Assisted Suicide

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 28, 2017

Her Smile Could Light Up The World

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 10: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Image dated October 10, 1962. Hollywood, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – OCTOBER 10: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Image dated October 10, 1962. Hollywood, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

If you were a teenager during the 1970s, you’ll remember most of these TV shows: All in the Family, The Carol Burnett Show, Bob Newhart, Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Marcus Welby, MD, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, The Rockford Files, The Brady Bunch, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Columbo, Hawaii Five-O, and Starsky and Hutch.

It has been said that the 1970s was the “Golden Age of Television.” Unlike most of today’s TV shows, the television shows of the 1970s were family oriented. They were well written, and provided wholesome entertainment. Unfortunately, today, most TV shows promote and glorify premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery, violence, and/or single-parent households.

One of the most popular TV shows of the 1970s was a show that was named after the popular actress, Mary Tyler Moore. At the time that the show was launched, Mary Tyler Moore was already a well-known TV actress who had played a housewife in The Dick Van Dyke Show, which was a popular weekly series from 1961 to 1966.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered in 1970 and lasted seven years. In the show, Moore’s character was Mary Richards, a single woman who worked in a man’s world and was determined to make it on her own. The show was groundbreaking because at that time, career women were rarely seen on television, and they were never featured as a show’s lead character.

My memories of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and all the other popular shows of the 1970s came flooding back to me last week when I learned that Moore had died at the age of 80.

Ironically, one of the most popular parts of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the opening theme song and footage that showed Moore in her role as a single working woman in a major-metropolitan city. The theme song began with these lyrics:

October 29, 2016

Do Nuns Vote Differently Than Lay Catholics?

catholic-voteA couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager had set up two dummy Catholic organizations for the sole purpose of undermining the Catholic church. After the article was published, several people asked me if the Catholic Church has any definitive guidelines for Catholic voters.

The most recent guidelines that are available were published in November 2015 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The guidelines were included in the document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility. The document was developed by the chairman of the USCCB in consultation with 11 different USCCB committees.

Paragraphs 34 and 35 of the USCCB faithful citizenship document are directly relevant to voting:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases, a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

November 22, 2015

Sex and the Soulless Being

human-vs-robotFor the past several weeks, I’ve written about the sin of contraception and how it has led to the proliferation of premarital sex, divorce, abortion, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, out-of-wedlock births, the breakdown of the family, assisted suicide, and surrogate mothers. I’ve also written about how contraception has caused a shortage of Catholic priests and how it has allowed couples to easily overrule God’s plan concerning the number of children God planned for them.

Last week, I wrote about how it has become necessary to replace the tens of millions of children who were never born — because of contraception and abortion — with illegal immigrants and robots.

I also wrote that there are several types of robots that have been developed, including industrial robots that are used by manufacturers, “carebots” that are used to help assist with the care of the elderly, “agrobots” that are used to assist with the planting of seeds and picking of fruit, commercial drones that are used for the performance of high-tech surveillance, and “robo-adivisors” that are being developed to assist individuals with their investments.

The one robot that I failed to mention is the “sexbot,” which is used to satisfy the sexual desires of its owner. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article that featured the creator of “RealDoll,” a life size “female robot” that it is designed as a personalized sex machine that can be programmed to learn the likes and dislikes of its owner.

There are currently several well-funded companies that are combining virtual reality with robotics in order to create a sexual experience that will mimic real life. With the use of goggles, headphones, and one or more robotic devices, a user will experience what is seen, heard, and felt during a real-life sexual experience.

October 24, 2015

The Sin That Infected Our Entire Society

Sin PatentLast week I wrote about how the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, had signed a bill into law that legalized doctor-assisted suicide. When I found out about the new law, I thought about the deep-rooted thistles I had to dig up from the pasture next to my parents’ home when I was a teenager.

There was nothing good about those thistles. They multiplied quickly and within a few years had taken over the pasture. No person or animal could touch them because the stems and leaves were covered with sharp, thorn-like points that would inflict pain when the skin was pricked. To eradicate each thistle, we had to dig up the entire root, which was 12 to 18 inches deep.

The assisted-suicide laws that are beginning to pop up in various states are going to soon overtake the country just like the thistles overtook our pasture. The new laws feed off the same deep-seated root that fed the same-sex marriage laws that quickly overtook our nation and are now stinging and pricking those who dare to oppose them.

The same root that has fed the same-sex marriage and assisted-suicide movements has fed all modern-day evil movements, including the sexual revolution that ushered in widespread premarital sex, divorce, adultery, and abortion. All of these evils are treacherous thistles that now plague our society. Every year, these thistles spread and spawn new permutations of evil, some of which include:

•  Surrogate Mothers — Women who act as incubators for a human ovum (“egg”) that has been fertilized by male sperm in a “dish” before being implanted into the womb of the “mother.”       Prior to implantation, several eggs are fertilized and the most promising and robust fertilized egg is selected while all the others are discarded. Each fertilized egg that is discarded constitutes the termination of a human life. The sperm that is used to fertilize the eggs can be purchased from or donated by any man chosen by the parties who are involved.

October 17, 2015

Sloppily Describing a Governor as a “Devout” Catholic

ThistleDuring the years I was growing up, my parents owned an acre and a half of land that was located next to our house. When I was a young boy, my dad made a pasture by putting up a fence around the land. He also built a barn on the land.

For a short period of time, we had horses. During the 1960s and 1970s, we had sheep and a cow that provided milk for our family.

Over time, the pasture became populated with hundreds of thistles. A thistle is a wild plant that has a stem and leaves that are covered with sharp points.

Thistles produce flowers that release tiny seeds into the air. Like most wild plants, thistles multiply quickly if they are not kept under control.

The animals stayed away from the thistles because when they attempted to eat them, their tongues and noses were pricked by the sharp points on the leaves.

One Saturday morning during the summer of 1969 — when I was 12 years old — my dad rounded up me and a couple of my brothers and we all descended onto the pasture to dig up thistles. The biggest challenge we faced was that the roots of the thistles were 12 to 18 inches in length.

My dad emphasized the fact that we had to dig deep enough to get the entire root of each thistle or the following summer, a new thistle would sprout up from the leftover root. We didn’t get very far that Saturday, so my dad offered to pay us ten cents for every thistle that we dug up on our own. The deal was that we had to get the entire root before we could collect our ten cents.

For the next several days, my brothers and I dug up thistles. When we picked up the thistles, we had to hold them by the roots because there was no place on the plant itself that didn’t have the sharp points.

We were able to remove all the thistles from the pasture that summer. The following summer, new thistles popped up, but the total number of thistles was only about 25 percent of what we had during the previous year. By the third summer, the new thistles were down to about 5 percent of the original number of thistles.

August 23, 2014

A Different Perspective on the Robin Williams Suicide

Robin WilliamsAfter the recent suicide of the famous American actor and comedian Robin Williams, various reasons were given to explain why he killed himself. Some of the reasons included the fact that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, suffered from severe depression, and was having money problems. For whatever reason, at the age of 63, Williams ended his life after determining that he was better off dead than alive.

To put Robin Williams’ suffering into perspective, I would like you to consider another “old man” who despite enduring immense suffering refused to give up. His name was Alphonsus Liguori, a Catholic saint who during the prime of his life was a well-known and respected Catholic bishop, theologian, and scholastic philosopher. During his lifetime, St. Alphonsus wrote several books, including The Glories of Mary, The Way of Salvation, The True Spouse of Christ, and Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year.

In 1767, at the age of 71, suffering from rheumatism, St. Alphonsus became so crippled that he had to be confined to a wheelchair. His neck was so weak that he was unable to hold up his head. Because of the weight of his head, his chin constantly rubbed against his chest, causing his skin to become raw.

In addition to his physical suffering, St. Alphonsus was publicly humiliated and removed from his order after it was shown that he had signed a religious document that was contrary to the teachings of the Church. The signing of the document was a mistake in judgment and was due in part to the fact that St. Alphonsus’ condition had deteriorated to such an extent that he was almost completely blind.

He had trouble reading anything, and when he was asked to approve the document, St. Alphonsus struggled to read the first page. After he read several lines and found nothing that was objectionable, he verified the authenticity of the document by signing it. He trusted the person who asked him to sign the document. He subsequently paid a heavy price for that trust.

April 26, 2014

What Lovers Often Do

 

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

During the spring semester of my sophomore year in college (1977), I took an art appreciation class.  I signed up for the class to satisfy one of the general education requirements for my major. The class had more than 100 students and was held in a large auditorium-style classroom.  The teacher was a gentle, gray-haired man who was in his mid-50s.  It was obvious from the way he taught the class that he had a passion for art and music.

Toward the end of the semester, the teacher announced that he was going to show the class a special slide presentation.  Back then, if a person wanted to put together a slide presentation, the negatives from the film that was used to take the pictures that were going to be used for the presentation had to be taken to a local photography shop so the slides could be made from the images on the negatives.  Each slide was surrounded by a cardboard frame.  The slides were then organized and assembled in a carousel that was attached to a projector.

The person who was giving the slide presentation had to either sit near the projector and press a button to advance each slide, or use a unit that was attached to the projector with a long cord.  As background music was played from a stereo system or other audio device, the person had to manually advance each slide.

The slide presentation that my art teacher prepared was presented to the class while the song “Vincent” was played over the classroom sound system.  Although the official title of the song was “Vincent,” a more common name that was frequently used at that time to refer to the song was “Starry Starry Night.”  The song, which was originally written and recorded in 1970 by Don McLean, is a tribute to the 19th-century Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh.

In the lyrics to the song, McLean laments about how no one appreciated or understood Van Gogh during his lifetime.  For most of his adult life, Van Gogh was plagued with depression and mental problems.  He committed suicide on July 29, 1890.  If you’re not familiar with the song, it would be worth your while to look it up on YouTube and play one of the music videos that shows Van Gogh’s paintings while the music plays in the background.

April 13, 2013

The Linguistics of Suicide

Suicide-WarrenOn Friday, April 5, Michael Warren, the 27-year-old son of Rick Warren, a well-known evangelical Christian pastor and author, committed suicide.  You may have heard of Rick Warren.  He’s the author of the best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, which has been purchased by more than 30 million people worldwide.

Rick Warren is also the founder and pastor of Saddleback Church, which is located in Lake Forest, California.  Saddleback Church is the eighth-largest church in the United States and has over 30,000 members.

Michael Warren was the youngest of Rick and Kay Warren’s three children.  After Michael died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Rick wrote an emotional letter to the members of his church.  In his letter, he asked for “love and prayers,” and said that his son had suffered from years of “mental illness resulting in a deep depression and suicidal thoughts.”

“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.  Today, after a fun evening with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life,” Warren wrote.  The letter was subsequently released to the media the day after Michael’s death.

Within hours of the news being reported on the Internet, hundreds of people posted vicious and hate-filled comments on numerous news-reporting websites.  Most of the comments were directed at Rick Warren personally and vilified him for his opposition to gay marriage.  Some of the comments taunted him by stating that his son was now burning in hell, while others mocked him because the God he believed in had failed to save his son.

Warren’s formal opposition to gay marriage dates back to 2004, when prior to the U.S. general election in November of that year, he sent a letter to Saddleback Church members stating that gay marriage was one of the five “nonnegotiable” issues that had to be considered when voting.

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