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Archive for October, 2009

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Give praise to the Lord,
he has heard my cry for help.
The Lord protects and defends me; I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad;
I praise him with joyful songs.
— Ps. 28. 6,7

Be strong, be courageous,
all you that hope in the Lord.
Ps. 31:24

We put our hope in the Lord,
he is our protector and our help.
We are glad because of him,
we trust in his holy name.
May your constant love be with us, Lord,
as we put our hope in you.
Ps. 33.20-22

Why am I so sad?
Why am I so troubled?
I will put my hope in god,
and once again I will praise him,
my savior and my God.
Ps 42.11

I am like an olive tree growing
in the house of God;
I trust in his constant love
forever and ever.
I will always thank you God,
for what you have done;
in the presence of your people
I will proclaim that you are good.
Ps 52. 8,9

I will always put my hope in you;
I will praise you more and more.
I will tell of your goodness;
all day long I will speak of your salvation,
though it is more than I can understand.
I will go in the strength of the Lord God,
I will proclaim your goodness,
yours alone.
Ps. 71. 14-16
bigstockphoto_Heaven_3092preview

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The New York Times has a fascinating article on M.D. Anderson, the Houston cancer hospital, complete with all the heartache and frustrations that medical caregivers and patients suffer at that world-renowned specialty hospital.
The article is made all the more interesting by the fact that two of the cancer patients featured in the piece are an M.D. Anderson nurse and doctor. It’s one thing to be a doctor or nurse who is in control of treating cancer patients all day, day in and day out. It’s another thing–as these two medical caregivers learned–to become a cancer patient yourself.
The article is a lengthy and in-depth look at the dynamics of cancer and cancer treatment and well worth looking up and reading.
An excerpt that I as a chaplain found especially interesting was this one:
“But there is still little that can be done for most of those whose cancer has spread. And, Dr. Berry said, “that is a fact that doctors at M. D. Anderson can have a hard time facing, understandably so.”
Dr. Russell Harris, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina and a member of a board that evaluates cancer therapies for the National Institutes of Health, said the temptation at major cancer centers like Anderson was to try treatment after treatment.
“Everyone is totally immersed in the idea that death is the enemy,” Dr. Harris said. Such a no-holds-barred stance, he added, is spurring a growing debate in the cancer community.
“There is a lot of concern within the oncology community right now, and appropriately so, that people don’t completely understand what they are getting into,” Dr. Harris said.
An aggressive — and expensive — course of treatment can place a huge burden on patients. Ms. Lanoux knows that all too well. She came hoping for a cure for her advanced melanoma, but got her first dose of reality the day she walked into the main lobby.
She saw patients in wheelchairs, their heads sunken on their chests. She saw patients who had lost their hair, patients wearing sky-blue masks to protect them from infections. And there were the children. She had to avert her eyes. “I still can’t look at the kids,” Ms. Lanoux said.
“I think we were all trying to be very brave,” she said. “But it was like walking into a coffin.”

Indeed, it’s been my experience, as it is with most all chaplains I know, that Oncologists will treat and treat and keep treating–to the point of perhaps doing more harm than good. As cold and harsh as that may sound to some people, there comes a time when it’s far better to stop treatment and let the natural dying process take its course. I always say that God brings us into the world kicking and screaming in the natural way that God created, and God will allow us to go out of this world peacefully if we allow the body to shut down naturally—the way that God created. You can keep a patient comfortable and pain-free, for the most part, with meds while allowing the natural dying process unfold.
Please don’t misunderstand–I’m not saying that Oncologists intentionally do more harm than good by prolonging what are often futile treatments. Miracles do happen and treatments can boost, shall we say, the probability of miracles.
But there also is the law of diminishing returns from treatments, and treatments really can be counter-productive.
Aggressive treatment, as the doctor quoted above says, really can be a burden on a patient–I know exactly of what he is speaking. And yes, as heartless as it may sound to cite the finances involved in the equation, aggressive treatments are expensive and the expenses add to the emotional burdens.
I don’t know any doctor who’s not all about curing and saving a patient at any cost, but I always say that there are worse things than dying. I say that as one who believes with all the faith in the world that dying and going home to God can be a lot better than prolonged suffering when a body has been thoroughly attacked and defeated by a disease like cancer.
Oncologists–God bless them–have a hard time seeing sometimes that death really is not always the enemy. They live so close to the pain and misery and suffering that cancer causes that they have the hardest time of any doctors accepting that death is not always the enemy. The disease is the enemy. Death can be, and often is, not only the only cure, but also the most merciful and compassionate course.
Which is to say, the most Godly course.
And please, people who think that we all are made to live forever spare me comments about me arguing for euthenasia here. The debates and arugments on this matter are not about killing people to put them out of their misery. Quite to the contrary, it’s about having a so-called “good death” as opposed to prolonging the death process.
When it’s your time, there’s not a medicine, a treatment, a doctor, an angel or one more miracle that’s going to stop the certainty of it.
There’s only one way out of this world to one better, but there is such a thing as hell on earth.

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candlesSimple living has been one of the abiding themes in the spiritual writings and teachings of Richard J. Foster, our jitterbuggingforjesus.com appreciatee of the month of October. In his 1978 classic, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Foster goes so far as to argue the case for Christian simplicity with the provocative assertion that “the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic.”

Because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’* Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescene takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick. Until we see how unbalanced our culture has become at this point, we will not be able to deal with the mammon spirit within ourselves nor will we desire Christian simplicity.
This psychosis permeates even our mythology. The modern hero is one who purposefully becomes rich rather than one who voluntarily becomes poor. . . . Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudence. Greed we call industry. . . .
Courageously, we need to articulate new, more human ways to live. We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. We should experiment with bold new alternatives to the present death-giving system. The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is not a lost dream, but a recurrent vision throughout history. It can be recaptured today. It must be.”

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Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Me & My Girls, Amy & Megan McKay

Me & My Girls, Amy & Megan McKay

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Hubbard Electrometer, 1968
American science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard uses his Hubbard Electrometer to determine whether tomatoes experience pain, 1968. His work led him to the conclusion that tomatoes “scream when sliced.” Church of Scientology’s most famous member and promoter, of course, is Tom Cruise.
In this photo: L. Ron Hubbard
Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images

L. Ron Hubbard with his invention

L. Ron Hubbard with his invention

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water circle

water circle

water ripple

water splash

WaterDrop

WaterShroom

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Adam McKay is 26 and Megan Joy McKay is 19, both on Sunday, Oct. 25. Have a happy one, Meggles & Mo!

adam and me

ad meg & me

me & kids

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