Thursday, June 02, 2016
The Struggles of Faith
A few days ago there was an article in the Globe and Mail newspaper about several people who will receive compensation through the fund established by the federal government for those living with the effects of the drug thalidomide. Thalidomide was widely prescribed to pregnant mothers in the early sixties as a safe drug for morning sickness. Instead it produced significant birth defects, often truncated or non-existent limbs. Some of the babies died at birth but many survived. There was a young person in my school from that era with shortened arms.
Last year the Canadian government gave lump sum payments to those who had already been identified as affected by the drug, but since then a small number of people have come to realize that their malformed limbs were as a result of thalidomide. They too will be compensated.
I was interested to see this because a British series on PBS, Call the Midwife, addressed this subject during this season. As the title suggests, it is about a group of midwives, some Anglican nuns and others working with them, in post-war Britain. My wife Ruth finds it amusing that I am a devotee of a drama about midwives. Hey, sue me!
It can be a bit formulaic -- there is a medical challenge, a groaning woman giving birth, and a heart-warming conclusion for every episode. Still, I like the issues addressed, including the struggles of faith for the nuns.
In one of the thalidomide episodes a baby is born with terrible deformities and no chance for survival. At the hospital the newborn is left to die as an act of mercy. Sister Julienne, one of the midwives, keeps vigil with this baby and baptizes it, saying the Aaronic Blessing (the Lord bless you and keep you.) She is overcome with emotion and I was as well. It was a touching exploration of how we perceive "the least of these," not to mention intimations of the assisted dying debate.
Well, I've confessed my Call the Midwife secret. Anyone else a fan? Did you see that episode? What were your thoughts?