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My mother had a stroke a month ago on July 22nd. The Physical therapists are saying she will always be weak on the left side where she had the stroke. Does that mean she will have a crappy quality of life? My aunt thinks so. My Aunt hopes God takes her. I am trying to be as positive as I can but it is hard to keep my mom’s spirits up. My bother is crying but, I don’t think that will help. I have been reading my mother bible passages in English and German which seems to help. Her spirits are good but, she cannot talk because of the trach tube in her throat.
I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s illness… I know (from experience) that situations like this are hard.
Of course a stroke does not mean that your mother’s life is “over”, or even necessarily diminished. I believe that my own mother’s stroke marked the BEGINNING of her life, not the end. Up until the time that the stroke paralyzed half of her face, she was perpetually waiting for “the right man” to sweep her off her feet and carry her (and her 3 children) away to his castle. Once the stroke stopped her from being “the pretty woman”, she got her act together, got off welfare, got a good job, then raises, then promotions… The stroke marked the end of one PHASE of her life… and the beginning of another.
“Keeping your mom’s spirits up” should not mean denying the inevitability of death. It is an experience all of us go through. If this is her time, your challenge is to work for her safe and conscious passing. It’s not a matter of trying to keep her on the Earth plane, or “hoping God takes her”. It’s about understanding the process of life and death and helping her be okay with whatever her next steps may be.
Also: you may want to think about adding some funny/comic readings to the Bible verses. The process of death does not have to be “heavy”.
Sharif, this is a beautiful response. All I have to add (also, from experience) is that this is an important moment to deepen a commitment to “a world that works for all.” The end-of-life transition is fraught with Breaker beliefs, and many of them are examples of scientism.
Sharif, thank you for addressing a very important topic. I hope you and your readers will find my further explanation useful. In order to better explain what scientism is, I am sharing below an explanation of what science is.
Science is, at its root, a method of asking and answering questions. The answers can never be better than, not only the questions themselves, but the assumptions behind the questions—that which we can call the “underlying paradigm.” I think an example will be helpful:
Ptolemy began observing the heavens in the 1st Century, CE, but his observations were all wrong because his paradigm was wrong. He believed that the entire universe consisted of two spheres; the smaller one, Earth, was the center of the universe. People lived on its surface and other things lived in Hades, the Underworld. Surrounding the Earth was a larger sphere—stars, planets, and other celestial phenomena were somehow attached to the inside of the sphere, and the outside of the larger sphere was where the gods lived. The most important two questions scientists asked in response to this paradigm were: (1) How is everything attached to the large sphere so that the stars stay in place but the planets and comets move? and (2) How can we predict the planetary movements, which were called ‘epicycles’? The most important thing for us to realize is that science is only as good as the assumptions made and the questions asked.
Today, we know that the universe is not like this picture at all, but we generally fail to see that the Ptolemaic Cosmology was as good as any science ever done–this is scientism. The Ptolemaic Cosmology lasted for over 1400 years because it is useful—not because it is ‘true.’ Even today if you are on the ocean, and you want to know where you are with only instruments at hand, you pretend that the heavens are a sphere that rotates once in a year. You use the date, the location of stars, and some simple geometry to plot your longitude and latitude. There was little or no credible challenge to either the theory or the paradigm because the theory was so useful. This is how navigation was done for not only the 1400 years that the theory was thought to be true, but for 300 years after it was shown to be false.
For 1400 years, no one could figure out how planets were attached to the outer sphere and predict their epicycles. History has lost track of the occasions, if there were any, that scientists believed that the problem was with those questions we now know to be useless, but scientism hides bad questions asked in the past. Once Copernicus demonstrated mathematically that it was likely that the Sun was the center of the solar system and the planets orbited it, people began to imagine that the stars were similar to our sun but very far away. It would make this response far too long to explain what assumptions are needed to make today’s picture of the universe work, but here are the product of those assumptions:
We now believe that we know the size, shape and age of the universe, but do we? Today, we cannot explain why we cannot measure 95% of what our mathematical calculations tell us must be out there. We call it ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ because we cannot measure it like we measure other forms of energy. Physicists think I’m the crazy one because I am agnostic about their explanations, but think about what it means that we have quantum theory, string theory, and superstring theory, even though we can’t even measure almost all of what other theories tell us must be out there.
Now, think about the story that biology is telling us today—even before taking into account how pharmaceuticals are created and marketed. Remember, for example, the phrase “junk DNA”? I didn’t believe that there was any such thing from the moment I heard it, but the phrase has been in general use ever since we figured out that there was other DNA in between each gene. It is scientism that caused scientists to believe that the thing they didn’t see a use for was useless. We just learned recently that the DNA between the genes directs the expression of genes, but no one is going to shout that “junk DNA” was a typically false human judgment, not a “scientific fact.” This is not the fault of science, it is the fault of scientism—a cultural mandate to hide past wrongness in a way that human nature finds comfortable.
Let me end by agreeing with Sharif, if we were to reject science because of scientism, we would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The world would be a better place if we all understood the assumptions that underlie what we are told is “scientific fact” and be on the alert for evidence that does not fit those assumptions. That is why a solid science education is so important and why those who do not have that education can be dangerous to a culture that relies on “scientific facts” for the decisions it makes.
I invite you all to imagine what “Mender science” would look like. I also invite you to ask questions about my incomplete explanation.