Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with words that we all must take to heart:
1 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be consoled.
3 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
4 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will receive it in full.
5 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
6 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
7 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
8 Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
9 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt. 5:3-12.
The beatitudes should be more central to a God-based resolution for those considering or opposing abortion. Please consider whether abortion is consistent with these values or opposed to them. This is the first of nine essays which relates each beatitude three ways: to God, to His laws, and to others, especially the least favored of humanity. The nine beatitudes also work together, much like the nine players on a baseball team. Accordingly, the introduction to each discussion relates a beatitude to a quality of a famous baseball player. See how many you recognize before you hear the player’s name.
1. The Poor Pitcher. He was born the seventh of eleven children in a poor black Alabama family around the turn of last century. He picked up his lifelong nickname from his boyhood job carrying suitcases for tips at a train station. After he was caught shoplifting, however, he spent five years at the state reform school for Negro children. Still, he is known as perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time, pitching professionally over five decades, concluding at the age of 59 with the Athletics, then playing in Kansas City. Joe DiMaggio called him, “the best I've ever faced and the fastest." By the time the big leagues allowed his race to play ball, though, his best years were behind him. He earned less in his whole career than most Major League ball players today make in a single season. His name is Leroy “Satchel” Paige.
Strictly speaking, the poor are those who must depend on the generosity of others to live. Since that spirit of generosity comes from God, the poor most directly depend on God for everything. Regardless of social status, we are still called to place our trust in God for everything, to be poor in spirit. Considering the three relationships, the poor in spirit realize their total dependence upon God; they realize that He, rather than they, make the rules which govern their conduct; and they realize that they have no more fundamental rights than the least of their brothers and sisters. This is reality. Everything else is just an illusion.
The prochoice position starts from opposite premises concerning all three relationships. First, rather than encouraging dependence on God, it asserts independence for persons facing unwanted pregnancies. Dependence upon God is a threat to their autonomy. Second, His rules are not acknowledged as legitimate for their conduct. They make the rules as they see fit for their present situation. Third, the prochoice position claims superiority for women facing unwanted pregnancies: superiority over their unborn children and superiority over the rights of every other person affected, including the fathers of their children.
The prochoice position does, however, profess to support pregnant women, whom they view as among humanity’s least favored and who they claim must be allowed to terminate their pregnancies for myriad reasons, but most often, when a child would threaten their financial status or their relationship with the child’s father or their husband, who may not be the child’s father. This position, the world’s position, is not really aligned with the poor in spirit because dependence upon the violent destruction of the unborn replaces dependence upon God; independence from external standards of conduct (power or right to choose) replaces realization of God’s rules; and superiority over the unborn replaces a closer relationship to them.
This is not to say that all who claim to be prolife are thus poor in spirit. We have egocentric, fallen people who claim superiority over others in our midst too. The media loves to portray prolife persons as being “antiabortion” as if that term connotes a claim of superiority over those more tolerant of abortion, those who are “prochoice.” Funny, isn’t it, how media elites scold us for telling others what to do – isn’t that just exactly what they do?
Our task is not to get control over the media, or in fact, to control anyone. Our task is to realize our dependence upon God who makes the rules for all of us to follow. If we are truly to be poor in spirit in our prolife convictions, we must help others to see that dependence upon God is our strength -- although we offer no quick fixes, our God cares deeply for us and will not abandon us, even at difficult times. Following His law is our hope because departures from His law lead to the despair of those agonizing over an abortion decision, past, present or future. Finally, acknowledging that we have no more right to destroy the unborn than they have to destroy us provides us with an ability to resist the temptation to use deadly force against them. In solidarity with the unborn, we build strong relationships person to person and generation to generation.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Everyone in the pro-life movement must do what they can to promote respect for life. Here's one thing I am doing. A couple times a month, I am sending an email to President Obama telling him I am praying for him to meet the challenges presented to him and that I am praying for his conversion to a pro-life position.
If you want to email the president, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I don't think so. I certainly hope we won't have to wait till then.
If not, then what, if anything, are we doing wrong; and what must we change, in order to hasten the good result?
All of you who know me understand one thing for sure: you know that I believe that the *church* is THE single key to our triumph. If this is the case, then what must we do differently?
OK, I know this will seem a bit far afield, but here we go: THE first thing we need to do is to get the gospel right. The second thing we need to do is to believe it. The third thing we need to do is to BE the church, properly-covenanted with God (in the local assemblies--under authority and vows). The fourth thing we need to do is to worship God, and to do that on Sundays.
All right--are you with me? Once we have gotten to THIS point, let us PRAY like crazy--let's do it individually, in our churches, and amongst all the faithful churches. Now, let's ask God to pour out His Spirit on the church, so as to revive her. Once this prayer is answered--should God choose to do so--then we are in a position to fully take over, control, and impact ALL of culture and society.
Now, in light of what I have said, is it wrong for us to do all the things we are currently attempting? No. But let us not put our faith in these efforts. All positive and true change, in the history of the world, has come about by means of God working in and through His church.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Can this epidemic of death get any worse? Yes – it can and it will - short of Divine Intervention.
Why? Because the guardians of the rats that first brought this plague on board are now in Complete Control of the ship!
Daily, the captain issues new regulations specifically designed to provide ideal conditions for the unrestricted proliferation of his pet rodents and their attending fleas. And his crew has the ship’s gold with which to buy cooperation, and the shot and powder to enforce his will on any who resist
And so, the medical officer is ordered to assist with the infestation - or risk demotion to cabin boy. And the pharmacist’s mate is instructed to provide succor for the vermin - or be thrown overboard.
Soon, the chaplain will be whipped at the mast - if he wakes up long enough that is, to protest this state of affairs. And any occupant of the hold below who dares complain of the pervasive stench of death interfering with their slumbers, will invite a long walk off a short plank.
"Listen!" shouts the watchman high above in the rigging. “Can you hear a faint but irresistible melody across the deep? Is it not the song of that ancient Siren from the abyss, enticing our ship toward some point of no return?"
But the deck below lolls silent in the mist. For the passengers, like the chaplain, lie dreaming in their berths. And the captain is huddled in the cabin with his crew and furry minions, charting a course to carry the plague to new and unsuspecting ports of call.
So, the ship sails on into the dusk, undeterred.
Somewhere ahead in the gathering gloom, lies the Bay of Reckoning, prepared and waiting. Soon, the current will be inescapable and the destination will be sure.
Faintly now, the warning from the watchman echoes through the fog...
But, the ship sails on into the dark night, undeterred.
Drawing ever nearer to that final anchorage – where plague infested vessels are first purified with flame, then scuttled to the forgotten depths below …
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Dear Fr. Jenkins,
You have invited President Obama to speak at University of Notre Dame Commencement. Moreover, you plan to bestow upon him an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University at that time.
You've got to be kidding! The pro-abortion views and more importantly, the pro-abortion policies of President Obama, are the complete antithesis to the world view your institution has stood for these many years.
We here at Central Illinois Right To Life are watching closely to see what happens. If you insist on the present path, you can expect continuing adamant statements of non-support for your (once ?) great institution to appear in all our public outlets including our Facebook page, web site, blog, and quarterly newsletter.
I have read your statement on the University web site explaining your position on this matter.
Frankly, it holds no water – No previous President has been so proactively committed to the killing of the unborn. You know his action while a member of the Illinois Legislature, voting against even minimal protection and care for babies who survive an abortion procedure. My friend – this can only be characterized as Evil.
Yes - he is the first Black President, and that is of great historical and social significance. But it palls in the light of what this President is doing to promote the destruction of innocent human life. Listen again to African American Pastor, Luke Robinson at the DC Rally in January, warning President Obama not to proceed with his planned policies, lest he be complicit in Genocide! Righteous advice, but advice that has obviously gone unheeded! Will you be complicit in this great evil also, by giving its leading proponent in the world today a platform at one of the most influential institutions in Christendom?
President Obama made it clear from the beginning in his Executive Order reversing the Mexico City Policy that he was not interested in the moral scruples of those who do not share his pro-abortion agenda. He stated it too clearly for anyone to miss.
"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate."
And with the stroke of a pen, he proceeded to release your tax dollars and mine to be used to promote the slaughter of the unborn around the world.
So as for “further positive engagement” you speak of – please remember Neville Chamberlain... I urge you to reconsider your position and rescind your misguided invitation to the President.
Dennis Dillard, Member, Board of Directors, Central Illinois Right To Life, Inc.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
So relationships have to be real. What about the converse? Does reality require relationship? It would seem that it does not. A picture is evidently real, but we cannot relate to it. But someone creates a picture with a purpose. If the picture is a gift, then truly the picture implies a relationship between the giver and the recipient. But what about sand? Isn’t that reality without a relationship? How do we know? Couldn’t sand, like a sandy beach, be part of the gift of reality to us? In fact, as far as we know, isn’t all of reality a gift from God? Perhaps it is all just like a picture, but a person gives us the picture and we have to decide how we are to relate to Him. We can choose to acknowledge Him, be grateful to Him and seek His counsel. Or we can choose to ignore Him, shun Him, and disobey His instructions. The choice is up to us, but it still is a choice about a relationship. That is what reality is all about: relationships.
Is a relationship with God equally obvious to everyone? No more so than other relationships are equally obvious. Think of an autistic person. He may not be able to relate to other people, but his disability does not mean that relationships are not real. We can still relate to him. How, though, do you convince the autistic person that relationships are real? You can’t! Otherwise, he would not be autistic, but rather someone more able to relate to others. Now, think of an atheist. How do you convince her that a relationship with God is real? You can’t! Otherwise she would not be an atheist. Atheists are just autistic with respect to relationships with God. Their disabilities do not disprove our relationships.
I’ve described a reality/relates connection as almost acronyms, as syllogistic synonyms, and as allegorical to autism and atheism. How do the words reality and relate differ? Reality has two letters not in relate: I and Y. To me, these two stand for I and you, both referring to how we relate to some specific person, one at a time. When we stop relating to people as persons, we get farther from reality. Of course, the big you is God. Our reality is simply wrapped up in our relationship with God even though we may attempt to open the gift without seeing the wrapping or the giver. How ungrateful of us.
Likewise, the word relate has just one letter not in reality: the second letter E, which can stand for everyone. The first question a human asked in the bible was, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” By the time of the New Testament, the question became: “Who is my neighbor?” Stated another way, to whom do I owe a relationship? The answer is everyone. We are all neighbors. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all related. We are all responsible for each other. Black and white, rich and poor, born and unborn, we are all our brother’s keeper.
Our understanding of reality and relationships is not static. To some extent, our understanding of both grows over time. It may regress, however, such as by addiction or senility, but otherwise our appreciation of the importance of both can improve over time. What can be harmful, though, is realizing too late the importance of relationships we’ve cast away. Take, for example, abortion. Typically, when a young mother submits to an abortion, she does not appreciate the value of the relationship her child will provide her nor does she realize how much she will regret the lost relationship with the child she never saw. This relationship reality is the least understood characteristic of the abortion decision. The mothers learn too late that they may have ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands, but never an ex-child. A mother is a mother forever.
Descartes founded his philosophy upon, “I think, therefore I am.” We do far better to acknowledge, “He relates, therefore we are.” We cherish our relationships more and more as we grow. We learn that relationships are the only realities which are eternal. All we really have, all that is really important, are relationships. We ache to relate.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Finally, the last sign I want to identify relates to my fellow clergy. Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this:
When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.
When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion - often a late-term abortion - to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.
When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.
And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion - there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s
education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.
These are the two things I want you, please, to remember - abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
These were the concluding remarks from a sermon given by the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School.
Some wonder if our nation is under a curse. Some wonder if the hand of judgment has come to our shores. Some wonder if God has turned His back on His people.
I wonder if God’s people see they have turned their back on their God.
We read in Revelation 2:20 the following rebuke, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”
Let us pray for Katherine Ragsdale. Let us pray for the Episcopalians. Let us pray for our nation. And let us all repent.