Monday, April 04, 2005

Not About Terri Schiavo

I had the good fortune of seeing some very close friends over the weekend. They have a son they took to Universal Studios and Disney World. Since I live here in the Orlando area, I went with them. Their son, Ryan, who is 24, is mentally challenged, to be politically correct. Very much so.

One thing that's true about people with his mentality. They are so innocent. A really great guy and extremely people oriented, but, he'd walk around naively naked if no one told him to get dressed. It kind of makes me think about the Schaivo case. Take a woman who had virtually no brain function left, and a guy like Ryan, who was born with very limited mental faculties. Suppose Terri Schiavo, or someone with a condition like hers, being the result of an injury, at any age, never had a chance to formulate their religious beliefs. Ryan has no concept of any type of supreme being just by the inherent nature of his mind. You can't teach him. He, and many like him, are babes in the woods. Do these people have no chance to go to any type of heaven if there is such a thing as an afterlife? Don't tell me that God has a "special place" for the innocents. Whose God? Yours, mine or someone elses? Where, in your scriptures, does it state a "special place" where God baptizes them into Heaven? Do they go to a place reserved for the mentally challenged? Or do they lose that handicap?

What happens, if a teenager, who might have been brought up in a religious and/or structured family, does typical teenage things, like swearing, drinking, smoking and generally becomes rebellious and antisocial? There is that 16 going on 30 thing, you know. Then they die before having a chance to become an adult and really formulate their opinions. You don't know what positive or negative influence they might have had on life. What happens to them? Hell? They still had the mind of a child.

At what point are "mind-less" people acceptable to God? Who is authorized to answer these complex and moral questions? Religious leaders always seem to have the answers that suit their own desires and beliefs, though. For example, why is it better to err on the side of life as you are condoning the death penalty? I'm not questioning that or the right to die. I just wonder who is qualified to answer for God.

I do know, though, that Ryan, Terri Schiavo and all like them will always have a "special place" in my heart.

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