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World Views

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Listening in On Silence

We live in a world where silence is a precious commodity. How many of us have noise canceling headphones? We are constantly inundated with background noise. Muzak in elevators, stores and restaurants, phone ringtones, electronic beeps and pings,  ubiquitous tv monitors blare news or sports, not to mention music from car stereos, so loud that you can't hear yourself think, often accompanied along with the thump, thump, thump of bass so intense it makes your teeth rattle, throw in sirens and motorcycles, each one adds to the incessant assault on us.

 Music and silence–how I detest them both!….[Hell] has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end….The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, emphasis added) . C.S. Lewis aptly points to the spiritual  dimension and source  of  "Noise-Noise." It is interesting to note that Lewis published "Screwtape Letters" in 1942, if he were alive today he would have to publish an updated and revised edition.

Silence can be a punishment for the prisoner in solitary confinement, or for some, silence is a refuge from the din of daily life. Jack Bogut a KDKA radio personality, coined the term "audio aspirin." For me taking an "audio aspirin" as a kid was walking into the Carnegie Library on a Saturday morning or St. Joseph's Church on Sunday, both places were like entering into a "cone of silence," a sense of peace washed over me. I still have fond memories of doing so. Heaven is ‘the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence.’ (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters)                                                  

Do you practice silence? Silence is a spiritual discipline where we create an environment for God to speak to us , by reading and meditating on the Word, prayer and worship. "For God alone, my soul waits in silence" (Psalm 62:1), "Let all the world keep silence before him." (Habakkuk 2:20), "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10), "He leads me beside still waters . He restores my soul." (Psalm 23:2b-3a). These are just some of many Bible verses that talk about being silent before the Lord. 

I have been practicing silence since I was a kid. I have always enjoyed getting up at 0: dark 30 before everyone else to read a book and think. I enjoyed the quiet time before my family trickled down the steps for breakfast and the start of the day's commotion. Now, decades later it is a time where I read my Bible,  pray and meditate. I find it to be an anchor for the day ahead. I have a habit of being 30-45 minutes early for work and I use it to catch up on email or to pray for my work shift, co-workers, patients ,doctors and the nurses we serve. I walk through the door with a sense of peace, often into a high stress environment, the difference it makes in the shift and my attitude towards it is palpable. 

Socrates considered by many to be the wisest man in Greece once stated, "The unexamined life is not worth living." What did he mean? He meant that an unexamined human life is deprived of the meaning and the purpose of existence. Like all Greek philosophers there is wisdom and truth to what he said but it falls short of the Christian worldview. Christian's examine our lives in the light of Scripture, we are sinners in need of a savior. The Spirit convicts us and leads us into all truth. We need silence before the Lord to listen for that "still small voice," that spoke to Elijah many years ago, and still speaks to us today.  Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God's work is "not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit." Do you hear him, are you listening? Take time and be quiet before the Lord. "You will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.'" (Isaiah 30:21)  AMEN!



Posted by Art Flickinger

The Autonomy Argument


An opinion piece  authored by Alexis Drutchas, M.D., entitled, "In America, Is Bodily Autonomy a Human Right?," she explores this issue from the framework of today's modern medical practice. This appeared in the online CNN Opinion on June 3rd.  In her article she links bodily autonomy "rights"  together with abortion, assisted suicide and gender change. Her argument is that we must do away with the "Paternalistic Medicine" of the past and subscribe to not  having moral judgements  interfere with certain decisions about bodily freedoms- like aid in dying, transgender health and reproductive rights. Laws that limit these rights are deemed oppressive and are influenced by politicians driven by "religious fundamentalist leaders." (in other words any one with those outdated orthodox Christian morality views) 

First of all what exactly does human autonomy mean? Autonomy is a compound Greek word consisting of two parts, auto which means self and nomy meaning law or rule. So human autonomy means being a law unto oneself. How does this work out in society today? " I feel the need for speed," as Tom Cruise put it in "Top Gun." How does that argument work out for you when a State Trooper pulls you over for going 120 mph on the turnpike? You will get a ticket, a fine and points on your driver's license. Go ahead, appeal that in traffic court and I'm sure the judge won't buy your argument either. It's quite obvious that society places restraints on autonomy, as well it should. We cannot all be a law unto ourselves or we would be living in chaos. As we become a more secularized society the moral restraints of the Christian World View  have been marginalized , kicked to the wayside and it is considered ignorance. That's why we are able to murder children in the womb at any time, will ourselves to be the opposite sex, redefine marriage to be whatever we want it to be, and take our own lives or others in the name of quality of life decisions. However, one thing we cannot change is another Greek word Ontology (reality). We cannot will our xx and xy chromosomes to change. We cannot change reality. Ontology trumps Autonomy, that is truth, period. The Christian Word View stems from the very first four words of Scripture, "In the beginning God.." It does not say, in the beginning man, I, we, they... this is reality that we cannot deny, God is  Sovereign, to do so is moral chaos. If we do, to quote another movie line by Tom Hanks, "Houston, we have a problem."

Dr. Drutchas is an attending Physician at The Massachusetts General Hospital in the palliative care division and a Public Voices Fellow of the OpEd Project. She has previously worked at Fenway Health, a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ health center in Boston and co-founded the Rhode Island Trans Health Conference. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine and Media. Click Here for Article 



Posted by Art Flickinger