Friday, December 05, 2003

In the massive amount of media coverage about the Terri Schiavo case, the story has been portrayed as an evangelical and Roman Catholic Christian crusade (see, for example, "Victory in Florida Feeding Case Emboldens the Religious Right," New York Times, page 1A, Oct. 24). And there's no question that Christians, who believe each person is created in the image of God and ought not to be ordered to an execution without having committed any crime or had any trial, have taken a major interest in this case.

What you haven't heard in the mainstream media, however, is how this case fits into an ideological crusade of another kind. It's leader is George Felos, the attorney for Michael Schiavo who is working to have Terri's feeding tube removed, and it's goal is "spiritual awakening" through the "death process."

In fact, Felos wrote a book last year, Litigation as Spiritual Practice, in which he lays out his views. To understate the case, this is not a man driven by a concern for fair application of the law. Rather, he sees his law practice as being driven by his worldview--in his case, a bizarre, New Age spirituality, which he wishes to implement through litigation. Doesn't that sound like the kind of thing you would expect to at least hear mentioned in the mainstream media when motives are being endlessly dissected?

As pointed out by an essential, must-read story by James A. Smith, Sr. in the Florida Baptist Witness, Blue Dolphin Publishing, the publisher of Felos' book, specializes in "comparative cultural and spiritual traditions, lay and transpersonal psychology, education, new science, self-help, health, healing, complementary medicine, ecology, interspecies relationships, and whatever helps people grow in their social awareness and conscious evolution,” according to its website.

Felos gained noteriety as the lead attorney in the landmark "right to die" case of Estelle Browning. In his book, he recounts an experience with the comatose Mrs. Browning that forever solidified his dedication to the cause of death. As you read it, try to imagine the media reaction if something like this had been written by someone on the other side. And also ask yourself how it is even possible that you've never heard these words before in the media from the highest-profile attorney in the nation's most prominent current "right-to-die" case:
As I continued to stay beside Mrs. Browning at her nursing home bed, I felt my mind relax and my weight sink into the ground. I began to feel light-headed as I became more reposed. Although feeling like I could drift into sleep, I also experienced a sense of heightened awareness.

As Mrs. Browning lay motionless before my gaze, I suddenly heard a loud, deep moan and scream and wondered if the nursing home personnel heard it and would respond to the unfortunate resident. In the next moment, as this cry of pain and torment continued, I realized it was Mrs. Browning.

I felt the mid-section of my body open and noticed a strange quality to the light in the room. I sensed her soul in agony. As she screamed I heard her say, in confusion, ‘Why am I still here … Why am I here?’ My soul touched hers and in some way I communicated that she was still locked in her body. I promised I would do everything in my power to gain the release her soul cried for. With that the screaming immediately stopped. I felt like I was back in my head again, the room resumed its normal appearance, and Mrs. Browning, as she had throughout this experience, lay silent.
Felos frequently has other such "soul conversations." A number of them are recounted in this compilation of his own words as expressed in his book.

Now imagine yourself lying in a hospital bed, fully conscious but unable to move, as George Felos comes in and "touches your soul" and begins a crusade to have you starved to death based on communication he believes he's received directly from you. Do you trust the Birkenstock-wearing George Felos to hear your soul correctly? Should the judges in his cases? Should Terri Schiavo?

And does Felos' self-professed worldview deserve at least some mention in the mainstream media along with those of the Christians who are trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive?

No comments: