29 April 2016

Thinking with the Mind of Jesus

So something very interesting happened at work yesterday.

In our team meeting (5 men + me), we got to talking about doomsday-preppers.

(Back story: Our department in particular (but not my team, for some reason) has a surprising amount of people from Salt Lake City... and therefore a lot of Mormons. On our team of six, we have a guy who grew up Catholic but doesn't practice, two guys who I suspect are Christian, even if only nominally, one guy with two degrees in Biblical Studies, one who is a very active non-denom, and me.)

Anyways, I mentioned that a lot of Mormons are doomsday-preppers which sparked an interesting conversation. We leave the team meeting and go back to our desks and the question arises from a book or movie someone'd seen called The Road. Apparently in this scenario, all the food is gone and a father has 4 bullets left. He decides to kill his two children, wife, and himself, rather than watch them all starve to death.

So we went around talking about what we would do in that scenario. I was THE ONLY one who said I would have to watch them starve to death. Granted, I'm the only one who isn't married or a parent, so maybe my point of view is irrelevant. When I said I'd HAVE to watch them starve, I think my colleagues thought it was because I couldn't physically bring myself to kill them. Each of them said they couldn't watch their kids starve. My teammate with the masters degrees in Biblical Studies even said it would be the more compassionate thing to do. Then I said "what about morally?" which changed his tune a bit. I added "human suffering is redemptive." He agreed with me and then said, "but think about needless suffering, like when you take a cat or dog to put it down." I interrupted and said "yes, but it isn't the same. Animal suffering cannot be redemptive, human suffering can be." He was hesitant but I think he saw my side. Then another colleague said "I don't know what kind of religion YOU follow that would want people to suffer." And the conversation was over.

The thing I find most interesting about the entire exchange is that it took me saying the word morally for a Christian worldview to turn on.

It's also SO telling about our current society: suffering is the worst thing that could possibly happen to anyone.

But the sacrifice of Jesus' life on the cross carried with it LOTS of suffering, His own, Mary's, the disciples, even ours when we unite ourselves to Him in that moment. And it is beautiful.

What do you think? Would you watch your family starve or be responsible for their deaths?

St. Gianna, pray for us!


  1. Thought provoking! I agree with you. There isn't a separate morality for parents or sensitive persons. Killing is killing. There's no such thing as compassionate or mercy killing. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I extend this even to animals. Animals are not capable of suffering. They have no self-awareness or rational capacity. They sense pain, yes, but no suffering. I think it's okay to kill an animal for food, or if it's a danger, or even if one is no longer able to care for it. I'm more suspicious of "mercy killing" for animals, though. There is no moral obligation to reduce an animal's sensation of pain. And I think it's motivated by the same sort of thinking that leads people to think that killing other human beings is merciful or compassionate.

  2. Interesting distinction between pain and suffering. I suppose when I was talking about animal suffering I really meant animal pain.

    Perhaps that's a part of the problem: we've forgotten the meaning of the word suffering, and only equate it to pain, when it's really so much more than that. Similar to the words marriage, sex, sin, love, etc.

  3. I think it is interesting to apply the logic where many parents at times have had to actually have to watch their children starve-- developing countries in Africa, and India. Should they all kill their children in order to not watch them suffer? Is that the merciful thing?! Yikes!