Thinking Anglicans

opinion

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has given a talk entitled “What have Women done for Christianity? Women theologians in Christian history”. You can read it here and listen to it here.

Alan Wilson writes in The Spectator that It’s time for the Church of England to drop the culture wars.

Laura Toepfer writes for the Daily Episcoplian about If we did wedding preparation like confirmation preparation.

Bosco Peters writes the wrath of God was satisfied?

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that I want to be a burden on my family as I die, and for them to be a burden on me.

John Bingham in The Telegraph reports: Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet.

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JCF
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JCF

I don’t understand Giles Fraser’s conundrum. He wants to be a burden when he dies (FWIW, I suspect I do, too): well and good. No one’s going to take that right away from him. Giving other people the OPTION to choose another way, is the limit of the debate.

Speaking of “a fearful way to live”: turning every debate into a Slippery-Slope Bete Noir. I don’t believe that giving others the right to die, forces me into the obligation to do so.

Father Ron Smith
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As a fellow New Zealander, and a firm believer in the Good News of the Gospel – as demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – I concur whole-heartedly with FR. Bosco Peters’ reasoned objection to the idea of the ‘Wrath of God’ being the most important attribute of the God-Head in the matter of redemption wrought by Jesus’ characteristic loving words, actions and sacrifice on our behalf. The paramount message of the Gospel, surely, is that “God so loved the world, that He gave his Only-Begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

I think Giles’ argument is that there is more to this than just a matter of individual choice (though naturally in our hyper-capitalist culture, individual choice does increasingly seem to be the only arbiter of moral value). He’s not making a “slippery slope” argument – rather he’s interrogating the assumptions that lie behind public attitudes to physician-assisted suicide. Choice, he might be saying, is never all that free, and our options are always constrained by the culture in which we live. If we live in a culture that perceives individuals as autonomous atoms suspended in a howling void, then we… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Fraser is writing of people suffering from, say, cancer. It’s clear he has no conception at all of the experience of people with dementia, many of whom spend their final months in a state of terror. I don’t want to die peacefully at an appropriate time for the sake of my family; I want to die peacefully at an appropriate time for my own sake. Two close relatives died protracted, painful and terrified deaths, completely unaware and unrecognising of anyone around them, deaths barbarously extended by selfish religious spouses. Why should a 90 year old woman suffering from advanced dementia… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I would not want to condemn my children to look after me. If they offered and if it was appropriate taking into account the level of care I needed, their other responsibilities and their abilities, it would be the greatest and most amazing gift. But it has to be a gift, it cannot be something I simply expect of them. And I am not afraid of death. I do, right now, not think that I would want to delay it at all cost – cost to them and cost to myself. All choices can be selfish, none is necessarily always… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

I disagree with Mr. Fraser on euthanasia. The notion of a good death sounds too good to be true. Releasing people from suffering in certain carefully defined circumstances seems reasonable.

People ought to be able to decide for themselves how they want to end their lives in the same way we allow them to follow a religious tradition or not. Tradition was made for people and not people for tradition.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

But ‘delaying at any cost’ is not the same as euthanasia. Also, ‘do not resuscitate’ orders are common in the UK, and most patients and families have signed them for people with dementia and other terminal conditions. I don’t think UK Christians are any less likely to adopt this sensible and pragmatic approach to death, or indeed that the euthanasia debate is about rational and compassionate end-of-life care.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Rosemary, I’m not sure where the boundaries of “delaying at all cost” and euthanasia are. If we didn’t delay at all cost with all our medical knowledge the question of euthanasia would rarely arise. We have accepted that people have the right to end their own lives, but then we treat them to the point where they can no longer do that and we don’t allow them or others any further options. I am not a fan of “thin end of the wedge” arguments, safeguards may be complex but they are no impossible. And I cannot but hear the cases… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“safeguards may be complex but they are no[t] impossible” Erika Baker

I’m reserving judgement on the whole issue until I see what these safeguards are. Perhaps I’ve seen too many episodes of ‘Poirot’, but my main fear remains the hastened disposal of the rich elderly by greedy relations.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Laurence I agree, we need to discuss this. But we need to discuss it! So far, the safeguarding topic has only ever used to block any further conversation about it all. There is nothing to stop rich elderly people from writing to their GPs, for example, confirming that come what may, they never want to be helped to die by anyone. If I can make an advance directive about not wanting my life to be prolonged unnecessarily, I should also be able to make one stressing that it should never be ended prematurely in the unlikely event that I should… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

I don’t know – you see, I know it would be quite easy to persuade me I was morally bound to take my own life or cause it to be taken, to avoid inconveniencing my family. I know I personally would not be strong enough to stand out against a culture where that was the norm. To me, actively taking a life is quite different from not taking steps to prolong a life. I think not giving antibiotics, not tube feeding, certainly not resuscitating, are totally different from choosing to end life when one ‘becomes a burden’. Many of my… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

The problem with this debate is that most of the slippery slope argument are constructed out of whole cloth. For example, if it really were the case that relatives would pressurise elderly relatives into early deaths, then there would be regular disputes about attempts to get DNR notices issued. But that’s not what happens: the dispute in real hospitals and real courts, as opposed to straw man hospitals, is doctors attempting to get DNR notices on patients for whom there really is no purpose in heroic measures, and being resisted by relatives. The arguments about the Liverpool Pathway have been… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

My father died of a dreadful brain tumor that impaired his mental capacity. It was like 4 months of accelerated Alzheimer’s. My mother has dementia. It was really hard to pin point the start of hers. In neither case were they in a position to make judgements about their treatment. Long ago, both made Living Wills that asked for no heroic measures to prolong the dying process. At the appropriate time we put DNR’s into place. And we didn’t subject Dad to the latest and greatest medical treatments (there really would have been no point). I guess there could be… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I think I should have to clarify that I would like euthanasia to be allowed to alleviate patient suffering not to relieve relatives of a burden. So I don’t really think it applies to dementia patients who are not aware of their condition in the end. But it does apply to conditions where the patient retains mental clarity right to the end. Although I recognise that Terry Pratchett is fighting for dementia to be included too. The “at what point” question is important, but again, I would not want it to be a reason for not even having the conversation.… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

Yes, but I think neither Gordon Fraser nor myself are making ‘slippery slope’ arguments. We are making ‘culture’ arguments. That it can become all to easy for a culture to develop with certain expectations. Indeed Fraser makes the point that he is not worried about premature deaths so much as what we are teaching about life – that to be worthwhile life must be self reliant and autonomous. That is a much more serious and further reaching point, and I agree.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rosemary,
I agree that life does not have to be self reliant and autonomous.
But that is no reason not to permit assisted dying and euthanasia.
People can be dependent for years before finally having had enough for whatever reason. No-one suggests that they should be killed off at the first sign of disability and dependence.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Nice piece by the Bishop of Buckingham. My favorite is this “If it [CoE] wishes to play a significant part in the society it purports to serve, it needs to shed its institutional sexism and homophobia. Jesus mandates Christians to treat others as they would be treated. But it cannot simultaneously do this and not do this.”

Exactly, and he goes on to say that it isn’t OK to compromise the justice and dignity of other people. That is the problem. There isn’t room for compromise when it comes to justice.