Friday, April 01, 2005

The Binding of Terri Schiavo

You know I love Bob Dylan, so in this most difficult of times, I will quote him again.

God said to Abraham
"Kill Me A Son"
Abe said to God
"Man, You Must Be Putting Me On."

Actually, no. In the version I read, Abraham said nothing at all. God asked Abraham to kill his beloved son, so Abraham binded Issac in the wilderness, and rose up his arm to slay him. The Lord sent an angel to stop the killing.

And most of the Rabbis say that Abraham had proved his love of the Lord by obeying his command. The Rabbis point out that the Lord was testing Abraham's willingness to follow the Lord. In the end the child was not in danger. Of course, it's easy to say that now. And it doesn't mean the Lord won't end your trial with a different result. How do you deal with your trial, and it will surely come? How do you live after you have succeeded or failed?

Some of the other Rabbis, and one of them must have taught me, make this contradictory point. Certainly, the Lord had Abraham's back through all his remaining days, but the Lord never spoke directly to Abraham again. They were once so chatty, and now, nothing.

These Rabbis say that the Lord was disappointed in Abraham. He was disappointed to think that Abraham thought that God was so mean-spirited that He would really expect a man to kill his most beloved child. That the Lord wanted people to blindly follow Him into senseless paths.

Abraham fought with God sometimes. He was able to convince the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of 10. Of course, they couldn't find 10. But Abraham did manage to get Lot and Mrs. Lot out of there. Too bad Mrs. Lot couldn't hear the Lord as well as others.

Moses argued with God all the time. Sometimes God relented. All of the Prophets that I know of fought with the Lord. They were all in relationship with the Lord, and all relationships have their rocky paths.

The Lord of my understanding is comfortable with the complexity of adults, and comfortable with the knowledge and the wisdom that man has accumulated. Not everything is permissible, the Flood, the fire next time, the earth swallows you up, you develop leprosy, the children of bad seed come to bad ends, but God is too complex for the juvenile mind.

The Bible is too rough for Hollywood treatment. It is not even a "PG-13" book. It has an "R"-rating, as anyone who has ever read the Book of Judges can easily tell you.

If Terri Schiavo had any love for her husband at all, and I say she must have, she must have known that loneliness is an extraordinarily heavy burden for a young man to carry forever.

It is inconceivable to me that she would have wanted her husband to carry that sort of burden for the endless years. It is not possible that she had that little love for her husband. I can not believe that she was that selfish or that jealous.

That does not mean that Michael doesn't have to answer. But he does not have to answer to us.

That does not mean that Michael made the right decision for Terri.

That does mean that you can not disqualify Michael Schiavo from loving Terri, from being a good husband or a good guardian simply because he was unable to act in an inhuman fashion for decades on end. Because he could not carry a burden that you would never dare impose on yourself or on anyone you loved. Because he could not carry a burden that the Schindlers did not impose on themselves, but demanded of him. That the cheating pols suddenly posing as preachers demanded of him.

Because he could not carry a burden that I do not believe that Terri would have demanded of him.

Otherwise, what sort of love are we talking about?

What sort of God are we talking about who lacks such knowledge of his people and how they love?

What sort of God are we talking about who would instantly disqualify a human for being human?

A God who expects us, in service of Him, to turn our backs on so much that we know to be true?

A God who expects us to obey senseless demands? Like the God who stopped talking to Abraham for putting his God before his family?

That pre-supposes no answer. Now that we are at the end of the beginning, it is hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to live like a vegetable for decades on end. Even for the sake of her parents.

It is also hard for me to imagine that anyone would write a living will that says "Sure, deprive me of food and water for 14 days."

These are adult decisions. And I think that God wants us to be adults in dealing with them.

We speak as if the word of the Lord and the lessons of the Lord are G-rated tales, like something out of Disney, with only G-rated lessons. Or worse still, we believe that we do understand, but think that the neighbors are too stupid to comprehend anything but nursery rhymes.

And as long as we do that, we will keep binding our Terri Schiavos on the crossroads of senseless paths before the One we say is a God of Peace and a God of Love, but of whom we seem to expect something different. We seem to believe in an implacable and unforgiving God.

But to me, today, God must be looking around silently for a single adult in the room.

Rest in peace, Terri. And may the days ease the pain for the Schiavos, for the Schindlers, and for all of us.