s comforted by a ‘good job’ mentality and never destined for glory.

This was emphasized by one blogger:

That life isn’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward! That the next champion never gets discouraged! That you have to sacrifice in order to achieve success!

I see this movie being used in business schools across America as a symbol for god-awful leadership. Yet many, whether budding artist or venture capitalist, willingly surrender each day to some sadistic teacher in the name of greatness. Just as Fletcher slaps his student (Andrew) in tempo, throws chairs and uses his student’s personal information to humiliate him, boardrooms across America regularly accept such a leadership style.

Echoing this theme, another blogger wrote:

Being successful in following our passion requires delivering more than what we could ever expect. And sometimes we need someone who defies our ability to focus and be resilient. The good news is that when you finally do it, it’s because you found your passion. 

And as Confucius said: “Find a job that you love and you will never have to work for a day in your life.”

I doubt that’s what Confucius had in mind, but Christian preachers use ‘prosperity gospel’ messaging much the same way. In his book Your Best Life Now, Joel Olsteen states:

“If you are believing for your child to find God, go help somebody else’s child to develop a relationship with God. If you’re struggling financially, go out and help somebody who has less than you have … f you want to reap financial blessings, you must sow financial seeds in the lives of others … If you want to see healing and restoration come to your life, go out and help somebody else get well” (pp. 224, 250-51).

Everyone looks at such teachers and drop in awe. But for most of us, achieving one’s pinnacle shouldn’t be filled with exhaustion and desperation. Doing so makes one emotionally vulnerable. That’s what happens in Whiplash and in life.

What of the millions who are searching, hoping and desperate? What of their search? We owe it to them to not tolerate such leaders.

Here are real lessons from Whiplash:

  • Negative attack ads and partisan speeches only create conflict.
  • Being a leader involves stress, conflict, and more work that anyone can imagine. Meditating has been shown to have many health benefits, but more importantly it can help you center yourself after a long day and build up your mental calmness.
  • Make the best use of your words ensuring you do not create false speech, abusive speech, or speech that creates division.  Bring people together, not apart.
  • Although a leader cannot make all these things go away in a modern world, they can help create the conditions to make them less desirable or needed.

The Buddha noted:

Being a ruler requires clear understanding: study the past and present, know when to be active and passive, temper force with mercy, be kind to one’s subordinates, benefit the people, and give equally.

What’s your leadership style?

PrayforBaltimore-copyChants of “no justice, no peace, no racist police” echoed through Baltimore streets Saturday in a march organizers dubbed as a “victory rally.” Pastor Michael Crawford homilized “Satan wants our city, and he can’t have it. We were born for this hour and we will fight this right away — on our knees.” Crawford further alluded to principalities and powers of darkness being everywhere, but God was greater.

The victory rally came amid a surreal week in “Charm City,” where Edgar Allen Poe eloquently wrote “There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion.” Here’s a few of the bizarre I saw:

  • Rashid Wiggins sold $10 shirts with the slogan, with “I Matter.” Apparently $10 will ensure one matters;
  • Protesters charged police with “kidnapping” a prominent black community organizer. Never mind the fact the protester was arrested for violating curfew;
  • CNN’s Brooke Baldwin decided to blame the Baltimore riots on returning veterans;
  • Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played in an empty stadium; and
  • The Ad Council used an ill-advised Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting a Caregiver Assistance program that included the background audio of a TV news anchor announcing:

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law….the President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm….authorities are working to contain the outbreak.”

I pondered this mess while watching a lone protester stand in front of the burned-out CVS with sign reading “God heard our prayers.”

Seriously? God heard our prayers?

Let’s highlight some of the insanity.

In Baltimore, police and civilian vehicles were destroyed, businesses looted, and as of this writing, fifteen officers injured.  In summary, Baltimore tallied:

  • 200 Arrests;
  • 15 Structural Fires;
  • 144 Vehicle Fires;
  • National Guard;
  • Curfew;
  • Citizens Attacked; and
  • Police Officers Indicted.

In the wake of Michael Brown, Ferguson recorded:

  • 80 arrests;
  • Over 100 gunshots;
  • 25 buildings burned and/or looted; and
  • Vandalized police cars in Ferguson, Missouri.

Oakland, California residents notched the following in marches for Michael Brown:

  • A looted Starbucks
  • Smart & Final had liquor cabinets pulled off
  • Chase Bank had two front doors smashed
  • Wells Fargo (targeted in previous Occupy and Trayvon Martin protests) experienced broken widows
  • 40 people arrested on charges ranging from assault on a police officer, to vandalism, burglary, public intoxication, and refusal to disperse
  • Officers pelted with rocks, bottles paint and fireworks.

But hey, God answered our prayers. It’s such a wonderful example of God’s intervention. Isn’t it?

I’m amazed how people attempt to find meaning in the absurdity. Truthfully, God answered nothing. The only principality was ignorance and intolerance. They were bred from our inhumanity – bred from deep within our soul.

If that CVS protester was right and God answered Baltimore’s prayer, then His message to those who lost a business was … what? To those who were attacked, did God ordain that?  Was God’s hand of justification empowered through a young prosecutor, the indicted officers or both? To those who lost jobs as a result of destruction, did God answer their prayers as well? I mean maybe they didn’t want to go to work that day. Did God get the prayer wrong, simply fuck up and make a mistake? “Oops, my bad,” God exclaimed.

A part of me wants to yell, “God answered Baltimore’s prayer, but Bosnia, Rwanda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hiroshima and Nazi death camps were God’s plan? How many people go to bed hungry every night? And now you’re praying for the ‘God of justice?

Borrowing from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, I openly ask anyone to tell me about God’s plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how His plan answered Baltimore, you better also be able to explain how the plan wiped out so many who had nothing to do with either Gray or the officers. The test has to do with going and saying it to the person whose business burnt down. Look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to wipe them out but justice was served. I don’t worship that God, but at least you have integrity.

Balti_childrenI intended to write something different, but couldn’t muster the words. Listening to the British Broadcasting Company report upon the deaths of so many children in Peshawar, Pakistan and watch the video, I can honestly report, the scene was horrifying. Gunmen shoot children as they cowered.

There’s no insight into what to do in these situations. So I come back here to write. A few who know that I’m the Unknown Buddhist asked, “What are you going to write? What are you going to say?

What this whole thing is really about is the difference between ignorance and hope. Having traveled though so many countries, I’ve never taken my life in the United States for granted. Still, we who inhabit this island earth continue to judge one another by the content of character. We ignorantly stand before the masses and proclaim, “… my way or the highway.” I know there are wonderfully beautiful Islamic men and women. But tonight … for this moment … The Taliban and your version of Islamic faith is utterly repugnant.

Your version of Islamic faith lives in turmoil. And it’s unsustainable.

To terrorists who killed so many, tonight I celebrate real faith, real love and real dignity. I find a tremendous depth of inspiration from Karen, whom I’ve loved deeply, and briefly, shared my life. She’s out there everyday, trying to save children. This type of love comes believing in something better of humanity than most dare. Her spirit is one breath, in unison with faith, and she crushes anything an Islamic could offer tonight.

True love exceeds anything offered a million times over. Agape love continues for years and remains undiminished. Just as Karen would die for a child, I’d sacrifice my life for her. I chose not to destroy, but submit to another in love professes my soul in faith to Christ, to Buddha and enhances life.

Real love dazzles. Your’s doesn’t. The sweet taste of love is beautiful and appreciative. I bathe in the love that surrounds me. You swim in hatred. You feel superior. True love is superior to all.  You abhor. I admire! You’re ignorant. I’m not.

It’s our children that illuminates, warms, and revives.

Islam is not a monopoly of truth. There is neither a race nor a people, who have not been blessed with the bounty of divine guidance, and there is neither a region of earth nor people who have not received prophets and Messengers of God. We do not verify the truth of religious revelations through violence or death.

True love fulfills all human needs. And no other teaching is required.

NTNH-F1It’s hard to imagine anyone slicing America’s consciousness like Brittany Maynard. Barely 29 years old, one can ‘Google’ Maynard’s photos: the wedding, boating and rock climbing. It’s hard to picture this young, vibrant woman as ‘terminal.’ Yet Ms. Maynard voluntarily ended her life, effectively choosing a ‘death with dignity,’

Those against the ‘death with dignity movement’ argue only God can decide when death occurs. However, being a former medic, if one seeks medical care throughout life, one directly or indirectly makes choices about life itself. In effect, God does not actually make all the choices, we all do. If one drives too fast, drinks too much, smokes too much, eats too much or fails to receive proper vaccinations, then one impacts how soon the Angel of Death arrives. To see God working through respirators, kidney dialysis and heart-lung machines and assorted other devices trivializes both life and God.

In a Religion News article, Joni Eareckson Tada penned the following:

If I could spend a few moments with Brittany before she swallows that prescription she has already filled, I would tell her how I have felt the love of Jesus strengthen and comfort me through my own cancer, chronic pain and quadriplegia. I would tell her that the saddest thing of all would be for her to wake up on the other side of her tombstone only to face a grim, joyless existence not only without life, but without God.

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life called Maynard’s actions “wicked.”

We do not judge the individuals but the act itself is to be condemned. This woman did this thinking she could die with dignity. But this is where the error lies: to commit suicide is not a good thing, it is a wicked thing because it is saying no both to one’s own life and to everything which signifies respect for our mission in this world and towards those closest to us.

God is probably not as repulsed as the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club (see West Wing: Midterms). Once Maynard became accepting of her life’s end, physical death became irrelevant. She accepted her own death as though it had occurred, and so fear of the actual moment when her heart stops ceased to exist.

Having walked the corridors of many hospitals, when terminally ill patients accept death without fear, they become free. They move onward in peace.

Still, the anti-death with dignity movement rarely understands the personal psyche of the decision. Their belief is etched in a foundational training that God and Christ’s faith is wonderful. From a Biblical perspective, writers really glossed over death. Genesis 5:4 quotes, “… Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” The Bible doesn’t articulate the quality of Adam’s last 100 years. What if Adam drooled from his mouth, got up at all times of the night, exposed himself to anyone around and couldn’t urinate on his own?

Another example? Genesis 5:8. ‘… Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.” Did Seth really just live 912 years and then just die? What if Biblical writers neglected to mention Seth had diabetes; had to have any limbs amputated, needed help bathing, couldn’t see anything for the last ten years, couldn’t remember loved ones, couldn’t dress or had to eat mashed food because he lost all his teeth? What would we say then?

God does not expect us to be perfect. Diseases attack both mentally and physically. Caring for a loved one with terminal disease is extremely difficult, with caregivers burdened by doubt and guilt; stressed and struggling to balance compassion against hopelessness. God provides few if any perfect answers. All we can do is to do our best to provide the best quality of life we can.

As a Buddhist, I judge neither Maynard nor others, for most fail to grasp that ‘everyone’ dies eventually – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, ourselves. We impulsively string our loved to technology all the while believe this is God’s will. Extending life in such a manner flies in the face of reality, yet we often feel we must.

I do not fear death, neither do I seek it either. But I’ll welcome it when it comes. Death is as important as life, it validates all that we do during our life times, without an end, the journey is without significance.

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