Loading

Should you feed Grandpa? Depends on your 'worldview'

Mary Hasson

My friend, Marci, drives a basketball carpool every week, carting her teenage son and his teammates to practices and games. So she hears a lot, from the boys, about their daily lives.

One conversation a few weeks ago sent chills up her spine.

“How’s your Grandpa doing?” Marci asked Trey, an occasional rider.

Trey’s Grandpa had been in the hospital, a few states away, for two months after suffering a systemic infection that left him weak and unable to breathe on his own. Trey’s aunts and uncles had been taking turns visiting, flying down to spend time with him and watch over his care.

“Well, not so good,” said Trey.

And then, in a matter-of-fact tone, he added, “But they stopped feeding him last week. The doctor said now he’ll die naturally, on his own, sometime this week.”

Marci’s jaw dropped. She didn’t know what to say. Trey’s parents were nice people, not attached to any particular faith, but trying to raise good kids. And yet here was Trey nonchalantly describing his extended family’s decision to starve his Grandpa as a “natural” death.

When the other boys left the car, Marci’s own son turned to her, aghast, and said, “What’s up with that? Stop feeding him so he’ll die?!”

What’s up with that? It’s “worldview” in action.

What’s a “worldview?”

Our worldview is the lens through which we see the world—it’s anchored to the truths we believe and reflected in the shape of our decisions.

It’s the window through which we interpret our world, find meaning, and make decisions about right and wrong.

Decisions like whether or not we should continue feeding Grandpa.

Secular or Christian Worldview?

The sharp divide between these two worldviews begins at the beginning…with their premises.

While the Christian worldview centers on God (and acknowledges that God is in charge and we are not), the secular worldview exalts “me and my happiness.”

That’s an easy sell. Daily messages from the media, entertainment, counselors, doctors--even nominally religious folks--reinforce the secular worldview that it’s “all about me.”

And ideas that once seemed unthinkable blend into the cultural “white noise”— hardly noticed, rarely challenged, but imprinted in mind and memory.

Ideas like…

“We can’t really know what’s true. You have your truth, I have mine.”
“What’s wrong for me might be right for you.”
“What really matters is that you’re happy.”
“You’re entitled to get what you want. Now.”
“You’ve got to think about yourself first.”
“'Quality of life’ matters more than life itself.”
“Some lives aren’t worth living.”

Unless consciously overridden, these ideas trigger a secular worldview by default – even among those who wear the Christian label.

The result? Flawed moral reasoning.

The results can be deadly, as Grandpa discovered.

Christian morality begins with the question, “What does God say about this?” The secular culture first asks, “How do you feel about that?”

Trying to decide whether Grandpa gets fed by asking, “How do I feel about that?” is like trying to drop a moral plumb line onto a deck that’s pitching and tossing on waves of emotion.

It won’t work.

As Christians, our moral reasoning begins with the truth revealed by God. And our moral plumb line drops straight from one level (“What does God say?”) to the next (“What does the Church teach?”), defining the scope of our solutions.

“Solutions” incompatible with God’s teachings get dumped out of the “solutions” bucket from the start, before we ever ask ourselves, “How do I feel about that?”

Ironically, Catholics who reject the moral teachings of the Church miss one of God’s great mercies it’s precisely those teachings that offer clarity, direction, and peace about how God wants us to act.

So, starving Grandpa is not an option. Pope John Paul II put it this way: “Water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.”

Everyone has a worldview – from the doctors who proposed a “Do Not Feed” solution, to the utilitarian ethicists on hospital staffs, to the clerk in the hospital gift store.

Trey’s family has a worldview.

And so do you.

The question is, which one?

Someone’s life may depend on getting it right.

Topics: Bioethics , Culture , Health

Mary Rice Hasson, the mother of seven, is a Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. She blogs at wordsfromcana.

View all articles by Mary Hasson

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

RECENT POSTS

OUR TOPICS

Abortion (42)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (2)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (14)  Church teaching (28)  Contraception (22)  Culture (119)  Current Events (85)  Dating (15)  Death (4)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (12)  Eucharist (3)  Exercise (3)  Faith (213)  Family (86)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (12)  Fertility (2)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (17)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (14)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (12)  Liturgical Year (9)  Marian devotion (8)  Marriage (33)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (1)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (4)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (55)  Movies (1)  Music (4)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (44)  Personal Growth (105)  Politics (3)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (31)  Pro-Life (26)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (4)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (10)  Saints (9)  Scripture (6)  Service (8)  Sexuality (18)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (13)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (3)  Women's Health (20)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (8)  Young Women (39) 

Apr
16

Liturgical Calendar

April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Gospel
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 50:4-9a
Gospel:: Mt 26:14-25

Homily of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Homily
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: