Thursday, March 31, 2005

Living next door to the Schiavos

What if you lived next door to Michael Schiavo and his household? Would you let your children play with his children? Would you speak to him? The mother of his children? Would you hire him? Would you do business with whoever employs him?

What are the charitable actions, the merciful attitudes, to pursue in living next door to a man whose heart is filled with such anger and evil? Do we shake his dust off our shoes, put him out from among us? Or do we extend our hand?

This is a dramatic example, but I'm sure you found out, as I have, how many hearts around you harbor cruelty and disdain for life, expressed in mean and callous water cooler conversations and dinner table discussions. Our response to them is, in a way, a proportional one to actually living next door to Terri's murderer.


Anonymous said...

"Would you do business with whoever employs him?"

You don't have to worry about this one. He works as a prison nurse.

I object to her being dehydrated and starved to death. It's much more humane to kill her the Dutch way.

Lynn said...

That's a good example, I think. If I lived next door to Michael Schiavo, I would pray for him, be polite when I ran into him, and keep my children away from him. My gut reaction is that he is dangerous, and I would have a moral obligation to protect my family from his anger.

rabbi-philosopher said...

I believe "cordial but distant" would be my response to him as a next door neighbor.

There actually are truly evil people who one should probably avoid. JB

rabbi-philosopher said...

Living next door to Michael Schiavo would be a challenge.

Since I believe he is one of the truly evil people, I supposed I'd practice the "cordial but distant" form of social interaction.

As Miss Manners might put it; offer the minimum 2 fingers when he requires a handshake. JB

Convulsion said...

It is posts like these and the comments that follow that make me wonder if I should call myself a Christian anymore. My faith in God isn't challenged but the attitudes expressed here are in total contradiction with the commandment to love your neighbor that Christ gave us before his Passion.

From what I have read Michael Schiavo was a great husband who was devoted to Terri for years even after it was obvious that she was dead in every way but her body. In fact Terri's parents encouraged Michael to go on with his life. I think I would be more concerned about living next to the Schindlers who by selling their donor list truly show what they seek to gain from this tragedy.

Therese Z said...

Convulsion, your logic and your facts need strengthening:

1. First, please produce a citation that the Schindlers sold "a list" for their personal profit. I have added my name voluntarily to the contact list, which will send me updates on the "right-to-kill" situation in the US, but pledges not to give my name to anyone else. If the people who have helped them with bandwidth or news releases want to contact me, that's fine with me, we all do business together.

2. You're are unaware or ignoring the obvious facts about Michael's conflict of interest. Have you read any of the excellent information on

3. Indeed as Christians we love all for the sake of Jesus Christ Who lives in them, but we have to measure carefully our relationship with unrepentant sinners in society. I'm interested in where people are drawing the line.

Convulsion said...

I appreciate your reasonable response and apologize if my original comment seems a little harsher than I may have intended it. In response to your post I will provide the following.

1.) Here is one of many news reports that discuss the Schindler's selling their donor list to a marketing firm. I don't know my HTML that well or I would provide it in a hyperlink form but here is a link you can copy and paste.

2.) I'm not saying that Michael is an Angel in this matter but numerous courts headed by fundamentalist conservative Christian judges have found in favor of Mr. Schiavo. I realize others may be motivated to believe biased media and web reports about Mr. Schiavo but I chose to believe the elected State judges in this case.

3.) It is not my job as a Christian to determine if Mr. Schiavo is an unrepentant sinner. That is a matter for God to decide. The state hasn't found him guilty of any crime either and I would suspect given the attention on this case that if he was guilty of any crime that it would have been brought to light and justice would have been served.

Therese Z said...

Convulsion, it is either naive or reductionist in the face of abundant evidence of Michael's neglect (he wouldn't even have her teeth brushed until a court order forced it, for pity's sake!) and infidelity (common-law relationship with two children) to say that he acted with charity and in accord with his marital vows. I don't have to know his heart to read his actions.

You certainly don't think that if the state says it's legal, it's therefore right in the eyes of God? Only if you believe that the courts are acting in accordance to the Word of God....

You're right about not judging: 1 Cor 5:12 reminds us that we are not to judge, but the verses immediately preceding it tell us to not associate with any one who bears the name of brother who is guilty, not even to eat with him. Jesus met with prostitutes and tax collectors, to be sure, but note that they came looking for Him.

Erik Grow said...

Convulsion, these people you are arguing with here are very much in the minority overall. Most Americans know that the truth won out over "faith-based medical findings" by armchair doctors on the far right. They can moralize and demonize, and outright lie about the facts (very Christian of them), but I am proud to say that in this case, the law, medicine, and the people saw through their ruse. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Therese Z said...

"Outright lies?" Erik, we're making our arguments on the truth of Scripture and the evidence of our eyes, AND those pesky little facts already in evidence. For example, read the deposition here:

Lots of PDF's of actual court documents at

Here's a really useful link (thanks to Myopic Zeal) of the conflicts in many of the relationships of judges, hospices, attorneys, etc, over the Schiavo case: I wouldn't allow this complicated nest of strange bedfellows to decide whether my garage was too close to my property line.

Therese Z said...

I forgot to make those actual links, sorry, copy and paste to read.

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Rosalind said...

I think Therese illustrates a good point; it's likely that emotions may run high from both points of view on this issue. Since the "don't starve Terri" (sorry, I can't think of a more sanitized way to put it) people have significant concern about the facts at issue in the court cases, it can only do the discussion good to stay anchored to those facts as much as possible.

One fact is that the only testimony that Terri made even a casual passing (possibly thoughtless) comment about not wanting "tubes" came years after her collapse from Michael alone, a party with conflicting interests in the legal sense. Another fact is that numerous health care workers signed affidavits stating that Michael exhibited behavior that was harmful and contrary to the Florida laws governing guardianships. Another fact is that credible physicians with high regard among their peers disagreed unequivically with the diagnosis of Persistent Vegetative State in official reports, which sheds immense doubt on the state's power to remove the feeding tube in this case. (To read PDF files of the legal documents and medical affidavits, click here. Another fact is that many men and women of solid common sense and good will see a crucial difference between removing "extraordinary" treatment (e.g. that which substitutes for a necessary bodily function, such as breathing) and removing food and water. (In this case, by the way, even food and water by mouth was forbidden, not just delivery by the tube.)

Yes, there are moral issues that are immensely important to many of us. But this case, in its incredible complexity, deserves a hard look through the lens of facts and not to be dismissed casually as a senseless crusade of the "Christian right". All of us, and our country, deserve solid discourse on this subject, not slams, insults, or quick dismissals.

Therese Z said...

I'd better come up with an answer about what *I* would do. I didn't say, I just posed the questions.

Kyle said...

Therese's post may have only been hypothetical, but "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he".
Even the willingness to speak in such a manner reflects the punative spirit that pervades so many folk who claim to be followers of Christ to the shame of us all.

Kyle said...

Too bad all the courts involved did not have the information Rosalind cites when making their informed decisions! How is it that they all were so wrong?

Rosalind said...

Hi, Kyle. Thanks for stopping by.

I'd be happy to point you to documentation for the things I cited, if you're indeed interested.

Regarding your first response to the original post, it sounds like you have some thoughts that would be interesting contributions to the discussion. We like good conversation from different points of view around here. We're less fond of sarcasm, because it doesn't lend itself well to charitable and intelligent exhange of ideas. Feel free to stop back and talk about the issue if you like.

Anonymous said...

I do not hate him, I pity him.

Kyle said...

Everything that I wrote was absolutely serious. If one's ox has been gored it might be perceived as "sarcasm" in which case not much of what this 72 year old retired pastor would have to offer would be considered "intelligent."

Anonymous said...

If I lived next door to next thought is I don't know if I COULD live next door to him, the sight of his face makes me sick



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