Monday, August 30, 2004

156 How to treat the dying

Melanie Phillips, a British writer, writes about the recent death of her mother and the kindness of strangers.

"On the day before my widowed mother died, five weeks ago today, I was inexpressibly moved by an act of love towards her that went way beyond the call of duty in the Jewish Care nursing home where she lived. My mother had suffered much, and for long, although her passing was gentle. On that day, as her life ebbed away, she was in a partial coma, unresponsive to any stimulus.

To my surprise, the home’s aromatherapist suddenly arrived. Without further ado, she carefully uncovered my mother’s wasted limbs and with extreme tenderness applied her oils and unguents, all the while expressing endearments and loving encouragement. She sprinkled fragrant essences on her pillows, and put on the soft, soothing background music that my mother had come to love in the years in which she had drawn comfort from this treatment.

Nor was this all. The aromatherapist took a quick lunch and then came back and did it all over again. When eventually she tore herself away, she wept as she bade my mother goodbye. She understood, from her care of that body, that what was ending here was a monumental struggle. And what was so moving was that even though my mother could not respond, and for all we knew was quite unaware of what was going on, she was treated right to the end as a person with particular likes and desperate needs; and even more touchingly, as if she was still as alert and responsive as she had always been. It was a reaffirmation of humanity, both her own and that of the person who was giving so much of herself."
Melanie Phillips, August 30, 2004

Sunday, August 29, 2004

155 God had a plan

There is an interesting study in JAMA (that's the journal of the American Medical Association--official title) that shows fetal cells remain in a woman's blood stream after pregnancy and help her body repair injured tissues even decades later. Dr. Diana Bianchi, chief of the division of Medical Genetics at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston, is the lead scientist behind this revolutionary development. Read more about this at Book of Joe, which explains medical events in layman's language. JAMA abstract is here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

154 NCC Smears Cuban Americans' Heritage

I was in the Cokesbury Bookstore today and picked up a colorful folded map of Cuba. The verso (text) presented quite a surprise, with nary a mention of Communism, only a Revolution and an oppressor country (USA). Yes, published by the National Council of Churches and promoted by the United Methodist Church.

"Map & Facts: CUBA
Beautiful four color map, 23" x 35" , shows topography, provinces, major cities, and the island of Cuba in relation to other Caribbean countries and the USA. Eight panels on the reverse side provide a ready reference to Cuban history, blacks in Cuba, religion in Cuba, relations with the USA and USSR, and basic geographic facts. The map may be used in conjunction with the adult study book and video or as a valuable resource on its own. Oxford Cartographers; text by Joseph A. Perez (retired) who served as secretary, Latin America and the Caribbean, for the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries World Division. He was professor of sociology at Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan. FP 73028 / $8.95"

If it hadn't been so outrageously expensive ($9 for one sheet of paper with ridiculously slanted information), I would have purchased it and quoted a few of the paragraphs. Fifty cents is a fair price for Communist propaganda. The above quote is from the Friendship Press web site. I wonder what is in the video and study book?

I remember when I was working in the Agriculture Library about 25 years ago browsing a World Council of Churches detailed budget (It had numerous agricultural projects). One thing caught my eye: WCC was supporting a "consciousness raising" group for Muslims in the Philippines. I wonder what that group is doing today?

Monday, August 23, 2004

153 How long does it take to die of dehydration?

That depends. If your adult daughters sneak past the staff and into your room at hospice, you might have a few more days. You may be alert enough to ask for food and water, and if they are successful in obtaining a little pudding or apple juice, you'll have a few last stolen moments together.

Depending upon the state of health prior to stopping fluids, three to ten days. The average lean individual has enough energy stored in muscle and fat tissue to last 40 days without food. If you are already elderly and sick, probably less.

If your wife, bone tired from your care at home these many years (and really ready for you to go this time), has her way and forbids your children to see you, it could be a long slow, painful process. Here's how it works according to the website Life cycles: Withholding foods and fluids

Effects of dehydration and starvation:

· Dry mucous membranes (mouth, nose throat and genital organs)
· Constipation
· Impaction (buildup of stool in the body), severe abdominal cramping and bloating, nausea and vomiting
· Electrolyte imbalances (salt and water problems in the blood and tissues)
· Arrhythmias (heart problems); myalgias and malaise (muscle pain and marked fatigue)
· Cough and shortness of breath
· Severe depression and confusion, severe agitation and fear, delusions
· Dry, cracked skin
· Urinary, vaginal and bowel infection
· Bronchitis and pneumonia
· Blood in the bowel, stomach, kidney and lungs, kidney failure
· General systemic collapse and death

If you were an farm animal, there would probably be an animal rights organization to prevent this painful death, but because you are a human being created in the image of a holy God . . .[insert text here].

Sunday, August 22, 2004

152 Let's Sing the Old Hymns Again

On August 2 I blogged about the perfect day at Lakeside. We had houseguests we love; the weather was gorgeous; there was an ice cream social and a band in front of the hotel; there was a book sale at the Ladies Club. I wandered over to the booksale and went through the freebie box, picking out a 1964 Methodist Hymnal to keep at the cottage.

After joining our guests seated back at the pavilion overlooking the lake, I opened the hymnbook and selected a familiar tune and began to sing softly. Sweak. Squawk. Squeal. That's all that came out. I used to be a first soprano and loved to sing. Now I have a range of 5 or 6 notes--all around middle C. I sang in high school choirs, and when the children were young, we'd put on records and sing together. Where did my voice go? When did it leave me? It isn't just age--even my Great aunt Ada (90) still has a lovely voice.

Being a librarian (emeritus), I immediately began to analyze my loss. 1) I'm retired now and may go for many hours during the day and not use my voice. 2) For about 15 years the only place I've had an opportunity to sing is church services. 3) Church congregational singing has deteriorated badly during that time--choruses and camp songs, the easier the better. Lots of swing and sway, but not much of a challenge if you can read music.

I'm going to start singing in the car. Just some scales and fa-la-la's for now. Then I'll work up to that Methodist hymnal with all those wonderful Watts and Wesley hymns waiting for me at the lakehouse.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

151 Why Marriage?

Stop over at Family Scholars Blog for some interesting insights on marriage and family, and a long list of reviewed books and films. It will probably only confirm what you already know--divorce is hard on children, children from homes with married parents are less likely to become involved in crime, drugs or poverty, married people are healthier, etc. But the links to the writers who try to make it otherwise is quite fascinating.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

150 Respectable Britain?

The most discouraging thing about reading this article in The New Criterion, The death of religion and the fall of respectable Britain, is my feeling that the United States is on the same path. Read some of the articles at Barna Research about the faith professions and behaviors of Americans, and you‘ll see what I mean.

Friday, August 13, 2004

149 Presbyterians and Israel

"The Presbyterian Church (USA) has committed a grievous sin. The General Assembly of that church has voted to divest from only one country in the world. No, it was not China, which has occupied Tibet for half a century and continues to deny basic human rights to its own citizens. No, it was not Iran, which threatens nuclear holocaust, executes dissenters and denies religious freedom to Christians and Jews. No, it was not North Korea, Libya, Russia, Sudan, Cuba or Belarus. It was -- you guessed it -- Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and America's most reliable ally in a troubled part of the world. " Alan Dershowitz

Any Presbyterians out there who can comment? OK. How about Lutherans? Methodists? Congregationalists? How many think Israel is a bigger threat than North Korea? Violates more human rights than China. Silence.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

148 Religion in Wired

At my blog on first issues of magazines "In The Beginning," I've written about the premiere issue of Wired. It isn't religious, but sometimes I am awed by what I see about God and creation in "secular" sources. For instance, this from the August 2004 issue, p. 108:
What we think of as life on this planet is only the surface layer of a vast undiscovered world. The great majority of Earth's species are bacteria and other microorganisms. They form the bottom of the food chain and orchestrate the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients through the ecosystem. They are the dark matter of life. They may also hold the key to generating a near-infinite amount of energy, developing powerful pharmaceuticals, and cleaning up the ecological messes our species has made.
Long before I was a Christian I had given up on "evolution" as totally implausible. And if I weren't a believer in a Creator, this kind of a paragraph would send me searching for Truth.

Monday, August 09, 2004

147 Dunker Journal

I was surprised to come across a blog titled, Dunker Journal. It is sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF), a renewal movement in the Church of the Brethren. "Dunker" was the slang for the German Baptists, who were also called Dunkards, Tunkers and Taufers. It comes from the three times, face-forward, in the water baptism, which remains the tradition today in the Church of the Brethren.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

146 About our freedoms

Shots Across the Bow has an interesting comment on Michael Moore's film flim flam:

"I'm proud to live in a country where a man can make a movie like this and not wind up in a gulag, or live in fear of a midnight knock on the door, followed by torture and murder. I'm proud that, all protests from liberal democrats aside, freedom of speech still rules in America, that Michael Moore, can stand up and spout his lies and distortions, and not only remian a free man, but make a very nice living doing so. It's almost oxymoronic; the very fact that Moore could make Farenheit 911 discredits one of Moore's central theses, that we no longer live in a free society."

However, he wonders about those of you who swallowed that nonsense. To read the rest, go here.