Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The End is Near

Luke 21:12-19 (New Living Translation)

12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. 13This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14So don't worry about how to answer the charges against you, 15for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply! 16Even those closest to you--your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends--will betray you. And some of you will be killed. 17And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish! 19By standing firm, you will win your souls.”

The end is near for Terri Schiavo. In a two to one opinion, Atlanta’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Bob and Mary Schindler’s desperate plea to spare their daughter’s life.

On one side of the issue there is a mixed sense of despair and hope. I am one of those desperate souls. While I have no doubt whatsoever about Terri Schiavo’s eternal destiny, I have grave doubts about the health of my culture. Terri Schiavo is in her death spiral. We’re killing Terri Schiavo with kindness and in doing so we are also slowly killing ourselves. Terri Schiavo is starving for lack of temporal nourishment. America is now starving for lack of the “hidden manna.”

It’s all codified, draped in a mantle of legal language. It’s endorsed by great minds. It has a sinister cloak of decency wrapped about its collective body. But there are Eyes which see through all the sham and pretense. It is, in His eyes, a death spiral in which a society has embraced, in the name of decency, license and murder.

For Bob and Mary Schindler the road ahead, like the road they’ve traveled, will be filled with grief and loss. A “just” society is in the process of murdering their daughter. How can we give them comfort? What could Terri Schiavo’s executioners now say that will console them?

For Michael Schiavo there is a “new” life. The judges have blessed him and his grisly decision to “terminate” her support. They’ve given him the sanction to “go on.” He will soon be free to codify the relationship he took up when he abandoned Terri Schiavo in her hour of need.

Terri Schaivo, in the end, will receive her reward. Of this I have no doubt. She will soon join the heavenly company.

Why should we even worry about this “case?” It’s a painless death, we’re being told. It’s a just end. It’s only one woman, only a matter of a few more days. A few more news cycles and it will all be over.

The judges have decided, wisely they believe. Of course, judges have always believed that of themselves:

“In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all’s equal and the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once the cops have chased after and caught ‘em
And the ladder of justice has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’.
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance,
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence.
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace
And criticize all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now is the time for your tears.”

I sit here, tearfully, considering this grisly game of justice and rewards. In the end I know that God’s just sentence will prevail. Terri Schiavo will soon receive her reward. And I know that those who are complicit in her murder will one day meet the same Just Judge who has given Terri Schiavo her reward. They too will receive theirs.

In the interim my tears will continue to flow. And with them comes a question that, as I ask it, tastes like bitter fruit in my belly. Who will be next? My culture, my nation, like Terri Schiavo, is in its death spiral. Who will be next?

There are few words left for me to express the pain that I feel, only those paraphrasing the poet:

“Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace
And criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now is the time for your shame”

America, my America, bury the rag deep in your face, for now is the time for your shame.

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