Sunday, April 06, 2008


There have been some news stories that have given me pause this week, both literally and figuratively. I've sat down many times in the last few days to post something light and breezy in this space, but I just haven't been able to do it, because my heart is too heavy. It's also taken me these few days to talk myself into mentioning these stories here. There are many reasons for my reticence, but since this seems to be the only thing I can think about, I'm going to go ahead and post it.

Currently in the media are tragic stories of two children who died recently of easily treatable illnesses because the parents believed that seeking medical help would be an indication of a lack of belief in prayer and God's healing power. One story is of 11-year-old Madeline "Kara" Neumann of Wisconsin, formerly of central California. She spent her last day of life, Easter Sunday, in a diabetic coma and died of ketoacidosis. The other is of 15-month-old Ava Worthington of Oregon who died of infections easily treatable with antibiotics. In the second case, the parents belong to a church which has buried 78 children in its cemetery since 1955, at least 21 of which are confirmed to have died from treatable illnesses, 3 of whom died in the one year span from 1997 to 1998 - prompting new legislation in Oregon eliminating the "spiritual-healing defense."

These cases have prompted a storm of debate all over the country about parental rights, parental responsibility, religious freedom, the role of the state in protecting children, the existence of God, the efficacy of prayer, laws, medicine and many related issues.

There are hundreds of thousands of articles, editorials, and blog posts about these situations (a google search gives 212,000 results) and, I would estimate, millions of comments appended to the articles, editorials and blog posts, so I will refrain from adding my own commentary here. In fact, I've turned off the "comment" ability for this post, because there is already so much out there, and it seems that everything that can be said has been said. (If you feel a strong need to comment, just google either one of these stories, and you can find thousands of places to do so.)

These situations have weighed so heavily on my heart and mind that I haven't been able to post anything else, so decided I may as well put up here what is on my heart - not as a forum for debate, but just as a statement of what has happened - and also why I've been kind of "quiet" for a while.