Terri Schiavo: Culture of Death Wins in 21st Century's Scopes Trial

Terri Schiavo is dying. She is being killed. The culture of life lost this round to the gods of the cult of death entrenched in our courts, media, and other institutions.

This was never, as liberals claimed, a constitutional crisis. It was, first, a question as to the definition of death. Up until now and throughout the Bible death was declared when autonomous respiration and heartbeat ceased and, as of late, when the brain-stem and brain were devoid of function. With the Schiavo case, popular culture has expanded death’s contour and hastened its arrival by redefining death as the inability to swallow albeit the wherewithal to breathe, pump, and feel. The Angel of Death is, I’m sure, thankful to those who have provided him this new-found overtime.

But more important, this case revolved around the more transcendent question as to the definition and meaning of life. Our nation is divided. Some view life not as an end in itself but a means toward — in other words, teleologic. Others see life not simply as an avenue but a state in and of itself — in other words, immanent.

Many — we’ll call them the “utilitarians”– are now saying that life is conditional on its ability to provide experience, pleasure, or full activity. As a means to, life exists only if it yields “quality of life.” To be valid, it most go beyond its intrinsicality. That may make sense if one assumes that mankind is but the highest evolved species in the animal genus. After all, they shoot horses don’t they?

Others — we’ll call them the “spiritualists”– see life as far more than: “But what can you do for me today.” Unlike every other entity that is but its function, life is a singular category due to God having “breathed into the human countenance, the breath of life.” Life in human is Divine — a soul. Being divine it needs no utilitarian function outside its own existence as life.

The Terri Schiavo case is the Scopes Trial of our generation. The origins of man and the source of life matriculate into a view of what constitutes life and hence when we decide to pack-it-all-up, i.e., when we declare death.

It is now clear that when liberals speak of the “celebration of life” what they mean is that which life produces — its achievements, pleasures and activities — not, however, life itself. The late-term fetus — even one already partially born — incapable of such productivity can, therefore, have its feeding tube, the umbilical cord, removed, or be aborted. Similarly, the culture of death extols sexual activities that historically lead to disease and, often, early death. Naturally, those who view life’s efficacy only in that which is sensually experienced demand no barriers be placed in front of such pursuits.

Some call a definition of life rooted in the Bible, ideology. It certainly is. But so is everything else! The Schiavo case proves once and for all that affinity to the Bible results not, as feared, in holy-rollerism but an attachment to classic philosophy, one we call natural law, as opposed to its antithesis which is paganism.

The Bible need not be viewed as parochial “religious” preaching as much as a document of social and existential wisdom — a victory for humanness. Bereft of it, societies take on the values of the death-wish culture — as was the case in the paganism of antiquity and is in the neo-paganism of today, secularism. Though paganism speaks an “enlightened” vocabulary, indulgence and death remain its dark side. Similarly, hedonism denounces any value or law that stands in the way of its pleasure or that which inconveniences its material goals, covering itself with Orwellian language such as “euphoric” starvation, “compassionate” death, fetus as “tissue.”

Most often it is those that identify themselves as “progressives” who side-step the common sense and natural law found in the Bible. Not necessarily out of dislike, but because progressivism is actualized by, in all matters, pushing the envelope beyond the conventional and historic and doing what was never allowed before. By virtue of being old and a source of tradition, biblical conceptions and values are not awarded avant garde status, something very important to those wishing to be seen as “progressive.”

But the purposeful renunciation of these understandings leads not simply to non-religiosity but the eventual acceptance of the tenets of the cult of death, causing its proponents to side with a cruel husband over a vulnerable woman and her heart-broken parents — not to mention caring more about criminal and terrorist “rights” than innocent life, and placating the killer Sadaam Hussein but scoffing at the rescue of those under his imprisonment and torture.

The long term upshot of the Schiavo saga is: The right to die has evolved into the requirement to die. This is unconscionable given that, by and large, no American clergyman would stand in the way of individual conscience where a patient previously asserted a desire not to be maintained by feeding tubes. Yet it appears that some wish to negate individual religious conscience when such desires conflict with judicial and statist attitudes toward life and death and who may, in the future, supercede even a Living Will. Personalism appears to have lost to judicial arrogance and force.

It was neither the Fourteenth nor Tenth Amendment that lost as much as the First Amendment — religious freedom. Having now witnessed decades of brutal liberal assault on Christian religious expression, one wonders if the zeal exerted by the Left against Terri’s right to live and die by a biblical code was simply the latest frontier in this on-going assault. It seems so — police were ordered to block her parents from wetting her cracked lips, comforting her, and arranging full administration of last rites (though Michael Schiavo finally allowed communion and last rites to be given on Easter Sunday). Astoundingly, so many haranguing for her death, shouting: ” Kill her, kill her already!”