Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Borrowing again from Seth Andrews

If you're a non-believer in a highly religious family, perhaps you can relate. 

For years, my mother and father have expressed deep embarrassment and shame over my atheism and activism. Every time the issue came up, they seemed to approach my castle wall from a different angle, testing for weaknesses. One day was the argument from authority. Next time might be the tactic of quoting scripture to prove scripture. Then might come condescension or mockery of secular science. They'd tout their religious education and claim authority. Mom would give me Christian "science" books. Dad would warn about hell fire. I've even seen them toss out the Hitler grenade.

Other family members aren't as confrontational, but they lace each exchange with a pitiful tone one might use on a wounded animal. Poor Seth. If only he wasn't so misguided. We'll pray for him and do our best to show him the love of Jesus, and one day the prodigal will come home. (In the meantime, we'll keep tabs on our kids to make sure they don't read too much of his atheism-related stuff, as we've already force-fed them the Truth!)

It's...insane. The burden of proof lies upon them and their bible-based claims that animals can talk, humans can live 1,000 years, people can live for three days submerged inside a giant fish, corpses can parade through a city street, chariots can fly, and that all the species of the world's animals lived within walking distance of Noah's house, AND I'M THE PROBLEM.

For my skepticism about these wild charges, I've become radioactive. And until I'm decontaminated and brought back into their culture of superstition, cult-speak and woo, I'll be the black sheep, the mid-life crisis, the guy who "is going through a phase," a pain in the ass, an inconvenient branch on the family tree. I'll be welcome to participate as a member of the tribe, but each conversation will be slightly tainted with distance and disappointment.

All I really want is to be able to enjoy my family without the undercurrent of pity, patronization and shame. I'm not required to carry some generational mantle or stay within narrow boundaries built for me by another. I don't owe it to my family to keep them comfortable and happy. And I'll continue to work for a world where parents will never pledge love and lifelong allegiance to an invisible wizard that would torture their flesh-and-blood son in the obscenity of Hell.

What a screwed up world.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I feel I should call PETA and confess

Lately I have been feeling so guilty. In October I was very ill and at the same time my 10 year old Boston Terrier, Maggie, was struggling to breath. She had many problems and I had spent much time and money trying to keep her healthy.

That balmy October morning I woke to hear her gagging and trying to catch her breath...I broke. I called my daughter to come and help. She left work and came to the rescue. We took her and had her euthanized. I watched her being led away by the attendant and I cried...I'm crying now.

She turned and looked at me, seeming to say...why?

She came to me at about 6 years old and live here for 4 years. She had been abused and passed around but not loved. She was a problem...she had trouble breathing , she snored (really loud), she farted, she scratched the furniture and she dug holes in the yard. She was mean to other dogs and often attacked for no reason. She tolerated my other Boston but just tolerated. They never got along. She would not let him eat unless I stood guard to keep her away. She was a problem and I loved her.

She enjoyed a ride in the car and unlike Baxter my male Boston she was a good rider. She just snuggled into a blanket and started snoring. I loved her but I only tolerated that snoring. She was terrified of storms and in Oklahoma...well storms are a way of life. She wanted to sleep in my bed but she would stand at the end of the bed until she fell over and sometimes off the bed, sending me scurrying to see if she was hurt. She was a problem and I loved her.

She had dry skin and started losing her fur, had bald spots and required medication. One of her eyeballs burst and she needed special drops twice a day. She was losing her sight and could not walk more than half a block without breathing spasms. She was a problem and I loved her.

But I gave up in a weak moment. I didn't stop loving her I just gave up. I can't stop feeling guilty because maybe she could have lived a little longer. Maybe I could have gotten another prescription from the vet. Maybe I could have just lover her more.

She was a problem and I loved her...and she is gone.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let me die with dignity

I recently made the 4+ hour drive to East Texas to see my two surviving siblings. One healthy, one 27 years in a nursing facility.

Our family was a big one. My parents married young, at least my mom was young...16, my dad a 27 year old divorced, WWII veteran with a child he would never see again. That was March 1945 and in July 1947 I showed up. Then came twins in 1949, a girl in 1950, a boy in 1952 and twins again in 1954. Seven in all, my parents , had their hands full.  

The first to go in our family was my mom in 1981... an aneurysm, followed in 1989 by my father...Then in 1990 one of the older twins, cancer. In 2005 my oldest brother and one of the younger twins...cancer. In 2009 the other younger twin...cancer. So now only 3 of the original 9 left but something happened in 1987; the other older twin had an aneurysm but she didn't die. She went to a nursing home where she remains today.

She has the use of one arm and hand and she can move her head. She used to talk some but not so much anymore. Now she spends her time lying on a bed with the television on and eating crackers, drinking juice and breathing. She isn't on life support but my one healthy sister is. Not the kind used in hospitals with oxygen and feeding tubes but the kind that is so tenuous that the slightest tug could break the connection. 

You won't hear her complain but in a quiet moment, from the corner of my eye, I saw the despair she feels. She has cared for our invalid sister for 27 years. By some miracle of fate she married a man who really loves her and has stood by her all these years. I am her...sister and I have not been there for her, for either of them but he was and is. 

Their children are out of the nest, they have comfortable retirement and they would like to move to West Texas to be near his brothers. They can't go or at least they won't go until "something happens" to our sister.

Our sister's organs are failing, she has frequent infections and illness, she never leaves her bed, she is not dead but she is not living. I can't say what I want to say but if I could this is what I would say:

Why is it wrong to help "something happen" when lives are on hold to keep someone breathing with no hope of living? Why do we not have  system where useless life is disposable? What possible purpose does this person serve except to provide payment to a nursing facility? Can we not see the inhumanity to humans that we do not extend to our beloved pets? A sick and unhealthy dog  or an old and feeble cat can can go to rest and suffer no more. A horse with a broken and irreparable leg is quickly put out of misery. How can we not do the same for those we claim to love so much?

I do know the answer...religion...gods...holy books.

Imagine a world....with no religion to get in the way of humanity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thank a Doctor not a god

From:    Seth Andrews

To those asserting that God uses doctors as parFromt of his design for your healing, I'd like to draw a few things to your attention.

If God sees through time and exists beyond time, he saw your sickness or malady before it ever occurred or took root. Yet he said and did nothing to prevent it, which would have been the more efficient and effective course of action.

If God sees your body afflicted with disease or injury and withholds his hand of divine healing until the proper petitions are offered up, he is essentially blackmailing you with pain, more interested in receiving accolades than demonstrating mercy and miracles.

If God's "plan" for your recovery involves no direct healing miracle, but instead requires hugely expensive ambulance rides, surgical procedures, hospital stays and medications (often plunging whole families into financial crisis), he is purposefully allowing your physical burden to feed a financial one. (Tell me again why a cherished child of the Almighty would ever need to worry about a deductible.)

If God is using human hands as specific, chosen tools for your healing, why do so many of those hands belong to other (or no) faiths? And why does the physician/caregiver scenario work exactly the same for those outside your faith?

Finally, if you are prepared to give God the credit for improvements in your condition, are you also prepared to give God the blame when the disease worsens, when the infection intensifies, when the cancer spreads, when the organs fail, and when the scenario doesn't have a happy ending?

Too many times, I've seen people gaze lovingly into an empty sky, ignoring flesh-and-blood caregivers standing only inches away in favor of an invisible Friend who never speaks, never calls, never appears, never intervenes. Good news is attributed to miracles. Bad news is attributed to a lack of faith, an attack of dark spiritual forces, or the perverse idea that a loving father would need to "afflict" a child to build his/her character.

Why would I seek to rain on the prayer parade when it gives so many comfort in their darkest of hours? Well, I think the question should be phrased differently:

Why are so many God-followers content to ignore the doctors, nurses, support staff, scientists and ambassadors of modern medicine, and often in full view of the real "healers," direct their gratitude to a deadbeat parent?

The fact is, if God exists, he allowed tragedy to befall you and is holding the solutions hostage until you bow down and kiss the ring. If he doesn't exist, you're wasting time and energy that should be directed toward those who have met your condition with education, experience, skill, compassion, dedication and sacrifice.

It's time to recognize and thank, with all of our hearts, the true healers.