Monday, February 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo And The Collapse of Secular Democratic Liberalism

The Old Oligarch hit a home run last Friday with a post titled "Terri Schiavo and Dei Filius". When I saw the title my first thought was "what the heck does a document from Vatican I have to do with Terri Schiavo?" Well, the difference between a real theologian like O.O. and an amateur like me is that he sees connections between our lives and theological truth which never occur to me until I read his essay and think "wow, he's on to something."

There's too much good stuff in his essay to try to reproduce here, but in a nutshell, the O.O. traces the devolution from the Reformation's exaltation of private judgment, to the Enlightenment's concept of the self-legislating moral conscience, to the modern Western notion of the self-defining person, cut loose from its Christian anthropological moorings. Hence our contemporary concept of the person has become almost plastic in meaning, at the whim of those who have the power to enforce their defintion. As O.O. writes:
Today, the lethal workings-out of that project are being carried out in the case of Terri Schiavo, whose avaricious, murderous husband will be permitted to starve her to death by the State of Florida. The lawyer even has the audacity to state that no legislator or legislation of any kind can attempt to save her without being "unconstitutional." His statement is true -- if "constitutional" is shorthand for "the bleeding-edge definition of who counts as a human being."

Read the whole thing, it's a little masterpiece of applied theology.