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Issue Fifty Seven

June 2019

In their Editorial Speaking Truth to Power: Youth Urge Action on Climate Change, John Kleinsman and Camilla Cockerton salute the courage and passion of tens of thousands of school students across New Zealand urging action on climate change.  The national demonstration on 15th March joined an international student strike by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her article Wake Up to the Fierce Urgency of the Now, Camilla Cockerton explores some basic reasons for the warming of the climate system, the compelling evidence, and the dire warnings of the United Nations’ latest climate-change report.  Subsequent issues of The Nathaniel Report will examine climate change in greater detail.

In their article A Cannabis Referendum Starter Kit, Deborah Stevens and Lynne Bowyer clarify some of the key terms used in the current debate and explain the science.  This issue is topical because of the binding referendum to be held on legalising cannabis for personal use (both medicinal and recreational).

In his candid article I am Pro-Life. Don’t Call Me Anti-Abortion, Charles Camosy elucidates how the struggle in the abortion debate is a struggle over language.  He challenges the use of language that allows critics to dismiss pro-lifers as single-issue obsessives, while highlighting the ways in which language is employed to hide the dignity of the vulnerable.  Our ‘throwaway culture’ has infected our attitude towards marginalized populations such that some use terms like ‘sub-humans’, ‘defective humans’, and ‘parasites’.

Following this line of thought, in his article The Gift of Poetry and Down Syndrome, Andrew Hamilton challenges the depiction of Down syndrome as pitiable and as a burden on parents and society that is best resolved via an early termination of pregnancy: instead, it is a gift to be cherished.  Thousands of people witnessed the delight of Stevie Payne, who has Down syndrome, when his sister, Michelle, won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

In his article We Need Better Arguments to Debate Big Ethical Issues, Dan Fleming convincingly posits that we can contribute to euthanasia debates with better arguments.  He explores different ethical and philosophical frameworks that are employed in the physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia debate: deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics.  He also contests the assumption that only those with a religious worldview oppose euthanasia legislation.

In his article Living with Freedom, Gerard Aynsley offers an incisive analysis of our understandings of freedom within the context of euthanasia.  In tracing two streams of thought from the Enlightenment and the Christian faith tradition, he argues that these two approaches need not be polemical; both are intertwined with thinking about what it means to be a person.

In our concluding article Advanced Care Planning: Q&A for Faith Communities, Noel Tiano explores the practicalities of end-of-life care, emphasising the importance of Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives.  These provide opportunities for patients and their whanau to engage in caring conversations when facing a life-limiting health condition.


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