‘Fatherhood’: Touching, Hilarious Film About a Single Dad

Two Kisses for Maddy fatherhood book“Fatherhood” is a heartwarming and humorous film about a single dad doing his best to be a good parent to his daughter. Between the laughs, there are nuggets of wisdom about the parenting journey and the irreplaceable love and care of a father.

Recently on a flight — my first flight with my baby son — I was able to catch the 2021 comedy-drama Fatherhood, starring the irrepressible Kevin Hart of Jumanji fame. The film centres on single dad Matt Logelin, left alone with his baby daughter Maddy after Matt’s wife Liz unexpectedly dies following childbirth. It is based on a true story by the real Matt Logelin, published under the title Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love.

Matt’s mother-in-law Marion hovers around after Liz’s funeral, not trusting that Matt can actually look after her granddaughter. “What would I look like goin’ home before I know that you are capable of taking care of my newborn grandchild?” she asks.

Exasperated, Matt retorts: “How are you ever gonna know if you don’t let me do it?”

Community is Key

The story unfolds with Matt succeeding against all odds at being a single dad as well as the sole breadwinner. His buddies rally around to support him, despite their own lack of childrearing experience, and provide the friendship (and levity) that he needs to get through as he tackles cot-building, nappy-changing, and baby-soothing.

Unable to get the baby to sleep, Matt barges in on a parents’ group full of mothers and begs for advice. Armed with new pearls of wisdom (white noise!), Matt finally manages a good night’s sleep with the aid of the vacuum cleaner. He brings the baby to work, and along comes the vacuum too…

A work presentation turns topsy-turvy when the baby started wailing in the distance, but the clients, who happen to be parents as well, all chime in with their parenting tips. His boss Howard contemplates firing him: “This is a place of business, right? It’s not a place of babies.” Thankfully, Matt manages to keep his job and impress the clients.

Dads are Vital

In a vulnerable moment, Matt sighs, “You know Maddy, if you could have only one parent, I wish you could’ve had your mom.” Indeed, childrearing often comes more easily to mothers, and fathers can feel like a spare tyre at times, particularly during the early years — especially if the child is mainly breastfed.

However, research shows that the more hands-on a father is during his child’s infancy, the higher the child’s IQ and eventual chance of success in life.

Lacking a dad of his own, Matt turns to his father-in-law, Mike, for parenting advice. “Welcome to not knowing the right thing to do. That’s a dad speciality,” quips Mike. He is a friendly mentor for Mike, encouraging him through the tough times.

Precious

Marion turns up uninvited for the baby’s first medical appointment, which the child thankfully passes with flying colours. “Matthew, today was a good day for you as a parent. You keep all these little victories like you had today in a little box inside you. They’ll be your most prized possessions,” she tells him.

The movie depicts how Matt and Maddy develop as a father and a daughter, through her first years in school, navigating dress codes and dealing with bullies. They also have to adjust to new dynamics when Matt’s colleague introduces him to a lady to whom he takes a fancy.

Parenting is a challenging journey. At the same time, it is very rewarding and full of fun. Fatherhood portrays this wonderful mix of emotions and the personal growth of the main characters, with the single dad learning how to tend to his daughter’s needs and realising that, although his parents-in-law may be able to provide a good home for his daughter, they can’t quite replace him.

The film is full of poignant moments and well-timed hilarity. Available on Netflix, it makes for a good show for parents to laugh over together. Unfortunately, with several instances of swearing and some politically correct plot points (Maddy’s Catholic school is portrayed as archaic for insisting that all girls dress in the appropriate attire, and Matt makes some passing comments supporting transgender ideology), it is probably not advisable for younger children to watch.

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

The moving story in “Top Gun: Maverick” of a fatherless son’s journey toward healing is proving popular with audiences worldwide. This is a film highlighting the importance of fatherhood, portraying a tale of reconciliation and redemption.

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing box offices, and it’s easy to understand why.

The film is spectacularly outpacing its weak-because-they’re-woke counterparts, because the film’s unapologetic dad themes resonate.

Alongside the gutsy F-18 camera shots, audiences are in love with the Tom Cruise/Joseph Kosinski sequel because its father-son backstory hits home.

Even the, “it’s all flag-waving, MAGA propagandist tripe” critics are applauding the sequel for keeping to the consistency of the first film’s deep relational backbone.

As The Atlantic’s David Sims explained, the film’s ‘emotional weight rests on Pete Mitchell (Maverick) fighting to earn the respect of Goose’s son (Rooster), who blames Maverick for the tragic loss of his father.’

Childhood Memory

For me, Top Gun: Maverick cut deeper.

My family and I recently saw the film for a birthday bash. The only thing missing was my dad.

Watching the first Top Gun at the cinema with my dad was to be one of the only long-lasting positive memories I would have of him.

It was 1986, I was 9, and we’d turned up late to the cinema.

Missing the iconic afterburner intro of the first Top Gun, dad and I slid into our seats in rhythm with Tony Scott’s smooth golden orange sunset, shot high above a lone F-14 landing on the silhouette of the USS Enterprise.

It became a shared interest, a mutual pursuit, a common bond solely shared between father and son.

From the soundtrack, which always seemed to be on repeat in our broken-down housing commission home, to the old-school Amstrad computer game, the movie connected us.

This was true, right up until my dad’s final week, when, knowing he would never get a chance to wear it, I gifted him a T-shirt with the Top Gun logo on it.

Now covered in dust, I still hold onto the volumes of Warplane magazines he’d chosen to buy me, instead of paying “through the teeth” for participation in a weekend sport.

Healing

I related to the second film because of the first.

Similar to ‘Goose’s’ son in the film, I was confronted by what was lost, what might have been, and what my dad chose to abandon somewhere along the way.

The sequel made the memories all the more material when Val Kilmer (Iceman), tells Maverick — still haunted by the death of ‘Goose’ — “It’s time to let go.”

Seeing the first film at the cinema in 1986 with my dad was an oasis event, an anomaly of normalcy in a wasteland of ash.

This explains why, in almost every scene of Top Gun: Maverick, I heard, and felt my dad’s absence, and choked up at Hans Zimmer’s rendition of Faltermeyer’s iconic Top Gun anthem.

We’re taught in The Good Book to raise up thanksgiving in the face of suffering. Even the smallest object or event that is worthy of our gratitude puts points on the board when it comes to healing trauma.

In retrospect, watching Top Gun with my dad in ’86 was the first, and only time he offered me a healthy introduction to manhood.

His wasn’t perfect, but that was a perfect day. That day my dad did good, and for that I thank him.

For me, the only thing missing from Top Gun: Maverick was the man who took me to see the first one, sitting, at his best, beside me and my uber-impressed family.

Top Gun was, and is, about loss, grief, and recovery; fatherhood, and fatherlessness — as much as it is about courage, defiance, and the determination to overcome obstructions encountered along the way.

The sequel builds on its original father-son backstory. It is “dad cinema” at its very best.

To lean on Miles Surrey’s review in The Ringer,

‘Every single dad — past, present, and those who are expecting to be dads in the near future — should check out Maverick, if not for the sanctity of ensuring Dad Cinema doesn’t fade away, then for experiencing a blockbuster that surpasses its predecessor in every respect.’

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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Healing the Father Wound

Healing the Father Wound

Our human fathers may leave us with wounds, because they carry wounds themselves. But God the Father can make up for their failings and heal us from our pain.

I have old black and white photos of my dad and me when I was very young. They show him carrying me as a baby, nursing me on his knees and playing with me when I was a small boy.

I never doubted my dad’s love for me. Our home was never a place where I heard raised angry voices or felt fearful or abandoned by my dad.

He was a good man, who worked hard to provide for our family. There was never any doubt that dad loved all of us, my mum, little sister and myself.

Every year we enjoyed family holidays together, as well as regular gatherings with our uncles, aunties and cousins. Life was good.

Growing Apart

Time passed. I became a teenager, grew into adulthood and left home when I got married at the age of 23. The relationship between my dad and I changed throughout my years of growing up.

He was still a good man, but he was never a father I could talk to about deeper issues of life. Mum was a Christian, but Dad expressed no faith in God. Occasionally he would accompany us to the little Methodist church we attended. He would only stand in silence during the singing of the hymns.

Dad’s brother once told me that when he was a boy, three of his younger siblings, twin boys and a girl, died of childhood diseases before the age of 2. He was heard to say to his mum, “Why did God do that?”

As an adult, the relationship between my dad and I lacked any form of physical affection. My sister and I couldn’t remember a time in adult life when he ever said to us, “I love you.” If mum ever tried to show him any affection in front of us kids, dad would get very uncomfortable.

Grief

My first wife had been unwell for much of our married life and in 1989 underwent a transplant operation that did not have a good outcome. She remained in hospital for the next 6 months until her death at the age of 36.

Our families and many Christian friends were present in the ICU. It was time for the nurse on duty to turn off her life support equipment. Very quickly after this, my wife slipped quietly from us into the Lord’s presence.

I said my goodbye to her, then turned to my dad and said, “Dad, I need a hug.” As I went to him, he couldn’t do it himself. I had to physically lift his arms and wrap them around me.

Years later, Dad developed throat cancer. I was away on an overseas trip at the time but arrived home in time to spend one last hour with him. He lay sedated on his hospital bed and had not long to live.

Not knowing whether he could hear me or not, I spoke into his ear and told him how I loved him and was grateful that he had been my dad. I then took the opportunity to tell Dad how much God loved him and wanted to have him in eternity with Him.

Praying, I asked Dad, if he could hear me, to ask Jesus into his heart to forgive him of all his sins and bring him safely into His heavenly kingdom. One can never underestimate what someone in Dad’s state can still hear.

The hospital provided me with a room where I could stay the night to be near Dad. I went there to unpack, but wasn’t there long before a nurse arrived to tell me that Dad had just passed away.

Dad was 77 years old when he died. At the funeral, the lady chaplain spoke of the talks she had with Dad while in hospital. She told of the many times Dad had expressed his love for his son and daughter. These were, ironically, words that my sister and I had rarely if ever heard directly from his lips.

Life continued with my mum dying eight years later in a nursing home. Being parentless felt rather strange. One generation had passed, and we were left to carry on. In the process of growing up, physical scars of childhood accidents may be many and obvious, while the hidden wounds of parental deficiencies remain hidden to all, but not to God.

A Vision

Seven years later, I experienced a profound emotional healing. We never realise how unwell we are until we are restored to normal health. This is no less applicable to our emotional well-being.

I was attending a session at a Christian conference. The leader asked us all to move to a space in the auditorium where we could be alone with God in our thoughts.

Quiet worship music played in the background as we entered God’s presence. Our session leader was encouraging us to ask the Lord what He would like to show us or say to us.

Almost immediately, I saw Jesus’ bloodied hand impaled to the cross by a large nail. As I looked at the image in my mind, I heard the leader say over the microphone, “Put your hand in the hand of Jesus.”  She had no idea what I was looking at just then.

I felt that Jesus was inviting me to do just that, to put my hands in His hands. With my imagination, I placed one and then the other hand into both His hands on the cross, then stepped up onto His feet.

I was then stretched out in the shape of the cross with my face so close to His that we could look into each other’s eyes.

It was then the scene appeared to split in half, and I fell into Him and travelled down a long hallway till it seemed I was in the golden throne room with Father God. The vision was not crystal clear, and I couldn’t get any further into the vision.

After some time of lying there waiting on God for further revelation, our leader asked for people to share what visions they had received. I was the second to volunteer. As I stepped up to the mic and began sharing what I had seen, she asked me what it meant to me.

I then realised that by placing myself in Jesus’ arms, I had fallen into the Father’s arms. I then added that I could not remember my own father ever giving me a hug.

Having said that, I couldn’t continue speaking, but began to weep uncontrollably. The leader prayed for me and down I went on to the floor, sobbing deeply as a load of pushed down and accumulated hurt came to the surface.

I realised later that all my life I had felt alone (not lonely), but that I often felt like I didn’t belong or was always on the outer of things. Even in my own family, because my father never included me in his life with affection and hugs, I grew up feeling disconnected from life in general.

I always felt different from all my peers and often told my mum this. God was releasing these hurts out of my life. I honour my dad. He was a good man in many ways. He was the way he was because of his own life hurts.

My heavenly Father began setting me free so that I could receive His love, His spiritual hugs.

Early next morning I awoke with a clearer understanding of what I had seen in the vision. The ‘hallway’ was taking me through the veil of Jesus’ body that had been torn on the cross to give us access to the Father in the heavenly Holy of Holies!

Scripture confirms this vision in many places.

Hebrews 10:19,20-22 says,

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

John 14:6 says,

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

God wants to release us from the hurts caused unknowingly or knowingly by the imperfect love of our earthly parents. God is our true Father. In His love, He created us and draws us to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

Set aside some time with God. Let Him show you what He wants you to see or know. He will heal your hurts and then fill you with the Holy Spirit, He can impart the experience of Father God’s love for you. Accept His unconditional love.

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Photo by Alena Darmel.

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Easter: From Grief To Joy

Easter: From Grief To Joy

The resurrection event changed human history forever, giving us the firm hope of redemption and everlasting life. We still face death and suffering in our fallen world, but our sorrows and grief will not last — they will be replaced by joy and rejoicing.

Many Bible verses speak about a great reversal wherein those who are suffering and mourning end up rejoicing and praising God. Indeed, a great and marvellous theme of the biblical storyline in general, and of the Easter event in particular, is how God turns sorrow and grief into joy and rejoicing. Consider some of these terrific passages.

One such text is Psalm 30. In verses 4-5 we read:

Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints,
and give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
and His favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

And in verses 11-12 there are these memorable words:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!

Prophecy

Isaiah 61:1-3 is another well-known passage:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Jeremiah 31:10-14 says this:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”

Redeemed

And Jesus, just before He was to go to the cross and suffer horribly, told His disciples that their grief would soon be turned to joy. As we read in John 16:16-24:

“A little while, and you will see Me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does He mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him, so He said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of Me.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

This is the great hope of the Christian faith. Not only can we have forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ, not only will there be a resurrection in which the redeemed will go to be with the Lord forever, but even the sorrows and griefs we experience now will come to an end — in this life, partially, and in the next life, fully.

Loss

On Easter SundayResurrection Day — I awoke to the news that a Christian friend, Paul, had just passed away with leukemia. He and his family had raised a special needs child for many years. The wheelchair-bound Grant was lovingly looked after by Paul and his wife and daughter for so many years. Sadly Grant, the adopted son, passed away a few months ago. And then Paul, this wonderful caregiver, too has just passed away.

They are now both gone to be with the Lord. Pray for his surviving family members, please. They would be glad that both are now with Jesus, but they would also be grieving and mourning heavily right now. The sorts of passages I shared above would undoubtedly be going through their minds right now.

Of interest, just on Holy Saturday night, I was reflecting about all the friends and folks I have known over the years who have passed on and are now with the Lord. Like the Apostle Paul, I am torn: I would much prefer to be with the Lord, but it seems my time here is not yet finished.

I had told my friend Paul I wanted to write up his story, and do an interview with him as well. Neither one happened. But his story will be told for all eternity, because of His Story. What a difference the resurrection of Jesus makes!

God Died… and Rose Again

Let no one ever fool you into thinking Christianity is like all the other world religions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only biblical Christianity features a God who becomes one of us, dies in our place, is raised from the dead, and offers those who put their faith and trust in Him resurrection life as well.

Easter - The Crucifixion bookAs Fleming Rutledge put it in her important book, The Crucifixion:

“Christianity is unique. The world’s religions have certain traits in common, but until the gospel of Jesus Christ burst upon the Mediterranean world, no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man.”

Everything changes because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is something incomparable in all of human history. No wonder even our calendars are marked by the Christ event. Three concluding quotes all stress the absolute newness and utter uniqueness of what Christ did.

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night.

What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”
~ G. K. Chesterton,
The Everlasting Man, 1925

“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.”
~ C. S. Lewis, Miracles, 1947

“The cross, incomparably vindicated by the Resurrection, is the novum, the new factor in human experience, the definitive and world-changing act of God, that makes the New Testament proclamation unique in all the world.”
~ Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, 2015

Remember: because of the resurrection, your sorrow WILL be turned into joy — if not now, then in the next life. So hang in there, saints. One final passage from John 16:33 says:

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Afterword

After a bit of digging around on the internet, I found a song that speaks to this. Back in 1976, a roommate at a Christian college had this album and played it often. The song is Joy in the Morning.

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Painting: Ron DiCianni, The Resurrection.

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Euthanasia: Darkness on the Far Side of Midnight

Euthanasia: Darkness on the Far Side of Midnight

As the New South Wales Parliament debates the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill, we review why euthanasia and assisted suicide are fundamentally wrong, eroding our society’s care and concern for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and vulnerable.

As I write, the Parliament of New South Wales opens the process of passing or rejecting the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.

We thank God it didn’t pass in December, but a temporary ‘stay of execution’ isn’t enough; this potential legislation must be stopped.

Let me say from the outset, this topic is a keg of gunpowder, filled with emotions that cover the whole gamut of our inadequate human condition.

Mercy Killing

As we hope that everyone loves and feels compassion for our fellow man, our family and loved ones, it’s easier and more comfortable to believe in ‘the best of intentions’.

This topic smacks us in the face. It brings to the surface our own physical frailty and earthly limitations. It forces us to confront our own death; hence the natural, almost guttural response to the questions posed.

“Do you want people to suffer?”

“Isn’t this their choice?”

“What about dignity and quality of life?”

“If you’re a Christian, how can you want people to live with pain and disabilities that we can help in this civilised society?”

So, let me state from the outset that the Canberra Declaration is pro-life, and that without apology. God is our Creator, and He knew us from the womb; He knows us and loves us. We believe in the Bible and God’s promises of eternity; our lives are sacred to Him.

A Painful Passing

The title of my story is how I felt, some four and a half years ago.

Mum was 88 when she passed away from here, into the arms of her Saviour. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer some two years before, she had a tumour the size of a large rockmelon. That diagnosis came out of the blue, with no indication or warning, no pain.

Mum struggled with depression and anxiety. Though she had kept it in check for decades, she spiralled rapidly into tragic depths. Trying to get treatment for her was a dance with inadequacy and apathy.

When mum went into a high care facility, we were assured that she would have 24/7 care. Palliative care was in operation there. That gave us peace of mind. When pain became the issue, it could be alleviated.

When she could no longer eat, or barely drink, the staff rang and said they were moving her to the palliative care room. This was about three or four in the afternoon.

Are we ever prepared for this? I don’t think so.

Mum was not only lucid, but she also wasn’t in much discomfort. However, mum was very noisy at night. Calling out for me, disturbing the other residents…

We envisioned her being there for a few days as nature took its course, but with the pain alleviated. Instead, she was immediately given a shot to calm her down, as she was very scared and upset. Mum fought the meds with everything she had, continually yelling: “No!

We prayed and sang to her as she settled, then it happened all over again. My middle son arrived some hours later to say goodbye, and comfort us and his nana. By that time, she had succumbed to several rounds of morphine or midazolam. This was terrifying to her, to us.

There was no gentle way; it was almost coordinated ‘convenience’.

As I was near collapse, Ivan insisted on taking me home around 10.30pm. Upon leaving, I begged staff to sit with her, that she not pass alone. They gladly assented to my request.

The enemy whispered: ‘Could you not even wait with me over the night?’ Immediately, the attack came.

On the darkest side of midnight, she left. We felt no dignity. There was no peace, not from this experience. We were consumed by grief and guilt.

It took me three years to come to terms with this truth. God alone has given me peace, knowing she’s waiting for us. Were she given the chance of coming back to this poor fallen world, I’m certain she would laugh at the opportunity: “for in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

A Frightful Prospect

The NSW Parliament stands on the precipice, looking into the abyss in the dark hours past midnight.

Many other states have made the decision to launch into this, boots and all; many countries carry out voluntary assisted dying and are rife with examples of abuse. There are horrible stories from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada.

When we legalise the authority and responsibility for taking or helping to take another person’s life, however well-intentioned the legislation, it will without a doubt be abused. We do not even practise capital punishment in Australia anymore.

Greed, inhumanity, inconvenience, and devaluing human worth, come in a folder placed upon a table rocking with instability, rotted sin and shifting moral standards. Doctors are prone to make less-than-noble decisions, because they are human.

Here is an article that is both pertinent and personal, by a doctor who opposed South Australia’s bill.

Excerpts from Dissenting Statements on proposed VAD Bill 2021
New South Wales Parliament

A fundamental change to law, medicine and society

Stakeholders argued that the bill would fundamentally change the criminal law in New South Wales by effectively creating a new character category of justifiable homicide, creating broad exceptions to the criminal law prohibitions of murder, as well as of aiding, abetting, inciting or counselling another person to commit suicide.

The Australian Care Alliance argued that, as the bill would bring about profound changes to the criminal law, it should be subject to the most careful scrutiny, and that proper tests for its safety ought to be the same ones that are usually applied to any proposal to reintroduce capital punishment:

  • Can we craft a law that will ensure there will not be even one wrongful death?
  • Can we ensure that any deaths under this law are humane — that is, both rapid and peaceful?

The committee also heard that introducing VAD may send a dangerous message to people who are sick, in that they may feel compelled to access the scheme because they felt like a burden to their loved ones.

Opponents of the bill argued that there is a risk that terminally ill people may see others accessing the scheme, and fear they too are become a burden to the family and therefore make a choice to access the scheme that is not truly voluntary.

Doctor Gregory Pike, Director of the Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture, stated,

“It is not hard to see how many how mistakes may be made and how someone might slip through the net. People are made to feel they really ought to go so as to stop burdening others, and made to feel they are consuming resources that might be better spent on other  lives, made to feel they have no remaining value, and so death becomes a benefit.”

Stakeholders suggested that the existence of such a scheme and the option of being able to access it represents a subtle influence or pressure that could suggest to people that it is an option they should take.

It was stated that research in jurisdictions where VAD has been legalised has shown that internalised sense of burden has been referred to as a reason for accessing the scheme. Opponents of the bill argued that this reflects a fundamental failure of public policy, and a disruption to the general social principle of ensuring vulnerable people are cared for.

They also stated that VAD represents a dangerous departure from the general social principle of counselling people against ending their life.

Encouraging Suicide

The Anscombe Centre submitted:

“There is good evidence that legalising assisted suicide will increase rates of self-initiated death and will not help prevention of non-assisted suicide.”

Their evidence includes a detailed study by David Albert Jones and David Patten titled ‘How Does Legalisation of Physician-Assisted Suicide Affect Rates of Suicide?

Opponents of the bill argued that if the New South Wales government facilitates suicides under this bill, it would undermine commitments under the national mental health and suicide prevention plan to aim for zero suicides within healthcare settings, reducing the availability, accessibility and understanding that suicide is preventable.

They also argued that the bill would create a two-system model where some people will be excluded from all suicide prevention efforts, and their suicides will be actively facilitated by the New South Wales government, sending ‘the message that some people would be better off dead and that suicide can be a peaceful, beautiful thing and a wise choice.’

The committee was told that VAD also poses a significant risk to people living with mental health issues. The bill does not adequately screen people who may have depression, which affects their decision-making capacity and therefore could result in people wrongfully accessing VAD.

Subtle Pressure

The committee heard that problems of coercion can be subtle and so difficult to detect:

“At one end there is no pressure or influence; at the other extreme is coercion and undue influence. Between those two ends, some degree of influence or pressure may occur that is not picked up with statutory definition. These influences may be overt or covert.”

Dr Sarah Windham, a specialist palliative care physician practising in the far west local health district, explained this to the committee:

“How can a single clinician who is discussing VAD with the patient provide them with sufficient relevant information regarding all the possible treatment options for their illness or palliative care, to allow them to make an informed choice, when that clinician is not trained in the specialty of the patient’s disease, nor is trained in specialist palliative care?

I cannot and would not speak on behalf of another specialist in another field. That would be medical negligence.”

Further, the bill allows medical practitioners to initiate discussion about VAD in some circumstances.

A False Choice

Ms Therese Smeal, a palliative care clinical nurse, gave evidence that:

The workforce shortage in palliative care, particularly in outer regional and remote areas of New South Wales, raises serious questions about equity in the provision of and access to palliative care. This is a significant problem in its own right.

It also raises serious questions about legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide in a situation where access to palliative care for those that end of life or suffering from a life-limiting illness is neither universal nor equitable…

If there is no effective access to palliative care for some people, whether they are in the regional areas or in the cities it is difficult to see how ensuring that assisted dying is available to all offers suffering people a genuine choice, or genuinely respects their autonomy.

If the choice is between assisted dying on one hand and the absence of effective pain and symptom control and accompaniment by family and carers on the other, it is a false choice and one which is unjust to offer.

Opponents of the bill suggested:

‘Given the New South Wales scheme more closely reflects the Western Australian model, we could see the sort of massive expansion in assisted suicide case numbers we have seen under the Canadian suicide and lethal injection (euthanasia) scheme.’

Opponents to the bill cited data from other jurisdictions, demonstrating that it was not primarily requested due to concerns about pain or other physical symptoms, but rather for concerns such as a decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable, loss of autonomy and loss of dignity.

In Oregon, the majority of those requesting a prescription of a lethal substance to end their life made the request because they felt they were a physical or emotional burden on family friends or caregivers.

The ACC cited a recent report on elder abuse, demonstrating a correlation between all abuse subtypes and low social support including social isolation and loneliness. They drew attention to a similar correlation with requests for euthanasia, as indicated in a 6th annual report for Quebec. It stated that nearly one in four people requested to have their lives ended by euthanasia because they are experiencing isolation or loneliness.

Without Dignity

No poison can be guaranteed to cause a rapid, tasteful and humane death. Opponents to the bill cited evidence on the various poisons used to cause death in other jurisdictions that have legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide.

They argued that this evidence shows that ‘so far there is no evidence of a poison that will result in a rapid peaceful and humane death on every occasion it is used.’

As reported in the article Anaesthesia, cited by the ACC:

‘Patients related to assisted dying methods were found to include difficulty in swallowing the prescribed dose, a relatively high incidence of vomiting, prolongation of death by as much as seven days, and failure to induce coma where patients re-awoke and even sat up; this raises concerns that some deaths may be inhumane.’

The ACC said official reports from the Netherlands comment on several cases of the muscle relaxant administered when the person was not in a full coma, potentially causing pain, including spasms or muscular twitching.

Attack on Christian Values

Archbishop Anthony Fisher stated that Part 5 of the bill ‘is not only an egregious attack on the religious freedom of religious care facilities, particularly residential age care facilities; it will result in the undermining of the culture of care in these facilities that have served New South Wales so well.

‘Faith-based residential care facilities should not be required to allow any aspect of euthanasia or assisted suicide on their premises, because to do so would require faith-based institutions and those who own, operate and reside in them to act against their own beliefs.’

General religious opposition to VAD.

The committee heard evidence from stakeholders who outlined the general religious objection to voluntary assisted dying, first and foremost being that VAD is fundamentally at odds with their central beliefs.

Opponents of the bill explained that these religious beliefs also underpin some of the arguments regarding the need to care for sick and vulnerable people in other ways than VAD, and the negative impact of VAD on the broader social fabric.

A number of religious leaders and organisations put on record their opposition to the bill. This included the Catholic Bishops of New South Wales and the Bishops of the Australian Middle East Christian Apostolic churches, the Grand Mufti of Australia, the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales, the Baptist Association of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales and the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney.

Rabbi Nochum Schapiro, President of the Rabbinical Council, explained:

“What changed is the fact that the vision of the Bible spread throughout the world. That vision is that man is created in the image of God. Every human being is part of God on earth, and he is given a mission: to bring godliness and goodness and light into this world.

This has slowly caught on through the other great religions. The whole society has begun to see the value of every life. Because of that, we changed in a very positive way and we — society as a whole — value every life. In the same way, we must value every moment of life.”

What happens when we consider ourselves to be ‘less than’ divinely created? Enter eugenics, and the fruit of Evolution, survival of the fittest. The frail are taken from the hands of the Almighty and placed in the hands of humans, not explicitly known for compassion and infallibility.

Here is a document that was approved last September and released in December 2021. It has only recently become readily available outside of Ireland. It speaks of society paying a heavy cost:

Excerpt from Assisted Dying Bill, House of Lords, 22nd October 2021.

The Archbishop of Canterbury:

“My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness Lady Meacher and listened with great attention to her extremely powerful speech. This is an issue on which many of us have personal experience, often painful and difficult. There is unanimity on these benches that our current law does not need to be changed, but I know that people of faith hold differing views. No doubt we will hear from them today and I’ll look forward to them.

Everyone here shares the best of intentions. We should recognise that in how we listen and respond to each other. I hope no one will seek to divide the house today, but I welcome the amendment from the noble Lord Winston because it draws our focus toward our use of language. We need to clarify the precision in our terms.

Christ calls His followers to compassion, but compassion must not be drawn too narrowly — a point made indirectly and powerfully by Lady Meacher. It must extend beyond those who want the law to provide help to end their lives to the whole of society, especially those who might be put at risk. Our choices affect other people. The common good demands that our choices, rights and freedoms must be balanced with those of others, especially those who may not be so easily heard.

Sadly, I believe this bill to be unsafe. As a curate and parish priest, I spent time with the dying, the sick, and the bereaved — I still do. All of us have had personal experience; I have as well. We know that the sad truth is that not all people are perfect, not all families are happy, not everyone is kind and compassionate.

No amount of safeguards can perfect the human heart. No amount of regulation can make a relative kinder or a doctor infallible. No amount of safeguards can perfect the human heart and no amount of regulation can make a relative kinder or a doctor infallible. No amount of reassurance can make a vulnerable or disabled person feel equally safe and equally valued if the law is changed in this way.

All of us here are united in wanting compassion and dignity for those coming to the end of their lives, but it does not serve compassion if by granting the wishes of one closest to me, I expose others to danger, and it does not serve dignity if in granting the wishes of one closest to me, I devalue the status and safety of others. I hope your Lordships will reflect on this and, while recognising the good intentions we all share, resist the Changes that Bill seeks to make.”

Australia is not alone; as our population ages, we run the risk of creating a ‘Logan’s Run’ society — shuffle off, renew, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you!

From Womb to Tomb

Abortion was supposed to be rare and safe; every state government massively moved the goalposts on that one. Now it’s abortion on demand up to the moment of birth, and even attempts to protect a child born alive after abortion are under attack. These very same people now hold the lives of our most vulnerable in their hands. It seems clear that once given an inch, elements in our society want the whole backyard, again.

Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to read some dissenting views; I hope these few, together with the linked articles, will bring home the reality of just how badly this slippery slope can be fraught with danger.

Farewell, Mum

When I discussed Mum’s passing with the director of the nursing home, it was traumatic. She was a lovely lady in so many ways, but toughened by her role. She stated that it was Mum’s fault for not passing ‘better’.

“She fought the medication! God, she had enough for three people! She didn’t want to go!” she laughed, saying that mum would be missed; she kept them on their toes.

Ivan and I finally scattered her ashes in the surf at Caves Beach only six weeks ago; I couldn’t let her go. Her wishes were to join my dad, who was lost at sea in a boating accident in 1973.

Three of the last four and a half years were consumed with bouts of grief and guilt.

This song is dedicated to my mother, Heather Merle Bush.

I Cry Unto You Lord ~ music by Ivan Robson, lyrics by Leonie Robson (© 2022)

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Can assisted dying — even palliative care — go wrong? Yes.

It’s an abyss. More power gives greater opportunity for misuse and abuse. Enough can and does already go wrong.

My solace is in God’s love for her and me, gently taking each of us by the hand. Leading us beside still waters and restoring us to Him, be it in Heaven or here on earth.

___

Thank the Source

On Being Lonely at Christmas

On Being Lonely at Christmas

There are two temptations to avoid while grieving, which can be especially difficult during the Christmas season. Focusing on God’s promise of eternal life helps us look beyond the gaping maw of death into the brilliant light of Heaven.

Sadly the loss of loved ones happens every single day. But it is especially difficult to cope with this at a time like Christmas. For those involved, every Christmas following the tragic event will be tarnished by so many painful and unbearable memories.

We think for example about the five children who lost their lives in Tasmania just recently when a jumping castle ripped loose in a gust of wind. Imagine the grief of the loved ones left behind today as the celebration of Christmas is attempted.

Suffering and Loss

This hit home to me just a few hours ago. As we were walking the dogs this morning, we were told by a neighbour a few houses down that her husband had suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. She had some close relatives fly in from Canada to be with her for a while, but they were returning home later today.

One friend of mine has a daughter with two young children, who is in hospital and is in a bad way. I have not heard the latest on that situation as yet, but he continues to be in my prayers. Cases like this are to be found all over the place. Every Christmas, we always find such sad stories in the media. And it will be the same next year as well.

Abiding Hope

This is not a piece to once again discuss the problem of evil and suffering. I and so many others have discussed this matter over and over again. A whole book in the Bible from thousands of years ago deals with this topic: the book of Job.

But the Christian knows that death is not the end, and those who have found new life in Christ do indeed go to a much better place, as all Christians who are still alive today eventually will. That is why the Christmas story is so important, and why it is most certainly worth celebrating. In order to conquer death and bring about resurrection power, God sent His only Son to live and die on our behalf, so that we might be reconciled to Him.

His resurrection from the dead is the guarantee of our resurrection. That is great news indeed, and why all Christians must keep sharing this good news with others. Dying with Christ or dying without Christ makes all the difference in the world — and in the next one.

Let me share from a new article I just came upon that deals with this called “Christmas with an Empty Chair: When the Holiday Just Isn’t the Same” by Greg Morse. He speaks movingly about the passing of his own grandfather, and then he says that we must avoid two temptations:

The first temptation is to the variety of grief that kidnaps us from life today. This bottomless ache comes when we begin to stare and stare at the empty chair. The grief overwhelms all gladness; the past swallows the present. The good that arrives is not the good that once was, so all current cause for happiness becomes spoiled or forgotten.

This is to step beyond the healthy grief and remembrance of our losses. It poisons the heart by entertaining the question the wise man bids us not to: “Say not,” he warns, “‘Why were the former days better than these?” For, he continues, “it is not from wisdom that you ask this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10). This grief poisons the what is with the what used to be. It hinders the ability to go on.

Grief threatens to lock us in dark cellars of the past, keeping us from enjoying the child playing on the floor or the new faces around the table.

Second is the temptation to bow to the over-the-shoulder guilt bearing down on us. Lewis captures this in A Grief Observed: “There’s no denying that in some sense I ‘feel better,’ and with that comes at once a sort of shame, and a feeling that one is under a sort of obligation to cherish and foment and prolong one’s unhappiness.”

This temptation sees the empty chair frowning at us. “Why aren’t you sadder? How can Christmas still be merry? Didn’t you love him?” The memory, not remaining in its proper place, looms over our shoulder, patrolling our happiness in the present. This shame is a sickness that tempts us to hate wellness.

So, the empty chair can threaten to overwhelm all joy in this Christmas or shame us for feeling any joy this Christmas — both must be resisted.

He concludes:

I know that if I could speak to him now, he wishes me there. The empty chair heaven longs to see filled is not around our Christmas dinner, but the empty chairs still surrounding Christ. Our places are set already. Better life, real life, true life, lasting life lies in that world. That empty chair of our loved ones departed is not merely a reminder of loss, but a pointer to coming gain.

This place of shadows and darkness, sin and Satan, grief and death, is no place yet for that Happy Reunion. The dull Christmas stab reminds me that life is not what it should be, but it can also remind me life is not what it will soon be for all who believe.

Jesus will come in a Second Advent. He will make all things new. Christmases with empty chairs are numbered; these too shall soon pass. And the greatest chair that shall be occupied, the one that shall restore all things, and bring real joy to the world, is Jesus Christ, the baby once born in Bethlehem, now King that rules the universe. He shall sit and eat with us at his eternal supper of the Lamb.

And until then, while we travel through Christmases present and future, I pray for myself and for you,

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

A personal note

Those who read my piece on Christmas that I posted yesterday will know that I am home alone today. I mentioned that this is happening to many folks this Christmas for two main reasons: stupid and harmful political decisions wherein borders are slammed shut on the spur of the moment, leaving people stranded and families split apart.

But also some families are split up because some members are jabbed and some are not, and those not yet jabbed have been told they cannot join in with the others. I am aware of so many families in this situation. As I say, I am included in this lot.

But as I said, I am coping quite alright. Hey, I am a bit of a misanthrope and a loner anyway, so I can cope. And there is a bright side to all this, as one social media meme informs us: “If anyone you know is alone with no one to spend Christmas with, please let me know. I need to borrow some chairs!”

On a more serious note, this article would not have been written had I joined with all the others today. So God has His purposes, and He gives grace. And it just might be that this article is what some people need right now. So I am grateful for my situation this Christmas day.

My wife is actually the one who has been torn the most: she wants to be with me for Christmas as well as with her sister. So being the champion that she is, she made a way for both of us to enjoy Christmas. She did a terrific Christmas dinner last night for some of our family.

This morning, after we walked the dogs, she went off with the others to do another Christmas meal with her sister. But I am not alone of course: as I told my wife, I have three hot females with me: Daisy, Jillie and Possum — our two dogs and our cat! So I have some good company here. And tomorrow when I will still be home alone, a good friend will come around for dinner with his wife and daughter. Better yet, he says he will bring the food!

So please enjoy your Christmas wherever you are. For those who can be with their entire family, please shoot up a prayer for those who cannot be. And especially pray for anyone who has lost a loved one recently. They certainly need our prayers — and lots of hugs.

___

Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels.

Thank the Source

World Sends Chrissy Teigen And John Legend Love And Prayers At The Loss Of Their Son

This morning, I learned the heartbreaking news that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have lost their baby boy Jack due to pregnancy complications. My heart is aching for their loss and pain.

My husband and John shared some classes when they were both attending the University of Pennsylvania. Back in August, when Chrissy announced the couple was expecting their third child, we were excited for them. According to Chrissy, this pregnancy came as a surprise and had been extra special because the baby was naturally conceived.

Chrissy and John have been very open about sharing their struggles with infertility. They had their two older children through in vitro fertilization (IVF). When announcing this pregnancy, Chrissy called it “a prayer answered,” and she and John were overwhelmed with joy.

Then we learned through Chrissy’s social media posts that she had experienced some complications, as she was about halfway through her pregnancy, around the 20th week. Chrissy had to be hospitalized and had received several rounds of blood transfusions. Chrissy didn’t elaborate on the complications, but they sounded serious.

We prayed for the health of both the mom and the baby, and a medical miracle. Unfortunately, the miracle didn’t happen.

Chrissy wrote on her Instagram just after midnight Oct. 1, “We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before.” She also wrote to her son, “To our Jack – I’m so sorry that the first few moments of your life were met with so many complications, that we couldn’t give you the home you needed to survive. We will always love you.” Chrissy’s heartfelt words would make a stone cry.

Things Everyone Needs to Know about Losing a Baby

We are saddened by Chrissy and John’s loss. Losing a child is the worst tragedy in life. Words are inadequate to describe the pain and grief parents feel at losing a child. The journey of healing is long, and sometimes it lasts a lifetime: no parent would ever forget his or her child, no matter how little time they had spent together. The bond between parents and a child is unbreakable.

Women who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss tend to blame themselves. Such self-blame and a constant feeling of guilt are big obstacles to a mother’s healing. Therefore, I want Chrissy to know that she has done nothing wrong and her body didn’t fail her. She is a good mother and did everything she could to save Jack.

Chrissy and John should know that they have already taken significant steps on their journey of healing. One, they gave their baby a name, Jack. Many parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss told me that naming their baby, saying their baby’s name, is crucial for their healing.

By naming the baby, and sharing the baby’s name to the rest of the world, Chrissy and John let all of us know that Jack was a person. He existed. He lived. His life, no matter how brief it was, matters to his parents and his siblings.

As Chrissy said, Jack is forever a member of her family, and he will always be loved and remembered. For those who love Chrissy and John, please say Jack’s name. For grieving parents, nothing is more comforting than hearing other people say their baby’s name and keeping his memory alive.

Another thing Chrissy and John did right was to take photos of tender moments with Jack and share these photos with us. Photos such as these will help them memorialize and honor Jack, and validate Chrissy and John’s parental experience with him.

Gina Harris, the CEO of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that offers free professional remembrance portraits for parents who have lost their babies, explained to me in an interview why having these portraits is so important: “These photos document the existence of our babies and validate their lives. They are a powerful gift of healing and hope.”

Chrissy and John have a long journey of healing ahead. I hope they know that they are surrounded by love and prayers.

Resources for People Who Have Lost Babies

The pregnancy and infant loss community is made up of incredibly kind and thoughtful people. Organizations such as Star Legacy Foundation provide tremendous support and resources to families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, including parents, grandparents, and siblings. National Share supports families who experienced pregnancy and infant losses through support group meetings, memorial events, and online counseling. It has more than 75 chapters in 29 states.

There are some good books that parents who lost children highly recommend. One is “Grieving the Child I Never Knew,” by Kathe Wunnenberg, who experienced three miscarriages and the death of one infant. The book contains 31 devotions divided into six parts. Each devotion includes a scripture passage, a prayer, some discussion questions, and space for journaling. Reading and working through this book feels like having a thoughtful companion by one’s bedside to lift one up during the darkest days and moments.

Another good book is “Three Minus One.” After losing a child, it is easy to sink into an isolation state, thinking no one understands how you feel. This book is a collection of close to 100 testimonials from parents who have experienced pregnancy loss or the death of an infant. These parents’ pain, anger, and heartbreak will resonate with any soul, especially to other parents who experienced similar losses. You will also find these parents’ love and devotion for their precious children inspiring.

October is infant loss awareness month. October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Pregnancy and infant loss, caused by miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and other causes, happen more often to American women than most people realize.

Here’s a shocking statistic: one in four U.S. pregnancies ends in miscarriage and one in 160 deliveries ends in stillbirth. Yet such loss can be a taboo subject. We often don’t know how to talk about it or how to comfort grieving families.

I admire Chrissy and John’s courage for being so open and honest about sharing their pain. I hope their courage and Jack’s life will bring more awareness and thus more compassion from all of us to families who have suffered similar losses.

Last, I want to share a poem by Claudette T. Allen, which has brought comfort to so many parents:

Daddy, please don’t look so sad, Mama, please don’t cry–
‘Cause I am in the arms of Jesus and He sings me lullabies.
Please, try not to question God, don’t think He is unkind.
Don’t think He sent me to you, and then He changed his mind.
You see, I am a special child, and I’m needed up above.
I’m the special gift you gave Him, the product of your love.
I’ll always be there with you and watch the sky at night,
Find the brightest star that’s gleaming, That’s my halo’s brilliant light.
You’ll see me in the morning frost, that mists your window pane.
That’s me in the summer showers, I’ll be dancing in the rain.
When you feel a little breeze, from a gentle wind that blows,
That’s me, I’ll be there, planting a kiss on your nose.
When you see a child playing, and your heart feels a little tug,
That’s me, I’ll be there, giving your heart a hug.
So Daddy, please don’t look so sad, Mama, don’t you cry.
I’m in the arms of Jesus and He sings me lullabies.

May God bring peace and comfort to Chrissy, John, Luna, Miles, and so many American families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.

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