Boinkie's Blog


Friday, April 27, 2007

Anne of Green Gables

Right now I am on an "Anne of Green Gables" kick...

I read the book as a young girl, but actually it was not my favorite (I was a Nancy Drew type).

Years later, when I had adopted my boys, I saw it on PBS and taped the TV show. And ironically my macho boys loved it. Probably because they were adopted as older children (at age 10 and 14) and had a lot of problems with adjustment.

When I moved to the Philippines, I brought a lot of my books, copied my CDs onto my hard drive, and brought the few DVD's I had bought. All my VCR tapes had to be left behind: They were incompatible with the different TV here. But when I arrived, I found DVD players here played both VCD and DVD. I had brought my LOTR and my few DVDs that I had bought to watch on my computer, I missed my classic films. Ironically, you can get new movies downtown from the street vendors within a week of their opening in Manila, but not oldies. And Amazon etc won't let you down load. So to get classic films, I had to go to Bittorrant.

One film I ran across looking for something else was Anne of Green Gables. And again my granddaughter here loved it.

Ironically, from what I've read of the author, her aunt was much harsher than the ones in the book.

But as Nora Ephron once wrote: I prefer stories because I can be in charge of what happens.

And then I found that there is a podcast of the book HERE.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Prayer poems by Padraic

And so at last,
Impelled by need,
I took my tired body
And I took my troubled mind
And I sat before my King.

“Don’t speak a word”, He said.
“No prayers and no petitions.
Do not even think a thought!
For I already know your deepest needs.
Just lay your heart upon My heart,
That I may rest in you
And you in Me.
It pleases Me you trust Me so
To act in silence
On your soul:
My power of Love
To make you whole.”


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Late term abortion and the need for feticide

Someone asked me why if a late term abortion was to save the life or health of the mother, would a doctor chose a procedure like partial birth abortion that was more dangerous than the traditional methods of inducing premature labor.

Well, the dirty little secret is that the “need” for partial birth abortion is because a traditional induction of labor leads to….live babies.

A BBC report shows that although only 3000 or so late term abortions occured in the UK (where abortion after 22 weeks is limited to severe defects in the fetus or the life of the mother) that ten percent of these resulted in a live baby.

Now, most of these children are Down’s syndrome or meningomyeloceles, defects that are compatible with long life and children who function at a six year leve. Yet often the mothers do not meet parents who have faced these problems or met the children with the syndromes involved. You see, counselling must be neutral, and if you talk a mother out of aborting her child, you could be sued later. Better to abort the child, especially in a medical environment where ethics discusses “quality of life” all the time.

Of course, in the US, where there are no such laws restricting late abortion, the dirty little secret is that most late term abortions are done for social reasons: The ones I have seen in my practice are teenagers who hide the pregnancy until they start showing, and then panic, or are pressured into the abortion by their parents who want their daughter to finish school and not be burdened with a grandchild to raise.
Thirty years ago, when late term abortions were still performed in hospitals, such live births were not uncommon…I know of three during my OB rotations in medical school. Only one child was allowed to get intensive care; in another, the doctor refused, although the normal child was over three pounds and would have had an 80 percent chance of life with treatment.

However, such actions do amount to infanticide, and doctors who are reported (which is rare) could be prosecuted.

So the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology will now offer guidelines to inject the child to kill it in utero before the “termination” is done. However, this is upsetting to the mother, who sees the needle inserted under ultrasound guidance until the fetus stops moving.
This too has dangers, since the medicine theoretically could enter the bloodstream of the mom and kill her also. Hence the practice of “partial birth abortion” in the US, where you are guaranteed a dead child.

So what is the answer?

“A spokeswoman from the charity Antenatal results and Choices said: “Feticide is technically demanding and stressful for parents and professionals alike.

“Enforcing the procedure in cases where death is the inevitable outcome either as a means to reduce apparent perinatal mortality figures or to satisfy those who do not support the legal availability of abortion will not benefit anyone.”

Ah, but some people would actually say that a fully formed child that could live outside the womb is just that: a child. And if “death is the inevitable outcome” no one would bother to crush heads or inject poisons.

One feels compassion for women faced with an imperfect child, but when no one discusses the alternative: help in caring for an imperfect child.

If we live in a utilitarian world, the death of an imperfect child is a trivial thing.

But I have worked with many ethical systems, and when the religions of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judism, and the traditional religions of the Bantu and many American Indian tribes insist that the deity has a reason for the birth of such children, then one wonders why the BBC didn’t bother to include a quote from even one member who follows the great religions of the world.
Perhaps the words of a mother whose child was retarded put it best: Author Pearl Buck has written:

“It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considered less, as a human being, than any other, and each must be given his place and his safety in the world.

“I might never have learned this in any other way. I might have gone on in the arrogance of my own intolerance for those less able than myself. My child taught me humanity.”


I posted this essay on along with another essay on the technical reasons why partial birth abortion was so dangerous it should be considered malpractice

Friday, April 13, 2007

In defense of Father Greeley

Some catholic blogs I was reading last night were all in a huff about Father Greeley's new book on his take on Jesus and women.

Now, I have some problems with Greeley, but it's not about his R rated novels or his investigations on sex as a metaphor for God's passionate love of human beings (indeed, some of the passages of Benedict's God is love reminds us of the same thing: That God's love is not pure agape, the cold and intellectual care of others, but the passionate eros of God that feeds the human (i.e. emotional and physical) needs of ordinary human beings. The entire Charismatic renewal is indeed based on this idea.

The problem with all of this is that heresy is when an overlooked idea gets rediscovered and someone insists it is the whole idea. Nope. These things are part of the whole. And so when the church is overintellectualized, God sends the Charismatic movement. When liturgy gets so highfalutin it becomes gobbly gook, we get guitar masses. When Guitar masses become pat and superficial, we get Latin and icons and Mozart and the Orthodox liturgy.

The passage that was criticized (sorry no links) was that Greeley sees Martha and Mary as "teenaged groupies" who enthusiastically follow Christ. Hmmm.

Well, why not? Women in those days married young, so one doubts Mary and Martha were in their thirties.

The story we are usually told is that Martha and Mary are like pure virginal passive nuns who float around following Jesus. Mary is so etherial that she ignores the burning food, making Martha a bit perturbed.

In all of this Martha gets blamed for being a nag, and Jesus reminds her that she needs heaven. But like other housewives, I see Martha as a busy housewife with a lazy sister who needs to get off her tush and help.

Greeley sees them as the teens in his book: Upper middle class Irish catholic teens who are not shrinking violents but well balanced and feeling at home with men and women. I hadn't seen them as that way before, but you know, it makes them more sympathetic than the too good to be true goodie goodies of catechism class, or Mary as a sexual vixen who was sleeping with Jesus on the sly, which is the thesis of the DaVinci code and a dozen other oversexualized pot broilers.

Greeley's picture is that of "Groupies" but perhaps that word also implies the sexual promiscuity of rock stars.

Yet as a doc I am well aware that doctors (and priests, and teachers) often have adoring female students. And Greeley, who is a professor along with being a priest, has probably had neurotic students fall in love with him and try to seduce him, just like most of my fellow (male) docs have had women patients try to seduce him. But for every neurotic female, there are hundreds of caring, well balanced, ordinary women who literally love their doctor or priest or teacher. They would do anything for him, they trust him, they confide in him and the relationship is warm and loving and intimate on both sides, but not sexual and not exactly friendship either. It is the relationship of a woman with her obstetrician, a writer with her editor, a businesswoman with her mentor, or a newly graduated secretary with her boss.

And that is why I also agree with another theme of Greeley: The importance of celibacy as a way for male authority figures to be "safe" for women to approach (true...that's why no sex is in the Hippocratic oath). And so such "safe" figures allow a different type of male/female relationship, a combination of hero worship, respect, and father figure. Is there eros in this? Yes, but an innocent kind, since the "taboo" against sex makes friendship safe.

Indeed, the main "problem" of Greeley's idea is not that he sexualizes the relationship, but that her reminds us that eros is present in male/female relationships, including the most chaste.

And his reminder that men and women are different and have different rolls is quite countercultural to the present day feminism that insists men and women are the same and interchangable, and that sex is just a simple pleasure like eating cake, and not connected with love, passion, God, children, or community.

Greeley often say that those puritans who object to his novels on a sexual basis are really objecting to the way God designed men and women to reproduce the species.

But few recognize that his novels also criticize the PC refusal to see women and men as different in many ways, and hint that there is a reason that God made men and women and sexual passion...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Second life church

Full essay at Bloggernews

For the elderly, those caring for the sick/elderly/small children and others who are home bound, church services on radio and TV have been a godsend.

But when healthy young people attend a virtual church (or a virtual AA meeting for that matter) it makes me sad.......

There is something sad about people who cannot reach out to other people except through a virtual world.

There is something very human about human contact. We doctors know that the “laying on the hands” part of the examination is often not scientifically necessary, yet it is part of the ritual, because there is something about a human touch that is needed to assure a person that the doctor is a healer of a person, not just a frigid robot who treats disease in a mechanical manner.

Similarly, although finding God in silence and solitude is necessary, it lacks the idea that we live in families and communities. I therefore ask the preachers, AA leaders, and others of second life: how do you extend your service to the real human being behind the avantar?

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Neruologist say "respect patient autonomy"

Neurologist say "respect patient autonomy".
But they have a long history of activism to kill, whoops I mean "remove unwanted treatment" from brain damaged patients.

Publication Logo

End-of-Life Care Decisions Must Respect Patient Autonomy, Says AAN

Caroline Cassels
Information from Industry
Antibiotic Treatment for Many Outpatient and Inpatient Bacterial InfectionsLearn more about high-dose, short-course therapy, including PK/PD parameters, clinical benefits, and doctor and patient benefits.

April 2, 2004 — Life-sustaining treatment decisions in patients who have lost their decision-making capacity must first and foremost respect the autonomy of the patient and/or the immediate family, according to a position statement released by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

In a special article and editorial published in the April 2 issue of Neurology, the AAN reiterates its 1988 position, which was later adopted by the American Medical Association in 2005, on the care and management of patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Reflecting "a strong concern that a patient's right to self-determination deserves deep respect and primary consideration in every health-care situation," the AAN opposes all state and federal legislation that would superimpose judicial intervention on a patient's or their surrogate's decision to maintain or withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment.

Several national medical organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Nurses Association, and the American Osteopathic Association, have adopted similar positions.

Schiavo Case Sparks Debate

Written by Dana Bacon (AAN) and colleagues, the article comes following 2 years of debate in US state and federal courts and legislatures about end-of-life treatment decisions for patients, which was sparked by the highly publicized case of Theresa (Terri) Schiavo, a young woman who had a cardiac arrest in 1990 and subsequently went into a PVS and was dependent on a feeding tube.

The Schiavo case was the subject of more than 10 years of legal and political activity as her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, fought to carry out his wife's previously stated wishes to discontinue life-sustaining treatment.

After all legal and political avenues were exhausted, Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube was removed in March 2005 and she died 13 days later.

Subsequent to her death, and again in 2006, legislators in several states introduced bills that make the assumption that, for patients who do not have a carefully written advance directive that describes the exact circumstances under which they would not want to receive life-sustaining treatment, it should be administered.

Impossibly High Legal Threshold

The AAN is concerned that the "presumptive nature" of such legislation would "overturn more than 30 years of legal and ethical precedent, because it would preclude patients' fundamental right to make their own lawful medical decisions by proxy.

"The definition of express and informed consent used in these bills would create an impossibly high threshold for surrogates or family to meet in demonstrating the patient's intent on the basis of verbal communication," the authors write.

Representing more 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, the AAN has a long history of weighing in on scientific, ethical, and professional discussions regarding the provision and withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment for patients who lack decision-making capacity.

In addition to opposing all state and federal legislation that presumes to prescribe a patient's preferences for artificial hydration and nutrition (AHN), the AAN also:
  • Opposes all state and federal legislation that limits the ability of patients to declare through the use of living wills and advance directives or by discussion of their wishes with their families or surrogate decision-makers.
  • Opposes all state and federal legislation that gives legal standing to elected officials (or their designees) to intercede in private decisions regarding the use of AHN.
  • Supports state and federal legislation that promotes a better understanding of patient preferences for medical care, including the development of advance directives, living wills, and durable power-of-attorney declarations, and the creation of healthcare directive registries and the indication of such information on official identification cards.

Effective Communication Key

In an accompanying editorial, Eelco Wijdicks, MD, and Alejandro Rabinstein, MD, both from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, support the AAN's position. They write that the recent trend of draft legislation in multiple states requiring actual proof of a patient's preference is "troubling."

"Rather than being directed by a consensus agreement of family members, such a level of proof would almost certainly be followed by a court challenge," they write.

According to the editorial, protection of patient autonomy and honoring their wishes hinge on a family conference where full disclosure of the patient's condition is communicated by the attending physician and is presented "unambiguously, honestly, and with deep compassion."

They note that effective management of such conferences is key in avoiding potential conflict between family members or with the physician.

Neurology. 2007;68:1097-2000, 1092-1094.

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Holy Week

Holy week is a pretty big deal here in the Philippines.

The week starts with the Palm Sunday processions, and each day has a rememberance. Today, Tuesday, is the rememberance of Jesus being betrayed. But the big celebrations start with the Holy Thursday processions and feasts to commemorate the last supper. Then comes Good Friday, with Jesus being executed by crucifixion, Holy Saturday, and finally the day of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.

People are going home to celebrate, since here religious holidays still have meaning. So the roads are full, and even the campaigning politicians are having to stay quiet.

The MSM will only manage to see the small number of Flaggelants and self crucifiers, with ridicule. The church discourages them, but sees the piety behind the actions, so doesn't condemn them.

Ironically it was the National Geographic special "TABOO" that asked a man to explain why he performed this terrible ritual. And the man explained that his wife almost died in childbirth, and the baby was not expected to live, so he vowed to God that if they lived, he would crucify himself for the next 15 years in Thanksgiving.

In America, the elite media seems to ignore the idea of suffering and death and this year, in between stories that ridicule Christianity, we see them promoting the idea that if we think positively we can have it all.

But where suffering poverty and death of loved ones is a common experience, there is comfort to know that God himself, when he came to live on earth, came as a poor man who preached against stupid religious rules that harmed ordinary people, had mercy on the weak, and told people that God loved them even when they did terrible thing, and that if they turned to God he would help them to live a good life. Jesus was not a phlosopher or even a teacher of ethics who could parse down exactly how many pennies you needed for your tithe. Instead, he explained the idea of God and the idea of how we should act through stories that anyone could understand.
And it is a comfort to the suffering to know that God suffered, and understands our despair in suffering and loss and death..

When I worked in Africa, the local high school put on a "Passion Play" with the Roman soldiers dressed like government soldiers.
Here, every Philippino knows that the story of Philippine martyrs from Rizal to Bataan to Ninoy Acquino, is "holy" because they too were willing to die for the love of their fellow man.

The knowledge of God is not an intellectual discussion, but a story that touches our everyday lives.