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Showing posts from March, 2005

Terri , God, and the culture war

Passion for Fairness has a fine entry on Terri's death that's well worth reading.

Depressingly, this is a crime the overwhelming majority of Americans approve of. It is indeed a turning point in "the culture war-" but only in the sense that those on the side of decency no longer have any excuse for illusions.

Christians have been in this situation before. We are in the same position as our forebears in the Faith under Nero and Diocletian; the main difference is that the culture only mocks us, rather than killing us, too. Whether gladiators in the arena or people like Terri are the victims, Christians are called to stand for life, for decency, and for truth; God will take care of the rest.

In Germany during the Hitler era, Christians fought this very same fight. Their opponents even used many of the same arguments Michael Schaivo's supporters are using now.

They were martyred, or sent to concentration camps; we are not yet called upon to pay such a price. Whether or …

Terri is dead

It is finished.

Terri Schaivo died today.

The best way to remember her, I think, is to fight to see that those with little regard for human life, with ulterior motives, and with greater concern with their own convenience than with the fate of those weaker than they (even those they supposedly love) never have the chance to murder another innocent victim.

A suggestion

I'd like to suggest what may be a politically futile gesture in this post-modern society of seared conscience, but nevertheless one which would go to the heart of the Schaivo tragedy: a Constitutional amendment overturning the absurd Cruzan v. Director decision, which somehow equates the mere administration of water and nutrition with artificial life support.

Consider that "crow" regurgitated

I hereby uneat that crow.

Michael Schaivo, it seems, has no say in whether or not an autopsy is performed on Terri. His lawyer's statements on the subject were simply be so much posturing.

A spokesman for the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office says that the decision to perform the autopsy had already been made, because of the allegations that Terri's condition may have been the result of foul play.

Chutzpah is a wonderful Yiddish word usually defined as that quality exhibited by a man who murders both of his parents, and then pleads for mercy on the ground that he's an orphan. Faced with the inevitability of an official autopsy, for the comedy team of Schaivo and Felos to try to make it appear that it was all their idea may well give chutzpah a new definition.

A very strange article

This is a very strange article.

No, "the family" should not have made "the decision" in the Schaivo case. There was no ethically legitimate decision to be made: you don't kill somebody just because they're brain-damaged, no matter how brain-damaged they are- unless you work at a concentration camp!

The author is certainly right about the horrible nature of death by starvation, but I am chilled to the bone by his response: in effect, that we should use lethal injection! Talk about "warped ethics!"

And I have never read words more chilling than the last sentence in this article. Tell me the author intended them to be satirical. Please.

There is one good thing about this article, though: at least the author has the intellectual integrity to confront the fact that whether we're talking about starvation or lethal injection, what we're talking about here is not "letting people die," but killing them!

October 1939 - Nazis Begin Euthanasia on Sick and Disabled

In the controversy over the euthanasia of Terri Schaivo, it's easy to forget that the whole idea of "mercy killing" to put an end to "life unworthy of life" has a history.

The difference is that the Nazis required three doctors to condemn a disabled person to be euthanized. We only require an abusive husband and a judge with a one-track mind.

More on the United Methodists and the Sacrament

Jennifer of The Scandal of Particularity has written me further on the new statement of the United Methodist Church on the Sacrament of the Altar. While it still falls far short of orthodoxy- and would not allow for intercommunion between the United Methodists and a truly Lutheran church body even if it were not for the Methodist group's other doctrinal aberrations- it certainly is an improvement on the position held by most American Protestants:
Thanks for your email and for the discussion on my blog as well.

We believe Christ is "truly present" and a "living reality" in the eucharist. But we don't try to explain precisely how that occurs. As the document says, "The Wesleyan tradition affirms the reality of Christ's presence, although it does not claim to be able to explain it fully." Sorry I can't be more specific!

I'm very glad the Methodists are returning to weekly communion. Our church has started an additional service with weekly…

Not just white Republicans!

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has called for Terri's feeding tube to be re-inserted, calling her murder "an injustice," and praying with her parents.

Interestingly, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)- one of the most liberal members of the Senate, and one against whom I vote at every opportunity- also wants to save Terri. This is not just a fight of white conservatives! Decent people of all political persuasions see that it is simply wrong to kill someone for the crime of not being able to say "I want to live!" with sufficient clarity to satisfy the discerning Judge Greer.

Sadly, the article to which this post links contains a discussion with a doctor on Terri's condition that is predicated on the assumption that the court-appointed doctors who insist that she is in a persistent vegetative state are correct, and that the thirty or so doctors who disagree are wrong.

To Cox and Forkum

As regular readers will have noticed, I've routinely used the insightful and cogent cartoons of Cox and Forkum on this page. Unfortunately, bad information and sloppy logic have placed them on the wrong side of the Schaivo affair.

I have just sent them the following email:

I am one of those who has been deeply disturbed by your coverage of the Schaivo case. Your commentary has been inaccurate as to the most basic facts, sadly misinformed, and logically very much wanting. It is not that those who disagree with you who are basing their arguments on emotion. It is rather that you are basing yours on misinformation and bad logic.

I might add- and I hope this doesn't seem patronizing- that there is a sense in which you are less to blame than you might be. The same is true of the American people generally, who have been grossly misinformed by the sloppy and selective coverage of this case by the media.

I am disturbed by the falsehood- which continues to appear on your blog, in…

In all fairness...

Perhaps, in scrupulous fairness, it's time to eat a little crow, at least on the autopsy issue.

Michael Schaivo's attorney, George Felos, has said that his client wants Dr. John Thogmartin, the Pinellas County Chief Medical Examiner, to perform an autopsy on Terri to prove the extent of her brain damage.

This desire isn't completely exculpatory, of course. Those suspicious injuries to Terri discovered in 1991, interpreted by the examining physician as consistent with repeated beatings, remain. In particular, the compression injury to her neck, consistent with strangulation, deserves attention. It might simply be that Michael believes that no further incriminating evidence is likely to come from an autopsy at this late date. Or- unlikely as it seems- maybe somebody else was repeatedly beating Terry up- someone who, like Michael, fits the profile of an abuser.

If Dr. Thogmartin does, indeed, perform an independent autopsy- one done with an open mind- this is certainly good news…

That's about the size of it

GOPBloggers has gone ahead and said it. It's concluded that "Terri Schiavo was injured by her ex-husband, likely in a murder attempt, and since that time Michael Schiavo has directed his efforts towards finishing the job and eliminating the evidence of his crime."

The entry continues: I can think of no other reason for his being unwilling to accord his ex-in laws the mercy of being allowed to bury their daughter according to the rites of her faith. Michael Schiavo has moved on; he has a new wife and two children by her. Whatever meaning the remains of his first wife might have had to him, that meaning is long since supplanted by new relationships and a new life for Michael Schiavo.
Michael is still technically married to Terri, and the woman he is living with and who has borne him those two children is not his wife- yet. But I, too, can think of no other reason for Michael's attitude. And I am nothing less than stunned that the Feminist community, as well as the medi…

A little background

Why is Michael Schaivo so determined that Terri's body be cremated immediately after her death? Why is he so opposed to a wake and a traditional funeral Mass- with the body present, as custom dictates? Why is he so determined to retain custody and control over the dead body of a woman whose wedding ring he melted down for cash shortly after winning a malpractice suit which netted a huge amount of money earmarked for therapy which, from early on, he steadfastly and stubbornly refused to let her receive?

Why, when he is living with another woman, who has borne him two children?

Well, Operation Rescue's Voice for Terry recounts the following:

Suspicions grew when the Schindlers found out about a bone scan that Terri underwent back in 1991. The doctors conducted this scan because Terri would cry out in pain during the little bit of therapy she had early on, and it turned up many shocking facts.

For instance, the physician who conducted the bone scan, Dr. W. Campbell Walker, wrote in h…

The Blessing of Disillusionment

Beggars All has some good, strong wisdom from martyred Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer for us today.

It's a good antidote to Easter bunnies in church, and to the theology that puts them there- as well as to our temptation to despair in this sick and sorry time in which we live.

It's also a much-needed reminder for those whose lives are purpose-driven, or whose hearts are Ablaze (c).

MIchael still wants cremation

Michael Schaivo still wants Terri's body cremated.

No autopsy that way, and her brain- and neck bones- go unexamined by forensic pathologists. All sorts of advantages for the man who is committing adultery with another woman (one who has borne him two children), and is Terri's husband in name only- but still wants so badly not only to have her dead, but also to have her buried in his family plot, in a condition in which there is no longer any possibility of posthumously doing what should have been routine tests performed long ago in order to determine both the cause of Terri's brain damage and its extent.

Think the media will pick up on this?

This is where it leads, folks...

The Church Growth Movement, reduced to its essence: preaching the Easter Bunny, and him crucified.

Bunnie is right: Don'cha think the Risen Christ ought to be what Easter is about for the Church?

Oh. That's right. The unchurched wouldn't come.

Now, not to be argumentative or anything.... but if you don't say what you're afraid to say lest you drive "seekers" away at some point, are they any better off because they're going to your church than they were before? Hmmm?

He is risen!

He's risen, He's risen, Christ Jesus, the Lord,
He opened Death's prison, the Incarnate Word.
Break forth, hosts of heaven, in jubilant song,
And earth, sea and mountain the paean prolong!

The Foe was triumphant when on Calvary
The Lord of Creation was nailed to the Tree.
In Satan's domain did the hosts shout and jeer,
For Jesus was slain, Whom the evil ones fear.

But short was their triumph! The Savior arose,
And Death, Hell and Satan He vanquished, his foes.
The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high;
He lives, yea, He lives, and shall nevermore die!

O where is thy sting, Death? We fear thee no more!
Christ rose, and now open is fair Eden's door.
For all our transgressions His blood doth atone;
Redeemed and forgiven, we now are His own!

Then sing your hosannahs, and raise your glad voice,
Proclaim the blest tidings that all may rejoice!
Laud, honor, and fame to the Lamb that was slain,
Who sitteth in glory and ever shall reign!

--C.F.W. Walther

These things need saying

A word needs to be said about a few things which most Americans are missing in the Schaivo affair, but which lie directly at the heart of the matter.

Euthanasia- and, in all but one state, assisted suicide- are supposed to be illegal. But there is one exception: you can starve a person to death or make them die of thirst even if, as in Terri Schaivo's case, they are not already dying- if you can convince a judge that that's what they would have wanted.

The proof need not be conclusive. It need not, on its face, be credible. All that is necessary is that a single judge find it so.

Now, there are many more humane ways to kill someone. A lethal injection would be fast and merciful. While messy, a double-tap to the head with a .22 would be far less barbaric than starvation and dehydration. But something has happened in this regard which threatens the very basis of constitutional government in this country. It is nothing short of amazing that even many who consider themselves Conserv…

Sure enough

Sure enough.

Judge Greer has ignored Terri's patently obvious plea for her life, and thrown out the Schindlers' latest plea.

As the likelihood, humanly speaking, of Terri's death grows greater, the blogosphere needs to take up a new crusade: Governor Bush and the State of Florida must not allow her body to be cremated without a full forensic autopsy to determine both the physical condition of her brain and whether the bone structure of her neck shows evidence of strangulation.

Michael Schiavo would be a murderer either way. But if he can be held accountable in a court of law, he should be.

Meanwhile, the Schindlers' last appeal is to the Far-Left Florida Supreme Court- the one that tried to steal the 2000 Presidential election for Al Gore.

It's going to take, literally, a miracle. But it's happened before-- and tomorrow is Easter.

The latest on the lynching

FoxNews apparently thinks it likely that Judge Greer will continue his pattern of listening only to doctors who say that Terri Schaivo is in a persistent vegetative state, and unable to speak coherently, while ignoring the findings of those who have said otherwise in dismissing the Schindlers' latest appeal, which cites Terry's desperate attempt to scream, "I want to live!"

It seems likely that Michael Schaivo will get his wish soon. "That bitch," as the nurses say he was wont to call her earlier in her ordeal- as in "When is that bitch gonna die?-" will probably die very soon- leaving him, his live-in girlfriend and their two children very wealthy.


I was just sent this link. It is supposed to go to the story below, which has apparently been removed from the site.

The link to the original story remains at the bottom of the page. It will return you, however, to the story above it.

What it said before is below. You need, however, to be told what the story leaves out, and what this blog reported on March 19: that the incident reported here took place when the attorney for Terri's parents told Terri, "You know, this would all end if you just said, 'I want to live.'"

When Terri began desperately to attempt to do precisely that, as related below (in somewhat obscure fashion), the police came in and threw the lawyer out.

Here is the story that has apparently been removed:

Schiavo parents get emergency hearing
They argue that daughter expressed will to live

PINELLAS PARK, Florida (CNN) -- A Florida state judge will rule by noon Saturday on a motion filed by Terri Schiavo's parents, who contend that their brain-damaged …

The Suffering Servant

1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

3He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

6All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,

Are United Methodists now Eucharistic Calvinists?

Jennifer of The Scandal of Particularity writes of my remarks concerning the upcoming intercommunion between the United Methodists and the ELCA:

The United Methodists are not Zwinglians. Our new official paper on Holy Communion explicitly states that eucharist is not just a symbolic memorial meal.

"United Methodists, along with other Christian traditions, have tried to provide clear and faithful interpretations of Christ's presence in the Holy Meal. Our tradition asserts the real, personal, living presence of Jesus Christ. For United Methodists, the Lord's Supper is anchored in the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, but is not primarily a remembrance of memorial. We do not embrace the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation, although we do believe that the elements are essential tangible means through which God works. We understand the divine presence in relational and temporal terms. In the Holy Meal of the church, the past, present and future of the living Christ c…


Ever heard of Dr. Michael Baden? He's one of the most famous forensic pathologists in the country- the host of HBO's Autopsy series. He's testified as a respected expert in many high-profile murder trials. Chances are you'd recognize him at a glance.

He says that the medical evidence supports the notion that Terri Schaivo's brain damage may well have been the result of strangulation, and that the "chemical imbalance" causing a cardiac arrest (not a "heart attack") commonly cited as the cause of her medical condition is, in fact, so rare a cause of such outcomes as to be an"unlikely" explanation.

Did you know that Michael Schaivo wants to have Terri's body cremated after death?

There are too many things that are just too fishy about this situation. It seems incredible that- aided and abetted by a socially liberal media- a woman's life is about to be snuffed out in spite of the facts which are publicly available, even if carefully a…

Lying to the end

Terry Schaivo, humanly speaking, appears to have run out of hope.

But the media continues to lie and mislead as to her neurological state. Bear in mind that ten "credible" neurologists have, in fact, denied that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, and that the Schindlers' argument does not necessarily depend on Terri improving.

The outrageous nature of this case may never be fully recognized by the public, who continue to be fed selective and misleading information about it. In the meantime, the time appears to be approaching, barring a miracle, when all that will be left will be to commend Terri to the Lord's keeping.

May the Lord have mercy on the souls of both Michael Schaivo and Judge Greer, whose disingenuous characterization of the nature of the evidence that Terri's wishes are being carried out by this crime is as stomach-turning as this tragedy is heart-wrenching.

The passion of Terri Schaivo

This is Holy Week.

The story of our Lord's Passion strikes us with additional power this year as we continue to observe that of Terri Schaivo, who has been found by thirty-three physicians- ten of them neurologists- not to be in a persistent vegetative state, and for whom the only evidence of a desire to be starved to death is the testimony of an allegedly abusive and openly adulterous husband who at first insisted that she wanted to be kept alive, and then changed his story.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again refused to hear the case, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush has failed in his attempt to personally replace Michael Schaivo as Terri's guardian.

The story we meditate upon this week includes another legalized lynching. We find this hour, in which the forces of evil seem to be on the verge of triumph, echoing Christ's agony in the Garden on the very night when the Church liturgically remembers it.

The polls show that two-thirds of the American people support Michael Scha…

We love because He first loved us

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you love one another. --John 13:34 NKJV

Today is Maundy Thursday, the beginning of the liturgical commemoration of our Lord's Passion.

Most of us who have grown up in the Lutheran tradition associate this day most of all with the institution of the Lord's Supper, and Christ's gift of His very body and blood in, with, and under simple bread and wine as His personal assurance to each of us, individually, that our sins are forgiven; as a way to live in us, so that we might live in Him. Lovers do not encounter each other so intimately as our Lord encounters the least sanctified of those who belong to Him in this Sacrament. He actually becomes part of us, and incorporates us anew into Himself. Through His sacramental body and blood, Christ nourishes and sustains His body, the Church.

But this day actually takes its name from the passage above, John 13:34. "Maundy" comes from the Latin word…

This is going to be fun!

DNC Chair Howard Dean is going to be the single biggest asset the Republican Party has.

Last week he expressed his tolerance and moderation by referring to those who disagree with him as "brain dead." Now he's given an extraordinary comedy rout- er, speech in which he:

1. Accused the Republicans of habitually indulging in "name-calling;

2. Claimed to be a uniter, preferring "purple" states to "red" or "blue" ones; and

3. Demonstrated his "respect for faith" by accusing Republicans of being selective about which neighbors to love (the unborn? Terri Schaivo? The people of Iraq?) and quoted Jesus's statement that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Ignoring the fact that the New Testament has a number of wealthy "good guys" in it (Nicodemus, Joseph of Aramathia, and Dorcas, to name just three), and that "the Eye of the Needle" …

Bad argument

L'Osservatore Romano has- rather ineptly, both from the political and the theological points of view- compared the murder of Terri Schaivo with capital punishment.

While I share some of the Vatican's practical reservations about capital punishment- mistakes are sometimes made, and it's irreversible; besides, it is meted out disproportionately to the poor and to people of color- both Testaments of the Bible and Jesus personally endorsed, in the abstract, the right of the State to take the life of felons. Attempts on the basis of anecdotal opposition to capital punishment on the part of early Christian theologians to attempt to portray Christianity as originally opposed to the practice are as disingenous as attempts by the same method to sell the falsehood that early Christianity was, in the main, pacifistic.

One may well object to capital punishment on practical grounds. I have no quarrel with that; in fact, I'm inclined in that direction myself. But there can be no quest…

Terri's last chance?

Terri Schaivo's parents have filed a last-ditch appeal in an attempt to save their daughter's life.

Federal Judge James Whittemore earlier today refused to order the reinsertion of Terri's feeding tube on the grounds that her parents had failed to demonstrate "a substantial likelihood of success" at trial.

Please keep praying for Terri, for the Schildlers, and for all involved.

Federal Judge Reviews Schiavo Case

Terri Schaivo's fate, humanly speaking, seems to rest in the hands of Federal District Court Judge James Whittemore, who received juristiction when Congress passed and President Bush signed a special bill removing her lynching from the juristiction of Florida courts and putting her case in the hands of the Federal judicial system.

At stake is the safety of every comotose or otherwise uncommunicative patient in America, who- if the ruling of the Florida courts is allowed to stand- could be starved to death by their relatives any time they decided that they wanted that patient dead- even if, as in Terri's case, they are neither brain dead nor terminally ill nor in a vegetative state.

"I Want....." (to live!)

The Terry Schaivo case in a nutshell.

News Max carries a report on an incident in Terry's room last Friday. According to pro-life activist Randall Terry, Barbara Weller, an attorney for her parents, told the brain-damaged but very aware woman, "If you just would say, 'I want to live,' this would be all over."

She tried- desperately: "'I waaaaannt ...,' Schiavo allegedly said, in a prolonged yell that had police stationed nearby running into her hospice room.

"She just started yelling, 'I waaaannt, I waaaannt,'" Terry said, according to Weller's

At that point police ejected Weller, he said.

Hat tip to extremeCatholic.

What Terri has been sentenced to

Catholics in the Public Square is doing an especially fine job of covering the murder of Terri Schaivo- including a clinical description of what this aware human being will be made to endure in the coming days, based on a dissenting opinion written by a judge in the case of PaulBrophy, the first person to be starved to death by judicial order in the United States, back in 1986:

* Her mouth will dry out and become caked or coated with thick material.
* Her lips will become parched and cracked.
* Her tongue will swell, and might crack.
* Her eyes will recede back into their orbits and her cheeks would become hollow.
* The lining of her nose might crack and cause her nose to bleed.
* Her skin will hang loose on her body and become dry and scaly.
* Her urine will become highly concentrated, leading to burning of the bladder.
* The lining of her stomach will dry out and she will experience dry heaves and vomiting.
* Her body temperature will become very h…

A helpless, aware human being is being slowly murdered

The court-sanctioned murder of Terri Schaivo, the abused wife whose abusive husband is her legal guardian and executioner, has begun.

Terri- who is neither brain-dead, nor in a vegetative state, nor terminally ill- has been condemned by her husband and the courts to a slow and agonizing death by dehydration (she won't have a chance to starve to death; she'll die of thirst long before that point). The only evidence that she wants this to be done, moreover, is the say-so of that husband, who is anxious to remarry and who has been quoted as asking at one point, "When is that bitch gonna die?"

Pray for Terri- and for the conversion of her murderers. Pray, too, for a twisted society in which this monstrous crime can be routinely spoken of as somehow a respecting of Terry'srights.

This is not a "right-to-die" case. It is a right-to-kill case.

Thanks to Bunny Diehl for the tipoff.

Are Lutherans Protestants?

Kudos to Glen Piper's Territorial Bloggings on his insightful post on the question of whether or not Lutherans ought to be considered Protestants.

I remember having an e-mail discussion with Pr. Paul McCain about this once. Yes, I know that we were the original "Protestants." But I- like Glen- remain convinced that the word as commonly used today simply does not accurately describe us. In fact, in some ways, I think that this is finally what the intermural battle in the Missouri Synod these days is all about: President Kieschnick and his supporters want us to be just another Protestant denomination, while we Confessionals see ourselves as another animal entirely- one with a unique witness the culture badly needs, but which the Kieschnick approach effectively negates.

At Immanuel, we routinely made the sign of the cross at the Trinitarian invocation, the phrase "...and the life everlasting" at the conclusion of the Apostles' Creed, and at other places in the l…

Iran ups the ante

DEBKAfile reports that Iran has at least twelve cruise missiles capable of delivering 200 kiloton nuclear warheads up to 3,000 kilometers away. The Ukranians have sold twelve of them to Iran, and six to China. The strategic balance between Iran and Israel has been completely altered.

Thanks a million, Ukraine.

The March of Ecumania

Pastor Paul McCain reports that the ELCA (Enough Latitude to Cover Anything) is about to declare a policy of "interim Eucharistic sharing" with the United Methodists.

On one hand, it seems only appropriate; John Wesley would no more acknowledge the United Methodists than Martin Luther would claim the ELCA. On the other hand... can there be anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity who can claim that there is any sense whatsoever in which the ELCA can be meaningfully be called a Lutheran church body?

No. We're way past that point. That question was relevant shortly after the ELCA's founding. Perhaps it would be better to ask whether there's anything the ELCA stands for, other than radical Left Wing politics and brain-dead post-modernism. The Real Presence bit the dust back when intercommunion was declared with the Reformed. Except, of course, that a belief in the Real Presence has never been a given among the rationalists of the ELCA anyway. Theoretically, Calv…

The Wearin' of the Green

My ancestor, Irish patriot Henry Joy McCracken

Faith, and it's St. Patrick's Day again! Denise and I about to head out to Bennegin's for a corned beef and cabbage dinner and a pint of Guinness. She's already changed into her green sweater; unfortunately, all I've got that's both clean and green is a rather bilious clergy shirt that I'll just wear without the tab.

But should we be celebrating this day? My grandmother was born and raised in Downpatrick, the town where St. Patrick is buried. One of my Belfast- born grandfather's ancestors was Henry Joy McCracken, the Protestant who led Wolfe Tone's rebellion in the North, who commanded the Irish forces at the Battle of Antrim, and who was captured and hanged by the British after an abortive attempt to flee to America.

But my ancestors were Presbyterians- the Scots-Irish. I was always raised to value my Scottish and British heritage, but also to see my ethnicity on my father's side as primarily Irish. …

Home at last

Well, here I am, back at my familiar spot between the reptilian members of our family, Atvar and Muad'Dib (both uromastyx lizards), and the oversized stuffed parrot on top of the Waters family TV.

Des Moines has changed a bit in the last eight months. Streets have been re-routed, overpasses built, a new hotel constructed a few blocks from our apartment, and a big new mall opened. Essentially, though, more is the same than is different. It's good to be home. Maybe our macaw, Magoo, and our orange-winged amazon, Sidney, will remember me in a day or two. Denise, fortunately, had no problem remembering me right away.

Eight states and 1,100 miles in two days. Why is it, I wonder, that so few of those states have rest stops with sinks in which it is physically possible to do a decent job of washing one's hands? Maryland has the best of the states through which we traveled, and Ohio the worst (with Illinois the runner-up).

Even though I've made the trip four times in the past ye…