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As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, euthanasia would not be an option to me, but I really hope I'd never have to think about it as a choice. I had an early stage melanoma in 2004 and I know I "beat it", but I also know it's all a matter of time and I made some important lifestyle changes and most importantly - switching to a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. (Well, also as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I'm currently undergoing Great Lent, and I know for a fact that carbs are terrible in the long run.)

It's so pathetic that we as a society waste so much time and energy on non-essential stuff instead of curing major killers. Yes, cancer is a hard one to beat (each cancer being different, too), but we've done even more complex things as humanity. I really don't think curing major diseases has ever been a top priority of our society! I hope one day soon people finally realize that diseases are not what other people get (the arrogance of the healthy), but what we all will eventually!

I'm really curious, what makes you choose and follow rules that other people set up (i.e. whatever part of being an Eastern Orthodox Christian forbids euthanasia), instead of making choices yourself, whatever you believe is the best for your life? Even if you agree with most of what your religion prescribes or suggests, couldn't you just pick and choose the parts that you like and that influence your life positively, and throw away the rest?

I'm hesitant to answer for nikolay, but my guess is that he has indeed made such choices -- one of them being to live according to the doctrines prescribed by his religion.

Rigidly adhering to dogma is something that many people take pride in. When done consciously, it's not blind obedience; it's a sort of trust in the groundwork that has been laid by your ancestors.

In other words, to simply "pick and choose" would denigrate the tradition that nikolay has decided to uphold. For some people, death is preferable to the dissolution of one's identity.

> In other words, to simply "pick and choose" would denigrate the tradition that nikolay has decided to uphold.

I guess what I'm missing here, is how does one come to such a decision. After all, the "tradition" is just an arbitrary set of rules that was made up by someone sometime in the past. I mean, even the name "Eastern Orthodox Christian" reveals that it's a refinement of Christianity, which is itself a refinement of Judaism, which is itself probably a refinement of something else that just wasn't written down. And all refinements keep changing; e.g. Jews shouldn't use "fire" on Sabbath (originally, AFAIK), but they adapted that to modern times to include "electricity" as well.

So my question (or failure to understand) is exactly this conscious choice - what makes one consciously decide that a set of rules made up by someone else, which may or may not still be relevant, is the best way to conduct one's life? I guess uprbringing has a lot to do with this - religious people rarely go window-shopping to see which religion is "the best" - but IMO the idea of growing up is that you make independent decisions about your life (which ideally includes learning from others - adopting other people's rules - and learning from experience - changing your rules), possibly contrary to what your parents though and taught you were the best choices.

Edit: also, I would like to point out that I see the following as distinct choices that one can make more-or-less independently: belief (into the general framework your religion describes, e.g. how the world was created), obedience/following (of religious rules, e.g. Muslims shouldn't eat pork), and belonging to community (e.g. you might not eat pork just because you don't want to be excluded from the Jewish community).

There's no such thing as "faith" as separate to "knowing something is true". Many people who even call themselves religious miss that. If you really believe that the doctrines of your faith are God's prescriptions (and there are ways to make that as a logical inference of some basic axioms within the system of a religion), then it's not "arbitrary set of rules" - it's the set of rules God wants you to follow. That's how actual faith works.

(Speaking from experience; I used to be a true believer.)

Well, do they "not understand it" or do they just have a different way of being religious?

That "different way of being religious" is stretching the meaning of the word "religious" quite a lot. Kind of like calling yourself a 2nd-level vegetarian - "cows eat grass, I eat cows...".

I don't know; a lot of churches emphasize the role of reason in interpreting doctrines and scripture and I don't think they should all be considered false churches for failing to just unswervingly adhere to whatever is handed down without consideration for what has changed since it was written.

> what makes one consciously decide that a set of rules made up by someone else, which may or may not still be relevant, is the best way to conduct one's life?

That may not be the best. But good enough given the circumstances (time, community, energy, freedom, incentives, capacity, will, goals)?

Analogy: what makes you decide that using a fork is (not) the best way to eat some sorts of food? What makes you decide that a pair of trousers is (not) the most appropriate dress for a person? What makes you decide that nudity is (not) appropriate in a given context?

That's a piece of practical, ornemental, societal, cultural refinements made by a set of people, over centuries. And it IS practical/ornemental/societal/cultural. But what if there was an other, universal, better way? What if not? Or what if, but not (yet) in our reach?

This is exactly the point - I use forks because I was brought up that way, but I am open to the possibility that they're not the best, and in fact, I'm actively experimenting (in many areas of my life) to find "better" ways.

I don't think Orthodox Christians see their traditions as "an arbitrary set of rules made up by someone" so much as a way of living prescribed by God himself through his emissaries on Earth (well, at least I'd figure many of them do hold this view).

I think there are a few things going on here. First, while there's a great variety in the outward practices of many non-Protestant Christian Churches (e.g., the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic Christian, etc.), theologically the differences are actually fairly minor, and many of them are in communion with one another. So, for instance, the fact that the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches are in communion with each other (or the Roman Catholic and Byzantine Catholic) means that both accept that the other is a valid expression of the Christian faith.

Now, of course, if you visit a Roman Catholic mass and a Byzantine Catholic liturgy, many aspects will be different (although there will also be many similarities). The churches will celebrate different feast days, they will fast on different days and in different manners, there will be different saints venerated, etc.

So does this mean that these traditions are arbitrary? I don't think so. How and when one fasts will vary, but the fact that one should fast does not. And the dates of a fast are not picked randomly --- in fact, if you look at any tradition of any of these churches, you will find very deep reasons for that particular tradition. It's just that there's not one right answer, so different churches have evolved their own unique answers (and in doing so, have emphasized slightly different aspects of the underlying theological truths).

So then why shouldn't a Roman Catholic like myself try out all the different churches until I find one that I like the best for myself? Living in a multicultural country like the United States, this part is harder to convey. But there is, I think, a great value in living in a society that practices its religion in a similar way. As an analogy, I could just decide that I would rather celebrate Thanksgiving on May 21 every year. But there's some value in living in a society where everyone, collectively, celebrates Thanksgiving on the same day so that families can get together and we can watch football and eat turkey. So while I could come up with my own way of practicing Christianity that would, in some sense, be valid, there is enormous value in accepting the traditions of my community that have evolved over centuries.

This all gets to a larger point in the Orthodox and Catholic faiths about hubris and respect for tradition. The idea is that, in general, practices don't stick around for centuries unless there's a good reason for it. You or I might not immediately understand what that reason is, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one. Moreover, and this is in contrast to many Protestant faiths, there is an idea in Catholicism and Orthodoxy that many truths come to us through Tradition rather than through Scripture. That is, Christ taught certain things to his Apostles, who taught them to the earliest Christians, who continued to pass them down the centuries. Some of these things were written down in Scripture, but not all. So, for instance, you won't find a passage in the Bible that forbids bishops from being married. But no Catholic or Orthodox bishops are married because this is a part of our tradition. But respect for tradition doesn't mean that the tradition is static. It just means that it changes only gradually and deliberately.

I've seen orthodox religious people get into serious psychological problems after someone they loved died prematurely and unexpectedly. When you really believe that God has its hand in everything, death of a loved one is a hard thing to swallow: it must be some punishment or lesson, but why?

Orthodox christian religion is i.m.o. not helpful at all when coping with death.

Christianity has never been about not suffering. Many early disciples had painful endings to their lives and went through many hardships. God was with them in their pain, not their ticket to a problem-free life, on their journey to heaven where "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more" [Revelation 21:4].

One women I know that was sick in cancer said it like this to a friend of mine: I have been with him [Jesus] too long to leave Him now.

Your god is good, powerful, and all-seeing: pick two.

So if a parent does something their child doesn't like, but for a good reason, they must be one of 1) a bad parent, 2) incapable of doing anything better, or 3) unaware that the child won't like it?

Given a deity and an afterlife, I don't think that argument holds up. Generally the idea of God is that they understand a lot more than humans do or can. (Whether that's true or not is a different question, of course.)

Most people grieve after someone dies. Some have a harder time than others. Being religious or not has hardly to do with it.

Being Christian has nothing to do with either believing that God has its hand in everything that governs your one personal life, or that it will actively intervene in a perceptible way, either believing that death is a punishment or a lesson or easy stuff or anything of this sort.

Although one may always add such opinions, or bigotry, to any kind of faith (be it Christian or not).

I mean, you may believe in God, or not, that won't stop the world. That won't make life different than what it is: you live, you die, shit happens, for some reason, or just because of no reason particular to you.

The core of being Christian is believing in the Credo (which is sort of crazy, indeed, and that's totally accepted) and following Jesus way (and even Brian's one - you know: always look at the bright side of life) and spirit. Which requires some sort of introspection, observation, patience, love, etc. Not to say it's easy either.

Then you add what tradition (catholic, eastern, orthodox, protestant, or so many others) you're in, or you've chosen.

What you believe is one thing. That should logically not prevent you from living and seeking.

(Catholic writing here)

There's no such thing as a half-Christian - you either accept it all or none; there's no cherry-picking. A suicide of any form is a sin - among Catholics as well and in some other religions, too. People had been terminally ill in the past as well, but there's always a chance - even a minuscule one.

>There's no such thing as a half-Christian

There's a massive variation in belief and practices amongst people who call themselves Christian. And I don't recall Jesus saying that you shouldn't do euthanasia for terminal cancer. He was generally a caring guy. Most of the anti stuff comes from right wing nutters born long after Jesus's death who I'd be happy to disregard.

>I don't recall Jesus saying that you shouldn't do euthanasia for terminal cancer

Jesus didn't speak about how to reply to comments on Hacker News either, but that doesn't mean that Christians are given no insight on how he or she should conduct himself or herself here.

>Most of the anti stuff comes from right wing nutters

I do hope you will evaluate this opinion more critically. I mean, I'm pretty sure Aquinas was against euthanasia, and that would have been well in line with the Judeo-Christian views on the issue throughout history.

"Throughout history" is such a funny phase. Imagine if Christians are around in another 2000 years and look back and say, "Well in the early years, for a few thousand years, Christians thought this but gradually it changed to this". Their opinion of X might be a bit difficult.

Actually I suspect that there were a few changes in the the first first centuries AD that make the 'averaging' of history quite an interesting topic.

Well, was he? That's a slightly complicated question. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_double_effect

"there's no cherry-picking"

What about all the other different branches of Christianity then? Catholicism, anglicans? adventists etc

Are they not Christian?

Catholic here so I have the same position on euthanasia. The thing is, there is an alternative: good palliative care, which revolves around good pain management and promoting the best quality of life in the end days. The US hasn't been very good at that type of care but there are some improvements, and more and more are getting into it.

The irony, is that sometimes, someone in palliative care might live longer than someone being actively treated. Here[1] is an extreme example. Less extreme examples ocurr every day as people undergo tests and treatments which end up precipitating the general condition of the person. 70 years old and heart arteries fully blocked and only auxiliary perfusion? DON'T go get a stress test, you already know the outcome and no significant difference will be occur in treatment.

Ask any health professional how they want to die, and almost none of them will want to "do everything possible to treat". They've seen it and it sucks: doing chest compressions, thus breaking ribs of frail elders, all because their children refuse to see them let go; seeing people with tubes up every orifice and yet still in pain, away from loved ones and surrounded by strangers… no thanks!

Public Service Announcement: if you don't have any yet, make some Adcanced Directives to document what should be done to you should you become incapacitated. You can always revise them on a yearly basis.

St Robert Bellarmine wrote "The Art of Dying Well"; for non-Catholics there are other similar writings about how to live a full life without pretending that death will never happen.

[1] A terminal phase Greek cancer patient leaves NY to die in peace in his Greek island and outlives all his doctors. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-...

"It's so pathetic that we as a society waste so much time and energy on non-essential stuff instead of curing major killers"

Non-essential stuff like what? Fast Cars? Games? Music? You tube? maybe Religion?

Imagine all the money/smart people that are currently involved in religions because of some random reason and could be working on meaningful things... The Catholic church alone could pay for cancer research for a 100 years.

My point is what is essential to you, is not for me.

> It's so pathetic that we as a society waste so much time and energy on non-essential stuff instead of curing major killers.

It's just as important to live as it is to not die.

"As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, euthanasia would not be an option to me,"


Taking your own life is seen as a mortal sin by most Christian traditions, mortal sin as in there is no forgiveness for this and you go straight to Hell. Not sure about other traditions but in the case of Orthodox and Catholic Church you are, for example, forbidden to be buried in sacred ground if you take your own life.

If you are curious you should read a bit about the history of Christianity, e.g. a Eastern Orthodox Christianity tends to be more entrenched in tradition than modern Catholic Christianity. You don't have to be a believer to read about history.

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