Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: November 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Just in case you know somebody…

If any of you knows anyone who would be interested, I just received the following…

Dear Sewanee Clergy Alumni and Alumnae:

The School of Theology has begun a search for a faculty position in Christian Ethics and Theology. We invite you to share the following position description with interested individuals. Thank you, Peg Palisano


The School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, an accredited seminary of the Episcopal Church, invites applications for a full-time position in Christian Ethics and Theology to begin in July 2007.

The University provides equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment. No person shall be discriminated against in employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, veteran’s status, or religion (except for those positions in the School of Theology and the chaplain’s office where religious affiliation is a necessary qualification).

Responsibilities will include teaching required and elective courses in Christian ethics and moral and systematic theology for the M.Div. and M.A. degrees, with participation in other degree and lifetime education programs. The position also brings with it the range of engagement in the worship, work, and witness of the seminary community that accompanies faculty ministry. Courses in ethics and theology at Sewanee seek to give an account of Christian faith and the ethos and mission of the church in thoughtful interaction with Scripture and tradition on one hand and, on the other hand, with the cultural situations of the modern world. The successful candidate will demonstrate commitment to preparation for parish ministry.

Qualifications for the position include demonstrated professional competence in teaching theology and active commitment to the mission of the church. Preference will be given to candidates who have a Ph.D. or Th.D., thorough knowledge of and training in ethics, moral or systematic theology, Christian social ethics, and experience in teaching in those fields. A knowledge of and appreciation for Anglican tradition is expected.

This is a tenure track appointment. Applications from Anglicans and members of ecumenical partners of the Episcopal Church are encouraged. Salary and rank will depend on experience and qualifications. A letter of application, a full curriculum vitae, a writing sample, and three letters of reference should be received by March 1, 2007. Letters of reference should be sent directly to the person named below.

Send letter of nomination or application to: The Rev. Dr. Donald S. Armentrout, School of Theology, University of the South, 335 Tennessee Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383-0001.

Scripture and Godly Nourishment

The following is adapted from a reflection on Psalm 1 I gave at the Diocesan Youth Commission retreat for Youth Leaders in early November.

Tree of LifeAll of us need nourishment. We need air, water, food to eat–if we don’t get any one of these things, we die. The same is true of spiritual nourishment. We may not die physically but our souls will surely wither, and if that happens, then we run the risk of truly dying by being apart from God, by failing to live in his presence.

But how do we get this spiritual food and access this strength for our pilgrimage here on earth? I’m certainly no expert in the sense of always being perfect in the time I spend with God–I’m perfect in nothing!–but I am an expert in the sense of striving to strengthen my relationship with our Lord and in the sense of needing to draw strength from God in order to get through the hard times. So it’s as an expert knowledgeable of my own imperfection that I reflect on this need and desire for God.

It seems appropriate when one has a desire for God to go to the place where God has revealed himself to his people, to the words that recount the story of how God has interacted with and acted to protect and save his people. So, in order to feel closer to God, it is appropriate to start with the Holy Scriptures. And, in reflecting on Scripture, I’ve noticed something. It’s an incredibly deep insight, which took me many long years of toil and reflection to arrive at. I hope that you will appreciate the magnitude of what I’m about to share with you and find some meaning in it. Are you ready? Are you prepared? Ok, here it is: Beginnings are important; the beginnings of a book–any book–is important, how much more is this the case with Holy Scripture.

Not only do beginnings set the stage and plot the course for the rest of the text, but they also provide important clues and insights about what will be important in the rest of the work. I’m sure you remember this sort of thing from school… it’s like the first paragraph of a paper—it’s supposed to let your readers know where you are going, to provide a thesis statement so that they’ll know where you are going. You probably know of some pretty important starts if you had to think of it. “In the beginning God created…” or, probably inspired by that, who could forget the first words of John’s gospel “In the beginning was the Word…”
There are some times that I believe it is safe to apply my insights to scripture—now is one of those times. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Psalm 1 is important. Psalm 1 is important because it reveals themes that animate the rest of the Psalter. Additionally, because of their subject matter these Psalms—introduced by the first—are important for life in general, for the spiritual life in particular, for the Christian life especially.

Psalm 1 paints a picture for us, a stark contrast between two manners of life, two ways of living and being. The one path, the undesirable path, is that followed by the wicked. A path that leads away from God, it is a life lived without roots, without sustenance and without God. In the end it is a life that is empty.

Vs. 1-2:
Psalm I

I Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of
the wicked,*
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the Lord,*
and they meditate on his law day and night.

We have placed before us these two ways of life—the faithful and the impious. In the first two verses we see their “contrasting sources of guidance and values,” and we are led into consideration of the “contrasting similes of the effect” in their lives in verses 3-4.

Vs. 3-4:
3 They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;*
everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked;*
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

Finally, in verses 5-6 we see what has been called the “contrasting outcomes of their ways”(Collins). As the Psalmist says:

Vs. 5-6:
5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when
judgement comes, *
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, *
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

What strikes me most as I reflect on this final section is the way the Psalm puts the situation in verse six: “For the Lord KNOWS the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.” To say that God “knows the way of the righteous…” is to indicate that something has been laid out, directed. It indicates that the way of righteousness is the way that God himself travels and when we walk this path it is one wherein God offers us comfort and protection. In contrast, the way of the wicked is doomed because it is not “known” by God–they are on their own and have no where to turn for help or nourishment as long as they continue to walk on their current path.
The other path, the path praised by the psalmist and the one for me and I pray for you, is one that leads to rootedness, nourishment and security. In following the path of righteousness we are choosing to cast our lot, not with out own ability and resourcefulness, but with God himself and in the assurance of his love and protection.

Many of the psalms and innumerable passages of scripture stand as witness to the interplay between those who follow the first path and those who follow the second. Indeed, there is a recognition within the Psalter that any one of us may follow both of these paths are various points of our lives–sometimes we follow hard after God, at other times we neglect him and follow our own wills. So this is not cut and dry–following the path that God would have us walk takes a great deal of effort and prayer.
Leaving aside the question of the first path, the path of the wicked and the scoffer, I want to reflect on the second path, the life-giving path, the nourishing Godly path.

“Happy are those [… whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.”

The first question that comes to mind for me is this: what is this “law” the psalmist is talking about? Is it a set of rules or commandments? Is it a way of living or a story about who we are? Is it nature? Is it a revelation of who and what God is?

Recently I was having a conversation with an elderly Priest friend of mine and he was speaking about his time living amongst an orthodox Jewish community, and he noted that he thought Paul may have allowed his own experience to cloud his descriptions of the law. The term translated Law he said, is much more readily understood as “instruction,” and the way these Orthodox Jews lived indicated much more a sense of identity, of story, of something that explains who and what they are—after all he said, there are often times when we don’t feel ourselves, when we don’t act as we know or believe we should.

So the “law” that the psalmist is praising is not a legalism, it is instruction. Certainly, this would include the ceremonial and moral codes contained in scripture, but taking delight in it does not come from any sort of pedantry or other neuroses… instead it comes from the proper delight we as God’s creatures take in reflection upon God’s order.

I know also that some Jews consider the law, instruction, Torah, to have been pre-existent, and to have been a blue-print or tool through which God created the world—hence the Torah, God’s law, his instruction, is revealed in nature as well as the written text. So it could be that the psalmist is talking about seeing God’s hand and purpose in nature.  Since the law also refers to the code of life given to the community, the faithful of Israel, then it makes sense that the delight the psalmist mentions would also be taken from reflection upon the interactions of God with his people–in the amazing fact of their survival and the accounts of the miracles he has performed in their midst.
We can learn several things from this:

I. The study of the Law is a delight. It is a delight because when we study God’s word, his revelation to us in the form of Holy Scripture, we learn more about and come into closer relationship with God himself, in whom we delight and without whom we wold not live. For the Psalmist, meditation on God’s law is a delight—delighting in God’s order by being closer to God by virtue of living into his plan.

II. The study of the Law is nourishment: The closer we are to God, the closer we are to life. In the Psalm the pursuit of a relationship with God through the study of his word is compared to being a tree planted near streams of water…

III. The study of the Law as rootedness: In comparing the study of God’s Law to being planted by streams of water the psalmist intentionally evokes imagery similar to that found in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22.

And again, for us Christians, I can’t escape that section of John I’ve already mentioned once today: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was Gog, ” but we learn from the psalmist that scripture is not only about the beginning, it is also about the end.  In particular where we will end up.

Recently my wife came to the realization that it is easier to walk in a straight line when one has a destination in mind.  We Christians have been given a destination.  Just as Anna found she could not walk straight across our yard without fixing her eyes on some destination, so too must we always keep our final destination ever before us.

We know that the study of scripture results in: delight, nourishment, rootedness and becomes a source of strength for our relationship with Christ.  But scripture also serves in this relationship as a means to keep our eyes on the goal, on the end…  and to keep us on the straight way.  It’s not so much that we study scripture for the details, for the minutia but rather for the story: we internalize the narrative and make it our own, we place the thread of our lives within the tapestry of scripture as the record of God’s interaction with creation. This makes it important that we always keep the appropriate perspective on scripture. As CS Lewis states in his Reflections on the Psalms:

The Human qualities of the raw materials show through. Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not “The Word of God” in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its over-all message.

As a good Lutheran might say, the Holy Bible is the Word of God insofar as it points us to the living Word, the incarnated Lord, Jesus Christ. In studying scripture we are brought nearer to Christ, given the goal, the direction we need to keep our relationships with him strong and our foundations firm—the ability to walk through this world and know where we are going.  This is the reality the psalmist was revealing to us in poetic form when he chose to echo Ezekiel 47 and talk of the righteous being planted like trees near streams of water, connecting us in our reading of scripture to the trees in paradise.  Later we find the same imagery used in Revelation–in each case healing is a property of the leaves of these trees, and this is our promise: if we reflect on God’s word to us we will find ourselves drawn closer to God, to the waters of his Holy Spirit and if this happens, if we are planted firmly in God’s Word, then we will indeed be like those trees planted by the Holy streams of water flowing from the altar and the sanctuary, from the fountain of God and we will find healing for ourselves and perhaps for others as well.
Augustine called Holy Scriptures our “letters from home.” So today, why don’t we take the time to consider where it is that we came from and where it is that we are going: Where is your home?  Scripture will help us get there.


North Fork Baptist ChurchNorth Fork Baptist Church, Madison County NC: Where my Mom’s family is from (over the last 100 years)





Cumnor St. Michael'sCumnor St. Michael’s, Cumnor England: Where they were for several hundred years (at least) before that.

I know there are several visitors to this blog who are from various parts of England. Partly inspired by this, I decided I would post about my own (maternal) family’s roots in that country. I’ve been involved in genealogical research off and on for several years and have generally found it easier to follow the path of my mother’s family than my fathers. One of the primary reasons for this is that my mother’s family tended to be farmers and leave records of their transactions and holdings. Using those records, I was able to trace my mother’s family through one Absalom Buckner who settled in what is now the Big Pine area of Madison County NC, into VA and back all the way to a village in Oxfordshire called Cumnor. Knowing that my mother’s family was Anglican until they left VA (other branches of the family remained Episcopalian) made it all the more interesting to see the pictures from the Cumnor Parish record of Cumnor St. Michael’s, an old Church in which many of my fore bearers may have worshiped.

So the route that branch of the Buckner family took to end up with me, seems to be this: From Cumnor to Virginia, from Virginia to Madison County NC, from Madison County to Asheville and along I came.

For those who might be interested, the Bodleian library has posted the Cumnor Parish Record online. The earliest relative I know of is the Richard Buckner listed in it’s pages. The internet is a cool thing.

A plug for Firefox – “Rediscover the Web”

FirefoxI just wanted to take a second and put in a good word for the Firefox browser. I switched to it over a year ago and I love it. The only problem I have with it is that when I work on my website using it (or Safari, which I sometimes use on my ibook), I can’t see the weird things Internet Explorer is going to do to it until I’m surprised by the way my site appears on someone else’s computer. I’ve spent part of my morning trying to get my page to display correctly in IE 6 and I’m still not sure how successful I’ve been–it still looks different on different computers running IE (I have downloaded the beta of IE 7, so I don’t have a version of IE 6 on my computer anymore). All this is to say you should stop fooling around with a non-standards compliant browser and come over to the light side by switching to (or using in tandem) Firefox.
Firefox – Rediscover the Web

Insight on Conservatism from The Japery

The New Pantagruel may have shut down, but The Japery is still going strong. Earlier this month Fr. Jape reviewed an article from the American Conservative entitled “Goodbye to All That” by a young former National Review trustee by the name of Austin Bramwell. Bramwell’s piece is, according to Jape, a broadside against conservatism. Certainly it is an attack on the varieties of conservatism Bramwell doesn’t find useful–basically anything except neoconservatism. This stood out to me in what Jape said about the article:

The overall picture that emerges from Bramwell’s taxonomy of conservatives is so bizzarely Rousseauian as to nearly bugger description. Conservatives fall into three broad categories. There are the neocons, who know what they think and presumably have done actual analysis because they have clearly defined political opinions. The movement-cons are the thoughtless drones who provide most of the raw power driving the conservative engine. They don’t have an original thought in their head but their desire for revenge after 9/11 drove them straight into the arms of the neocons. Finally, there are the ostracized-cons who pine for something that never existed in dangerously subversive ways that result in a “mere posture” rather than the more substantial “political opinions.”

Bramwell clearly rejects the latter two groups. It is the neocons who actually come away with some approval, though Bramwell is coy enough to limit himself to praise in the form of faint damnation. What becomes apparent is that Bramwell condemns conservatism in its non-ideological forms. He can accept the neocons as at least being a legitimate political movement precisely because they are the only group of ideological conservatives. Which is to say that they “know what they think” and that what they think results in specific policy prescriptions as opposed to the mere postures of eccentric men or, even worse, the pre-political attachments of merely social relationships. In this sense, Bramwell is expressing an almost undiluted form of Rousseauian political philosophy; the very philosophy which the conservatism of Burke to Kirk has existed to stand against. Kirk famously defined conservatism as the absence of ideology. Is it any surprise that he and his intellectual heirs would exhibit their political thought principally as a “posture” rather than as a set of policy prescriptions?

{read it all}

More about the C of E and the ethics commission

News From had published an article taking some British papers to task for erroneously reporting (and using an attention grabbing headline to boot) a submission by a Bishop in the Church of England to a panel charged with looking at various medical ethics issues. Check it out:

Pro-Life Advocates Say Anglican Church Didn’t Back Newborn Euthanasia

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 13
, 2006

London, England ( — Pro-life advocates are saying that media coverage in England of the Anglican Church is erroneous and that claims saying it is backing a call for euthanasia of severely disabled newborns are off base. British media reports had the church supporting a call by the nation’s leading doctor’s group for allowing the euthanasia of infants. The media quoted Bishop of Southwark Tom Butler, who supposedly said there may be circumstances when the euthanasia of babies with significant physical or mental handicaps is morally acceptable.

However, Wesley J. Smith, an attorney and leading bioethics observed in the U.S., says that’s not what Butler is proposing.

“[I]t appears that the Church has ratified the right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in some circumstances, which is a different matter altogether,” Smith explained.

“Withholding life-sustaining treatment is not the same thing at all as active killing,” Smith adds.

Dr. Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship in England, agreed with Smith’s assessment.

“If it’s an underlying condition that’s causing the death and you’re withholding the treatment because you believe that that treatment’s burden far outweighs any benefit it can bring, then it might be quite appropriate,” he said.

Butler’s submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which is looking into ethical issues brought about by advances in medicine, followed one from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecology, which said killing the infants is preferable to any extensive surgeries or other treatments.

The Catholic Church has opposed the British doctor’s group on the issue.

“While it is both moral and legal to withhold or withdraw aggressive medical treatment in such cases when it is futile or unduly burdensome, it can never be right to sanction action aimed at the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” it said in a statement.

“The Times needs to do better,” Smith concluded about the London Times’ coverage of Butler’s paper on the subject.

I maintain that the key issue in all of this is who gets to decide whether treatment is withheld–with England’s socialized medicine it will probably be a board of some sort and financial concerns will prevail…as someone said, if it comes down to treating an infant who will probably die anyway and providing several hip replacements to aging boomers, the boomers will win. While this may seem like heinous moral reasoning (and it is), I can’t say it’s really any worse than the system we have in the US where money is also a determining factor, just on a private and personal level rather than a socialized level.{read it all}

mine iron heart: First, We Kill The Ethicists.

mine iron heart: First, We Kill The Ethicists.

Patrick Allen+ offers a reflection on something David Bently Hart wrote recently in The New Atlantis relating to the killing of ethicists :-p.  Really, it’s very interesting, and given the recent ethical issues raised in England, it may be timely as well.
He also posted a selection of the letter from The Falls Church vestry about disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. You can find the original letter here. Truro Church has issued a similar letter.

When Doctors Want to Kill Handicapped Newborns

Jesus and MaryFrom Zenit via Titusonenine comes this article: When Doctors Want to Kill Handicapped Newborns. Again, the primary issues that arise are 1) who makes the decision that treatment is “futile” and 2) would doctors who disagree with a particular policy be forced to carry it out (much like pharmacists who are now being fired for refusal to dispense abortifactants). Zenit interviewed a well-spoken neonatologist about the ethical guidelines recently released in England, who said this:

To better understand the issue and its implications of a bioethical nature, ZENIT interviewed neonatologist Carlo Bellieni, director of the Neonatal Intensive Therapy Department of the Le Scotte University Polyclinic of Siena.

Q: What do you think of the request of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists?

Bellieni: The request to do away with newborns with serious disabilities, does not leave any pediatrician insensitive, namely, those who tomorrow will be called to carry out the “eliminations.”

But it is not new: Already in 2002 Michael Gross wrote in Bioethics that there is “a general endorsement of neonaticide subject to a parent’s assessment of the newborn’s interest broadly defined to consider physical harm as well as social, psychological and or financial harm to related third parties.”

And it is always by the “interest of third parties” that one begins to understand what might be hidden behind a pietistic intention “to put an end to the child’s sufferings.”

Q: What are the most disturbing aspects of the British proposal?

Bellieni: Three things disturb pediatricians.

One, having to become executioners of a death sentence. We are not doctors for this, especially at a time when the death sentence is stigmatized by an increasing number of states.

Two, having to consider the patients themselves as non-persons. There are authors who say that newborns are not persons because they still do not have self-awareness, precisely a requirement for this sensation — affirmations amply denied by science and experience.

Three, having to consider the handicapped not as a life to help and respect but, with a phobic attitude, as a second-tier life.

I’m closing comments here so that you can comment via Titusonenine.

The Christian Apprehension of Tragedy


In light of recent natural disasters, attention has been drawn to the practice of “absolute triage” (the decision to treat some injured persons first, based on an assessment of their likelihood of survival, with the knowledge that delaying or denying treatment to others will likely result in their deaths).

A. How might a utilitarian argument justify the practice of absolute triage? For the purposes of this question, utilitarianism may be understood as the view that we ought to do those things that promote human happiness and reduce human suffering for the most people.

B. How might a Christian moral theological argument justify the same practice? In this part of your answer explain the relevant facts of the case, and the principles, criteria, and authorities, including Holy Scripture, that you would bring to bear on the way in which you approach the question. Explain how these authorities relate to each other.

Tragedy is an innate aspect of human existence; to be embodied is to risk the attendant pain and tragedy. Nothing highlights this reality more acutely than the series of natural disasters that have struck various parts of the globe over the past few years; from the tsunami to hurricanes to earth quakes, the fragility of human life and our inability to exert supreme control over our environment has been dramatically displayed. In the midst of such tragedy we are often forced to make difficult and painful decisions. These decisions then tell stories about our character and who we perceive ourselves to be, both in the process by which they are made and through the way we react to them afterwards.

One of the painful practices often necessitated by disastrous events is the need to engage in what has been termed “absolute triage,” i.e. the “decision to treat some injured persons first, based on an assessment of their likelihood of survival, with the knowledge that delaying or denying treatment to others will likely result in their deaths.” Events have only recently raised this issue to the fore of societal consciousness, yet it is a decision the reality of which military doctors and chaplains have been forced to deal with for generations. As is so often the case, the horrors of war mirror in a heightened and condensed way the common reality of life in a fallen world.

From a strictly utilitarian (the maximization of happiness and reduction of suffering for the most people) point of view the choice to engage in absolute triage makes perfect sense. Whether in a civilian or military setting, the utilitarian recognizes that limited resources and capabilities necessitate their most effective use. In this case the decision to treat those patients with a higher likelihood of survival first, means that at least some of the injured will live, while operating from another framework or from the reverse, i.e. treating the worst patients first whether they are likely to survive or not, could result in the deaths of many more.

A robust utilitarian viewpoint might necessitate going even further however, beyond the immediate question of which patients have the highest likelihood of survival to the question of who or what their patients are. The famous example of this is the question of whether one would choose to save the President of the United States or a janitor in a given situation. The obvious answer from the utilitarian viewpoint would be that one would first treat those patients with the highest likelihood of survival and order their treatment based upon any knowledge one might have of their possible contributions to the good of society. The danger here of course, is that any notion of worth is much more subjective than an evaluation of survivability.

In contrast to the utilitarian viewpoint, a Christian understanding would also support the implementation of absolute triage when necessary, but would do so for different reasons. The Christian shares with the utilitarian the concern that the best possible use is made of all available resources. Like the utilitarian, the Christian is initially concerned with saving the most people possible, and allocating resources accordingly. Yet where the utilitarian view is almost exclusively anthropocentric, the Christian perspective is shaped by an understanding of who God is as well as by a distinctively Christian anthropology that informs our understanding of who we are.

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To treat or not to treat

I just ran across a headline over at Titusonenine that says the following: “Outrage as Church backs calls for severely disabled babies to be killed at birth.” You can see the article, published in the Daily Mail, here. The section that relates specifically to what the report offered by the Church said is below:

In the Church of England’s contribution to the inquiry, Bishop Butler wrote: “It may in some circumstances be right to choose to withold or withdraw treatment, knowing it will possibly, probably, or even certainly result in death.”

The church stressed that it was not saying some lives were not worth living, but said there were “strong proportionate reasons” for “overriding the presupposition that life should be maintained”.

The bishop’s submission continued: “There may be occasions where, for a Christian, compassion will override the ‘rule’ that life should inevitably be preserved.

“Disproportionate treatment for the sake of prolonging life is an example of this.

The church said it would support the potentially fatal withdrawal of treatment only if all alternatives had been considered, “so that the possibly lethal act would only be performed with manifest reluctance.”

Yet the Revd Butler’s submission makes clear that there are a wide range of acceptable reasons to withdraw care from a child – with the cost of the care among the considerations.

“Great caution should be exercised in brining questions of cost into the equation when considering what treatment might be provided,” he wrote.

“The principle of justice inevitably means that the potential cost of treatment itself, the longer term costs of health care and education and opportunity cost to the NHS in terms of saving other lives have to be considered.”

The church also urges all the parties involved in care for critically ill babies should be realistic in their expectations, demands, and claims.

The submission says: “The principle of humility asks that members of the medical profession restrain themselves from claiming greater powers to heal than they can deliver.

“It asks that parents restrain themselves from demanding the impossible.”

I see very little to take issue with in the details of what the Church of England said with the exception of (most) financial considerations because of the difficulty of maintaining any sense of equity once money enters the equation. It’s important to note that the report is not talking about infanticide, it’s sanctioning a healthy dose of humility on the part of mortals in facing mortality. That being said, I am nervous about and am against any process that would take such decisions out of the hands of parents. Who makes the decision not to pursue treatment… is it the parents, the doctors or the state? Some combination thereof? Ideally one would hope parents could arrive at a decision based upon consultation with their physicians, but a board or the state should not be able to trump parents, there’s too much chance for abuse or neglect and too many grey areas. What is hopeless to one doctor may not be hopeless to another, so the final decision must remain with the family in order to be equitable and moral. We may not agree that a family has made the best choice, but it is their choice to make in these situations.

This discussion reminds me of one of the questions from the general ordination exams from lat year… I’ll post my answer above to further flesh out my thinking in this area.

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