Apr 29 2013
James Willis makes some points about the Gosnell baby-killer case, what it means regarding media coverage, and our general attitudes towards that coverage.
Kermit Gosnell is not a particularly attractive man, nor has he any celebrity status. His patients, otherwise known as victims, were mostly young, poor black women or girls whose names have never been mentioned on Entertainment Tonight. We don’t know if any of his youngest victims would have looked like Barack Obama. Gosnell didn’t use an AR-15 to kill these children, he just used scissors.
Although the trial has finally gotten some media attention, the lack of coverage has gotten perhaps more air time than the trial itself. Perhaps I am wrong about the trial being ignored because of a lack of glamour; I suppose it is entirely possible that the media doesn’t want to cover it because they don’t want to bring negative attention to the abortion industry. To be honest, while both factors are probably involved, the latter is most likely the driving force.
Let’s assume, just for the sake of discussion, that the left held the abortion industry in the same level of contempt as they do the gun industry. By now coverage of the trial would be wall-to-wall, with after action reports coming at the end of each day to recap the day’s events and to speculate on the next moves by both the defense and the prosecution. We would have seen leaked photos of the jars containing the severed feet of the infants murdered at Gosnell’s butcher shop, kept like trophies, and of the cat food containers used to store the remains of the dead babies.
There is much more, and it’s all worth reading here, and pondering. Exactly how depraved have we become that we can tolerate this in our society? That we allow people into our homes via the television who support the abortion culture, and actually find them to be trustworthy guides to the news and our society? That we elect politicians who will block every attempt to save the unborn? That we pretend that our concern for the poor (expressed as support for the left) somehow trumps our concern for killed babies?
It seems to me that too many Christians want so much to be “civil” or “nonjudgmental” or “relevant” or just “cool” that they are willing to abide almost anything in the name of some kind of “peace” with the left.
As I said here, on the occasion of Obama’s address at Notre Dame, our willingness to submerge our beliefs and moral assessment for the sake of some kind of cultural relevance, to be “bridge-builders” and “peace-makers,” is essentially a denial that there is evil in the world, evil that we must resist, evil that we must not simply tolerate for the sake of civility and getting along with the powers that be.
Mar 13 2013
In the William Wade Lecture Series given at St. Louis University in March of 1984, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin delivered a seminal address in which he drew connections between the opposition to legal abortion-on-demand, capital punishment, assisted suicide, economic injustice, euthanasia, and the nuclear arms race, as well as opposition to unjust war and even all war. This perspective has gone under the labels “seamless garment” and “consistent ethic of life.” Cardinal Bernadin said:
“It is both a complex and a demanding tradition; it joins the humanity of the unborn infant and the humanity of the hungry; it calls for positive legal action to prevent the killing of the unborn or the aged and positive societal action to provide shelter for the homeless and education for the illiterate. ……
In response to those who fear otherwise, I contend that the systemic vision of a consistent ethic of life will not erode our crucial public opposition to the direction of the arms race; neither will it smother our persistent and necessary public opposition to abortion. ..…
A consistent ethic of life does not equate the problem of taking life (e.g., through abortion and in war) with the problem of promoting human dignity (through humane programs of nutrition, health care, and housing). But a consistent ethic identifies both the protection of life and its promotion as moral questions. It argues for a continuum of life which must be sustained in the face of diverse and distinct threats.”
Notwithstanding the Cardinal’s instruction that the direct defense of life is not to be equated with the promotion of quality of life, this kind of language has been used to provide cover for supposedly pro-life Christians to vote for essentially pro-abortion-on-demand candidates. This is due to the belief that these candidates will promote particular social programs and entitlements which are assumed to “promote life” and possibly reduce the “need” for abortion. Such voters will usually also expect the candidate to take left-leaning positions on national defense, capital punishment, nationalized health care, etc. (essentially the entire panoply of progressive causes), under the guise that these also “promote life.” It is as if these voters believe that we can make up for allowing the killing of millions of babies by feeding and protecting the ones we allow to live, not that progressive policies actually help the living in the long run.
In this “consistent ethic of life” approach, it’s important to distinguish between straight-up moral questions (under what circumstances should it be legal to terminate the lives of the unborn?) and prudential questions (granted that we wish to limit poverty and violence in the world, what are the best means for doing so?). Somehow, for the “seamlessly pro-life,” when it is time to vote, the merely prudential seems to trump the clear moral issue of legal abortion-on-demand. Yet, it is on the prudential questions that the “seamless garment” arguments mostly fail. Let’s consider a few of them.
In the 1984 election (the occasion of Cardinal Bernadin’s quote above), the argument was made that Ronald Reagan, though pro-life, was the lesser choice for the “consistent ethic of life” because of his commitment to rebuilding the US military, including updated nuclear capabilities. The facts of history have proved that perspective wrong. Reagan’s policies were critical in bringing about the 1989 implosion of the Soviet government. Nuclear weapons still exist on our planet, but we are far safer from nuclear annihilation than we were. We owe that fact to Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II, and the many Polish and Russian activists who risked their lives speaking out, not to the nuclear freeze movement or a sham nuclear détente that allowed the Soviets to build up their arsenal of nuclear weapons while US capabilities deteriorated under Carter.
For all that the desire to care for the poor is laudable, and many of the “seamless garment” proponents feel very virtuous in voting for those candidates who promise more and greater entitlements from public funds, the facts of history now belie that approach to alleviating poverty. The poverty rates in the USA are about the same now as they were before the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration were begun. After 7 trillion or more dollars of wealth transference from producers to takers in the last 40 years, the rates of poverty aren’t noticeably different in the USA than they were in 1965. In contrast, before the Great Society entitlements began, poverty had dropped steeply in the preceding decade. (Source: US Census Bureau) Might that trend have continued without the interference of the Great Society programs
Entitlement programs don’t end poverty. They merely support people living in it and reduce motivation for people to get out of it. As Thomas Sowell has pointed out, mobility through the various economic strata is quite common. In the USA, the poor of this decade are often the middle class of the next. Those who move out of poverty in this way don’t do it by relying on public assistance, and little case can be made that such programs are primarily responsible for moving people to higher economic productivity and reward. Upward mobility is promoted by staying out of jail, finishing high school, not becoming addicted, getting a job, marrying before making babies, and staying married afterward.
Economists know that minimum wage laws and rent control simply reduce the availability of entry-level jobs and affordable housing. There are many regulations affecting small business that have the net effect of reducing the number jobs that are available. Such laws and regulations are usually favored by the progressive “seamless garment” voter. How are these policies “seamlessly pro-life”?
“Anti-poverty” programs have encouraged behavior and perspectives that tend to make people poorer, not richer. In particular, these programs result in breaking down family structure, rewarding bad behavior (more money per illegitimate child), teaching dependency and a sense of entitlement, etc. How difficult is it for a young person who has been raised to believe he or she is owed a living by society or the government to take the steps necessary to become self-sufficient? Young people who are taught to resent the success of the productive are less likely to begin their own journey through education, skills acquisition, employment, and self-sufficiency. How is that “seamlessly pro-life”?
The welfare/dependency model has resulted in higher crime rates, especially among people raised with no married father in the home. The prisons are full of inmates who had no father to raise them, a direct result of government policies rewarding broken families, or families that never really formed. The “medicine” for poverty has made the patient far sicker. How is that “seamlessly pro-life”?
Many on the Left warned of dire consequences as state after state allowed law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. The experiment has been conducted, and the results are in. Overwhelmingly, law-abiding armed citizens are not a danger to society and have protected themselves and others on many occasions. Nor are they a significant source of weapons getting into the hands of criminals. Again, regardless of your opinion on the right to self-defense (and the means to do it), prudentially speaking, concealed carry laws (even in densely populated major cities) have been shown to be a good idea that does not endanger life and often protects it. When a person is murdered or injured who was not allowed to be sufficiently armed to act in self-defense, how can that policy be considered part of a “consistent ethic of life”?
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are attracted to the progressive view of the “consistent ethic of life”:
Can you be “seamlessly pro-life” and also support social, economic and governmental policies that produce death, or encourage and support lifestyles that lead to death and/or degradation?
Can you be “seamlessly pro-life” and believe we should not actively resist those who would control us through fear, threats, and the direct practice of violence, whether they are terrorists, gang members, or foreign despots?
Can you be “seamlessly pro-life” and believe we should not defend our nation from aggression?
Can you be “seamlessly pro-life” if you support leaving people individually defenseless against predators?
Can you be “seamlessly pro-life” if you support light sentences for violent offenders who have threatened life and will probably do so again?
These kinds of considerations are critical in seeking a “consistent ethic of life.” Christian voters must think carefully and support candidates whose overall perspectives and policy prescriptions are likely to lead people to make better choices in their own lives. Christian voters should avoid voting for candidates who support policies that have already been shown to produce undesirable unintended consequences, especially motivation-killing entitlement programs.
The real “seamless garment” will include opposition to legal abortion-on-demand, opposition to social programs and entitlements that encourage dependency and sloth while killing motivation, support for strong law enforcement that removes predators from easy access to victims, reasonable options for law-abiding individuals to actively defend themselves and their families, strong national defense to deter attack, and encouragement for people to move out of destructive lifestyles.
That is the true “consistent ethic of life.”
Jan 22 2013
Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which allows any woman or teenage girl to have her unborn child killed for any reason, or none, at pretty much anytime in the pregnancy (despite minor limitations some states have managed to implement). Abortion may be “legal” but it will never be “safe” for the killed human being, and it isn’t all that “safe” for the mother, either. The failure of the church to unite over ending this Shoah is similar to its failure to end slavery, although, as with abolition movements of the 19th century, at least some elements of the church are in the vanguard.
Somewhere between 50 million and 55 million pre-born human beings have been killed since Roe v Wade in 1973. Abortion is THE social justice issue of our time, yet “social justice” advocates are virtually silent about it. It is especially tragic that so many churches and para-church organizations are essentially silent on the matter, when they aren’t simply “pro-choice” by default.
It is thought impolite and confrontational by many to bring this matter up. It is as if someone’s comfortable feelings are more important than the lives being taken, legally.
It is seen by some as primarily a political issue, but it is a straight up moral issue, with very little “middle ground” (what is a half-dead baby?), and our silence on it condemns us, particularly when we are silent out of concern for what other people will think of us, and for fear of offending someone whose good will we require.
Some people want to divert the discussion by pointing out their great concern for the poor and minorities, yet it is the poor and minorities whose children are killed in hugely disproportionate numbers by the Big Business that is abortion in America (Planned Parenthood and its competitors, ringing poor communities in America with pre-born infant disposal centers), one of the very few big businesses that the left never criticizes, and indeed funds with government money. Margaret Sanger and the eugenics movement are winning every day.
In any case, reasonable people can disagree about what will lift the poor out of poverty. It is a prudential question, not a moral one. It is a “how” question. No one disagrees that it would be good if there was less poverty. But legal abortion-on-demand-for-any-rea
Our silence, the silence of those who see themselves as caring, loving people, is deafening.
Our inaction is worse. Our tolerance is…. intolerable.
Jan 02 2013
I recently had a conversation on Facebook with a very bright young man. The topic was taxation. I made the comment (half tongue-in-cheek) that if taking more in taxes from the rich is better, then taking everything from the rich must then be best. He ridiculed me for saying something so clearly ignorant and then proceeded to teach me about the relationship between income and taxation, how it was not a continuum but that there were optimal points of balance at which the right amount of government revenue was taken in taxes, while still maintaining a healthy, growing economy. I replied to his instruction with a simple question: Why is it, according to the political left, that these “optimal” points of balance ALWAYS involve the government taking more?
Apparently he either missed seeing my question or decided I was simply too ignorant to merit an answer, because I never got one. On second thought he was probably busy, back on Facebook proclaiming the colossal ignorance of all conservatives.
Jan 01 2013
After seeing a wedding performed during the middle of the Rose Parade this morning I will have to admit to some trepidation about what might happen at halftime during the Rose Bowl, when I discovered the newlyweds planned to attend the game.
Dec 16 2012
In April of 2009, before the Obama/Reid/Pelosi jamdown on taking over the US healthcare system, I posted this article on the real causes of death (and the the most expensive demands for healthcare) in children, teens and young adults. When you read it, it will be obvious to you that I didn’t know that Obamacare was going to become law. But the same issues were under discussion then as now: what constitutes really “caring for the children”? And what will make the most difference in improving the health outcomes for children/teens/young adults, especially in reducing unnecessary death and traumatic injury?
I see nothing in the original post that requires editing, and I present it again for your attention.
Nov 08 2012
Shortly after the 2008 elections, I posted this article, discussing the predictions that James Dobson had made shortly before the election (and Jim Wallis’ objections to those predictions), about what the outcomes of an Obama administration might be. The predictions came in the form of a “letter from the future.“
If you click the link above and follow the discussion, many of the worst outcomes that Dobson predicted were predicated on the possible retirements of Scalia and Kennedy from the Supreme Court, allowing Obama to appoint two leftist judges to replace one conservative and one moderate, thereby securing a 6-3 leftist majority court that would rubberstamp anything Obama wanted to do, and perhaps discover new “rights” in the Constitution, like same-sex marriage.
Of course, those two judges didn’t retire in Obama’s first time, but they’re getting older, and there is no doubt what kind of judges Obama will replace them with, if they retire during Obama’s second term for health or other reasons. (For this reason, we should all be fervently praying for their health and vigor.)
It strikes me that while premature, Dobson’s predictions may not be far off the mark now…. with the exception of any of them that require a compliant House of Representatives, which I hope Obama does not have (though past weak kneed Republican performances don’t fill me with confidence).
I think it’s not unreasonable to suspect that any of Dobson’s predictions that don’t require action by the House of Representatives are likely to come to pass if Obama does have a chance to pack the court to the left… or even just replace a single conservative or moderate justice with the likes of Kagan or Sotomayor, giving the left a 5-4 majority for a LONG time, in all liklihood. Note that judges appointed by Democrats don’t seem to move to the right…. while the reverse happens too often (Souter).
And regarding Jim Wallis’ objections to Dobson’s predictions (responded to more fully here), what would Wallis’ have said in 2008 at a prediction that Obama’s universal healthcare law would force Christian institutions to pay for abortifacient birth control?
Doubtless he would have called it “hate speech” and “paranoia.”
The reality is quite other, isn’t it?
Sep 17 2012
This was first posted in September of 2009, shortly after the passing of Jennifer Tinker, my student. On this anniversary of her passing, this seems a good time to remember her beautiful life. Here’s the original post:
When I walked into Jennifer’s hospital room, I was initially surprised at the number of people present. The pediatric intensive care unit doesn’t usually allow more than a few visitors at a time. The hospital staff was letting us say goodbye.
Peggy and I hugged. There are no words for a mother at a time like this. Then we both turned to Jennifer. She was unconscious, breathing like my father had breathed during his last twenty four hours. I noted the display of her vitals, grim confirmation of the obvious. Family members were present that I had not yet met. Introductions were made, and I sat down with silent prayers of support for a family in indescribable pain.
Conversations would start and stop. Grandma softly sang hymns while stroking Jenny’s face. Big sister Sarah leaned from her chair and partly lay across Jennifer. (Maybe, if she could just hold tightly enough…) Jennifer would occasionally open her eyes, look around briefly, then go back to sleep. I was told that she had roused earlier in the day, alert enough to demand the remote control for the TV. Hey, Tom and Jerry rocks.
Jennifer was born with a rare genetic disorder which resulted in a host of problems, including legal blindness, skeletal anomalies, learning difficulties and pulmonary hypertension, a fatal disorder of the heart and lungs. She attended public school for a time, but became too frail to continue. Our school district contacted me and asked if I would be interested in teaching Jennifer in her home. After meeting with Jennifer and her mother, I gladly accepted the position.
Jennifer’s house was modest. She had three sisters still living at home, and they all shared one bedroom. There was no father. Peggy, fiercely devoted to her children, seemed undaunted by her many challenges, drawing strength from extended family, church, and her Lord. Jennifer was surrounded in love by a family that had truly learned to treasure what’s important in this life.
I quickly grew accustomed to her oxygen tank and was even able to avoid stepping on the tubing that accompanied Jennifer everywhere she went. After a little more time, I nearly stopped seeing them altogether. Jennifer was just … Jennifer. Fourteen years old when I met her, she only weighed about sixty pounds, but she had a big attitude. She was assertive, even stubborn, and her family and I would have it no other way.
Sweet Pea, one of two tiny canine family members, merely tolerated my presence, but she and Jennifer adored one another. When Jennifer was feeling worse than usual, Sweet Pea would hop into her lap, seeming to comfort both of them. In turn, Jennifer took excellent care of her dogs, leaping to their defense when I threatened one or both of the creatures with barbecue sauce.
Jennifer and I worked out of a small room Peggy had set up for that purpose. This room was Jennifer’s domain, and she took great pride in her school work and in keeping her materials organized. It never ceased to amaze and sometimes shame me that Jennifer accepted her many limitations without complaint. She was determined to find the good in all situations and never missed an opportunity to laugh. Once, we read through The Three Billy Goats Gruff. When I asked what the troll had in mind for the goats, Jennifer gleefully replied, “He wants to eat them!” She licked her lips. Then she giggled. Oh, that giggle… It filled the room and made you laugh right along.
Jennifer was generous. Sometimes I arrived at her home to find a brownie or some other example of her growing culinary skills waiting for me. When my son had surgery, she sent him a homemade get-well card. This required Jennifer to hold her face about three inches from the paper while she worked on the greeting. She certainly wasn’t going to let a small annoyance like legal blindness stop her from encouraging another.
Jennifer’s life was worth living, and she lived it well. I’ve heard some say she is “resting in peace,” but I see her running for the first time. Running, running, running… into her Father’s arms.
Jennifer Monique Tinker
January 10, 1994-September 17, 2009
After Jennifer’s passing, Harmonicminer of these parts composed a choral composition in memory of her. Here’s a link and a description. With some luck, we’ll be able to post a recording soon.
Next Page »