Friday, April 01, 2005I've had a terribly long day. I've driven a few hundred miles, stomping through rural Alabama just to have some people sign some papers. I'm tired. I've been up since six a.m., and it's now early Friday morning. I want to be in bed, sound asleep listening to the rain pound the pavement outside my window.
I can't sleep. Not yet. I am simply too angry. I am still livid. I first heard of Terri Schiavo's death on the Glen Beck show this morning, sitting in my car. I was putting cream cheese on a bagel from Panera Bread Company. My coffee was starting to cool. It was rainy and grey and I was hungry.
Terri Schiavo was hungry. For two whole weeks. I've had a lot happen in my life since Terri's feeding tube was removed. I had friends coming into town that fateful afternoon, and my rooommate and his girlfriend and I were cleaning the apartment like crazy. The past two weeks have been a blur for me, but not for the Schindlers. In all I've done since that day, Terri's family has had to watch her starve to death. Time only flies when you're having fun. For the Schindlers and their loved ones, time has been, to paraphrase William Carlos Williams, a storm in which they have been lost for the last fifteen years.
I'm angry not just because the media blew it. Not just because these smart aleck namby-pampy know-it-alls at ABC, CNN, NBC, PBS, NPR or whatever acronym you can create decided that playing cute political games with the Republicans was more important than telling the ever-loving truth. It was more fun for Judy Woodruff to take a cheap shot at Jeb or George Bush than it was to tell the whole world that a bone scan revealed that Terri had multiple fractures throughout her body, while her loving husband blamed a therapist but never called for an investigation. I'm angry because some commentators are too cynical to understand that maybe, just once, other pundits really did care about Terri Schiavo. I'm angry because normally reasonable people cared nothing about the facts in the case. I'm angry because the polls were crooked, and since the media was lying through their rotten teeth, the public is still clueless about what really happened down in Florida. I'm angry because a suggestion that Christian political leaders like Jeb Bush owed something to a higher law were met with scoffing. I'm angry that we have come to worship at the alter of the judiciary, unquestioning anything said from a man or woman in a black robe. It's like a bad Lord of the Rings nightmare.
And I'm really, really, really angry that the best we could do - we who supported Terri's right to life and food and water and some blessed due process in our oh-so hallowed courts - was to send up Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson to defend her poor family. Every right-wing Christian leader in America, Catholic and Protestant, has used this tragedy as an opportunity to rail about a runaway judiciary and the perverted worldview that has affected our culture. Rightfully so, but where we these people? I may think them loons in every other aspect of their lives, but God bless Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson. Whatever faults we may find with these men, and Lord knows it may take a while to list them all out, at least they had the courage to step up to the plate. My prayers are with Jerry Falwell right now, but where was James Dobson? Where were Richard Land and Al Mohler and every other leader of the Southern Baptist Convention? I've been to the Southern Baptist Convention a number of times. I know what goes on, and I've applauded, and will continue to applaud the call to a Christian presence in our culture. Euthanasia has been decried at ever SBC meeting for twenty years. It will be mentioned again this summer, likely with Terri Schavio's name, but not one SBC leader could leave their office for a day or two and stand up for this woman. But I'm sure you'll all hear about it on Sunday. What about Richard John Neuhaus or John Piper or Ravi Zacharias? Where were the Catholic bishops who threatened to deny Communion to John Kerry? This is shameful. The Christian Right is ridiculed in the mainstream press, and while Terri's Fight is about more than PR, we should be embarrassed that we abandoned the Schindler family to be consoled by two of the more polarizing figures in American politics. Ralph Nader took the time to issue two press releases, but we can't find one - not one! - respectable and noted Christian leader to go stand with the Schindler family and say "we support you"? Shame on us!
We can't be content to show up at the polls every two years or call our Congressman or write out cute blog posts for our friends and family to gawk at. At some point the rubber must meet the road, and we must be willing to demonstrate that we care about these matters in a real, tangible way. A woman was murdered over the last two weeks, and our leaders took a walk.
There was an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip wherein Calvin ponders the idea of modern, realistic superheroes. Hobbes coolly suggests that the heroes could attend council meetings and write letters to the editor. As Hobbes yells, "Quick! To the bat-fax!," Calvin begins to see the problem. The same is true of us. I rebuke all calls for violence and disorder, but until we are willing - as sane, rational Christians - to stand in the streets and rebuke the Fred Phelps of the world while we rebuke the perverse and maddening culture that starved Terri Schiavo to death, then we can blame no one but ourselves.