Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why Religious People Don’t Want to Die

Back in March 2009, Newswise reported that a new study of terminally ill cancer patients who draw on religion to cope with their illness are more likely to receive intensive, life-prolonging medical care as death approaches –– treatment, by the way, that often entails a lower quality of life in patients’ final days. The study was by researchers at Dana-Faber Cancer Institute (a comprehensive cancer centre and an affiliate of Harvard Medical School). Earlier studies had shown that more religious patients often seek aggressive end-of-life treatment and this study shows they actually get it.

We also know from other research that religion and spirituality do provide great comfort and support for those actually dying due to a terminal illness.

The latest research contributed two basic findings: positive religious ‘copers’ had three times the odds of actually receiving life-prolonging care in the final week of life and they also were less likely to have completed living wills or do-not-resuscitate orders in advance.

So, here are my questions: Why is it that religious people (and by that we must include evangelicals and/or born-again Christians) prefer not to have to deal with death even when it is inevitable? Why do they not help make matters easier, especially for their families, by agreeing in advance to instructions that would make aggressive treatment less prominent just prior to the end of their lives? Why do their family members, even if they know their dying loved one has received eternal salvation, continue to seek and endorse such aggressive treatment to keep them alive? And why does this group do that to the extent that there is such a strong significant difference between them and the non-religious people? These are hard questions that we often do not think about. Yet the research data suggests we do just that. I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder if there is some element of hypocrisy between what we say we believe and what we actually do. [Don’t respond to that – I may not like hearing the truth, but then again….]

I lost my mother at age 64 from an angina attack. She was in a coma. The doctors had asked what my dad and I wanted done. We replied, “Watch for any signs of improvement, take moderate measures, do not let her suffer unnecessarily, and if necessary, let her go.” Mom died that night. Nearly three decades later, I lost my father, in his early 90’s, to cancer. Again, we had the same choice and our family was around his bedside as we watched him die, struggling. The doctors had explained that if they pursued aggressive treatment measures, we would be delaying the inevitable by a day or two, not much more. As much as we loved him, we had to let him go. Those experiences, first of seeing my mom in a coma with all sorts of tubes going into and coming out of her body, and then watching my dad gasp for his last few breaths of air as he tried to reach out with his hands, pleading the doctors present for help, helped me form my current views concerning man’s desire to cling on to life.

It was in those moments, and it continues to be today (whenever I think about this topic) that “the rubber of my actions hit the road of the faith I had chosen”. If I believed then and believe now in the power of the resurrection and life after death, which I did and do – then I had/have no reason whatsoever to delay what God has ordained.

Having said that I know that there are others who would strongly disagree. I know there are others who may tell me exactly why they would do all they could to stay alive themselves and/or to keep their loved ones alive, under similar circumstances. There may even be some who can identify some scripture that may help all of us in this matter. Admittedly, I have never been in the situation of having to make such a decision where a child or a grandchild is involved (and I pray I never have to). I’m particularly interested in hearing about those situations too because I believe I can learn a lot from others who have gone through that valley.

I would love to hear from parents, from doctors, from pastors, from anyone who has some thoughts on this topic. You’ve read how I see it – now, it’s your turn to tell me how you see it. Leave us a comment now.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Do Our Churches Need Body Guards?

On March 9, 2009, CNN ran a story titled “Churches Need Security Plans, Experts Say”. This was in response to the story of an attacker who, the day before, had walked into a church in Illinois and began firing. The pastor was killed. There were also reports that the church had security plans in place. Although two men subdued the gunman involved, clearly the plans weren’t sufficient. In the last year or so the Christian Security Network (CSN) has been around more and more churches are getting help in this area and some tragedies have been averted. CSN also keeps track of security events in churches around the country (in January and February 2009 alone, over 140 acts of violence to churches were tracked by the Network). CNN reports that CSN spoke of one incident that an unknown visitor overdressed for the warm weather and acting odd was taken aside and questioned by church officials only to discover he had two machetes tied to his back. His excuse? The devil had told him to cut the pastor’s head off. With the rise of drug use (America has all but given up the battle against drugs according to Foreign Policy magazine and the visible evidence around the country) as well as the increase of mental illness due to depression, economics, loss of job, family breakdowns, etc., this type of incident is bound to rise. Executive Pastors and those in charge of church facilities would be wise to check out CSN’s services to its members.

As recent as May 20, 2009 the FBI and New York police busted four locals who had planned to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx, not to mention shooting another plane out of the sky. CNN reported that the suspects were three U.S.-born citizens and one immigrant. Three of the four had converted to Islam in jail and were angry that Muslims were dying in Afghanistan. To top it all off, they saw the Jews as the cause of all of America’s problems.

So, do our churches need bodyguards, visible or discrete, and, with or without, armed weapons? [According to CNN, a bill to allow concealed weapons in churches didn’t get past the state’s Senate committee in February.] Last I checked schools have armed guards in some parts of the continent. And if we think we need them in our churches, how do we balance our need for a secure place to worship and still be a place of worship, open to all? More people need a place of comfort these days than ever before, but do we make them go through a security machine as if they were about to travel by plane just to get in? If not, how do we help provide the sense of security many others need that taking one’s family to church is not considered a potentially dangerous activity?

I’d like to hear your take on this pastors and worshipers? What do you think? Provide your comments below.

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why Some Ideologies Attract True Followers

The well-known author, Solzhenitsyn, in explaining why many of Shakespeare’s villains only murder a small number of people rather than become mass murderers, indicates it is because of the their lack of ideology. More recently, historian Jamie Glazov in his book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror suggests that wherever "believers" in a religion that purports to save others gather, there is an appetite for revolution. I must admit that as a carnal human being, I understand exactly what he may have in mind. As a Christian believer, I find myself often empathizing and totally understanding Peter as he drew his sword to cut off the ear of one of the High Priest’s slaves just before the arrest and trial of Jesus (John 18:10). I understand that is not Christ’s approach to resolving issues.

But Glazov should be heard a little further. He points out “The less brutal an ideology is, the less interest the average believer has in it.” In fact, those following Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot always grew significantly in number when the leaders mass murders peaked, according to Glazov.

Barbara Kay, writing in the April 22nd edition of the National Post points out something interesting about the left’s infatuation with Islam replacing communism as its driving ideology. She indicates following Marxism meant pursuing a utopia of many enlightened ideas. But why is the Western leftist now courting Islam? Kay seems to say this is very puzzling for the West is atheistic (well, certainly the leftist West is), sexually egalitarian, and obsessed with social justice. Islamists, she contends, are theistic (Allah is their god), patriarchal (not sexually egalitarian at all) and shariah-bound (which pursues cultural justice more than social justice). [The preceding and following bracketed parts are all mine.]

As if to answer Kay’s well thought out questions, Glazov takes us on what Kay calls “the believer’s totalitarian journey”. In a moment we’ll see how all this relates to the Christian, but for now, please stay with me.

In Glazov’s experience and observation, most believers in anything that looks like an ideological cause, normally start out with “an acute sense of alienation from (their) own society (and associated faiths, beliefs, religions, etc.),” says Kay. Even though they are secularists, they still seek some kind of redemption in their lives and are easily drawn to something like the “seculiar shariah” that comes along in the Islamic faith. There, suggests Kay, they don’t have to worry about being estranged from society as individuals, because individualism doesn’t exist.

This kind of believer isn’t really after truth, she says. He/she is more interested in a movement they can “submit” to. And, to get into this new ‘vast community’ that will adopt this ‘cultural orphan’ Kay says, he/she is willing to sever any of his ‘emotional ties’ to his rejected society or culture [or in my thinking, give up his/her independent thinking and rationality].

Of course, the new society the believer joins is not just satisfied with his/her joining it, but requires the new recruit to actually blame his/her old society for all the ills of the world. And by the way, don’t even think about quitting the new community – you’re dead meat. Doesn’t it make sense, Kay hints, that under these conditions the new recruit stops thinking? When asked to take certain actions as part of his/her responsibilities that most of us would find rife with logical or moral problems, the new recruit blindly misses them. For example, Kay suggests blindness to suffocation of free speech, arbitrary imprisonment, terror bombings, stonings, etc. Perhaps, I would add, even female genital mutilation and rape, as punishment.

Okay, so we figured out how the leftist orphan feels and thinks as he/she joins this newfound adoptive agency called Islamism. But what does all this have to do with Christians? Good question. The answer is several things.

First, I think we, as informed Christians, need to be aware of how the Devil works. More specifically, we need to be aware of what attracts men (and some women) to movements that are outside their original society. Secondly, we need to be aware, once they get inside their new movement, of how they think and behave in relation to truth, illogical thinking, or injustice in certain aspects of life. I say this because we cannot neglect the fact that we too are being accused of not pursuing justice in other parts of human life, in their view.

Thirdly, is there anything in the process of their slowly becoming disillusioned with their own society and being drawn to an alternative society that we can learn from? For example:
a. Can we learn from the fact that ‘true followers’ are more interested in a movement they can ‘submit to’ rather than search for the truth. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus Christ is the Truth and the Truth makes us free. But perhaps we have been more interested in presenting the Christian faith as one having the small-t ‘truth’ rather than more diligently promoting the concept of total submission to Him as Truth.
b. Since true followers are prepared and want to give up their independence in order to join a new ideological community with a cause, how can we encourage Christ followers to keep their independent thinking among us but at the same time be prepared to fight for the cause of Christ? It appears to me that our independence in thinking creates more and more factions amongst us to the point where we are ‘divided and conquered’ by the Enemy.
c. Do we demand enough of our new recruits? How many times have you heard pastors say from the pulpit when preaching on tithing, for example, “the majority of you are getting a free lunch”? Many people accept Christ, get baptized, join the local church, and then sit back in their pews demanding to be entertained or at best, fed. Having observed many organizations in my lifetime, I must admit that no other type of organization consistently carries as much dead weight as the local church.

I have avoided talking a lot about how some religious bodies have great expectations and requirements of their members. The reason I did this is that they also tend to be those groups that have adopted doctrine that is not conducive to what most of us believe is scripturally based. For example, Jehovah Witnesses’ expect their members to either do so much door-to-door canvassing each week or stand at the corner holding up their Awake magazine. Failure to comply is heavily frowned upon, or used to be. Mormons are expected to give everything up for two years and serve as missionary elders. I’m not suggesting we become like that, but I think we let the ‘service’ baby slip right out of the ‘faith’ bathtub. Pardon my awkward analogy. I believe we need to rethink what it costs ‘church-wise’ to be a true follower of Jesus Christ (because the local church is indeed what God ordained to be the means He would use to reach the world for Him – there is no back-up plan). I think it is time for us to expect more of our members now. Instead, we seem to have taken the easier road of letting Christ do the pruning later.

At least that’s the way I see it. You may choose to differ. If so, please comment.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Exposing the Hypocrisy of Leftist/Liberal Feminism

I recently had the opportunity to read a book excerpt from Jamie Glazov’s book entitled United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, published by WND Books, 2009. The excerpt was in the April 22, 2009 issue of the National Post. You can check out Glazov’s credentials on Wikipedia or other internet sources. Here is the bottom line as I see it:

Glazov talks about Islamic gender apartheid as being marked with ‘honor’ killings, mandatory veiling, forced segregation, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and rape as punishment. He goes on to postulate that one would assume most feminists would find such things horrible, causing violent feelings of extreme loathing. Yet, he says leftist feminists have remained silent when it comes to what is happening to their sisters in Islamic countries. He sees what these feminists are doing as a perfect process of self-deception complete with all three necessary stages – denial, excuse, and justification.

While they screamed, and continue to scream, “inequality” with respect to how women are treated in their own countries, these feminists seem to be denying the existence of any injustice towards women in Muslim countries. They simply seem to act like sisters participating in a ‘sworn to silence’ retreat at a convent. They may as well be denying the holocaust ever happened.

And why may that be? Well, for starters, the majority of these feminist liberals are Anti-American and everything America (and we in Canada) stand for. But unfortunately that in itself is not satisfying. So, if you’re going to be Anti-American, you have a lot more fun being pro-something. Again the majority of these feminists end up being pro those that are America’s enemies – and most recently, that has been a number of countries that, rightly or wrongly, seem to represent the Islamic world. If you’re going to be pro-Islamic, you can’t possibly be seen to be against what Islamic nations allow men to do to their women.

The problem is more complex, however, for the liberal feminist. How do you really balance: anti-Americanism and pro-Islamism, while at the same time desperately trying to hold on to the traditional trademark of a liberal feminist – the victimization of women. If the female victimization occurs as it is known to occur in Islamic countries, then feminists would need to face the fact that perhaps what goes on in western societies, yes with their capitalism and various degrees of imperialism, is not all that bad. And in fact, may indeed be, relatively speaking, a much better deal for women compared to what is going on in nations of Islam. We couldn’t have those kinds of admissions, now could we?

So what does Glazov think the liberal feminists are thinking? Well, it goes like this: Feminists believe it is better to let women suffer as we described above than to have to admit that western cultures are superior, having something to teach those anti-American nations.

But surely, these feminists have to accept the documented evidence of how women are treated in some Islamic nations? Glazov agrees, but he suggests that when faced with such evidence, liberal feminists then move to stage two of the self-deception process, that of ‘excuse’ or ‘men are violent towards women because the devil made them do it’. One example, according to Glazov goes something like this: leftist feminists admit that Palestinian men are abusive, but only because of the oppression and humiliation they experience under Israeli ‘occupation’”. My, wouldn’t Freud have liked that!

Taken one step further, men in Middle East societies who were ‘traumatized’ under some form of colonial rule in their past, have no choice but to traumatize their own women. Really now? I can think of several western countries (many parts of Europe during the two major world wars) and even one Middle Eastern one (Israel) that have suffered a lot of trauma who never ended up traumatizing their women. Sorry, blaming imperialism and western capitalism in some cases as the cause of female abuse just doesn’t cut it for me. But to the liberal feminists, it’s more important to oppose capitalism than to protest against what women are subject to in some eastern societies.

Glazov also points out a politically driven double standard. Liberal feminists argue that no one can really say what is right and wrong in a given culture when it comes to enforced veiling and ‘honor’ killings. But when it comes to how Hollywood objectifies the female body, they forget about the role of culture and depict such actions as immoral, emblematic of capitalism, patriarchal, heterosexist, and homophobic attempt to marginalize women to powerlessness. There may be an element of truth to that, but the hypocrisy in the two positions is unacceptable.

Is it possible that by essentially justifying the Islamic horror with respect to the treatment of women, liberal feminists are aligning themselves with the Taliban and others not just because they are anti-American and want to support America’s enemies, but because they secretly like what the Islamists are doing? Let me explain. They secretly like the burka because by forcing women to wear it, eastern men facilitate a liberal feminist’s belief that under no circumstances should men appreciate women’s bodies for their beauty or sexual appeal. Glazov suggests that is why many leftist feminists “de-feminize” and “de-beautify” themselves. The Taliban and others, by forcing women to cover up, are indeed helping the liberal feminists accomplish in eastern societies what they yearn for in their own western society. [Of course, they forget that even the Taliban have their women uncover in the privacy of their own home.] While the burka and other such enforcements are very helpful to the liberal feminist movement, is the cost involved, paid for by the women in eastern countries, really worth it?

I don't have the answer to the Middle East crisis, or to how we can make America and the West lovable again, or how to stop both economic exploitation of women in the West and physical abuse of women in the East. But as a Christian, I know many men and women who found Jesus's teachings on the man-woman and husband-wife issues most liberating, allowing both sexes to find fulfillment in their unique roles, together.

At least that’s the way I see it (with both Glazov’s and the Bible's help). Until next time, keeping on thinking.

p.s. Welcome to my new follower -- MichaelJoseph. I hope many check out your thoughts and your cause. I hope many others join you in following my blog.

p.p.s. you can follow me (code name: pappou) on Twitter.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.