Friday, November 21, 2008


Maybe it's only me who sees this but why is it that the most contentious times in the church happens just before Advent? This post title is a link to a Richard John Neuhaus article on First Things about, yes you guessed it, abortion. Our president elect is not even sworn in and the battle lines are being drawn.

What galls me so is that "pro-life" folks aren't so much pro-life as pro-prenatal-life. But I hear little or nothing on what we as a society do once the baby has passed the birth canal. If even a 10th of the effort to ban abortion was spent on helping setup and fund programs for mothers of these children abortion would be much less prevalent than it is now. But we can't do that. It would be legitimatizing premarital sex. Great strategy. How this lessens the incidents of abortion I can't fathom.

The great shame of all this is that these culture wars will never end. No matter the outcome, one side will be aggrieved and retrench for a counter attack. It. will. never. end.

What's frustrating is that I agree with Neuhaus that the church is a community within a community and has a particular role to play that is separate from and unique to the society that it lives in. Maybe this means that we rededicate ourselves to those issues where we do have common interest: helping the poor, the heavy of heart, the sick, prisoners, the elderly, etc.. At least these are issues that Christ commanded us to address.

Unfortunately, it's fairly obvious that the battle lines have been drawn and martyrdom awaits the faithful. Retrenchment seems the order of the day.


  1. What galls me so is that "pro-life" folks aren't so much pro-life as pro-prenatal-life.

    If the mother is intent on aborting (i.e. killing) the child there is nothing the child can do, neither is there any legal punishment against the mother. After birth, however, killing the child becomes murder in the eyes of the law; the child has legal protections it did not have previously.

    The goal of the pro-life movement is to extend the legal protections of the born child to the unborn child.

    Whatever your position on abortion or your view of the pro-life movement, I hope we can agree that partial-birth abortion ought to be outlawed. Any physician who engages in this gruesome and barbaric practice should be brought up on charges of first-degree murder.

  2. Thomas,

    That abortion is a tragety is not in question. That abortion is, at the very least, killing the potentiality of human life (or potentiality of personhood) is -- at least for me -- also not in question. That partial birth abortion is gruesome is also not in question. What *is* in question is *how* we go about reducing abortion so that the only abortions that are performed are to save the life of the mother.

    My point was that Neuhaus and the rest of the anti-abortion group are so fixated on abortion, seemingly to the exclusion of everything else, that the work of *solving* the problem is lost. Moreover, the tone that Neuhaus takes at best unhelpful and at worst myoptic. Neuhaus' cynical feelings of Obama are misplaces and prejorative since Obama hasn't done anything as president yet. I think Neuhaus ought to hold his criticism until there is something to criticize.

    Also, I'm tired of one-trick-pony Christianity; as if abortion and homosexuality are the end-all-be-all issues. Below is a link to Doug Kmiec (conservative catholic) about the abortion issue which is a better worded then what I can do:

  3. I'm tired of one-trick-pony Christianity; as if abortion and homosexuality are the end-all-be-all issues.

    Of course you're right about this. There is much more to the Christian Faith than one's political positions on abortion and homosexuality. In fact, one's political positions are really a part of one's faith as far as I am concerned. One's political positions might be a by-product of faith, but certainly - theologically speaking - not a part of that faith.

    This idea that "when a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion . . . but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons" is far too technical for anyone not wearing a cardinal's hat to grasp. I reject it, not because His Holiness is wrong, but because it's simply not relevant. I'm trying to picture Christ on His Judgment seat condemning someone for "remote material cooperation." That mental picture seems a bit of an overreach to me.

    One side argues that Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned, and folks like Kmiec argue that a better way is "alternative social and cultural support for expectant mothers (adequate prenatal and postnatal care; funded maternity leave; a caring adoption procedure). This kind of assistance especially into the lives of poor women has been shown to have significant impact in the reduction of abortion."

    While this may be true, setting aside the question of who's going to pay for these programs, why not combine both approaches? Along with efforts to get Roe v. Wade overturned, people who are so inclined should also argue for these additional programs if in fact they actually reduce abortions.

    The problem is much deeper than these things, however. The problem of excessive abortions is rooted in a materialistic and secular culture that views human life as disposable, where marriage is mocked and ridiculed, where the role of fathers is minimized, where chastity before marriage is considered "prudish" and "uncool", and I could go on. The real root of the abortion problem is the moral sickness of society and our culture. Overturning Roe v. Wade won't address this, but neither will more programs for expectant mothers.