Saturday, 15 September 2007

Daily Telegraph: Rowan Williams interview

The full interview, by Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson is available here: ‘Is our society broken? Yes, I think it is’.

News report: Archbishop: Pushy parents damaging children

Leader: A commonsense cleric

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 8:04am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

I agree with Rowan that abortions should not be considered one of many suitable forms of contraception. While some women might feel the need to abort, it should be seen as an act of desperation, not a routine medical practice. That desperation might come about through unsolicited non-consenting unprotected sex or dire unexpected health complications. But it is a life, and there should be grief and regret.

Similarly, I agree with Rowan about "pushy" parents. I'm not sure it is the best word, but I can't think of a better one. My observations of many children with problems are that they are over-stimulated and taught that if you throw enough money at something, it makes you happy. The other issue is that it makes some parents and some children just obnoxious. They are so busy preening and posturing about their accomplishments and acquisitions that they are can be oblivious to the emotional needs of the other. When pointed out, they can simply dismiss the others as whiners or losers. Such souls also easily become bullies, in the playground or later in the workplace. The biblical warnings against building high mounds come to play here.

I agree with Rowan's concerns about celebrity status, I refuse to watch shows such as Big Brother or Survivor as a core aim is to cause souls to "crack" so that observers can gloat. Then there are the mind games between the contestants themselves. The almost gladiatorial ring spectator relishing over suffering leads to souls being indifferent to whether they are hurting others. I've known souls who routinely brag about how they humiliate others, and it is seen as "successful" to be "above" the need to care for others' feelings.

Fame or Success: at what cost? Sometimes the cost of fame or success is that one loses one's personal integrity. Sometimes souls don't even know that has happened until the ferris wheel stops and they are bounced off the ride.

There is a place for being withdrawn and contemplative. There is a place for being alone and sensing that only God really understands you. When you find that space, you realise that the successes of this world are often the biggest traps that take you away from God and what God would desire for you and your neighbor.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 10:07am BST

"I refuse to watch shows such as Big Brother or Survivor as a core aim is to cause souls to "crack" so that observers can gloat."

The irony about 'Survivor' is that in real life survival situations, those who cooperate and help each other have the better chance to survive. This I learned from listening to a friend's father. He spent most of the Korean War in a Chinese POW camp - they had a high rate of survival because they did NOT 'vote people off the island.' "Big Brother' and the others simply appeal to the voyeuristic in us. Yuck.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 1:53pm BST

I disagree with him about euthanasia. I recall a conversation between David Jenkins and Ludovic Kennedy on TV where both were in favour of it being available. A point in life can arrive where it is nothing but pain and a lack of life in order to nullify it towards an inevitable death. At such a stage people have the right to arrange a peaceful end and carry it through with assistance.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 10:07pm BST

Even if one does not go as far as advocating assisted pass over, there is still the thing about allowing souls dignity and grace as their time comes.

For example, both the previous Pope and the best man from my previous marriage refused intenstive life support at the end. They knew their time was coming and they were happy to both pass over. Both passed consciously and were at peace within themselves as it happened.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 16 September 2007 at 10:32am BST

If ABC can weather (or prevent) the departure of Nigeria and friends, he may become the most important Christian leader of our time: discouraging but not prohibiting abortion, opposing euthanasia, encouraging stem cell research, bringing common sense and kindness to public life (not only in the UK), offering a spiritual and intelligent reading of the Gospel message, using his formidable intelligence and scholarship. It does not matter if he is scruffy as long as he is good. And his friend is now finally demanding intervention against the evil in Zimbabwe.
For all the silly contentions over sex in the Communion, Anglicanism remains the best expression of Christian values, in for many people in many places, including the advanced industrial increasingly secular democracies. May God guide +++Rowan wisely in the next few weeks.
Andrew

Posted by: Andrew on Sunday, 16 September 2007 at 10:17pm BST

All right. Now that secularist and atheist societies are on the rise in reaction to fundamentalism, the ABC decides to become more narrow on abortion rights, stem cell research, free speech (television), gambling, and ecumenism (the involvement of all faiths in the Coronation).

Doesn't he have this backwards? Now seems to be the time to stress the love, compassion, hope, acceptance, and inclusiveness of Jesus the Christ, not rule-bound, Religion (with a capital R) that most folks perceive is typical religious expression. People need to see non-violent, loving, inclusive Christians, not more sectarian wars and meddling with unessentials.

Posted by: sheila on Sunday, 16 September 2007 at 11:08pm BST

How do you know the afterlife is painless? That's my problem with euthanasia--how do you know you aren't making the pain worse? How do you know you aren't sending someone into a more painful Purgatory? If God sends us suffering as discipline to aid in our salvation, how do you know that the attempt to reject God's discipline will not result in worse suffering? Or, a Buddhist might say, you can't outrun karma. I would like to know what proof you have that euthanasia actually ends suffering.

Posted by: James on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 4:37am BST

James

There is no proof that euthanasia ends suffering in the context that you describe. Apply the converse, prove that euthananasia prolongs suffering.

Can you prove that the afterlife exists, can you prove that purgatory exists? Can you prove that we feel things after death?

While I might not agree with assisted euthanasia, I do believe there is a place for "God's Will be done". Souls who have come to their time, are at peace with their passing over, and able to communicate that to friends and family remaining behind have the most beautiful deaths.

The worst deaths I have witnessed in recent years is when either the soul passing over, or those who remain behind, are fearful that the soul will suffer or be rejected on the "other" side.

God does not reject the righteous, God treats each soul on its one merits, we need to pass no exam nor reach no certain height to be given a home commensurate with our soul's needs. If that was not the case, then God would be condeming foetuses, new born babies and infants, which is simply outrageously cruel.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 10:22am BST

"How do you know the afterlife is painless? That's my problem with euthanasia--how do you know you aren't making the pain worse? How do you know you aren't sending someone into a more painful Purgatory?"

Ah, Hamlet's dilemma. Trouble is, the modifying of humane compassion by means of reference to dogma is a scoundrels' charter.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 12:41pm BST

"If God sends us suffering as discipline to aid in our salvation,"

Rather big 'if' there, I'd say! Who says God sends us any kind of suffering? Or, if He does, who says it's to aid in our salvation? Suffering is a result of the Fall, itself the consequence of our actions. Suffering is the consequence of living in a fallen Creation, that's all. Unless you want to claim that God sends us the consequences of the Fall. I rather think he rescues us FROM those consequences, not FORCES us to endure them "for our own good" or otherwise.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 5:05pm BST

Suffering is present and now and all too real, and what, because the person is assisted that some deity will come along, like the one who finds the car park slot, and extend the suffering after death as a kind of vicious compensation against the victim? What a compassionate God this isn't.

Well obviously consciousness may defeat present understanding of it, including its dependence on a material brain, but, even if this dependence is wrong, this consciousness and its pain, and its nullifying, is in its awful condition because it is attached to the body. The body is going to die, the situation is unbearable, and therefore it seems to me that euthanasia should be available.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:26pm BST

People need to see non-violent, loving, inclusive Christians, not more sectarian wars and meddling with unessentials.

Posted by: sheila on Sunday, 16 September 2007 at 11:08pm BST

This brief quote says it all. Thank you

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:33pm BST

Re: euthanasia and 'the will of God' stuff - wasn't that an argument used C19 against anaesthesia in childbirth?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:42pm BST

Romans 5:3,4

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Ephesians 3:13

13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

1 Peter 4:13

But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.


Posted by: James on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 1:30am BST

James

Those experience applies whether or not there is euthenasia.

I had an uncle who died last June by suicide after attempting to murder his wife (he failed). Because of the gifts of his family he appeared and apologised to several relatives within a few short days. He was forgiven because he said he wasn't in control of himself at the time.

Someone close to my family told us that stroke victims often lose control over their rational elements and their grandfather had to be partially lobotomised as he kept attempting to murder his wife.

The strokes killed him and the suicide attempt killed my uncle.

Both souls were forgiven and are with God because their families and God know they were not in full control of their faculties at the time.

Repudiate this and contemplate, can you guarantee that you will be in full control at the time of your own passing over? Would you rather be forgiven and accepted, despite your inadequacies or dementia, or will you demand perfection and then you or your family be forced to accept that you will not be saved because you are not perfect?

I prefer the gracious God who does not demand more of us than we are capable. What about you?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 9:58am BST

"we also rejoice in our sufferings"

Yes, WE rejoice in OUR sufferings. Should I ever be called to, I hope I do not give in to dispair. One important part of Christianity is its perception of the dignity of the human being simply because of being a human being. For people to kill themselves in the face of unremitting pain from which there is no release other than death might seem to be an adverse judgement, and opposed to the Gospel, on the value of the human experience. Thus, euthansia concerns me. All the same, what right do we have to force our beliefs on others? If someone is not depressed, is suffering a terminal illness with incredible pain, and is not a Christian, what right do we have to force them to conform to out understanding of things?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 3:27pm BST

What's all this about Rowan Williams presiding at a secret communion for lesbian and gay clergy?

http://www.evangelicals.org/news.asp?id=730

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/09/rowan-williams-.html#more

According to the journalist Ruth Gledhill, it implies he has given up on trying to prevent a schism and returned to his own beliefs. I think this is an assumption, but it seems he is doing something that suggests that he indeed did not recant earlier views as he said he had not.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 3:44pm BST

"All the same, what right do we have to force our beliefs on others? If someone is not depressed, is suffering a terminal illness with incredible pain, and is not a Christian, what right do we have to force them to conform to out understanding of things?"

[Sarcasm mode on] Because we're unquestionably, infallibly right, Ford. Don't you get that? Our understanding of God's will is handed down to us directly from the Almighty himself, and we are all of sufficient intellect to grasp the ineffable plan of God without error.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 6:22pm BST

"If someone is not depressed, is suffering a terminal illness with incredible pain, and is not a Christian, what right do we have to force them to conform to out understanding of things?"

Hi Ford. One of my concerns about active euthanasia is that it has a tendency to take on an active dynamic. For example, if euthanasia becomes acceptable then it is okay for the husband to end his wife's suffering (as one uncle attempted last June), or a father remove his children from this horrible existence, or the state end the misery of the unwanted outcaste.

Euthanasia, like abortion, are tragedies and not desirable; they are where the system has failed and there should be grief and regret involved.

It is also so hard to say when it should be applied. One soul will rant and wail at the slightest provocation, another thrives and matures and rejoices in the gifts and strength that comes from extended suffering...

They are difficult conundrums and the discussions should never end as they concern matters where things are vexatious whichever path is chosen.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 10:37pm BST

I don't think that euthanasia is like abortion. Of course it is regrettable, but then the state of pain in a terminal condition is regrettable too - such indeed is life. Pope John Paul made himself an example of dying with dignity, but that was his position and, have to say it, choice. It it is not possible to have stringent safeguards, then euthanasia may not be possible, but otherwise it should be available, including to Christians.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 12:23am BST

"it has a tendency to take on an active dynamic."

That's it for me, too Cheryl. Who decides? Clearly the person whose life we are talking about. But chronic illness often brings about depression, and how stringent are the measures we would take to ensure that the person is not making the decision under the influence of such emotional debilitation? How can we be sure it is not someone who has been manipulated into the decision by others? There's too many opportunities for abuse, for killing of people who don't want to die. All the same, forcing someone to live who doesn't want to, for whom there is no hope of recovery, and who will suffer untold pain is unspeakably cruel. There are many instances though where the suffering of pain comes about because of poor medical pain management, though that situation is slowly changing.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 12:32pm BST
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