March 7, 2007

Screwtape to Wormwood: Suffering is Good

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 5:23 pm

With apologies to C.S. Lewis, through some amazing technical hackery, I have intercepted the following email:

Hello Wormwood –

I want to congratulate you on your latest piece of handiwork with your patient. Putting the thought into his head that our enemy actually desires that humans suffer was a master stroke. Now he is busy preaching that compassion and (ugh!) caring for other humans is contrary to our enemy’s desire. The belief that pain and suffering is good is a meme that has always been a very productive one for our forces, but that has been in decline over the past few centuries.

But do not rest in our fight against more accessible health care in the U.S. I have personally been very involved in this battle over the years, but am afraid that the tide has been turning against us of late. We have been very successful convincing Americans, especially Christian Americans, that universal health care is a “government take-over” of health care (I take particular pride in that turn of phrase, which was in fact originally authored by me). We need to continue this line of attack, convincing them that, instead of Americans coming together to collectively provide for the needs of each other through their representative democracy, universal health care is a power grab by an ominous government bent on taking over control of their lives. You need to make sure that your charge continues to view “the government” as a monolithic autonomous monster, not as a vehicle by which the citizenry works for the common good. Remind him that our enemy has been evicted from the government by the “fiction” of the separation of church and state (oh, how ironic, that we claim this bane of our existence is actually in our forces’ favor!) and therefore, government involvement in health care, no matter how compassionate, no matter how good, is godless and must be opposed by Christians.

I also encourage you to continue with your current attack on Christian compassion with this idea that, because their savior suffered, suffering is somehow good. I am reminded of one of my past victories. A Christian woman was married to a non-believing man*. When her husband went into the hospital, I was able to convince her to give the doctors specific instructions to deny pain medication to her husband so that he would suffer, thereby doing penance, and subsequently able to join her in heaven. Oh how delicious, making her believe that her evil cruelty was an act of love and obedience to our enemy! I shall treasure the taste of her husband’s suffering for eternity!

Of course, you must prevent your charge from re-reading his Bible, particularly the passages in the New Testament about love (how I hate that word) for their neighbors, or about caring for the sick as an obedient response to the love our enemy unwisely wastes on humanity. Above all, do not let him turn to Matthew 25.

Keep up the good progress with your charge. He moves further and further from the influence of our enemy, all the while thinking he is being obedient. Soon he will be ours completely!

Regards,

-Screwtape

* A true story related by the Pastor of my church in his sermon this past Sunday.

11 Comments

  1. Socialized medicine isn’t the best system. Think about it…how long would it take to get an emergency MRI with socialized medicine? A couple of hours? A few days? Weeks? Or, would you have to cross the border into a country with private medicine, because it was going to take months?

    Of course, we could go a long way to extending Medicare and Medicaid if we stop giving entitlements like free healthcare to illegal…I’m sorry, “undocumented” immigrants.

    BTW, sorry about the snarky tone, I’m a little cranky…nothing against you.
    Peace

    Comment by Elmo — March 7, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  2. Elmo-
    Socialized medicine isn’t the best system.
    and
    Of course, we could go a long way to extending Medicare…

    But Medicare is socialized medicine. So if you don’t like it, why do you want to extend it?

    Comment by BruceA — March 7, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  3. I would beg to differ regarding the term socialized medicine. Medicare is a single-payer system, but not socialized, since the health care delivery itself is private.

    Regarding your ability to get an emergency MRI in countries with universal health care, statistics show that these countries have better outcomes for less money than in the U.S. Meanwhile, empoloyer-sponsored health care is a heavy weight dragging down the ability of U.S. companies to compete internationally. Besides which, there are 46 million Americans without any health insurance.

    For more, see here.

    Comment by Bob — March 8, 2007 @ 6:56 am

  4. It’s my experience that opponents of universal health care use the term socialized medicine to refer to any single-payer system. The point I’m trying to make is that what so many people so greatly fear is the same thing we already have for senior citizens. In fact, some in Congress have proposed that we achieve universal healthcare simply by dropping the words “over 65” from the Medicare law.

    Having worked in the health care industry for ten years, I don’t think it is entirely fair to say that the delivery is private for Medicare patients since any procedure must be approved by Medicare if the physician wants to get paid. That essentially gives the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the final say in what treatment the physician gives the patient. PPO’s and HMO’s exercise the same power over the physician-patient relationship.

    Still, in case I wasn’t clear in my first post, I’d much rather have Medicare-style “socialized medicine” or some other form of universal health care than the messed up system that we have now.

    Comment by BruceA — March 8, 2007 @ 9:08 am

  5. I think that Medicare and Medicaid are worthwhile for supporting the poorest and most vulnerable among us. Extending it will make care better available to more people, without adding to the taxpayer burden.

    The point I’m trying to make is that what so many people so greatly fear is the same thing we already have for senior citizens.

    And it’s working beautifully, right?

    Healthcare is spiraling out of control. But a purely public system isn’t the best. Maybe the public/private mix they use in France? One of the main problems is that private medicine produces almost all of the advancements. Countries with fully socialized medicine are not innovators. And worse, their best doctors leave to come to the US. Where will they go if we adopt a similar system?

    Comment by Elmo — March 8, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  6. One of the main problems is that private medicine produces almost all of the advancements.

    What on earth does this mean? And what does it have to do with who provides your insurance?

    Countries with fully socialized medicine are not innovators. And worse, their best doctors leave to come to the US.

    Which countries would you say have “fully socialized medicine”? Can you provide evidence that their acknowledged “best” doctors have, in fact, emigrated to the United States?

    Comment by BruceA — March 8, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  7. I was discussing this topic with a friend the other day (we also discussed immigrant rights), and he brought up the excellent point that so-called “socialize medicine” needn’t negate private medicine. We could have a system in which universal healthcare and private healthcare could coexist.

    And I agree that universal health care is not the best solution, but no other solution is emerging. If the government should not take care of its people, then the people must take care of its own without the bureaucracy which will (I’m sure) gum up the machinery of universal healthcare. But the people haven’t done anything. And so the question becomes whether or not a messy, ineffective solution is better than no solution at all.

    Comment by Jamie — March 9, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  8. Having the distinction between socialized medicine and basically subsidized insurance does change the issue. If it won’t negate private medicine, or cause the backlog that exists in Canada, then it won’t have any of the problems I’ve mentioned here, save the inefficiency and pure waste that exists in the Medicare and Medicaid system.

    So the next questions are how much will it cost? and where will the money come from?

    Comment by Elmo — March 9, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  9. I was watching c span the other day and the fed chairman testified, that the average person’s taxes should not be used for healthcare of the average person. How should the average person’s taxes be used? We have been living with taxation without representation so long we do not know any better.

    Comment by solrev — March 23, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  10. In this blog you incorrectly lash out at a religious segment without fully understanding their beliefs.

    You think there are those on the right who believe suffering is good. In fact we do think it is a good thing to suffer, because the Bible says it is (Matt 5:10-12, Rom 5:3,4, Phil 3:10, James 1:2-4, 1 Ptr 1:7, 4:1,12) The problem is that you have combined the opinion that it is good to suffer FOR CHRIST with two others incorrect believes that say general suffering is good and suffering will earn salvation. While the Bible teaches Christians to expect, endure, and rejoice in suffering, it is always in relation to suffering FOR CHRIST. It never teaches that general suffering is good, or that it can earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8, 9). We also understand the importance Christ placed on taking care of the needy better than anyone else (How many New Age or Atheist orphanages have you heard of lately).

    So you are right to say that we believe suffering is good thing, but wrong in how you tie it end with your creative yet, politically and theologically insufficient blog.

    Comment by J. Robe — May 29, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  11. In this blog you incorrectly lash out at a religious/political segment without fully understanding their beliefs.

    You think there are those on the right who believe suffering is good. In fact we do think it is a good thing to suffer, because the Bible says it is (Matt 5:10-12, Rom 5:3,4, Phil 3:10, James 1:2-4, 1 Ptr 1:7, 4:1,12) The problem is that you have combined the opinion that it is good to suffer FOR CHRIST with two others incorrect believes that say general suffering is good and suffering will earn salvation. While the Bible teaches Christians to expect, endure, and rejoice in suffering, it is always in relation to suffering FOR CHRIST. It never teaches that general suffering is good, or that it can earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8, 9). We also understand the importance Christ placed on taking care of the needy better than anyone else (How many New Age or Atheist orphanages have you heard of lately).

    So you are right to say that we believe suffering is good thing, but wrong in how you tie it end with your creative yet, politically and theologically insufficient blog.

    Comment by J. Robe — May 29, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

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