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Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Eastwood's Million Dollar Passion--At the movies

My friend Richard, from Nipomo has an interesting article on his website, Truth Radio. He has a very interesting site, and I would encourage you to go visit and listen to one of his programs, and read some of his articles. They have internet broadcasts. It is really quite fascinating.

In any event, the article to which I refer, is “Eastwood’s Million Dollar Passion.” In short, Richard questions whether there might be some feud between Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson based on the different messages in their ground breaking films this past year. The more pointed question Richard asks is why does Clint Eastwood’s work present a polemic supporting euthanasia, while Mel Gibson’s work resounds with “Good News bursting out of the bad news of the Cross?”

I agree with most of Richard’s conclusions; however, I disagree with a fundamental one: that Million Dollar Baby is somehow less Christian in that it “echoes with Bad News falling with dull pessimism from an all-too-common misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ.”

The basic moral proscription against the taking of human life dates back thousands of years to the delivery of the Ten Commandments by Jehovah to Moses, specifically found in Exodus 20:13. The actual proscription dates back further, i.e., see Cain’s slaying of Abel; however, it is canonized very well in Exodus.

Of course, there are, in the Christian interpretation of this particular commandment, exceptions. For example, self-defense has long been considered an exception to the proscription against killing. War, has also long been exempted from this proscription; however, in my view this exception has long been abused by political leaders (one of whom currently sits in the Oval Office) for less than noble purposes.

I think one can make a credible argument that euthanasia, in the right circumstance could or should also be exempted from the Fifth Commandment. In the particular case in the movie, the character Maggie sustained, as I recall, a complete severance of the spinal cord, around the C-3, C-4 level (or thereabouts). She was confined to bed or a wheel chair as a quadriplegic, who required 24 hour breathing assistance in order to survive. Her body began to deteriorate to the point where she began losing limbs to amputation because of her inability to move in bed.

Her remaining life was relegated to a bed or wheel chair, with absolutely no hope of recovery. In fact, had the same injury been sustained some 100 or more years earlier, the medical technology would not have existed to allow Maggie, or those like her to continue a physical existence. Is not the Christ of the Cross compassionate enough in His saving Grace to welcome into His loving arms those who so similarly find themselves?

I admit I am troubled by the vehicle Eastwood chose to end Maggie’s life. I believe that the process should follow a legalized, controlled and physician supervised set of guidelines. Eastwood’s character could and probably should have chosen a better alternative to help Maggie return home to her Creator. For example in Oregon, physician assisted suicide is an option available to some; however, that is subject to change since the United States Supreme Court has heard arguments on this issue (more on that in a later post, probably on my legal blog, NipomoBlawg.

In California today, patients have an absolute right to refuse lifesaving medical treatment (also the topic of another post–probably legal in nature). One case even dealt with the a patient’s right to turn off his respirator, which eventually led to his death. So, while I would have been more comfortable with a different vehicle for Maggie’s death in Million Dollar Baby, it probably wouldn’t have made as interesting a script as the one that won best picture for Clint Eastwood. Let me also digress for a bit here about the Oscars. I had hoped that The Passion of the Christ would have been nominated for more awards. I had also hoped that it would have won at least some awards. It was an extremely powerful film, with an even more powerful message. One more powerful than the one in Million Dollar Baby. Unfortunately Hollywood didn't see it that way.

While I agree with Richard that the central message of Passion of The Christ is one of hope, resurrection and a better life by and though Christ, I don’t see the message of Million Dollar Baby is one of pessimism or bad news. It is a movie that exemplifies compassion, which I think was and continues to be the hall mark of Christ’s life and example. There is room for both in the household of faith.


Blogger Guy Murray said...

The following is Richard's response which he made via email to me on 3/5/05.


This discourse between us is an almost perfect example of the need for careful application of a clear understanding of semantics. Not only is our discourse civil and absent rancor, it would have made a perfect example for Professor Sam Hayakawa to have used in his classic text on the subject. People who understand that words are simply symbols can discuss disagreements and reach solutions absent negative emotion.

The point at which you take issue with my article is my statement "all-too-common misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ." My mistake is that I did not clearly apply this comment to my primary concern, which was to focus upon the miserable attitude of the RC priest. I did not intend to relate the "gospel of Christ" comment directly to my opposition to euthanasia. Instead, this imperfection in my semantic and rhetorical skill kept me from linking effectively to the comment I intended to center upon the RC Priest. I wanted to critique the priest's condemnation of his parishioner with his caustic "You attend mass daily because you have a load of guilt that you will never shed," or words to that effect. THAT is the misunderstanding of the Gospel I intended to highlight. The priest failed to understand the "once for all" effect of the death of Christ," which when applied would have taken away the weight of guilt.

When the Gospel is correctly understood,YOUR POINT rings with authenticity -- and I agree with you totally. One point I could add to your argument is that the girl's desire NOT to be on life support was dramatically illustrated the night she bit off her tongue. What act could more clearly demonstrate her desire and thus validate the lawful removal of life support? No living will document could possibly have given more dramatic evidence of intent.

I intended the Gospel-misunderstanding comment to be a two-edged sword: it motivated the Eastwood character to take into his own hands the solution that you state you would have preferred to have left to more lawful means.

What I failed to make clear is that:
1) The priest did not understand grace; and
2) That misunderstanding is what motivated the Eastwood guy to believe he was at the end of his rope anyhow and that murder could do him no further harm in the eyes of eternity. It is this sort of murder that we all should oppose when we think of euthanasia.

Bottom line: we do not disagree with each other.

By the way: Thank you for the kind comments about www.truthradio.com

This e-mail is from:
Richard Palmquist
Truth Radio: rp@truthradio.com
PO Box 344
Nipomo, CA 93444

Tell your friends about Truth Radio.
We keep going because people like you
contact us at least once a month.
Phone 805-929-8448

7:38 AM  

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