I’ve been enrolled in my palliative care course in my theology program for just a little over a month, over which time I’ve done several interviews with professionals in the spiritual health ministry discipline in the trauma, intensive care, end of life and funerary fields, all of whom have not-so-subtly pushed the envelope about social trends of homophobia, transphobia, classism and the relationship between human value and supernatural work ethic.
It’s been a challenge analyzing those view points in the lens of the course, which of course wants me to read spiritual autobiographies of men who were privileged enough to die of debilitating disorders that did not break their minds with the help of several hundred thousands of dollars’ worth of in-home medical equipment and rotating caretakers–and G-d, of course–and to enforce the logic of healthcare directives that prioritize the long term impacts on the immortal soul over the insignificant trifles of the mortal flesh.
Challenging, because I mostly because I find agreeing with these theologians, and their theology. And I despise their churches.
If you believe in such things, Christ literally raised a man from the dead and mourned the fact that he died in the first place. This is enough logic for the Catholic Church to hesitate against medically assisted dying–less euphemistically known as ‘euthanasia‘. But apparently this logic isn’t applicable until the ‘beatific’ dying stage, else I can’t fathom why self-professing followers of Christian ministry wouldn’t feel inclined to prevent people from dying in the first place.
For reference: literally the entire New Testament is all about how every person who calls themselves a Christian is morally obligated to be a servant to others. The entire. Thing.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
Matthew 20:26; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 9:35; 1 Peter 4:10; John 15:12-13; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 all explicitly describe how Christianity is defined by acts of service and how one can only call themselves a Christian if they commit themselves to servicing all other godly creatures.
This theology isn’t up for debate. It’s Scripture. It’s literally the only relevant doctrine and belief in all of Christianity.
But it’s a guarantee that Christians, not called to action, will occupy themselves idly by delving into the more archaic texts (happily appropriated from Jewish law or other regional doctrines–but don’t start blaming us for the final outcome), skimming, searching, manipulating the etymology this way and that until some wry passage or incident can be used as justification to invalidate the mandate to service.
I want to throw up because we’re supposed to quietly and politely make house in this killing machine called America and pay taxes to support our own slow murder, and I’m amazed that we’re not running amok in the streets and that we can still be capable of gestures of loving after lifetimes of all this.
Or, if you prefer the subtle approach:
We have LGBT elders who survived the AIDS plague who not only are not being accounted for in their specific aging needs, but are outright being denied their very existence in the U.S. census. And when they die, because they are going to die, there are no protections that guarantee that their bodies will be treated with dignity–or at all.
Shorter and ear wormier than Wojnarowicz’s iconic denim jacket is the slogan of this new google form: Mail Me to the GOP.
The concept is simple: fill in your mailing information, a brief testament to what will surely bring about your demise in the advent of the great health care undoing and a list of the representatives you’d like to mail your cremains to. An email will shortly follow with regulations and procedures for mailing your cremains via U.S. Post.
To date, I have been ambivalent of how I want to be interred and memorialized. Now, I’m certain that even if I’m ambivalent to how I want my personal, intimate legacy to be remembered, it is imperative that some part of me fulfills the Wojnarowiczian prophecy. Maybe it’ll be a cremated arm, a leg or some organ meats–but some pertinent part of me is going to serve this purpose.
Although my logic is nuanced and fermented over the course of close to 30 years, my directive will be simple: eat my dust.
To the Christians who still aren’t convinced of the call to action, a final word from The Word:
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)
Christ literally asked one of his beloved to guarantee that his own mother would be supported in her grief and have someone to care for her in her old age by taking her into their home.
And they did it.
Without negotiations of cost-sharing.
With no conditions of refusal.
With no life-time limits.