Monday, July 25, 2005

Hell, the apotheosis of the self, & the Schiavo killers

Gilbert Meilaender, in an articled entitled "Being Dependent" in The Cresset (unavailable online), a Lutheran publication out of Valparaiso University, does a take off from the Terry Schiavo case to illustrate our dislike of dependency. We, as human beings, want autonomy. He points out that in his book on Augustine and Modernity, Michael Hanby traces out in detail the way in which Descartes' "modern self," instead of being a natural development of the Augustinian tradition, actually "deforms and distorts it." The reason for this, says Meilaender, is because Descartes has a "Deus without Trinitas." That is to say, he has no "God-man" to mediate between time and eternity, or between creature and Creator. This loss, according to Hanby, "is always accompanied by the substitution of another figure: the Man-God." Accordingly, "the individual will -- distinct and separated from the love of beauty, the longing for God, or the praise of Christ -- becomes a will to power."

Meilaender concludes his brief but fullsome article, which devotes significant space to such phenomena as "living wills," with the following observation:
Yet, of course, to be dependent on no one -- that is hell. As Iris Murdoch once put it, "Kant's man [offspring of Descartes's] had already received a glorious incarnation nearly a century earlier in the work of Milton: his proper name is Lucifer."

Unless we want to be dependent, to share in the kind of giving and receiving that is the leitmotif of God's triune life, we cannot be saved -- saved from our isolated independence, from our illusory will to mastery, from (as C.S. Lewis wrote) "that ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration upon self that is the mark of hell."
Which brings me to an article about George Felos (pictured below), the lawyer Michael Schiavo hired to see to it that Terry was soon dead. The article, entitled "Portrait of a Spiritual Killer: George Felos, in His Own Words," is by Benjamin D. Wiker, Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute, and published recently in Crisis magazine. The article is profoundly disturbing, not in any way that reflects negatively on Wiker, in my opinion, but in what he reveals about Michael Schiavo, and particularly about his lawyer, Felos. The article begins thus:
I don't believe I have some kind of extraordinary spiritual sense, but something alerted me the very first time I saw George Felos (pictured left), the lawyer responsible for killing Terri Schiavo: Something is deeply wrong with this man. Very deep, and very wrong.

I had no such spiritual warning on the radar in viewing Michael Schiavo. He looked like the kind of man who could kill his wife. And he did. On March 31, 2005, he successfully starved and dehydrated Terri Schindler Schiavo to death. Cold-blooded murder, but entirely transparent. ... He finally finished her off with the death-camp treatment: no food, no water.

Cold-blooded murder, sanctioned by the state of Florida, watched by millions. Horrible; but again, quite transparent. Michael wanted the money. His wife, Terri, had to die for him to get it. And so he hired a "right-to-die" expert, lawyer George Felos.
But what he says about Felos is what makes your hair stand on end:
Felos exudes a different moral odor than his client, and I wasn't the only one who noticed. He wasn't just morally wrong; he was creepy. One has the nagging feeling that he represents a more hidden and poisonous evil.

His words were foul enough. The continual cheerful chanting of "death process," "peaceful," and "beautiful" during Terri's final torture. The chastisement of Rev. Frank Pavone, who had the dignity and courage to describe the death of Terri with blunt accuracy: "This is a killing." Tsk-tsk, cooed Felos. "Instead of words of reconciliation, words of healing or words of compassion, which you might expect from a spiritual person," Felos retorted in an unctuous scold, "he used it [i.e., press coverage] to drive his ideological agenda."

But this was only the bubbling up of something fouler still. His looks, his voice, his clothes, his mannerisms -- all set off a profound danger signal. Not being able to ignore my spiritual alarm, I was forced to yield to its signal and look more closely at Felos. I bought his book and think I now understand the inner alarm. Reading it, I am convinced that he represents an entirely new and even more dangerous aspect of the euthanasia movement -- the spiritual killer.
From here the article launches into a biographical history, backed up by plenty of hard data, of Felos and his psychological development and his pathological necrophilia that is profoundly disturbing. Wiker also reveals what both Michael Schiavo and Felos (pictured together right) stood to gain financially from Terry's death. The case is appalling. Furthermore, and here I can't help making a connection between Wiker's article and Meilaender's: at the heart of the "spiritual killer" in Wiker's portrait, is a man who embodies the neurotic apotheosis of a soul curved in upon its self (curvatus in se), which is the essence of psychological hell described by Meilaender. Profoundly disturbing. Read more of Wiker's article here.

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