Please pardon my lack of posting these last couple of weeks. Thanks to all of you who wrote to check on me. There was no problem and no vacation, it's just that my 'real' life was taking time from my blogging.
Terri Schiavo Autopsy
The full autopsy report for Terri Schiavo is available online here (pdf file). It doesn't answer many questions, really, though it does almost rule out a few things, such as bulimia or a heart attack being the cause of her original collapse. (I say almost, because the report speaks of these things as very unlikely rather than impossible.) It also gives no evidence for strangulation and suggests that this would have been picked up with tests done at the hospital when she first arrived there. The cause of death remains undetermined and the case open, though dehydration was the immediate cause.
The question of whether she was in a vegetative or a minimally conscious state is not answerable in an autopsy, just as determining the extent of a retarded person's mental disability could not be determined by examining the brain. These are clinical assessments of function that can only be determined by observing the behaviors and abilities of living persons.
Of course none of this answers the ethical question of whether or not a person of very low functioning can rightly be subjected to dehydration or other forms of euthanasia. This is the core question of the Terri Schiavo case and interesting as they are, the medical aspects of her case, and the legal issues of guardianship are side issues. Our culture's willingness to kill the unwanted and the useless has grown from its beginnings as a willingness to tolerate the abortion of first trimester unborn people to the full-term unborn and now killing the aged and the severely disabled and euphemistically calling it "letting them die".
Thanks to our hardworking hosts and also to all those who contributed your writing!
Thanks also to those of you who have offered to host. I will be contacting you soon when I work on the schedule again. If you are interested in participating, instructions can be found here.
Controlling People in the Church Series
I've got a few more articles planned for this series, one on specific manipulation techniques, (so you can recognize them when you see them and therefore be less vulnerable to them), one on this problem as it is presented to us in the Scriptures, and one with resources and short reviews of books that I have found helpful in understanding this phenomenon. I am amazed at how many of you have written to ask if it is your church or former church I am talking about. In fact, I am not writing about any one church at all, but instead generalizing on information I have read and some personal experiences and accounts from others. Any incidents I refer to as either experiencing myself or having been told about from someone else who experienced it, have had the details altered for the sake of privacy. But isn't it sad that it sounds so very familiar to so many people? You can read the four parts of this series here: 1, 2, 3, 4.
The folks from Answers in Genesis have a great DVD called Mt. St. Helens: Explosive Evidence for Catastrophe. The video documents the changes that took place during the volcanic explosion of Mt. St. Helens that provide evidence for a catastrophic origin of geological and fossil formations that have previously been explained by theories that involve eons of build up or erosion. If you have an interest in geology or in creation apologetics, I highly recommend this one. It is high school level or above and for folks with a scientific aptitude, though not necessarily scientific training. The best part is toward the end when geologist Dr. Steven Austin explains how the geological processes witnessed at Mt. St. Helens are reshaping accepted geological theory.
One of the things going on at our house this week is the presence of a guest dog, a lovely black lab named Josiah. Josiah's family is on vacation. He's a great dog and a lot of fun to have around. Unfortunately, though, he has taught our yellow lab pup the delights of swimming in muddy streams and ponds. Poor Josiah is adept at climbing our scary spiral stairs, however, he is unwilling to attempt the descent. Therefore, several times a day, we must go out the ground level front door, walk down the hill to the back of the house, and come back in through the walkout basement level family room and kitchen. He's a dear thing, though, and when he lays that big head of his into my lap and looks at me with those brown eyes, it all seems worth the trouble.