Monday, January 5, 2009

Unitarian Christianity, dignity and worth, and death

I don't have time to discuss in depth this moment, but I am reading Channing's sermon on the topic and am filled with humility. It's stunning to me that ministers preached like this to their congregations, not so long ago. And the courage to stand up in a predominately Christian culture and proclaim such things, to me rivals the courage of those who stood against Calvin. For sure, Channing probably doesn't fear being executed for his views, but there are certainly potentional serious repercussions.

Very powerful stuff. A good way to start the day.

Penguin hung on through the night and is in X-Ray right now; I am waiting for a call back. He's doing poorly, so I doubt it will end well, but I feel that we made the right decision to let him fight.

I've been struggling with both ends of life, and death this week. My friend and I had a deep and loving discussion about our different views on abortion. One reason she will not return to the UU church is because she abhors it's support for abortion rights, and feels that it goes against the principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every person - both because, most especially in late-term abortions, the unborn is often viable, and in the sense that in her mind, it allows women to accept the murders of such viable life in a horrific fashion. She presented this argument in a way that I have never been touched before by the tenets of pro-life argument, and I am still struggling with it. Granted, we all have our personal experiences that inform us in these beliefs, and hers and mine have been quite different, but I have had a new vista of belief and thought opened up to me.

On the other end of life, I was standing with the vet yesterday and felt a moral and spiritual difficulty with the choice to euthanize. I do understand that Penguin is not a person... but as a part of our family, he is afforded some dignity and worth. I think it's about choice on some level. I believe that the terminally ill, with free will, should be able to choose to die when their quality of life, in their own view, has exhausted itself. But how can I make that choice for another, even a cat, whose will to live continues to burn so strongly that he survived hours beyond what we thought he could. I would have been playing God and I could have been right, or wrong. I won't know ever. But I suspect I'll be asked again within the hour to play "God," and I don't know what to do.


ogre said...

You do your best. You do what you think and feel is right--out of love, compassion and sympathy.

And you weep.

I've done it -- too many times -- for animals. We had to do it twice this past year.

And when I sat with my mother, who was absolutely, unequivocally dying, terminal-and-soon... I wish I could have done the same. The indications were that she was in discomfort, even with the maximum dosage of morphine they'd let her have.

I'd have sped her on her way. And I'd give both hands at the wrists if instead I could have cured her. But I couldn't, so what little I could do, I did--and made sure that she got the dosage they'd give, as soon as they'd give it.


When my grandmother was in a similar situation and my father talked to the doctor about it, the doctor's expressed concern was that she could become addicted. Addicted? She's dying. Sometime in the next few days, and we're worrying about addiction, and not pain?

We do what we can, we do the very, very best we can... and we accept that sometimes, the options suck.

Someday, at Meadville, ask me about the puppy I took into the vet...

Kelly KH said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts ogre. I honestly don't understand doctors sometimes. I'm sorry your grandmother had to go through that. It's ridiculous. I think that sometimes humans become patients and cease to be real people to doctors who are busy and stressed.

I will definitely remember to ask you about the puppy.