sextuplets in vancouver: can i understand the father?

last month, six little babies were born here in vancouver. sextuplets. as is often the case in multiple births, they were premature. to keep some of them alive, blood transfusions were needed.

and the parents are jehovah’s witness. their religion forbids blood transfusions.

on the weekend, authorities decided to seize the children from their parents in order to make the transfusions possible.

in an interview, the father said, “we could not bear to be at the hospital when they were violating our little girl.”

this feels so alien to me – the blood of life, how can it be a violation?

i wonder how this father thinks and feels. it’s easy to try and understand how people think who have values similar to mine. but what goes on in the hearts and minds of people who have beliefs that are so very different?

maybe he feels honour or duty bound to do what his religion prescribes, no matter what.

maybe he is afraid that allowing the transfusion would give up his children’s soul to eternal damnation.

obviously he believes that the life of his children is not as precious as the dictates of his church.

of course, what i call “dictates of his church” probably has a different name for him – the holy truth, perhaps. maybe nothing is more precious than such a holy truth?

“a” holy truth – that is, ONE holy truth. again, something that i find very difficult to understand. my spiritual path is strongly influenced by liberal christianity, intellectually inclined forms of paganism, as well as buddhism, all of which encourage diversity and critical thinking.

so i honestly have little on which to base an understanding of where this father is coming from.

how can we understand and reach out to people who think so very, very differently?

maybe i can’t understand him. maybe the only way i can connect with him is on a heart level. as remote as he is from me, he is still my brother. and, like me, he is a parent. my heart knows that we both want life for our children. so i’ll let my heart embrace him, and my brain applaud the authorities for taking charge to make the transfusion happen.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

15 thoughts on “sextuplets in vancouver: can i understand the father?

  1. healthybpm

    Such a nice story Isabella! I have twins myself and when they were born prematurely and looked matchstick-like, all I wanted was for them to fight out their problems and become healthy.

    I guess being a parent means different things to different people. I hope the six babies are fine now.

  2. healthybpm

    Such a nice story Isabella! I have twins myself and when they were born prematurely and looked matchstick-like, all I wanted was for them to fight out their problems and become healthy.

    I guess being a parent means different things to different people. I hope the six babies are fine now.

  3. Pete Aldin

    This is a difficult one isn’t Isabella. Dad here in the story has a view-of-reality which is so ingrained that he honestly believes this transfusion to be more of a violation that rape.

    While I cannot abide the Jehovah’s Witness movement (it is deceptive, a vehicle for power for an unseen and unknown group of men, and lays too heaby a burnden on people’s backs), generally the people I have met who are “in” it are nice people. They’re not dispassionate, not callous – they have just had some pretty firm pathways laid in their brains which presecribe their behaviour and reactions.

    My heart goes out to them but this story is also a tragic metaphor of how beholden we are to habit and a singular perspective.

  4. Pete Aldin

    This is a difficult one isn’t Isabella. Dad here in the story has a view-of-reality which is so ingrained that he honestly believes this transfusion to be more of a violation that rape.

    While I cannot abide the Jehovah’s Witness movement (it is deceptive, a vehicle for power for an unseen and unknown group of men, and lays too heaby a burnden on people’s backs), generally the people I have met who are “in” it are nice people. They’re not dispassionate, not callous – they have just had some pretty firm pathways laid in their brains which presecribe their behaviour and reactions.

    My heart goes out to them but this story is also a tragic metaphor of how beholden we are to habit and a singular perspective.

  5. Jan Karlsbjerg

    If the Wikipedia information about this topic is correct, then this may all be a big show that ran its course to everybody’s satisfaction.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions

    Quote:

    […] # Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus’ shed blood.
    # When a Christian abstains from blood, he or she is in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem him or her and save his or her life.
    # Even in the case of an emergency, it is not permissible to sustain life with transfused blood.
    # Conscientious violation of this doctrine is a serious offense, after which a member is subject to organized shunning.

    Tadaaa. Everybody’s happy: Civilian society got to treat the kids as the doctors thought would be best, and the parents can tell their peers that they certainly didn’t consent to the treatment, so they won’t get shunned.

  6. Jan Karlsbjerg

    If the Wikipedia information about this topic is correct, then this may all be a big show that ran its course to everybody’s satisfaction.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions

    Quote:

    […] # Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus’ shed blood.
    # When a Christian abstains from blood, he or she is in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem him or her and save his or her life.
    # Even in the case of an emergency, it is not permissible to sustain life with transfused blood.
    # Conscientious violation of this doctrine is a serious offense, after which a member is subject to organized shunning.

    Tadaaa. Everybody’s happy: Civilian society got to treat the kids as the doctors thought would be best, and the parents can tell their peers that they certainly didn’t consent to the treatment, so they won’t get shunned.

  7. isabella mori

    peter – yes, i would say that the majority of jehovah’s witness people i have met are particularly nice people. i once worked in an office that for a strange reason had a high percentage of them, and they were very pleasant to work with. they also never made the least attempt to discuss religion.

  8. isabella mori

    peter – yes, i would say that the majority of jehovah’s witness people i have met are particularly nice people. i once worked in an office that for a strange reason had a high percentage of them, and they were very pleasant to work with. they also never made the least attempt to discuss religion.

  9. isabella mori

    # Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus’ shed blood.
    # When a Christian abstains from blood, he or she is in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem him or her and save his or her life.

    well, jan, having just said how nice my ex co-workers were, i can tell you how mystified i am at this very strange quote. it doesn’t make any sense at all, no matter how i twist it. so there are these nice people, and they think and adhere to beliefs that are incomprehensible … strange, strange …

  10. isabella mori

    # Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus’ shed blood.
    # When a Christian abstains from blood, he or she is in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem him or her and save his or her life.

    well, jan, having just said how nice my ex co-workers were, i can tell you how mystified i am at this very strange quote. it doesn’t make any sense at all, no matter how i twist it. so there are these nice people, and they think and adhere to beliefs that are incomprehensible … strange, strange …

  11. isabella mori

    aah, now i gotta smile, jan. we’ve had this conversation before! i really don’t think that all religions are constrictive and force people to think in irrational ways. for example, unitarians, the liberal versions of united church, anglicans and lutherans, numerous forms of buddhism, and many forms of paganism have all lots of room for people to think for themselves.

  12. isabella mori

    aah, now i gotta smile, jan. we’ve had this conversation before! i really don’t think that all religions are constrictive and force people to think in irrational ways. for example, unitarians, the liberal versions of united church, anglicans and lutherans, numerous forms of buddhism, and many forms of paganism have all lots of room for people to think for themselves.

  13. Ruth Stackhouse

    Isabella, you fail to take into consideration the facts. The facts are that the parents were twice given the option of “fetus reduction,” in other words, abortion when it was realized that the mother was carrying 6 babies. She was given this option twice, yet refused showing the utmost respect for life. The parents were also given the option of not resuscitating the babies at the time of birth (which would let them die) they also refused this option. Now they are accused of not respecting life because the refuse blood transfusions? Do you know anything about the history of Christianity at all? Why were christians in the first century persecuted and sometimes killed in the sports arenas? One reason is thay they would not worship the Roman Emperor, something that sometimes entailed drinking blood. Have you read Acts chapter 15? How would you explain the directions given by the surviving apostles to “abstain from blood?” If a doctor tells you to abstain from alcohol, would you consider connecting yourself to an alcohol drip feed? You have not even tried to look at the other side of the issue: the fact is that these parents love life and took fertility treatments to be able to create life. They did not abort and they provided resuscitation. There are many many alternatives to blood transfusions. Do some reading on E.P.A., micro testing (where only a tiny amount of blood is taken from the body of a newborn infant for testing to cut down on blood loss) Being forced to have the blood from someone else’s body is tantamount to rape, there is no question about it. Why is it that it would have been legal to not resuscitate these babies at the time of birth, to just “let them die” but it became illegal to not give them a blood transfusion? It is because of closed mined prejudice and pride. You need to do more reading on the subject before publishing your one-sided opinions.

  14. Ruth Stackhouse

    Isabella, you fail to take into consideration the facts. The facts are that the parents were twice given the option of “fetus reduction,” in other words, abortion when it was realized that the mother was carrying 6 babies. She was given this option twice, yet refused showing the utmost respect for life. The parents were also given the option of not resuscitating the babies at the time of birth (which would let them die) they also refused this option. Now they are accused of not respecting life because the refuse blood transfusions? Do you know anything about the history of Christianity at all? Why were christians in the first century persecuted and sometimes killed in the sports arenas? One reason is thay they would not worship the Roman Emperor, something that sometimes entailed drinking blood. Have you read Acts chapter 15? How would you explain the directions given by the surviving apostles to “abstain from blood?” If a doctor tells you to abstain from alcohol, would you consider connecting yourself to an alcohol drip feed? You have not even tried to look at the other side of the issue: the fact is that these parents love life and took fertility treatments to be able to create life. They did not abort and they provided resuscitation. There are many many alternatives to blood transfusions. Do some reading on E.P.A., micro testing (where only a tiny amount of blood is taken from the body of a newborn infant for testing to cut down on blood loss) Being forced to have the blood from someone else’s body is tantamount to rape, there is no question about it. Why is it that it would have been legal to not resuscitate these babies at the time of birth, to just “let them die” but it became illegal to not give them a blood transfusion? It is because of closed mined prejudice and pride. You need to do more reading on the subject before publishing your one-sided opinions.

  15. isabella mori

    thank you for your comment, ruth. it is always good to get a variety of opinions on these matters.

    you bring up an interesting point – the point, i guess, that is often under debate. what is life affirming? i hear you. to you, refusing abortion and opting for resuscitation is life affirming. i respect that point of view. these are not easy questions.

    yes, i know a little about the history of christianity. and in acts 15, verses 10-11, in the message translation, it says:

    “so why are you now trying to out-god god, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?”

    i would interpret that to mean that inflexible rules such as not allowing transfusions are “crushing.”

    are you saying that accepting blood transfusions is the same as worshipping a roman emperor by drinking blood?

    you say, “being forced to have the blood from someone else’s body is tantamount to rape, there is no question about it.”

    perhaps you have no question about it. i do. i cannot make that connection.

    as i said, though, i feel with the parents. i just don’t understand them. having these two paradoxes live together within me is part of my spirituality. and your spirituality is a little different. as i said, i think it’s good to exchange opinions about this.

  16. isabella mori

    thank you for your comment, ruth. it is always good to get a variety of opinions on these matters.

    you bring up an interesting point – the point, i guess, that is often under debate. what is life affirming? i hear you. to you, refusing abortion and opting for resuscitation is life affirming. i respect that point of view. these are not easy questions.

    yes, i know a little about the history of christianity. and in acts 15, verses 10-11, in the message translation, it says:

    “so why are you now trying to out-god god, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?”

    i would interpret that to mean that inflexible rules such as not allowing transfusions are “crushing.”

    are you saying that accepting blood transfusions is the same as worshipping a roman emperor by drinking blood?

    you say, “being forced to have the blood from someone else’s body is tantamount to rape, there is no question about it.”

    perhaps you have no question about it. i do. i cannot make that connection.

    as i said, though, i feel with the parents. i just don’t understand them. having these two paradoxes live together within me is part of my spirituality. and your spirituality is a little different. as i said, i think it’s good to exchange opinions about this.

  17. Ruth Stackhouse

    Isabella, thank you for reading my message and looking at Acts chapter 15. You cite verses 10 and 11 and then wrote, “I would interpret that to mean that inflexible rules such as not allowing transfusions are “crushing.”

    I’m sorry but that is not a correct interpretation if you look at the context. Please take into consideration the context and read verses 28 and 29. The context of Acts chapter 15 is that the Hebrew (Jewish) Christian converts were still imposing circumcision on other Christian converts that were not Jewish. This posed a problem for “Gentile” Christians converts from non-Jewish backgrounds. Would grown Greek and Roman men who had become Christians now have to get themselves circumcised? This caused a heated dispute in some of the newly founded Christian congregations (see verse 2) so Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to speak with the apostles and older men. After much disputing, Peter starts to speak and it is he who says (to those disputing), “why are you now trying to out-god god, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?” This is obviously is in reference to those insisting on circumcision and other Jewish traditions that were hard to keep. Circumcision was something that God had commanded first to Abraham and later to all Israelites. (see Geneses 17:11 and Leviticus 12: 2,3) Even Jesus was circumcised, as he was born into a Jewish family. (see Luke 2:21) However, if you read on to Acts chapter 15:19-21 and verses 28,29 you see that the apostles and the older men had to make a decision about which laws would still apply to the Christian congregation. They unanimously decided, after much prayer and under Holy Spirit, they decided which of the Jewish laws would still apply to Christians. Namely, to not partake of anything that had been sacrificed to an idol; (at the time, meat that had been sacrificed in pagan rituals would later be sold at the market) abstain from blood, abstain from things strangled (since they had not been slaughtered properly) and abstain from fornication (“fornication” is from the Greek word Porneia and refers to any sex act outside of marriage and a number of practices such as bestiality and anal,oral sex that even married people would not perform) Anyone who considers themselves a Christian would to well to review the book of Acts from time to time, because what happened after Jesus death and the way decicions were made and the amazing growth of Christianity shows that those deciions had God’s approval.

    Of course, it is a very personal decision to “abstain from blood” Jehovah’s Witnesses do not go door-to-door trying to convince people that they should not accept blood transfusions. But it is a decision that each one has to make for him or herself, and in the case under question – a very difficult decision that parents sometimes have to make for their children. The fact is Jehovah’s Witnesses DO accept transfusions of blood alternatives. Were you able to do any reading on erythropoietin? (Otherwise known as E.P.O.?) And for surgery there are now “Cell Salvage” machings that collect, filter and restore your own blood back to you. Jehovah’s Witnesses do seek the best medical care they can find. They do not believe in “faith healing.”

    I feel extremely sorry for this couple and the extreme heartbreak that they must be going through. More than bening “life affirming,” the deciions they made to no abort and to provide resuciation show that they have the utmost respect for life.

    No doubt, their pain is compounded by negative, one-sided media and well-meaning social programs that do in fact try to “out-god God.” It shows what a topsy-turvy world we live in when abortions perfectly legal yet if you refuse a blood transfusion for your child you are labeled “unfit.”

    I apologize for calling you closed-minded. It appears that you are willing to look at both sides and I applaud you for that.

    Again, accepting or not accepting blood transfusions is a very personal decision and each human has to make his own decision. For those of us that try to guide our lives with the bible, it means “abstain.”

  18. Ruth Stackhouse

    Isabella, thank you for reading my message and looking at Acts chapter 15. You cite verses 10 and 11 and then wrote, “I would interpret that to mean that inflexible rules such as not allowing transfusions are “crushing.”

    I’m sorry but that is not a correct interpretation if you look at the context. Please take into consideration the context and read verses 28 and 29. The context of Acts chapter 15 is that the Hebrew (Jewish) Christian converts were still imposing circumcision on other Christian converts that were not Jewish. This posed a problem for “Gentile” Christians converts from non-Jewish backgrounds. Would grown Greek and Roman men who had become Christians now have to get themselves circumcised? This caused a heated dispute in some of the newly founded Christian congregations (see verse 2) so Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to speak with the apostles and older men. After much disputing, Peter starts to speak and it is he who says (to those disputing), “why are you now trying to out-god god, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?” This is obviously is in reference to those insisting on circumcision and other Jewish traditions that were hard to keep. Circumcision was something that God had commanded first to Abraham and later to all Israelites. (see Geneses 17:11 and Leviticus 12: 2,3) Even Jesus was circumcised, as he was born into a Jewish family. (see Luke 2:21) However, if you read on to Acts chapter 15:19-21 and verses 28,29 you see that the apostles and the older men had to make a decision about which laws would still apply to the Christian congregation. They unanimously decided, after much prayer and under Holy Spirit, they decided which of the Jewish laws would still apply to Christians. Namely, to not partake of anything that had been sacrificed to an idol; (at the time, meat that had been sacrificed in pagan rituals would later be sold at the market) abstain from blood, abstain from things strangled (since they had not been slaughtered properly) and abstain from fornication (“fornication” is from the Greek word Porneia and refers to any sex act outside of marriage and a number of practices such as bestiality and anal,oral sex that even married people would not perform) Anyone who considers themselves a Christian would to well to review the book of Acts from time to time, because what happened after Jesus death and the way decicions were made and the amazing growth of Christianity shows that those deciions had God’s approval.

    Of course, it is a very personal decision to “abstain from blood” Jehovah’s Witnesses do not go door-to-door trying to convince people that they should not accept blood transfusions. But it is a decision that each one has to make for him or herself, and in the case under question – a very difficult decision that parents sometimes have to make for their children. The fact is Jehovah’s Witnesses DO accept transfusions of blood alternatives. Were you able to do any reading on erythropoietin? (Otherwise known as E.P.O.?) And for surgery there are now “Cell Salvage” machings that collect, filter and restore your own blood back to you. Jehovah’s Witnesses do seek the best medical care they can find. They do not believe in “faith healing.”

    I feel extremely sorry for this couple and the extreme heartbreak that they must be going through. More than bening “life affirming,” the deciions they made to no abort and to provide resuciation show that they have the utmost respect for life.

    No doubt, their pain is compounded by negative, one-sided media and well-meaning social programs that do in fact try to “out-god God.” It shows what a topsy-turvy world we live in when abortions perfectly legal yet if you refuse a blood transfusion for your child you are labeled “unfit.”

    I apologize for calling you closed-minded. It appears that you are willing to look at both sides and I applaud you for that.

    Again, accepting or not accepting blood transfusions is a very personal decision and each human has to make his own decision. For those of us that try to guide our lives with the bible, it means “abstain.”

  19. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Quote:

    aah, now i gotta smile, jan. we’ve had this conversation before! i really don’t think that all religions are constrictive and force people to think in irrational ways.

    Well, I disagree. By their very definition, religions are belief systems that step outside the bounds of rationality and at some point or another resorts to “just because” or “Holy Spirit” or “God” or some other way of stopping the question of “Why?”.

    This includes the Unitarian church. As long as they only discuss tolerance, love, and other philosophical questions, they’re a philosophy society. But as soon as they do anything to warrant the “church” suffix, they’ve disqualified themselves from rationality.

    In a modern society that values rationality, moderate religions are more dangerous than extreme ones, because they make religion seem reasonable. And once society has accepted any part of “just because” or “Holy Spirit” or “God” as an argument of reason, the debate is no longer rational. You’ve just given everyone an “out” from reason and thought and allowed them to defer to mystical ideas they’ve read in books as authorities, and you’ve given up your right to argue with them, because “they’re entitled to their beliefs”.

    And if you do try to argue with them anyway, it often goes astray as when you were discussing the “out-God God” reference with Ruth.You stepped right into that one, Isabella: You quoted passages from the Book of Bart or the Log of Lisa or whatever and interpreted them. You played directly into the hands of The Faithful: What could had been an exchange about morals and ethics now turns into a debate completely within the domain of the religion.

    Can you imagine a political debate between a Conservative and a Liberal in 2007, where the entire discussion takes place within the domain of one of the parties, its texts and its history? Instead of arguing the merrits of some current topic based on their own political views, the two politicians would argue about what the first leader of the Conservative party _really_ meant when he said such-and-such, and should this be considered more or less important than what the seventh leader of the Conservative said about the same topic at a later time?

    Even if your interpretation of the Message of Marge had been a brilliant and “correct” historical analysis of the text, taking into account the the social, political, economical (etc) situation at the time, you would have “lost” the debate. Because besides the text itself, The Faithful also have a tradition of what the text probably means, invented over the years under the social, political, economical (etc) situation during the ages. So they’re not even living in accordance with words written thousands of years ago (which is their claim), but instead by the tradition built by thousands of people ove a period of two thousand years.

    Note that the whole “blood is bad” thing was introduced by The Watchtower in 1945 and developed since then [Source: The same Wikipedia entry about Jehovah’s Witnessas and blood transfusions, do correct it if you can show it to be incorrect, Ruth]. The entry also explains how many of the “allowed” surgical mechanisms really don’t live up to the letter of the “law”, but only kinda-sorta circumvents it, but somehow they’re allowed anyway (gotta keep those Jehova’s witnesses alive, you know). When new surgical techniques are invented that cause even less bloodloss, I’m sure that the currently allowed techniques will be disallowed as baaaad. What would that mean for the “souls” of the millions of Jehova’s Witnesses who had those techniques used on them, I wonder?

    Ruth wrote:
    I feel extremely sorry for this couple and the extreme heartbreak that they must be going through. More than bening “life affirming,” the deciions they made to no abort and to provide resuciation show that they have the utmost respect for life.

    We don’t know how this couple would have felt had they not been living their lives according to this one particular belief system. But yes, now, we know that they “must” be going through “extreme heartbreak”, because their belief system has told them that that’s what they’re supposed to do!

    Imagine that the couple had been free from religion and had faced the same situation. What would they have decided about the fetus reduction? What would they have decided about the recussitation? What would they have decided about the blood transfusion?

    These are ethical/moral questions that they would have had to consider for themselves. And their decisions would have depended on their background, their own morals, discussions with their friends and family, recommendations from the doctors, etc. Their decisions would probably have been more in tune with today’s society, and they would have had fewer problems with laws and authorities, they could have relied more on the advice offered by the doctors, etc.

    I think being free of religion would have made this situation much easier for them.

    But now that they’re not free of religion, yes, they “must” go through “extreme heartbreak”.

    Poor bastards. I feel for them too.

  20. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Quote:

    aah, now i gotta smile, jan. we’ve had this conversation before! i really don’t think that all religions are constrictive and force people to think in irrational ways.

    Well, I disagree. By their very definition, religions are belief systems that step outside the bounds of rationality and at some point or another resorts to “just because” or “Holy Spirit” or “God” or some other way of stopping the question of “Why?”.

    This includes the Unitarian church. As long as they only discuss tolerance, love, and other philosophical questions, they’re a philosophy society. But as soon as they do anything to warrant the “church” suffix, they’ve disqualified themselves from rationality.

    In a modern society that values rationality, moderate religions are more dangerous than extreme ones, because they make religion seem reasonable. And once society has accepted any part of “just because” or “Holy Spirit” or “God” as an argument of reason, the debate is no longer rational. You’ve just given everyone an “out” from reason and thought and allowed them to defer to mystical ideas they’ve read in books as authorities, and you’ve given up your right to argue with them, because “they’re entitled to their beliefs”.

    And if you do try to argue with them anyway, it often goes astray as when you were discussing the “out-God God” reference with Ruth.You stepped right into that one, Isabella: You quoted passages from the Book of Bart or the Log of Lisa or whatever and interpreted them. You played directly into the hands of The Faithful: What could had been an exchange about morals and ethics now turns into a debate completely within the domain of the religion.

    Can you imagine a political debate between a Conservative and a Liberal in 2007, where the entire discussion takes place within the domain of one of the parties, its texts and its history? Instead of arguing the merrits of some current topic based on their own political views, the two politicians would argue about what the first leader of the Conservative party _really_ meant when he said such-and-such, and should this be considered more or less important than what the seventh leader of the Conservative said about the same topic at a later time?

    Even if your interpretation of the Message of Marge had been a brilliant and “correct” historical analysis of the text, taking into account the the social, political, economical (etc) situation at the time, you would have “lost” the debate. Because besides the text itself, The Faithful also have a tradition of what the text probably means, invented over the years under the social, political, economical (etc) situation during the ages. So they’re not even living in accordance with words written thousands of years ago (which is their claim), but instead by the tradition built by thousands of people ove a period of two thousand years.

    Note that the whole “blood is bad” thing was introduced by The Watchtower in 1945 and developed since then [Source: The same Wikipedia entry about Jehovah’s Witnessas and blood transfusions, do correct it if you can show it to be incorrect, Ruth]. The entry also explains how many of the “allowed” surgical mechanisms really don’t live up to the letter of the “law”, but only kinda-sorta circumvents it, but somehow they’re allowed anyway (gotta keep those Jehova’s witnesses alive, you know). When new surgical techniques are invented that cause even less bloodloss, I’m sure that the currently allowed techniques will be disallowed as baaaad. What would that mean for the “souls” of the millions of Jehova’s Witnesses who had those techniques used on them, I wonder?

    Ruth wrote:
    I feel extremely sorry for this couple and the extreme heartbreak that they must be going through. More than bening “life affirming,” the deciions they made to no abort and to provide resuciation show that they have the utmost respect for life.

    We don’t know how this couple would have felt had they not been living their lives according to this one particular belief system. But yes, now, we know that they “must” be going through “extreme heartbreak”, because their belief system has told them that that’s what they’re supposed to do!

    Imagine that the couple had been free from religion and had faced the same situation. What would they have decided about the fetus reduction? What would they have decided about the recussitation? What would they have decided about the blood transfusion?

    These are ethical/moral questions that they would have had to consider for themselves. And their decisions would have depended on their background, their own morals, discussions with their friends and family, recommendations from the doctors, etc. Their decisions would probably have been more in tune with today’s society, and they would have had fewer problems with laws and authorities, they could have relied more on the advice offered by the doctors, etc.

    I think being free of religion would have made this situation much easier for them.

    But now that they’re not free of religion, yes, they “must” go through “extreme heartbreak”.

    Poor bastards. I feel for them too.

  21. Ruth Stackhouse

    So, Jan, how would you interpret Acts chapter 15? It is not the “book of Bart” or the “Log of Lisa” it is from the Bible, a book that Christians use to set their moral standards. Almost every hotel room has one. Most people have a bible at home. Many courts have you swear on a bible. It is a historical book. When people put into application what it says about family life, morals, their lives always improve. They stop gambling, smoking, cheating, and violent behavior. You might even want to consider the possibilty that it is inspired of God, because even if there is a small possibility that the bible is a book that men wrote under divine guidance and you choose to ignore that, what happens if you’re wrong?

    Of course people should be rational and there are many rational reasons to abstain from blood, aside from what the bible says. If you put to one side your opinions for a moment and look at the facts – why do doctors and nurses wear masks and plastic gloves when handling blood? If you could sit down with the person who donated the blood that you are going to receive, what kind of questions would you ask him or her? And even if you are fine with having a blood transfusion, why would you look down on Jehovah’s Witnesses for choosing not to when you take into consideration the risks? Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should try be more respectful of people who are very clean living and try to live by its standards. Thanks to bible standards, I have a successful marriage, my parents didn’t divorce but instead worked out their problems, I didn’t become a pregnant teenager, and I avoided drug use during the 80’s. If only you could see the tangible benefits that I have seen working with people and how their life drastically improves when they start living by the bible’s standards. In this filthy, pornographic, anything goes society it is truly refreshing to associate with people who have a moral code and ethics.

    Anyway, I agree with you that the world’s religions have failed miserably to make the world a better place and, you might be interested to know that the bible uses a prostitute to symbolize religions as a whole. In the prophecy, the prostitute is riding a wild beast (which symbolizes political powers) But then the beast turns around and devours her. This is found in the book of Revelation. Jehovah’s Witnesses just had a massive, international campaign where brochures in hundreds of languages were left in millions of homes on this subject.

    Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should know that when this prophecy comes true, and there are good reasons to believe that it will, the united nations along with worldwide support will put an end to the world’s religions. This, of course will spark very turbulent times when everyone’s faith will be tested. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, based on the bible, that when this happens it sparks a “domino effect” of other yet-to-be fulfilled prophecies that eventually leads to the Creator establishing his own loving government over the earth (otherwise known as God’s Kingdom) All Christians pray in the Lord’s prayer “let thy kingdom come and let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, yes – soon all religions will be dissolved as they do not represent God but soft-peddle the issues and are blood guilty of all the wars they have supported on both sides (“christian” and non-christian)
    Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only the Creator has the authority and the ability to govern earth, and he sent Jesus (who, according to the bible was the first spirit creature created, a “son”)to be born here to show that he cares about humans and wants us to get to know him. But, when the Creator sets up his Kingdom with Jesus as King over the earch, all will live in peace in a paradise.

    You might think this is all a fairytale but what hope do you have for the earth? If someone or something with higher power does not intervene, humans will definitely ruin it. They already are.

    This has been off topic from the blood transfusion issue, yet it is connected because you cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is.

    p.s. Wikpedia is not a reliable source of information on Jehovah’s Witnesses because it is not their official site. go to http://www.watchtower.org or http://www.jw-media.org for official doctrine. Or write to them and ask for some printed literature on the subject. The information on Wikpedia is not correct, because true Christians have been abstaining from blood since the time of Christ, not starting in 1945!

  22. Ruth Stackhouse

    So, Jan, how would you interpret Acts chapter 15? It is not the “book of Bart” or the “Log of Lisa” it is from the Bible, a book that Christians use to set their moral standards. Almost every hotel room has one. Most people have a bible at home. Many courts have you swear on a bible. It is a historical book. When people put into application what it says about family life, morals, their lives always improve. They stop gambling, smoking, cheating, and violent behavior. You might even want to consider the possibilty that it is inspired of God, because even if there is a small possibility that the bible is a book that men wrote under divine guidance and you choose to ignore that, what happens if you’re wrong?

    Of course people should be rational and there are many rational reasons to abstain from blood, aside from what the bible says. If you put to one side your opinions for a moment and look at the facts – why do doctors and nurses wear masks and plastic gloves when handling blood? If you could sit down with the person who donated the blood that you are going to receive, what kind of questions would you ask him or her? And even if you are fine with having a blood transfusion, why would you look down on Jehovah’s Witnesses for choosing not to when you take into consideration the risks? Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should try be more respectful of people who are very clean living and try to live by its standards. Thanks to bible standards, I have a successful marriage, my parents didn’t divorce but instead worked out their problems, I didn’t become a pregnant teenager, and I avoided drug use during the 80’s. If only you could see the tangible benefits that I have seen working with people and how their life drastically improves when they start living by the bible’s standards. In this filthy, pornographic, anything goes society it is truly refreshing to associate with people who have a moral code and ethics.

    Anyway, I agree with you that the world’s religions have failed miserably to make the world a better place and, you might be interested to know that the bible uses a prostitute to symbolize religions as a whole. In the prophecy, the prostitute is riding a wild beast (which symbolizes political powers) But then the beast turns around and devours her. This is found in the book of Revelation. Jehovah’s Witnesses just had a massive, international campaign where brochures in hundreds of languages were left in millions of homes on this subject.

    Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should know that when this prophecy comes true, and there are good reasons to believe that it will, the united nations along with worldwide support will put an end to the world’s religions. This, of course will spark very turbulent times when everyone’s faith will be tested. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, based on the bible, that when this happens it sparks a “domino effect” of other yet-to-be fulfilled prophecies that eventually leads to the Creator establishing his own loving government over the earth (otherwise known as God’s Kingdom) All Christians pray in the Lord’s prayer “let thy kingdom come and let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, yes – soon all religions will be dissolved as they do not represent God but soft-peddle the issues and are blood guilty of all the wars they have supported on both sides (“christian” and non-christian)
    Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only the Creator has the authority and the ability to govern earth, and he sent Jesus (who, according to the bible was the first spirit creature created, a “son”)to be born here to show that he cares about humans and wants us to get to know him. But, when the Creator sets up his Kingdom with Jesus as King over the earch, all will live in peace in a paradise.

    You might think this is all a fairytale but what hope do you have for the earth? If someone or something with higher power does not intervene, humans will definitely ruin it. They already are.

    This has been off topic from the blood transfusion issue, yet it is connected because you cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is.

    p.s. Wikpedia is not a reliable source of information on Jehovah’s Witnesses because it is not their official site. go to http://www.watchtower.org or http://www.jw-media.org for official doctrine. Or write to them and ask for some printed literature on the subject. The information on Wikpedia is not correct, because true Christians have been abstaining from blood since the time of Christ, not starting in 1945!

  23. isabella mori

    dear ruth

    you bring up a lot of points and i think for now i will just comment on two things

    you say

    However, if you read on to Acts chapter 15:19-21 and verses 28,29 you see that the apostles and the older men had to make a decision about which laws would still apply to the Christian congregation. They unanimously decided, after much prayer and under Holy Spirit, they decided which of the Jewish laws would still apply to Christians.

    one way of looking at this is to say that if they did that, why shouldn’t we? we, too, could say, okay, not drinking blood was a sensible idea back then but now, under different circumstances, and perhaps also with much prayer and guidance from the holy spirit, we decide which laws should still apply.

    you also say,

    you cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is

    that is an interesting point. let me think through that. first of all, dismissing someone’s belief is dangerous to begin with, although of course there are times when it’s necessary to at least attempt to refute someone’s belief (even though in most situations that won’t change the belief, at least not right away).

    but essentially, what you seem to be saying, ruth, is that some people choose their beliefs because these beliefs give hope.

    my comment about this is – how can this be differentiated from wishful thinking?

    also, hope is about the future, and the future is by its very nature uncertain and unknowable. choosing a belief solely on the basis of what is intrisically unknowable seems a little foolhardy to me.

    dismissing a belief means to evaluate it and find it lacking. now we obviously can’t evaluate a belief on something that we don’t know anything about. then the question is, on what basis should we evaluate beliefs?

  24. isabella mori

    dear ruth

    you bring up a lot of points and i think for now i will just comment on two things

    you say

    However, if you read on to Acts chapter 15:19-21 and verses 28,29 you see that the apostles and the older men had to make a decision about which laws would still apply to the Christian congregation. They unanimously decided, after much prayer and under Holy Spirit, they decided which of the Jewish laws would still apply to Christians.

    one way of looking at this is to say that if they did that, why shouldn’t we? we, too, could say, okay, not drinking blood was a sensible idea back then but now, under different circumstances, and perhaps also with much prayer and guidance from the holy spirit, we decide which laws should still apply.

    you also say,

    you cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is

    that is an interesting point. let me think through that. first of all, dismissing someone’s belief is dangerous to begin with, although of course there are times when it’s necessary to at least attempt to refute someone’s belief (even though in most situations that won’t change the belief, at least not right away).

    but essentially, what you seem to be saying, ruth, is that some people choose their beliefs because these beliefs give hope.

    my comment about this is – how can this be differentiated from wishful thinking?

    also, hope is about the future, and the future is by its very nature uncertain and unknowable. choosing a belief solely on the basis of what is intrisically unknowable seems a little foolhardy to me.

    dismissing a belief means to evaluate it and find it lacking. now we obviously can’t evaluate a belief on something that we don’t know anything about. then the question is, on what basis should we evaluate beliefs?

  25. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Interestingly put, Isabella. I’m glad to see that you asked for arguments outside of “just because” and “God did it, I know it in my heart”. How do we evaluate beliefs, indeed.

    Ruth, I don’t want to read and interpret lines and verses from your book. Didn’t you get the metaphor with the political debate? Current answers for moral right and wrong is not determined by a discussion of what the guys who wrote your book probably meant at the time.

    It is not the “book of Bart” or the “Log of Lisa” it is from the Bible, a book that Christians use to set their moral standards. Almost every hotel room has one. Most people have a bible at home. Many courts have you swear on a bible. It is a historical book.

    Ahh, history and tradition, now there’s a fact-based topic.

    The short answer: Nope… the bible isn’t a historical book. In so far as anyone can really say “the bible” about anything, it must be about the thousands of different texts that go under the same name, but that in reality differ widely in their content as well as their standard interpretation.

    As for the interpretation: Stamp the cover of two otherwise identical “the bible” books with the names of two different churches, and the two books take on separate meanings because of the history and tradition within the different churches. When these identical books are used in two different churches, different parts of the book are emphasized, different parts are de-emphasized.

    As for the content, guess what… it has provenly changed over time. Check out the ten commandments as they appeared in the original King James’ translation. Quite different from the “modern” versions in language as well as in substance. Let’s just take commandments 1 and 10 here:

    1. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves

    Go forth and kill the infidels. Destroy their churches. Burn their crops.

    10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Never eat veal and milk together.

    Apparently you’re breaking the tenth commandment if you don’t eat kosher! Who knew?! Probably very few living “Christians” knew that, because “the” book has been changed many times since the creation of the King James version of “the” bible, even in these supposedly central, God-given and unalterable parts. Stone tablets carried down from a mountain by an old man, no less, but hey, the times they are a’changing, so the ten commandments change with them. Various versions of today’s “modern” bible have commandments that make a little more sense. Don’t kill, don’t lie, etc. An interesting, if highly redundant (as George Carlin will be happy to tell you) list of moral and religious rules.

    Modern, peace loving people point to new testament quotes as the reasons for their peaceful behavior. A few hundred years ago other people pointed to other quotes from the new testament as the word of god that they had to plunder other nations (that weren’t Christian) and torture their own people if they disagreed on any part of the theology.

    The same book?

    Probably not the same book, and certainly not the same interpretation.

    You cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is

    If your hope for the future really is that something magical will happen and jesus and god and the rest of the gang will set everything straight, then you’re as loonie as Bush’s fundamentalist backers who want the Middle East to come to a boil because only then will their preferred prophecies come to pass, and jesus and tribulation and blah blah.

    I really, really hope that some rational minds come to the fore. Someone whose hope for the future rests on us humans figuring things out for ourselves, rather than depending on supernatural beings to fix everything. Then we might get some work done.

    You might even want to consider the possibilty that it is inspired of God, because even if there is a small possibility that the bible is a book that men wrote under divine guidance and you choose to ignore that, what happens if you’re wrong?

    Ah, the classic “scare them into believing”. Now what kind of conversion would that be? You want me to believe in your belief system “just in case”? And do the actions and go to the meetings out of fear?

    Let’s see how it works on you, shall we? Ruth, you might want to consider the possibility that Billy Ray Bob, the “crazy” (you know that’s what all prophets are called in their own country) homeless guy down on Granville Street has it right. Because what happens if he’s right and you choose to ignore him? Better study the religion that he’s preaching and follow the rules he’s rambling off (under divine guidance, of course), because what would happen if you were wrong?

    Put differently: As a Christian, you deny thousands of gods that other humans believe in. I deny just one more god than you. Get over it, and stop pushing your particular god on me. I — like you — have rejected thousands of gods, yours is just one more, no better or worse than all the others.

    Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should know that when this prophecy comes true…

    Regardless of what I feel, I should know that the things your faith describes will come to pass in the world?! It seems to me that you don’t have much respect for my world view. After I’ve said very clearly that rationality is my game, you persist with arguments whose only value or authority is your own belief; something that exists only inside your own head. How’s that going to convince me, the rationalist, of anything?

    Don’t tell me that the “proof” can be found in an old book written by people thousands of years ago, maybe under guidance from a supernatural being, and that this book has gone unchanged through the ages. Clearly this hasn’t happened (see above).

    Just admit that you believe simply because you believe. God did it. Just because. Etc. There is no rational reason that you believe, you just do.

    Note that I’m not trying to convince you that you shouldn’t believe what you believe. You read some stuff in a book and you think it’s full of good ideas. Fine. You may even truly believe in the mystical parts of what you’ve read and learned. I don’t care. It may be true for you somewhere, but don’t tell me that any of it is actually true, you know, in the real world, independent of your belief. And don’t tell others that they should believe the same stuff you believe.

    It’s great that you have a successful marriage, that you didn’t do drugs in the 80’s, that your parents stayed together, etc. Me too, me neither, my parents too. And somehow the people involved in my history all managed to get there without following the guidance of a religious text.

    I say that makes our accomplishments more remarkable: We turned out to be good / kind/ moral / disciplined / (whatever) people on our own accord. We acted from our own moral compasses, not because we read a recipe in a book.

    I think I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter if you know all of the quotes and interpretations in the bible… that it’s more important that you lead a good life. And you definitely don’t need religion to do that.

  26. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Interestingly put, Isabella. I’m glad to see that you asked for arguments outside of “just because” and “God did it, I know it in my heart”. How do we evaluate beliefs, indeed.

    Ruth, I don’t want to read and interpret lines and verses from your book. Didn’t you get the metaphor with the political debate? Current answers for moral right and wrong is not determined by a discussion of what the guys who wrote your book probably meant at the time.

    It is not the “book of Bart” or the “Log of Lisa” it is from the Bible, a book that Christians use to set their moral standards. Almost every hotel room has one. Most people have a bible at home. Many courts have you swear on a bible. It is a historical book.

    Ahh, history and tradition, now there’s a fact-based topic.

    The short answer: Nope… the bible isn’t a historical book. In so far as anyone can really say “the bible” about anything, it must be about the thousands of different texts that go under the same name, but that in reality differ widely in their content as well as their standard interpretation.

    As for the interpretation: Stamp the cover of two otherwise identical “the bible” books with the names of two different churches, and the two books take on separate meanings because of the history and tradition within the different churches. When these identical books are used in two different churches, different parts of the book are emphasized, different parts are de-emphasized.

    As for the content, guess what… it has provenly changed over time. Check out the ten commandments as they appeared in the original King James’ translation. Quite different from the “modern” versions in language as well as in substance. Let’s just take commandments 1 and 10 here:

    1. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves

    Go forth and kill the infidels. Destroy their churches. Burn their crops.

    10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Never eat veal and milk together.

    Apparently you’re breaking the tenth commandment if you don’t eat kosher! Who knew?! Probably very few living “Christians” knew that, because “the” book has been changed many times since the creation of the King James version of “the” bible, even in these supposedly central, God-given and unalterable parts. Stone tablets carried down from a mountain by an old man, no less, but hey, the times they are a’changing, so the ten commandments change with them. Various versions of today’s “modern” bible have commandments that make a little more sense. Don’t kill, don’t lie, etc. An interesting, if highly redundant (as George Carlin will be happy to tell you) list of moral and religious rules.

    Modern, peace loving people point to new testament quotes as the reasons for their peaceful behavior. A few hundred years ago other people pointed to other quotes from the new testament as the word of god that they had to plunder other nations (that weren’t Christian) and torture their own people if they disagreed on any part of the theology.

    The same book?

    Probably not the same book, and certainly not the same interpretation.

    You cannot dismiss someone’s beliefs without knowing what their hope for the future is

    If your hope for the future really is that something magical will happen and jesus and god and the rest of the gang will set everything straight, then you’re as loonie as Bush’s fundamentalist backers who want the Middle East to come to a boil because only then will their preferred prophecies come to pass, and jesus and tribulation and blah blah.

    I really, really hope that some rational minds come to the fore. Someone whose hope for the future rests on us humans figuring things out for ourselves, rather than depending on supernatural beings to fix everything. Then we might get some work done.

    You might even want to consider the possibilty that it is inspired of God, because even if there is a small possibility that the bible is a book that men wrote under divine guidance and you choose to ignore that, what happens if you’re wrong?

    Ah, the classic “scare them into believing”. Now what kind of conversion would that be? You want me to believe in your belief system “just in case”? And do the actions and go to the meetings out of fear?

    Let’s see how it works on you, shall we? Ruth, you might want to consider the possibility that Billy Ray Bob, the “crazy” (you know that’s what all prophets are called in their own country) homeless guy down on Granville Street has it right. Because what happens if he’s right and you choose to ignore him? Better study the religion that he’s preaching and follow the rules he’s rambling off (under divine guidance, of course), because what would happen if you were wrong?

    Put differently: As a Christian, you deny thousands of gods that other humans believe in. I deny just one more god than you. Get over it, and stop pushing your particular god on me. I — like you — have rejected thousands of gods, yours is just one more, no better or worse than all the others.

    Regardless of how you feel about the bible, you should know that when this prophecy comes true…

    Regardless of what I feel, I should know that the things your faith describes will come to pass in the world?! It seems to me that you don’t have much respect for my world view. After I’ve said very clearly that rationality is my game, you persist with arguments whose only value or authority is your own belief; something that exists only inside your own head. How’s that going to convince me, the rationalist, of anything?

    Don’t tell me that the “proof” can be found in an old book written by people thousands of years ago, maybe under guidance from a supernatural being, and that this book has gone unchanged through the ages. Clearly this hasn’t happened (see above).

    Just admit that you believe simply because you believe. God did it. Just because. Etc. There is no rational reason that you believe, you just do.

    Note that I’m not trying to convince you that you shouldn’t believe what you believe. You read some stuff in a book and you think it’s full of good ideas. Fine. You may even truly believe in the mystical parts of what you’ve read and learned. I don’t care. It may be true for you somewhere, but don’t tell me that any of it is actually true, you know, in the real world, independent of your belief. And don’t tell others that they should believe the same stuff you believe.

    It’s great that you have a successful marriage, that you didn’t do drugs in the 80’s, that your parents stayed together, etc. Me too, me neither, my parents too. And somehow the people involved in my history all managed to get there without following the guidance of a religious text.

    I say that makes our accomplishments more remarkable: We turned out to be good / kind/ moral / disciplined / (whatever) people on our own accord. We acted from our own moral compasses, not because we read a recipe in a book.

    I think I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter if you know all of the quotes and interpretations in the bible… that it’s more important that you lead a good life. And you definitely don’t need religion to do that.

  27. isabella mori

    I’m glad to see that you asked for arguments outside of “just because” and “God did it, I know it in my heart”.

    errr … those two don’t really count as arguments, do they? and i’m trying to imagine how much of a glutton for punishment i would have to be to ASK for such arguments. or maybe it would just be part of a play a la ionesco.

  28. isabella mori

    I’m glad to see that you asked for arguments outside of “just because” and “God did it, I know it in my heart”.

    errr … those two don’t really count as arguments, do they? and i’m trying to imagine how much of a glutton for punishment i would have to be to ASK for such arguments. or maybe it would just be part of a play a la ionesco.

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