October 24, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: Nov. 8, 2014

1956-Rambler-Custom-Cross-Country-Station-WagonSaturday Ramblings, November 8, 2014

What a great week it has been on Internet Monk, just the kind of week I enjoy — filled with interesting topics and a multitude of voices. We had five different authors writing on subjects as varied as the Church Year, salvation, premarital sex, prayer, the love of dogs, and why people leave church. We had as few as 20 comments on one day and well over 300 on another! For the most part, we kept peace around the place, though of course you know we didn’t all agree about everything. That’s what makes this place special.

Saturday is the day we take a break from our own work so that we can explore what others have been saying around cyberspace. We load up the Rambler station wagon with goodies, drive to a nice place in the country, and unload it all onto a picnic table where you can sample what you like.

Without further ado, let the rambling begin!

• • •


Brittany Maynard, who became the face of the “Death with Dignity” movement, ended her life at age 29.

The Falling Man, and others like him [on 9/11, who jumped from the Twin Towers], didn’t have a real choice to live or die– they only had a choice in which way they died: smoke and fire, or by falling. For their children to have to walk through life saying, “my dad committed suicide” is less than fair and completely untrue– they didn’t choose to die (the very definition of suicide), they just chose how they died.

This is precisely why I’m losing my patience with my fellow Christians who are condemning Brittany Maynard for her decision to take the pills her doctor prescribed her. Brittany didn’t wake up one morning and say “I hate my life and I’m going to kill myself,” just like those who jumped on 9-11 didn’t step up to the ledge and jump because they were in debt or trapped in a bad marriage.

It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two ways of dying and then turn on them in judgement for picking the least painful of the two options.

Like the 9-11 jumpers, Brittany didn’t have a choice in dying, she only had a choice in how she died. You see, there are people like Brittany– terminally ill with imminent death looming– who are essentially trapped in a burning building from which there is no way of escaping with their lives. For some of these people, the idea of being burned alive or having to inhale smoke until death overcomes them becomes less appealing than stepping up to the ledge and accepting a quicker, less painful fate.

In all the years since 9-11, I’ve never once heard a Christian speak up in judgement and condemnation over the 9-11 jumpers. I’ve never heard someone say they sinned because they “hastened death instead of accepting God’s timing.” I’ve never heard anyone say that failing to condemn their choice is a “slippery slope that could send the message that suicide is okay.” All I’ve ever heard about the 9-11 jumpers is how difficult their choice must have been, and how sad it is that their lives were taken by terrorism.

Why then, should we say those things about Brittany– or those who choose to die more quickly and less painfully in response to a terminal disease– a death sentence that becomes their burning building? It’s not a choice to die (suicide). It’s just a choice to pick the most painless way to die.

• Benjamin Corey, Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide


There’s no need to over-interpret the election. If there’s anything we’ve learned watching the see-saw of 2008 followed by 2010 followed by 2012, it’s that the American electorate has no problem turning on a dime. But let’s not under-interpret it, either. Democrats were dealt a bad hand this year, but they lost even worse than that. You can tell a complicated story about why, but the fact that [President Barack] Obama’s approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s summarize it pretty well. Right now, the country isn’t happy with the Democratic Party or its leader. And on Election Day, Democrats paid the price.

• Matt Yglesias, Vox


R.I.P. Tom Magliozzi, seen here tightening the lug nuts on his brother Ray’s neck.

Tom Magliozzi, who with his younger brother, Ray, hosted “Car Talk,” the most popular entertainment show on NPR, died on Monday at his home outside Boston. He was 77.

. . . By his own account, after graduating from college, Mr. Magliozzi took a conventional path as an engineer until experiencing his “defining moment” after being involved in a close call on the highway.

He described the incident in 1999, when the brothers shared a commencement speech at their alma mater. Tom described driving on Route 128 to his job in Foxboro, Mass., in a little MG that “weighed about 50 pounds” when a semi-truck cut him off. Afterward, he thought about how pathetic it would have been if he had died having “spent all my life, that I can remember at least, going to this job, living a life of quiet desperation.”

“So I pulled up into the parking lot, walked to my boss’s office and quit on the spot.”

His brother chimed in, “Most people would have bought a bigger car.”

• Noam Cohen, New York Times

Jason Heap, who is suing the Navy for not recognizing him as a Humanist chaplain

Jason Heap, who is suing the Navy for not recognizing the Humanist Society as an endorser of chaplains

CS: As the first Humanist chaplain candidate for the U.S. military, why do you think the military needs Humanist chaplains?

JH: A Humanist chaplain understands the general epistemology, assumptions, and foundations that nontheistic servicewomen and servicemen bring, and can address these more authentically and more effectively than someone who is not a Humanist. Because of my experiences in life, I cannot fully understand and identify with the specific needs and perspectives of some communities. This does not mean that I cannot be a source of love, comfort, and support; rather, it means that I admit my limits. As a professional and pastoral caregiver, I will help recruit whomever I can to provide whatever it is that I cannot.

I would hope that non-Humanist chaplains have the same professional integrity and courtesy when working with nontheists—and, for the greater wellbeing of nontheists, recognize their boundaries and refer when appropriate. This is not to say that theistic chaplains cannot provide support and care, but they do have limitations when it comes to saying, “I know how you feel.”

• Chris Stedman interviews Jason Heap at Faitheist


The only thing I learned about saints growing up Baptist in the American South was that one-day they were going to “come marching in” and I apparently wanted “to be in that number.” More than two decades later, I still don’t know what the heck that means.

Seriously, we Baptists were like most Protestants in that we didn’t think much about saints. I thumbed through a lost-and-found Bible once that added the title to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And I remember a Sunday School teacher commenting that saints were just a way Catholics engaged in idol worship. But that was pretty much it.

A few weeks ago, however, I decided to dig into the stories of these mysterious men and women some call “saints.” I’ve concluded that we Protestants could use a few saints of our own.

. . . Saints are people whose stories speak to us from beneath and behind us and say, “It’s ok that you’re a little crazy.” They are reminders that if you follow Jesus, in the words of Flannery O’Connor, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you strange.”

Protestants could benefit from a few more of those kinds of reminders if you ask me.

• Jonathan Merritt, On Faith & Culture

• • •

Heard while rambling around this week . . .

The best rock band in the world, unplugged, backstage at the Fallon show.

The week that was and is . . .

One of my long term patients died this week. I’ll miss visiting him. No matter how bad he felt, he always put a pot of coffee on when he knew we were coming to see him. Surely he’s enjoying a mug at a better table now. November fell like a gloomy curtain on the world around here through much of the week. Rain. Wind. Gray. Chill. See what happens when baseball ends? I started the process of enrolling for next year’s benefits at my work. Health care choices keep getting more complex, though I’m happy to say our cost is going down and the benefits could be better than ever in 2015. I’m very lucky. Our family has at least one birthday or anniversary every week from now until Christmas and I be broke this time of year. And I eat too much cake.

Enjoy your weekend.


  1. Dan from Georgia says

    First. Thanks for your comments on Brittany Maynard. Stuff to think about.

  2. Dear Chaplain Mike,

    The photo above that you labeled “Brittany Maynard” is not Brittany Maynard. It is Kara Tippetts. I read her blog every single day at Mundane Faithfulness. I would strongly recommend that you read Kara’s blog. She, too, is facing death at the hands of cancer. However, she’s taken a completely different route than Brittany and has deeply influenced many Christians (including me) in the process. She’s an amazing human being.

    • Thanks Chris. I was misinformed . I’ll put up a new pic.

    • The photo of Brittany Maynard is from the video she released shortly before her death. Anyway, the famous scientist/genius/atheist Dr. Stephen Hawking was given two years to live at the age of 21 when he was diagnosed with his disease. He is now 71 and can only move one eyebrow. He gave a speech with the use of his computer voice in which he said that no matter how hard your life is where there is life there is hope. Of all people. A genius mind trapped for 50 years in a unresponsive body. Brittany did not express any religious, spiritual, faith belief except to say good-bye and that we should “spread spiritual energy”. I think Stephen Hawking has demonstrated more faith and courage than Brittany Maynard.

      • I can agree to some of what you say, but let’s remember that Stephen Hawking’s brilliant mind put tremendous material resources at his disposal throughout his life that Brittany Maynard surely would never have had. The playing field is not level for everyone.

  3. Why does the military need humanist chaplains?


    • Thanks for this. I’ve learned as much from M*A*S*H as I did in seminary. Maybe more.

      • Chaplain Mike,

        First, I absolutely love MASH. Such a terrific show.

        Second, I used to be a chaplain in Houston at the busiest level one trauma center in the US. One of my units was the emergency center. We got people of types, faiths, and no faiths there. I was frequently called upon to minister to non-christian patients, and even quite a few atheists, so I get the need for chaplains (christian or otherwise) to be prepared to give care to others who don’t share their faith commitments. In fact, my CPE included training specifically aimed towards this end. But I had some questions I thought I would pose to you, if you have the time, post-evangelical chaplain to post-evangelical chaplain:

        1) Is there any indication in your view here of a trend toward viewing chaplains in the same category as generic caregivers vs distinctive spiritual caregivers (however broad one may define ‘spiritual’)?

        2) Where a humanist (atheist) chaplain is concerned, what would be the difference between them and calling a counselor or therapist to care for a patient/service person/etc? This is not in any way to slight other helping professions (social workers, counselors, therapists, etc) but to merely to suggest there ought to be a certain distinctiveness among their functions. Even the social workers and staff psychologists I worked with would tell me that confusing our roles was detrimental for our patients. If we are to blur the distinctions, how do we keep chaplains from becoming viewed as junior therapists (as is already the case in some places)? If this happens then how do chaplains not become redundant in the grand scheme of things?

        3) Where a humanist chaplain is concerned, what could we consider distinctive about the care they would give (again, apart from serving a therapeutic role)? I ask because in the interview Heap describes what he would do as ‘pastoral care.’ But along with the redefinition of ‘humanism’ there seems to be a redefinition of what’s pastoral, no? If a humanist (atheist) chaplain does pastoral care, what’s pastoral about it? Does not the military already employ personnel who could do what a ‘humanist’ chaplain would do?

        • Russell, your questions are worthy of an answer via an article rather than in the comments section here. I will work on answering them, and if I can I’ll do it this week.

          • I’ll look forward to reading it whenever you can get to it Chaplain Mike. I should also say, I believe that chaplains have a potentially valuable role to play in post-christendom depending on how the identity of the chaplain is imagined and (especially for the Christian chaplain) the posture the chaplain takes. However, I tend not to make either side happy. I agree with dumb ox below that for many conservative evangelicals opposition here is more likely turf battles generated by what I would call Christendom anxiety stemming from fears of pluralism and globalism. However, on the other side I’m equally suspicious of moves to ‘genericize’ the ministry of chaplains either as generic spiritualists or junior therapists who do basically what counselors do, with the occasional prayer thrown in (this was one of my concerns when I did my CPE, which I still highly value, but a concern nevertheless). As I indicated there seems to be a fair amount of confusion about what makes pastoral care, well, pastoral.

      • Another general observation, there’s this quote from Heap in the interview, “I would hope that non-Humanist chaplains have the same professional integrity and courtesy when working with nontheists—and, for the greater wellbeing of nontheists, recognize their boundaries and refer when appropriate. This is not to say that theistic chaplains cannot provide support and care, but they do have limitations when it comes to saying, “I know how you feel.”

        Its the last part that gets me. It matters not who the chaplain is to me, it seems to me the phrase “I know how you feel” is by far most often not good pastoral practice. In my work as pastor and chaplain I have tried to avoid this phrase at all costs.

    • We need a few Sidney Freedman’s in this world seemingly dominated by Colonel Flags.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Of the several thousand chaplains in the U.S. military, about ten come from religions other than Judaism or Christianity, and none have yet been accepted from Wicca or Neo-Paganism. About two-thirds are evangelical Christians. The hoops a religious organization has to go through in order to be recognized as an “ecclesiastical endorsing agency” are considerable, and crafted with mainstream Christian denominations in mind. (Already-recognized groups have exempted themselves from numerous rules, for example by allowing their unaccredited seminaries and Bible colleges to count.) Despite the increasingly diverse military, the Christians are in no hurry to end their dominance, let alone outsource the whole “chaplaincy” function, as some call for them to do.

      • You presumably place Mormonism under the umbrella of Christianity.

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          I did. Also, Unitarian Universalists.

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            PS. Each religion has its own military-approved symbol. Mormons and UU’s wear crosses (despite the fact that Mormons would really prefer an angel with a trumpet).

          • Mormonism is about as Christian as Presbyterianism is Jewish.

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            The Mormons obviously disagree, and until we can get Jesus on the phone, their opinion is just as good as yours.

          • Well then I’m apparently an Atheist, even though I believe in God. Since opinion is all that matters to constitute validity, the actual meaning of words is apparently irrelevant.

            Mormons do not think they are Christian. It’s just a stupid line they use. They’re sectarian. All the Christians have gone off the rail, without exception, so they are the one true church come about to set things right. So if they claim to be legit disciples of the actually mission and message of Jesus, then they’re claiming that the rest of us actually are not.

            Religious scholars, you know, actual experts, who study and classify these things, nearly universally exclude mormonism from Christianity, and ALL Christian theologians and scholars do the same. Just because something originates within Christianity and claims to be the same things doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Christianity originated within Judaism. But we can’t legitimately claim to be Jewish, no matter how strong our opinion, because the changes we’ve made to religion necessitate the crossing of boundary lines into a new expression of faith with a new name. Mormonism did the exact same thing to Christianity.

            ….and btw, we don’t need Jesus on the phone. We have his words in the Gospel accounts, which alone are enough to settle the matter that faithful Mormons are not his disciples.

    • When most “evangelical” sermons any given Sunday are indistinguishable from a motivational speech by the late Leo Buscaglia, any war over humanist chaplains seems more like a turf battle than a defense of truth.

  4. I don’t believe that the “Democrats were dealt a bad hand”, as much as they were dealing a band hand.

    People wanted a new dealer…and a new deck. The writer was correct, however, that in 2016 they just might want the olds cards back again.

    • “Meet the new boss… Same as the old boss…”

      • Not quite.

        They might only want a bit smaller govt. …but a bit smaller is better than a bit larger.

        • Richard McNeeley says

          Sorry but the Republicans and Democrats both support larger government they just differ slightly on where government should grow. Government has grown under every President since Washington.

  5. “bad”…not band hand.

    I guess a’ band hand’ would be a roadie.

    • And a roadie would likely be a Democrat.

      Though he’d probably have to file an absentee ballot, which might be too much trouble.

      Now we know why the Dems lost!

      • Not sure how to respond to this when I have no idea what it means. If this was intended as a joke, the humor is lost on me. A brief explanation please?

        • Debra, do you live in the U.S.?

        • “Not sure how to respond to this; the humor’s lost on me; please explain” means “I think I ought to be offended; please explain so I can legitimately be offended and yell at you.”

          Oh you wanted an explanation of the joke. Something implying roadies are inconsistent voters due to their nomadic nature. Meh. Leave it be.

          • Why are you guys talking to me? I asked the Chaplain what he was talking about. I don’t need double talk to say what I want to say. I say what I want to say. I just didn’t understand the comment.
            I know a bunch of roadies, and they come in all shapes and sizes. I don’t really know why I am explaining myself to you, except to say shhhh I guess.
            Chaplain Mike, I await your reply.

        • Oh, how I hate explaining jokes.

          Debra, if you didn’t get it, don’t worry. It was a silly little attempt at humor through putting a possible string of “logic” together.

          • I found it quite funny!

          • Whatever you say Chaplain.
            Maybe you should stick to the spiritual realm and leave the schtick?
            You seem much kinder when you are dispensing spiritual insights. This felt the opposite of that, even though the “humor” flew over my head.

  6. Voter turn-out was bad. These stupid, visceral campaign ads seem designed to turn voters off so badly that they disengage from the process and don’t show up on election day.

    In Colorado, the Senate seat was lost to the Republicans by a huge margin, but the Democratic Governor won by a narrow margin, meaning that either Republicans crossed over to re-elect the Democratic Governor or Democrats threw their Senate candidate under the bus. May you live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse supposedly goes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      This time around, I saved up all the political junk mail that overflowed my mailbox.

      By the time it ended, the stack was well over 2 inches (50mm) thick. All of it ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!, half of it flat-out contradicting the other half.

      And the election results here in Cali? Same as every election for the past 15-20 years:

      • That is why the “Congressional approval ratings” are not a good indicator of how things are actually seen. People are mad at all the other congressmen/congresswomen, not their own.

      • HUG, as a fellow Golden Stater I have to say that California has reached a tipping point where Democrat leadership is unassailable, and will remain so for the rest of our lifetime. But all incumbents were NOT re-elected in statewide races. The Dems lost their 2/3 majority so its back to trying to bribe a random GOP rep to pass legislation.

        In my Federal congressional district the Republicans ran an unlikable guy, Carl DeMaio, to try and unseat the incumbent Dem, Scott Peters, in a slightly Republican district and FAILED! It was close, but even Republicans hesitated to vote for Carl, an openly gay politician, especially after the sordid accusation of sexual exploits with a staffer, which were later discounted. This was just a sickening campaign all around!

        Nationwide, though, it looks like people were NOT happy with gridlock. Harry Reed(sp?) bottled up over 100 bills passed by the Legislature and wouldn’t allow even a committee hearing on them and then blamed the Republicans for obstruction. Some nerve! NOW we’ll see what happens with a change in leadership. If both houses pass legislation and the president vetoes it then Mr. Obama will accuse them of sending unwokable stuff to his desk so that he HAS to veto it. I’m anxious to see how this will play for the next two years. It will be entertaining. Best case scenario: NOTHING gets done!

      • “…All of it ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!,”

        So…ummm…are you a political copywriter?

        Just wondering. 😉

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says


          But then, half the junk mail I get these days is “GIVE US MONEY OR IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AND IT’LL BE ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!!”

      • The reason we Californians keep re-electing the incumbents: The Republicans don’t run viable candidates. They run the best-organized, well-funded guys, but a lot of them are empty shirts who seek to seize power rather than pitch good ideas.

        If the constituents are predominantly liberal, you don’t nominate some angry, fear-mongering Tea Partier to represent your party. (No offense to the Tea Partiers who read Internet Monk. I’m sure you aren’t angry and fear-mongering. But you’ve seen how your candidates behave.) Ronald Reagan’s optimism won him elections; something every candidate ought to emulate, but it’s not the way the California Republican Party has been working the past 30 years.

        The part I find obnoxious is when these angry candidates assume we Christians will automatically vote for ’em because they’re pro-life. They forget anger and fear are works of the flesh, and viscerally alienate us Christians far more than anything their opponent has ever done.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Problem is, when you have one-party districts like Cali, whoever wins the primary for that party wins the general. And in American politics, you swing to the extreme (appealing to the True Believers) to win the primary then swing back to the center (appealing to the widest possible demographics) for the general. If the general is 1000% certain for the primary winner, there’s no incentive to swing back to the center. The incentive is toward True Believers Uber Alles, Purity of Ideology Uber Alles.

      • This time around, I saved up all the political junk mail that overflowed my mailbox. By the time it ended, the stack was well over 2 inches (50mm) thick.

        Well then you obviously were not in Raleigh NC. That would only be a week or two of some of the heavy weeks of what we got going back to July or August. Somewhere I heard that $100,000,000 was spend to influence our Senate race. We had a bit over 2.77 million people vote for Tillis or Hagan. Which would make it $36 / vote cast. What if we gave $36 / student in our schools. (I’m ignoring pizza delivery guy as he only got about 4% of the vote.)

  7. Vega Magnus says

    Thanks again for publishing my post, CM. I thought the discussion was fantastic and it has given me plenty to think about.

    I went to see Interstellar yesterday. Everyone here GO SEE IT ASAP. It’s amazing. Great acting, amazing effects, and maybe the best film score I’ve ever heard.

    And finally, I think I’ll add another musical option. This is progressive metal outfit Soen. This particular song is from their first album, but they have just released a new album that I’m going to be getting soon. They have a nice mix of melancholy and heaviness that is really amplified by Joel Ekelöf’s fantastic vocals.


    • Well if we’re recommending movies folks should check out “Big Hero 6”. I was part of a group that got a tour of the Disney Animation Studio this week and we also got a screening. Great flick. Plus we got to learn about some new methods Disney is using to make the animation better and waaaaaaaay more detailed than before.

  8. “Brittany didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘I hate my life and I’m going to kill myself’, just like those who jumped on 9-11 didn’t step up to the ledge and jump because they were in debt or trapped in a bad marriage…You see, there are people like Brittany– terminally ill with imminent death looming– who are essentially trapped in a burning building from which there is no way of escaping with their lives.”

    This post comes on the day we found out conclusively that Robin Williams death was the result of suicide. We also found out that he was battling depression and the early onset of Parkinson’s disease – which are often related illnesses. It is a harsh wake up call to realize people are in such misery that hastening death is better than perpetuating this miraculous and yet tragically absurd experience called life. There’s neither a philosophical nor ontological take on this. Death is not the answer; death is the end. It’s not fair.

    • Caveat – I say all this with little knowledge of the specifics of Brittany’s case.

      It has also been the traditional (in the historic and theological senses of the word) that our lives do not belong to us, but God. And that if it is His will that we endure a long, painful illness on the way to death, it is our calling to submit.

      That being said, there is a legitimate question about expending large amounts of effort and pain to extend a life as long as possible. If someone wants to die, and only extreme medical measures are keeping them alive, I think it is perfectly legitimate for them to forgo the treatment and die with dignity.

      Which of these best fit Brittany’s case?

      • Is God the house dealing these cards? Fate is an ontological matter. Personifying fate as God’s will…I don’t know. We battle against fate and submit to God’s will. I guess I separate them; I think one has to.

        • I’m still something of a Calvinist, so to my mind separating fate and God’s will is cheating.

        • Fate is a philosophical concept, referring to a kind of law and principle of being, involving fortune and misfortune; God is living and personal and dynamic, and cannot be reduced to any set of laws, principals, or to the category of fortune/misfortune.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Unless you’re Hyper-Calvinist to the point that God can only will what God Hath Been Predestined to Will. (Eh, Kismet…) They exist. My main writing partner has had run-ins with them. Mostly Twentysomething, Theologicallly Intellectual, and TRULY TRULY Reformed.

      • @Eyeore….like some other folks around here, I spent a decade of my life in hospice(as a nurse), so feel like I do have a dog in this fight, based on my experiences with my dying patients. (Added to significantly this week as I waited for a doctor to come in to my exam room and let me know if I had breast cancer or not. It was a very real and surreal feeling to “be” the patients. I’m fine, but it did move me to the core of my soul/…)

        Regarding suicide in the face of a life-limiting illness….I really have to go with Catholic view that reminds us that we are NOT our own, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we are God’s to bring into the world and take Home when He is ready for us.

        On the practical side, however, I see the sanity in the middle road of treatment. No aggressive surgery or chemotherapy drugs that make the end of life miserable. YET…..with a good hospice team and pain and symptom control, I want to live until God collects me, for all the reasons in the preceding paragraph.

        The only difference I can see between those jumping on 9/11, the terminally ill, and even all of US is simply a timeline. Those on 9/11 had a very short time until their death, and I cannot say what method I would choose. Many of us can sort-of expect to live until we are elderly….but we know we WILL die. Is it okay to commit suicide to avoid the normal but unpleasant effects of old age?? Some people think this and will carry out their wishes. Brittany and others like her can see the end, which is neither hours nor years away, and decide, not so much when they want to die, but how they want to live out their lives. Giving up control and becoming dependent can be terrible…..and it can also be an encounter with the Divine, just before our change of address.

        • In this case (B. Maynard), I don’t think it’s possible to discount the severity of the symptoms she was experiencing and the suffering they were causing. I won’t link to a list or account; that’s easy enough to find via Google, and links tend to slow down comment approval, anyway.

          • Numo, I wish was did NOT know that these symptoms are, but with 10 years as a board-certified hospice nurse, I am all too sadly familiar,

          • Pattie, i was referring to what Maynard was, by her own account, going through less than 48 hours before she died. That is what i meant by “in this case” – hers, not hers w/the same diagnosis and prognosis.

            Hope that is helpful..

          • Err, not *others* w/the same… above.

        • Well put, Pattie, especially your last sentence.

        • Different Handle for this comment says

          In my mind I feel that many here and elsewhere could make a case that we euthanized my mother.

          She was at end of life. The question was would she get an infection, heart failure, or general organ failure. Doctors said she might life 6 months but not be surprised if she was gone the next day.

          She left the hospital for a “rehab center”. Nursing home to many of us. After she got out of bed and hit her head in the fall (she couldn’t walk anymore but kept trying and apparently you can’t restrain folks anymore without lots of headaches so we got to do duty 24/7) they/we went for more drugs to keep her calm and morphine for the pain. (She would wake up every 20 minutes in pain.) But high doses of such drugs also suppress breathing and heart function. She was dead within a week.

          Were we wrong? Did we kill her. I’m still not sure.

          • How does ABSOLEUTLY NO sound! Your aim was to control her pain and other issues, the others were secondary results only. Please rest your heart and mind.

          • My medical knowledge is nil; listen to Patti on that aspect. But I’d think that most treatment plans for severe conditions have secondary effects. People chose what symptoms to treat and which to risk worsening. I really, truly don’t think this is equivalent to setting out to worsen some systems, or cause death.

            If it were me, and I was that sick, I would much rather be treated for the pain, even with the secondary effects of those medications.

  9. Marcus Johnson says

    If there is anything for me to take from this election, it is that neither Republicans nor Democrats, right-wing or left-wing, conservatives or liberal, pose as great a danger to this country as the non-voter. As much as I was annoyed by the ridiculous political ads that overran my television, none of them pissed me off more than hearing someone offer up their lame excuse for why they chose not to vote.

    You’re uninformed? Get informed. It doesn’t take that much work.

    You’re busy? For thirteen hours straight? Someone will drive you to the polls. Absentee voting is an option.

    You don’t think the midterms matter? They do.

    You are tired of seeing elected officials who are clearly unfit for office make decisions that negatively impact you? Complain all you want, but unless you choose to participate in the one activity by which you can hold them accountable, those politicians are under no obligation to listen to you.

    If you’re an American in this forum who voted in this election, regardless of your political affiliation, you have my respect for at least showing up. If you chose not to vote, and you’re disillusioned with your country, I have absolutely no sympathy for you. What you think doesn’t matter. You opted out of the conversation. You surrendered.

    • Well said. I see something similar going on beyond voting… lots of people on both sides complaining about this and that – but they have no interest in admitting or changing their self-centered, individualistic, distracted, hurried, consumerist, american exceptionalist habits of american life… You get enough people to actually do something different with their time and money and the change would be visible and visceral and then the politicians would have to follow or be out…

    • As to “ridiculous political ads”… This wisdom from Neil Postman is useful;

      I am particularly fond of John Lindasy’s suggestion that political commercials be banned from television as we now ban cigarette and liquor commercials. I would gladly testify before the Federal Communications Commission as to the manifold merits of this excellent idea. To those who would oppose my testimony by claiming that such a ban is a clear violation of the First Amendment, I would offer a compromise; Require all political commercials to be preceded by a short statement to the effect that common sense has determined that watching political commercials is hazardous to the intellectual health of the community.

      [Neil Postman, pg. 159 of Amusing Ourselves To Death]

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        After a whole month of nonstop Paid Political Announcements on both junk mail and media (as heavy a rotation as Twisted Sister on 1984-vintage MTV), I can get behind that.

        • Ah, yes, my opponent is an idiot, and I approve this message.

          At least this gobbledygook is over for another two years. I hope.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Unfortunately, last Wednesday the 2016 Presidential Campaigns all kicked off.

            Perpetual Fundraising, Perpetual Campaign. Each time setting another record for Campaign Expenditures.

            At least strongmen like Putin have the time to do something besides Campaign Campaign Campaign; I think that’ll be one of the appeals of an American Dictator.

          • HUG,

            It’s like interstellar warfare as depicted in Robert Heinlein’s book Starship Troopers or Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            More Forever War than Starship Troopers.

    • Richard McNeeley says

      “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

      Mark Twain

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I live in a state in which a clearly better candidate for state senate lost by 61 votes. The people who could have swayed the election were mostly young, low-income, and/or people of color. Twain would be singing a different tune in my state as of this Tuesday.

        • Richard McNeeley says

          People in your state that have a different political philosophy would say the better candidate won by 61 votes yet I would say the bureaucracy will continue to grow no matter which party is in control.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I remember a quote from GURPS Cyberpunk:

      “In a democracy where only one percent of the population bothers to vote, half a percent is majority rule. And any hate group can muster half a percent.”

    • Marcus,

      I respectfully disagree with you on this one. Full disclosure: there have been only a handful of elections in which I have not voted.

      I get annoyed by the “if you didn’t vote, you have no right to complain” idea. No ballot choice in my entire lifetime has ever come close to being decided by just one vote. Or even a hundred. The smallest voting group I have ever been part of was a municipality of 30,000. Yes, in a metro area of 8 million, it is considered a small town. My credibility as an American rides completely on whether or not I voted this week? Seriously?

      “You’re busy? For thirteen hours straight?” Full disclosure: I missed one election entirely because I was engaged in economic activity that started before the polls opened and finished after the polls closed, and would benefit my family far more positively than it could ever be harmed by not voting and having the “wrong” party or ballot measure win.

      I’m not one of those “politics don’t matter because it’s Satan’s realm” kind of people. Far from it. But, I realize that politics are not “the answer,” either, and I can understand people not having a political mind and not voting as a result of that. There are many other ways to effectively change the world besides politics. Jesus and his followers showed us that. (Full disclosure: the most political idea in the history of the world has been “Jesus is Lord.”)

      “If there is anything for me to take from this election, it is that neither Republicans nor Democrats, right-wing or left-wing, conservatives or liberal, pose as great a danger to this country as the non-voter.” I think the only way this is true is if non-voters who could vote for a third party outnumbered everybody who voted for Reps and Dems combined. And that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

  10. Christiane says

    one prediction for the newly Republican Senate and the House is, instead of working on this country’s REAL problems, we shall see the same old same old . . .

    plus all the barbs they can to be thrown at Obamacare . . . in which case, the working-class Republicans who are now pleased with Obamacare may think twice about its removal and the re-institution of private medical insurance wolves at their door . . . here I would insert a ‘happy face’ but for the fact that for some time, the working-class poor in the red states have NOT voted in their own interests

    At this point, I think Obama in a way has been freed from ‘trying to work with’ Republicans, and his ‘I hear you’ is confirming this . . . plus you have the right wing saying it’s okay if Obama goes ahead and ‘vetoes what we send him’ . . .

    And Hillary . . . the only viable candidate out there for both parties . . . who else? . . . it will be a coronation if the Republicans do their things their way over the next two years . . . so far, the indications are that they will

    • Astute, Christiane.

      Perhaps as a country we’re setting ourselves up for an Imperium?

    • That Other Jean says

      “At this point, I think Obama in a way has been freed from ‘trying to work with’ Republicans, and his ‘I hear you’ is confirming this . . . plus you have the right wing saying it’s okay if Obama goes ahead and ‘vetoes what we send him’ . . . ”

      This is, as it has been for Obama’s entire tenure in the White House, politics as stylized as kabuki theater. Nothing will get done; and at least on the part of the majority party, nothing is meant to get done, because putting into practice much of what they have proposed would be a disaster for them and for the country. American politics is desperately broken, and there is no solution in sight.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Except a coup, with a Napoleon coming in to clean up the mess with a sword in one hand and a mop in the other.

        • Or, we’ll end up having three Caesars in one year…

          • Volkmar, aka Tom, have you been to Ecuador? They had three presidents all in the same week back in 1997, all refusing to step down.

            The first one deposed, the one who called himself “el Loco” (with good reason) absconded with millions and fled to Panama, so it worked out all right. The second was a woman and wasn’t taken seriously. Again, things worked out.

            It’s a fun country.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Or, we’ll end up having three Caesars in one year…

            With a Blood Purge after each Coup.

          • Ted, actually I was thinking of “The Year of Four Emperors”. (I only missed it by one, which isn’t bad for my memory.) Haven’t been to Ecuador, though I have been to Haiti and Panama.

            Perhaps Hillary will be the second Flavian?

          • I’ve been to Haiti and lived in Berkeley.

    • Christiane, I am a working class Republican ($45K per year) and my employer pays for my insurance…for now. Our latest insurance bill has skyrocketed by almost 50% so that I will have to pay a portion of that increase. My wife, on the other hand is required by Obamacare to pay 25% of her income to comply with the insurance mandate, She makes $15K per year. The whole reason she works is so that we can afford to live and work where we do. If we can’t live here then I will may have to find another job that doesn’t pay as well, lowering us even further.

      What this all means for us, as a couple, is that something has to go. Cable and internet are first on the table, cell phones are second. Worst case scenario is that we have to sell our home, which is all we have for retirement, and rent.

      All of this is because of Obamacare and the mandate.

      As for Mr. Obama being freed from working with Republicans: when has he EVER worked with them? What we will see is just more of the same.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says


      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        I’m curious what state you live in. I live in Kentucky which had the most effective implementation of PPACA (shocker, I know, that we would be first in anything). Our healthcare costs have gone down significantly; and the state exchange offers insurance that is less expensive than the group rates most companies get (although without the subsidy that employers often provide). One aspect of this conversation that is often lost is that many states intentionally took the lest efficient and effective implementation route in “protest”. Yeah, that didn’t work out well. Oh, and please stop calling it Obamacare. Obama had nothing to do with the legislation except his signature. In fact, most of PPACA’s provisions were conservative (and Republican) propositions. The individual mandate, for example, was first proposed in 1992 by the Heritage Foundation. And Bush actually set the wheels in motion for healthcare reform.
        ———-* The more you know…

        • Exactly, Dr. Fun.

          I live in Arkansas and our rates have gone down 1-2%, more people are covered, my daughter and son-in-law who are both young GP’s are delighted they have more patients (and income) because of Arkansas’ “Health Care Independence” program which is the result of the state legislature appropriating the money to take advantage of the Federal offers relative to Medicaid (hard fought legislative session). The Arkansas Legis. choose to put people over ideology and implement “Obama Care” effectively. My experience is that ACA is working well for most people in states that took advantage of the program. There are some problems, especially with too many agencies not sharing information uniformly. But, the ACA is a step in the right direction. Not a big enough step, which should be directly into a “fewer payer/single payer” system, but BETTER none the less.

          (A self-employed friend of mine who live just outside of Seattle was paying about $500/month for “major medical” insurance prior to the roll out of ACA. He now pays a little more than $300/mo. for FULL COVERAGE health insurance.)

        • And that’s why I get a little miffed at people who seem to welcome or enjoy the gridlock and do-nothingness of either the minority derailing everything with any cynical means possible (like GOP past few years) or the Pres vetoing everything or Reid bottling up everything. That’s not something to wish for, celebrate or foster…I guess I’m an idealist, but if I’m paying taxes, and vote and work and consume then I expect the civil servants to put their heads together and tackle problems and at least try to solve them asap, with the goal being helpful solutions for the largest achievable common good…

          And what I especially don’t understand is why the richest/most blessed seem to be the ones most opposed to that – it doesn’t make sense because better infrastructure, better schools, cheaper/more efficient healthcare, more efficient immigration, more cost-effect energy, and on and on: would I think, in the long run, help their bottom line! (Yet, this very class (both parties btw) seems hell-bent on making the quickest buck possible and or just getting power for power’s sake, regardless of what it does to everything and everyone around them…)

  11. Richard Hershberger says

    When did “Humanist” come to mean “atheist”? That usage would surely come as a surprise to Petrarch or Erasmus. For that matter, the Reformation was in part an outgrowth of Humanism.

    • “Humanism” as a representation for atheism rose out of the Enlightenment and really got started in the 19th century.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > When did “Humanist” come to mean “atheist”?

      That has been ‘standard model’ for awhile.

      >hat usage would surely come as a surprise to Petrarch or Erasmus.
      > For that matter, the Reformation was in part an outgrowth of Humanism.

      And all of those people have been dead a very long time.. The someone happened to have lived hundreds of years ago does not give them any priority if defining things. Language, culture, and the memes therein change. How they defined things then only defines how they defined things then. Now is different.

      But I do wonder why we seem to dance around the term Atheist, although that may just be a cultural thing – perhaps it feels confrontational; I respect my friend who is an Atheist and who refers to himself plainly as such.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Blame Christian fundamentalists reacting to the Humanist Manifesto and “Secular Humanism” for popularizing the name.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        That’s the first time I ever heard the word “Humanism”, always spoken with a snarl.

        Which is a real kicker since Humanism began as a CHRISTIAN movement, a counter to Docetism, Pietism, Over-spiritualizing, and Worm Theology.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          The history and origins of Humanism are not nearly that tidy. Christianity cannot lay claim to Humanism; many of its tenants and the texts, which would be read in Latin, that helped it gain legitimacy predate Christianity with a healthy margin. The principle of “ad fontes” says as much. Much of what came to be recognized as Humanist [which is a huge umbrella] was the rejuvenation of the scholarly and literary life European culture.

  12. Jesus was the penultimate Humanist.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Then who was the ultimate?

    • Grammar Mule says

      Who came after Him?

      Are you sure you used ‘penultimate’ correctly? I always thought it meant ‘second to the last’.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says


      lookup “humanism”…

      “Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).”

      So, no. Jesus was certainly not a humanist.

      Where did he emphasize critical thinking and evidence? [not they he spoke against those things, but there was no emphasis]. Christ made many references to doctrine.

      “In modern times, humanist movements are typically aligned with secularism, and today “Humanism” typically refers to a non-theistic life stance centred on human agency”

      No, again. Although I am not certain what a “non-theistic life stance” is exactly. Stances are clearer when they are pro-* then when they are non-*.

      It would be very hard to fit “Faith Alone!” doctrines into a basket labeled “centred on human agency” [setting aside my personal belief that faith-alone doctrines are intellectual rubbish].

      • There is such a thing as Christian humanism, and Jesus may be said to be the founder of this in this sense of hallowing and elevating human being by assuming human nature in his incarnation, passion, resurrection and ascension, and thereby incorporating human nature into the very life of the Trinity.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Yes, but you changed the title. “Christian Humanism” is a pretty distinct school from “Humanism”. Similar or overlapping names does not imply relation.

          If someone means some specific thing they should name that specific thing, not say half it’s name.

          And of course Christ is cited as the ‘founder’ of anything called “Christian Humanism” – for me that seems primarily rhetorical.

          • Humanism, capital H, is certainly a distinct creature from Christian humanism.

            But I think there was more than rhetoric involved when Karl Barth, in his essay “The Humanity of God,” wrote that, “It is precisely God’s deity which, rightly understood, includes his humanity…” and, “On the basis of the eternal will of God”(to assume humanity into the center of the Godhead via Jesus Christ) “”we have to think of every human being, even the oddest, most villainous or miserable, as one to whom Jesus Christ is Brother and God is Father; and we have to deal with him on this assumption…”

          • I agree that calling Jesus Christ the founder of Christian humanism was not apt; he is, rather, the foundation of Christian humanism.

          • I’m not suggesting that Jesus is “the founder of Christian Humanism”. I don’t believe that Jesus “founded” and “-ism”.

            What I am suggesting is the same as what Robert F is saying (and Barth, and Merton, and Bonhoeffer, and Tertullian and Origin, etc.) relative to the Incarnation and thus the connection of the Trinity with/within Human-ness (or vice versa in that seems more accurate.)

          • Tom, you did not call Jesus the founder of Christian humanism, I did, and I think that’s what Adam was responding to in his comment. But Jesus was no more the founder of Christian humanism than he was the founder of Christianity, though he was the foundation for both; so, I stand corrected.

            I agree with you, Tom, regarding Barth, Merton, et al.

  13. Not being a car person, and having a strong tendency to avoid any unpleasant business with cars that I possibly can, to the point of neglect, I didn’t listen to your program on a regular basis, Tom. But when I did on occasion hear it, you always sounded like you were having so much fun, you had a smile in your voice, and you were friendly and playful in your responses and gentle ripostes and banter with callers and your brother, Ray. You made the world of auto repairs, and also the rest of this world, a more whimsical and human place. I will miss you. Thank you for your humble, and laughter-filled, service to humanity. Rest in peace.

    May light perpetual shine upon you, Tom Magliozzi.

    • Ditto. One of the high points of the week, when I was able to listen to Car Talk, was hearing Ray and Tom make their call-in listeners recreate the noises their car was making.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says


    • Yes, this.

      I understand almost nothing about automobiles, and rarely get through an entirety episode of Car Talk. However, Car Talk is the friendliest and funniest show on NPR. Ray and Tom are/were a treasure. It was impossible not to feel a little lighter after listening to them.

    • I was always amazed at how Click and Clack were so well informed about each and every make and model…until I realized the advantage of real high speed internet. ;o)

      Their show was the best wasted hour ever!

      • I was always amazed at how Click and Clack were so well informed about each and every make and model…until I realized the advantage of real high speed internet.

        Uh. The show as taped and edited. They could remove the pauses as things were researched. 🙂

        If you called the number you got an appointment as to when you could call back or be called back.

  14. I understand that Brittany Maynard made a conscious, deliberate, informed, self-directed decision to take the route to death that she did, under the circumstances that she found herself in (this reflective, considered deliberateness makes what she did unlike what the 911 victims who jumped did, and so comparison between the two breaks down after a point). I would not take the right to make such a decision away from her, nor am I interested in condemning her for it.

    I do, however, worry that others who are not naturally as self-conscious, or self-aware and self-directed, will be pushed into the same decision by pressures exerted on them by others, though they would rather take a different route (which also may be a death with dignity). And I’m worried that Brittany Maynard’s example may be used to add to that pressure, and to help in creating an “expectation to die,” that less strong-willed and self-confident people facing the same or similar circumstances will not be able to stand against.

    There is more than one kind of death with dignity. Brittany Maynard’s choice had dignity because, given the circumstances, she made it; it would be tragic if others were coerced into a decision like hers, and not given the same dignity of making their own choice however different it might be from hers.

    • Agreed. A few years ago here in Massachusetts there was a ballot question to legalize physician-assisted suicide, and doctors were almost universally opposed to it. The chief concern was that because end of life care is so expensive, insurance companies would try to exert pressure on terminally ill people to end their own lives, and that people with limited insurance would be driven to end their lives for financial reasons.

      • Never mind insurance companies….what about families tired of taking care of Aunt Mabel. She never married or had kids, and the great-nephew has enough on his plate without the time and stress of a dying old lady he hardly knew….

        (And yes, I know MANY families go the other extreme of wanting everything done to save Granny, who is 92 years and 92 pounds and is in multiple organ system failure….)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, there are several in-game radio stations with parody talk shows and commercials. One of the parody commercials is for a nursing home/”retirement community” that guarantees the Grannies and Gramps you put there won’t live more than six months after commitment — “With (name of nursing home), YOU can spend your inheritance, not THEM!”

          • HUG,

            I knew about being able to toggle to “drunk driving mode” in GTA, but didn’t know about the radio stations.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Yeah. The guy I knew who played Vice City said a lot of times he’d just park his car in his hideout and listen to the radio stations. The music stations played a decent sampler of Eighties music and the two talk stations (Talk and NPR parodies) were hilarious.

            This is specific to GTA: Vice City, which itself was a parody of Miami Vice and my informant considers the high point of the entire GTA franchise because of its Eighties ambience.

        • Yes, if the sad history of child abuse has taught us anything, it’s that families are often quite toxic, rather than balanced and healthy, and not infrequently death and destruction dealing, rather than life-giving.

  15. Good music choice. Maybe not the best band in the world, but I have several Wilco albums.

  16. “Falling Man,” btw, is the title of a short, brilliant novel by Don DeLillo, that deals with the psycho-spiritual aftermath of 911. It’s well worth the read.

  17. I don’t know the first thing about cars, but I *loved* Car Talk. It was always my favorite radio show, hands down. I was so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing.

  18. After 30 or so years of hearing Car Talk on the radio, it is really impossible to imagine one of the brothers without the other. It was impossible not to smile listening to those two. The world will surely miss Tom.

  19. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    Imagine my sadness to open up Ramblings and find that Tom Magliozzi had passed. I listen to Car Talk every Saturday on the local NPR station. Those guys were wonderful entertainment, and I actually learned about car stuff. God bless you, Tom.

  20. All the political mail that comes to my house goes into the recycle bin, unread. There is an appalling lack of expression of policy in political ads; it’s very difficult to find out what a candidate actually stands for and intends to do, unless that person is an incumbent and has a voting record that can be researched. My preference would be a constitutional amendment to deal with the repercussions of Citizens United, with public funding of a 2-3 month election season, and a ban on all lobbying. It’s easier than ever now to attempt to buy elections, and if our elected representatives didn’t have to spend so much time raising money and figuring out how to placate big donors and lobbyists, perhaps that would give them more time to govern. Whether they would actually work with one another to pass legislation that actually helps the people of this country is another issue. There has never been a time of Utopia in this country, not even the ’50s (16-, 17-, 18- or 19-), but some policies were better than others viz. their effects on ordinary citizens. Elizabeth Warren is my favorite Senator. I get why she doesn’t want to run for President; sometimes I wish I lived in MA just so I could vote for her.

    We have lost the consensus (whether religious or social) that suicide is somehow not really the best way to die. There is no comparison between what happened on 9/11/01 and other means of suicide. I would never tell another person that, or how, they must suffer. We also do everything we can to avoid suffering, which is the common experience of every human, along with birth and death; we – including many Christians – have forsaken that which gives suffering meaning. This is not theoretical for me. My sister-in-law developed a degenerative neurologic disease – not ALS, but something that works like it. It came to the point where she could not swallow without aspirating, and her end was going to come with either not being able to eat or not being able to breathe. She decided to stop eating so that she would not die by suffocation, and thus endured death by starvation, which was not without great suffering, either. Technically what she did was commit suicide; what she ultimately chose was which path of suffering she would walk, and did not avoid it. Most people don’t have any choice about the kind of physical suffering they undergo. “Death with dignity” isn’t about choice; dignity in death is about the character of the person who is dying – the physiologic realities at the point of transition are the same for everyone. I personally believe that God receives everyone who commits suicide; each of them is desperate, and I believe the vast majority simply can’t see the ramifications of that moment and do not know what they are doing.

    Retiring “Car Talk” a few years ago was sad news; I suspect they did that because of Tom’s illness. I wish the NPR announcer who read the notification of his death hadn’t mangled the pronunciation of his surname so badly. Tom would have made a joke about it…

    Interesting that no one yet has commented on the saints. When I was in the wilderness, the outlook of the Celtic Christians (as much as we can know of it without going off into some kind of romanticism about those days) brought me bracing comfort, something that seemed healthier to live in than the Evangelicalism I had recently left (unknowingly, at the time, for good). I discovered the Northumbria Community, which keeps the memory of saints, Celtic and modern; the Community was founded by a group of British Christians of many stripes, though they are more Baptist than anything else. (Baptist in England is a different animal than in the US.) I had far fewer theological troubles with the other saints than I did with the first among them – Mary the Mother of God 😉 I’m glad I worked through all those theological troubles, including the ones around Mary. I love them all, and that love doesn’t at all diminish my love for the Lord Jesus.

    Sorry for the length.


  21. I don’t know how military chaplaincy works, but if a chaplain was unable to pray with and for me, for whatever reasons, that would be a serious deficiency as far as I’m concerned.

    • I can’t speak for the US military (although I spent five years serving in the US), but I have almost four decades of experience with the Canadian Air Force (I’m finally retiring in a few weeks). From my perspective, you are correct in assuming that you don’t know how the military chaplaincy works.

      • So how does it work? I also assume that prayer would be a component.

        • Sorry, but I’m neither intelligent nor articulate enough to attempt to explain the military sub-culture in a forum like this. Neither do I have the time.

        • I should at least say that (for the Canadian military at least), so long as a chaplain possesses certain fundamental skills/abilities, as a Commanding Officer I would not fret over his/her religious affiliation. I don’t think most of our troops would fret either. If a “humanist” chaplain was hired by military, I wouldn’t lose any sleep.

      • So you confirmed that I didn’t know what I thought I didn’t know. But I’m still completely in the dark, and my comment still stands: A chaplain who was unable to pray with or for me would seem to me to be seriously deficient in addressing my spiritual needs.

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          You assume that “prayer” is common to all religions, or can be made so.

          The military can never guarantee that your chaplain will share your specific religion, although they do try to bring in (for example) Catholic chaplains to hold mass and administer communion to Catholics who could not, of course, receive it from a Protestant. No doubt this is a design flaw, which impacts members of the smaller religions more than the larger ones.

          One issue is that a chaplain must be “ordained.” Buddhists have something like ordination–for monks and nuns–but serving in the military would go against their vows. So the military accepts Buddhist chaplains from only one ecclesiastical endorsing agency–the Buddhist Churches of America, a Japanese-American group which has adopted various Christian trappings including ministers, pews, and hymns. Is this right? Because if you don’t care about the Buddhists, why should I care about your problems?

          • I assume no such thing, having practiced Zen Buddhism for several years. I was speaking about what I imagine my personal spiritual needs would be if I were in the military; I was not making an argument against having chaplains of any religion or none.

            Btw, when the great Japanese scholar of Zen Buddhism, D.T. Suzuki, was asked if he ever prayed for help he replied with a litany of reasons why, from a Zen Buddhist perspective, petitionary prayer is an exercise in futility, and pointless as well as meaningless. He then concluded his answer by saying, “Of course I pray for help.”

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            Okay, gassho.

  22. Chaplain Mike, you didn’t include what has to be the most inspiring story of the week. Lauren Hill, a 19 year-old with weeks to live, opened the NCAA basketball season two weeks early so she could play in a collegiate game. Her story is amazing.


  23. IndianaMike says

    I do feel compassion for Brittany Maynard and withhold judgment for her personal choice.

    Of course, she was not advocating for personal choice. She was advocating for requiring medical professionals to assist her in her personal choice.

    How much more brave is this young woman – http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn%3A11812922.

    To compare Brittany Maynard with those who jumped rather than burn at the WTC on 9/11 is absurd.

    • -> “To compare Brittany Maynard with those who jumped rather than burn at the WTC on 9/11 is absurd.”

      Hmm…I kinda liked what CM was getting at, that what kind of choice is there when both options are horrible.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I don’t have any problem with Maynard’s decision, but I also think the comparison is absurd.

      • It got people’s attention and made them consider things, though, didn’t it?

        And I don’t think it’s actually that far-fetched, especially in a context of raising a moral-ethical discussion.

  24. On the topic of saints…if you haven’t seen St. Vincent yet it’s time to go to the movies. Funny, touching, Bill Murray at his old-man best.

  25. No mention of the first winter storm in New England? Five days here with no electricity, phone, or Internet Monk. Wood heat though, and a small generator, so it was merely inconvenient at our house. Some had to move to another house or shiver.

    While I’m not touching that 300-comment post on pre-marital sex, I’m very happy to have systems back up for my Saturday Rambling fix.

  26. I decided long ago that unless I was the person suffering from the terminal condition and the one suffering from incredible pain, I would no longer criticize a decision a person made regarding how they decided to end their life, whether to let it “play out” or “end it with dignity.” Because, let’s face it, until ANY of us are suffering the pain that would make one consider ending their life, it’s all just talk and “easier said than done” for us to say, “So-and-so should just suffer because that’s what God wants.”

    • Here’s the thing: juxtaposing “play out” and “end it with dignity” the way you did in your comment, Rick, presupposes that the choice Brittany Maynard made was THE choice forf dignity, whereas a choice to hang in there despite increasing pain and debility is one involving less dignity. There is a subtle bias for choosing to end it sooner rather than later in phrasing the discussion in this way, and it’s become the prevalent way of phrasing this discussion in public discourse. One may choose to carry on with medical treatment and palliative care through the terminal stages of a disease and be choosing dignity at the same time; Brittany Maynard’s choice is not the only one for dignity.

      • Choice of wording could’ve been better, I guess. How about “life with dignity” and “death with dignity”…?

      • And the reason, obviously, for the current phrasing in public discourse is because proponents supporting “death with dignity” are trying to persuade folks that there’s nothing wrong/weak/cowardly with deciding to end one’s life, and there’s currently no stigma attached to deciding to live with the pain and suffering.

        • There is some truth in what you say. But there is truth in this, too: Modern societies have a very low tolerance for the sight of suffering at close proximity, such that suffering, along with the sufferer, is hidden at every opportunity. In addition, modern societies are not averse to making suffering disappear by making the sufferer disappear.

          My own impression is that there is most definitely a stigma attached to suffering in American society, and that it’s not unusual for Americans to resent being burdened by the suffering of others, and to just wish the sufferers would go away in a dignified and quiet way. This is exactly why the phrase “death with dignity” has been picked up by those in favor of active dying in the face of fatal disease and suffering: they are sounding a note that already runs deep in American sensibilities.

          • I see what you’re saying, Robert F. I think the reason for “disagreement” between us is that I’m looking at this from a individual’s perspective and you’re looking at it from a societal perspective. As I said, because I’m not the one suffering the indescribable pain that would lead someone to consider taking their own life, I’m unwilling to say a person shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Again, until I’m in a place of having to make that decision, it’s an “easier said than done” stance.

            But I can see how taking an individual’s choice and broadening it to a societal issue can be harmful to that society in terms of “let’s just legalize ways for us to shuffle off the lame and dying into the corner or better yet, into the coffin.”

            So I guess the question is, are there ways to give an individual the choice about ending their life while making sure it doesn’t become a societal problem?

          • I don’t have an answer to your question, Rick. But it might be a good idea to remember that those who potentially could end up being cajoled into being shuffled off to a corner to die in a quiet and invisible way would also, presumably, be individuals.

  27. How many of us would move our family to a different state just so that we could jump from an office building we worked in to avoid it collapsing on us in a terrorist attack? I think the comparison isn’t quite analogous.

    • Many people move long distances to deal with things like painful inoperable brain tumors. Or do other things. If they have the means to do so.