Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Response to Ms. Britner

Note: This is the letter to the editor of the Peoria Journal Star of May 27, 2009 that Dan Bohan and I and others are responding to.
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Re. Cal Thomas' May 20 column, "Momentum gathering for abortion foes":

Mr. Thomas writes of the belief in the sacredness of all life held by the self-named "pro-life" groups. If all life is sacred to them, I would think they'd want to provide equal education and health care, at a minimum, to all children after they are born in honor of the sacredness of the lives of these children. This seems not to be the case.

A true "pro-life" position would also seem to include opposition to war and the death penalty. These beliefs are rarely correlated with a person's holding a "pro-life" position. Perhaps it is only a pro-fetus position, not truly a pro-life position.

Shari L. Britner, Ph.D.
Peoria

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Abortion Rights Propaganda

The propaganda war chest of the abortion rights crowd is stuffed with many refined irrationalities, emotionalisms and sentimentalities - all posing as high moral principles. This is understandable, for much babbling is needed to detract attention from the ever increasing number of victims of their movement, living as well as dead.

For example, consider the baseless assertion that a person must be pacifist in regard to war, opposed to all incidences of capital punishment, and committed to every social welfare program under the sun, in order to be concerned about the right to life of the unborn without being guilty of hypocrisy.

Even at face value, such an absurd statement hardly deserves a response. For the very opposite is actually the truth. There is no logical or ethical justification for protecting the guilty while ignoring the destruction of the innocent!

Just war, capital punishment, and social responsibility for the disenfranchised - these are all subjects of ongoing debate in the Pro-Life community. But they are being debated in the context of proper sentiment – i.e. the sanctity of each human life from conception to natural death. And it is possible to make a reasonable case for differing positions on these tangential issues from that fundamental ideal.

Absent this foundational principle, however, it is only irrational sentimentality that seeks to extend every protection and consideration to the criminals and terrorists and warmongers of the world - while at the same time allowing, or worse, promoting the treatment of the most innocent and helpless of the human family with gross brutality.

What Does 'Pro-Life' Really Mean to Us?

I submitted a letter to the Editor of the Peoria Journal Star (email to forum@pjstar.com) to respond to Shari Britner's 5/28/09 Forum letter "What does 'pro-life' really mean to us?" Here is what I said:

Shari Britner seems to be confused about what it really means to be pro-life. She says that she believes that those of us who are pro-life need to support "equal education and health care, at a minimum, to all children after they are born in honor of the sacredness of the lives of these children." I would say that education and health care are important, but we need to start with what is most important. Every human being has a right to life, first and foremost; so that he/she can enjoy those other things that our government wants to provide us.

Secondly, does a true "pro-life" position also include opposition to the death penalty and to war? Logically, it does. If the state takes the life of a convicted murderer, humanity is diminished. I'm afraid that, for me however, it's sometimes easier to believe in the preciousness of the life of the unborn child, than of the convicted murderer.

As for opposing war, I believe it is everybody's duty to work to end war. A lot of well-meaning people have different ideas on how to do this. My pro-life belief gives me a great desire for the end of war; however, I don't see a clear direction on how to proceed.

Daniel J. Bohan

Monday, May 25, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Meek First Baseman

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:5

This is the third part of Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball, essays which look at each beatitude three ways: in relationships 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.

Born to German immigrant parents in 1903, he was the only one of four children to survive. Though a Yankee, he played in the shadow of Babe Ruth and said: “Lets face it. I'm not a headline guy. I always knew that as long as I was following Babe to the plate I could have gone up there and stood on my head. No one would have noticed the difference. When the Babe was through swinging, whether he hit one or fanned, nobody paid any attention to the next hitter. They all were talking about what the Babe had done." This meek first baseman, however, amassed 493 home runs and a .340 lifetime batting average while playing in 2130 consecutive games over 13 years, despite unmentioned suffering of numerous fractures. When a terminal illness finally felled him, he still told people, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” He died in 1941 at age 37 of the illness which now bears his name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

One word sums up the relationships of a meek person to God, His laws and others: respect. Meek persons respect God, His laws and all of humankind. Persons who best put the first two beatitudes into play actually become the meekest among us. Their very lives echo St. Paul’s words, “I am the least of all God’s people.” Ephesians 3:8.

In contrast, prochoice persons boast of their “rights to choose” to ignore God’s rules; they give God less respect and claim to be more important than mere “products of conception” or “tissues” which threaten their lifestyles. They fail to acknowledge that all of us are just products of conception. Although some are older by a few years or perhaps a few decades, all of us are young compared with the eternity God means us to share with Him and our fellow human beings, many of whom are yet unborn. Abortion does not end the reality of those killed. It merely amputates the body from the spirit, as all death does. We lose a profound respect for God and the dignity of all humankind when we send so many young lives into eternity where we soon must follow. What kind of a welcome are we expecting when we get there?

Prochoice persons, however, assert meekness because they do not “want to judge” anyone; rather they tolerate the “lifestyle choices” of others, even if they are personally opposed to them. How tolerant would they be of lifestyles which robbed them of their own lives? Should not true meekness protect the defenseless as much as oneself? In truth, such “tolerance” is refusal to submit to the authority of God to set standards for all persons to follow. It masks rebelliousness rather than becomes meekness. We do not judge people by asking them not to kill us or those more defenseless than us. To respect God, even the meek must resist evil which is opposed to Him. Only God can judge, but by aligning our speech and conduct with His commandments, we help others do so likewise.

Prolife persons become meek by respecting God in all that we do in the prolife cause. He will bring an end to abortion through our actions, or more likely, in spite of our small actions and large inactions. We praise God. We respect His law best when we follow it. We obey. We show respect for others most when we share their burdens. We serve. Our service is not just to those in crisis pregnancy, though that service is most worthy of our efforts. Our service is also to their children, especially when they are most vulnerable. We are meekest when we are not too busy or too proud or too important to give of our time, our talents and our treasures for mothers and children in crisis and afterwards.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Creation Ordinances

It seems to me that there is a certain amount of tension between the Pro-Life movement and the various manifestations of the orthodox Christian Church. Claiming to be a righteous cause, and believing this cause to be firmly based in the Christian Scriptures, I think it only natural for Christians active in the Pro-Life camp to feel a keen sense of disappointment when encountering the ambiguity and obfuscation on the part of many churches, let alone the silence and outright resistance of some, when it comes to taking a strong and public stand for the Sanctity of Human Life! Sadly, this has been the case with other issues in the past as well, slavery being a prime example.

Naturally, a question arises – What right has the Pro-Life crowd to call the Church to task on this issue? Is it not the mission of the Church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world? Is the Church not wise in avoiding such a “controversial issue” for the sake of this mission?

What about the need for peace among believers? The battle over slavery caused sharp divisions in Christendom that are still healing even today. Resistance to the tyrannies of fascism and communism created conflict in the Church in more recent times. Is the Church not justified in avoiding such a "divisive issue" for the sake of Unity?

I for one believe the Pro-Life movement is correct to contend with vigor that the Christian Church has an obligation to take a strong and public Pro-Life position - because I see this obligation as the universal duty of every man and woman, being rooted in what are sometimes termed the “Creation Ordinances.” (And it is absurd, at least to me, for men and women to assert that the priorities of a group to which they belong somehow relieve them of a universal duty that is incumbent on everyone else. And, of course, if the laity and clergy are individually taking a strong and public stand for the Sanctity of Human Life, their Church is also – de facto…)

Obvious next question - What are Creation Ordinances?

Only God has the power of Being in Himself. Everything else that exists is dependant on Him for that existence. He is the Absolute Sovereign. He has the undisputed right to govern what is His. And - He exercised that right immediately, instituting and communicating to the father and mother of us all, ideals and instructions which because of their issuance in such close proximity to the creation events can only be described as Prime Directives – or in theological terms – "Creation Ordinances."

In doing so, God made the following crystal clear.

He had created Human Beings in His own Image.
He made them male and female.
He instituted marriage to bind them together.
He directed them to have children together.
He gave them the use and care of all the rest of His Creation.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. It is intended to demonstrate that ranking high among these most important principles of the created order is the Divine Proclamation that each human life is somehow an intentional reflection of the Creator. However mysterious this truth may be, the implication (which becomes explicit in later revelation,) is that any unjustified attack upon a human life is in the most real sense an assault against God Himself.

Thus we can say that Creation Ordinances are those fundamental principles given at the very beginning, vouchsafed to man and woman in their innocent state, before there was a Fall – before there was Mosaic Law or Christian Gospel. These Creation Ordinances are the bedrock ideals of life on God’s green earth – obviously meant to apply at all times, in all places, to everyone.

The rebellion of humanity, the curse of death, the coming of Christianity, the Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ – none of these things relieve anyone in the world, much less those of us in the pew or the pulpit, of one jot or tittle of Responsibility to adhere to these founding principles inaugurated by God at the dawn of time. Nor does any subsequent development in history from creation past till eternity to come, allay the solemn Duty of each cogent member of the race human to resist any and every assault upon these cornerstones laid down by the Lord God Almighty.

And Never, NEVER can concern about Evangelism or longing for Christian Unity or desire for Church growth, (or any other number of pretexts - however noble in themselves,) serve as a legitimate justification for any of us to ignore this Responsibility or shirk this Duty!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Letter to the Bishop of Peoria

Following is the text of a letter I recently mailed to the Bishop of Peoria. (Unfortuneately, the Bishop is not into email; so I had to send it via snail mail.)


Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., D.D.
Bishop of Peoria
419 NE Madison Ave.
Peoria, IL 61603-3719

Dear Bishop Jenky,

I'd like to thank you for your work as the head of the Peoria diocese. As one of your flock, I feel blessed with the leadership you have shown us. Just last month, I enjoyed taking part in the March for Men. That's just one example of the things you have been doing for us.

As a man of God, I am sure that you must be frustrated with some of the directions our country is going in. I find it frightening that our president would lead us towards a lack of respect for life. Unfortunately, most people seem to think that the economy is more important than the millions of unborn babies being killed.

I'd like to think that we Catholics have a better understanding of the real priorities. However, experience has shown that most Catholics are a lot like the rest of America. I'm sure at some point you will find it necessary to speak out against what is happening. I encourage you to be courageous when you do so.

Thank you.
Daniel J. Bohan

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FLICA

A colleague of mine and I visited U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's office in downtown Peoria today to encourage him to introduce legislation that would require information to be included on vaccines if they are based on aborted fetal cell lines.

The legislation is from Children of God for Life, an organization headed by Debi Vinnedge which has spearheaded this effort. (You can find out more about the history of vaccines created on tissue of aborted fetuses at that site.)

Jed Stuber, who works with me at Samaritan Ministries, went with me to meet with Carol Merna, Mr. Schock's chief of staff. She said she would forward our information to the director of legislation for the district and would also mention it to the congressman at her weekly meeting with him. She reassured us that Mr. Schock is staunchly pro-life.

The Fair Labeling and Informed Consent Act (FLICA) would require all vaccines created on aborted fetal cell lines to clearly state that fact. The point is that parents (and doctors) would be made more aware of ethical problems with these vaccines so they can request alternatives.

Please pray that Mr. Schock will consider the legislation seriously and will introduce it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Consoled Catcher

The Consoled Catcher

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be consoled."
Matthew 5:4


This is the second part of Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball, essays which look at each beatitude three ways: in relationships 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.

Born the youngest of six children of an Italian-American father and African-American mother, he played in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first black Major League catcher. Despite discrimination and repeated injuries, in ten Major League seasons he won three Most Valuable Player awards and led his Brooklyn Dodgers to five National League pennants and a World Series Championship. A car accident that left him a quadriplegic ended his playing career. For his remaining 35 years, though, he became an inspiration to all people with disabilities. His autobiography, “It’s Good to Be Alive,” sums up the consolation found by Roy Campanella.

Concerning the second beatitude, a large part of the mourning and consolation which Christ describes must be due to repentance. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. Applying the three relationships, to God, His laws, and others, those who mourn repent to God for breaking his laws and hurting others, especially the weakest. The second beatitude puts into action the first beatitude. Because we realize our dependence upon God who loves each of us, even the least of us, we must repent when we break His laws, especially when we do harm to the most defenseless.

Prochoice persons cannot repent of sins they do not acknowledge and harms to persons they do not agree have rights even to exist. They mourn the difficulties of women in crisis pregnancies but only at the expense of their offspring. Their position drives a wedge between themselves and their relationship to other humankind. More importantly, their position drives a wedge between themselves and their creator.

We take no joy and claim no superiority over our prochoice brothers and sisters because we recognize that none of us is free from sin. To be truly repentant we must first mourn our own failures to speak effectively for the unborn and our lack of commitment to them in the face of certain death.

We must acknowledge, moreover, that our lack of commitment harms the living as well as the dead. We also mourn those hurt physically, psychologically or spiritually by abortion, including the mothers, the fathers and even the abortionists. We mourn the brothers and sisters who will never know their siblings killed by abortion, but who will always know that only the grace of God spared their lives from the same fate. We mourn for our whole society, including the growing number of the aged who will never know the protection and security that the unborn could have provided financially and physically to them in later years. Our lack of commitment to the unborn leads inevitably to injury throughout society.

Repentance is a powerful force. The spirit of repentance has converted so many from their abortion pasts to the prolife position. Some, like Dr. Bernard Nathanson, were leaders in the prochoice movement who later became, like St. Paul, outspoken advocates for a position that they once opposed. When the history of our time is written, such persons will be proclaimed as champions of the future generations they strove to protect.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Pro-Life Essential

“Unity on the Essential of the Sanctity of Human Life is our objective. We are not seeking uniformity of opinion on all matters... Therefore, some ideas advocated by the authors of articles on the CIRTL Web Site, in Central Illinois Life News, on the CIRTL Directors Blog, and on the CIRTL FaceBook Group, may not necessarily reflect the personal views of all the members and officers of Central Illinois Right To Life, Inc.”

This notice appears on the home page of the Central Illinois Right to Life Web Site, and in an abbreviated form in every issue of Central Illinois Life News. It is an attempt at a pro-life version of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” if you will, which I think has been reasonably successful.

People in the Pro-Life camp do not agree on everything. That is not news to anybody. Having said that, there must be a clearly defined Essential that holds - rock-solid. For me at least, this Essential is best addressed in two parts.

First part - Human Life begins at conception. This, I think is the only scientific view of the matter in the light of the knowledge of genetics now possessed. And, at least for Jews and Christians a reading of the Old Testament Scriptures seconds the point. In the Psalms, for example David refers to himself at conception as “me” and Jeremiah quotes God as knowing “him” while he was being formed in the womb.

Now, the bare empirical facts of genetics, while pointing to the obvious beginning of a new and unique member of the human species, can give no logical legal or moral instruction to the matter of how we should treat human life at various stages of development. Indeed, a purely naturalistic view of the universe defined as a closed, materialistic system, created by time plus space multiplied by that most meaningless of all terms, "chance," can really make no defensible, ethical distinction between squashing a cockroach and killing a child.

And so the Pro-Life view must rely on a metaphysic of some sort to underpin the second part of the Essential. That second part I think may be fairly stated something like this - Human Life deserves the utmost respect and protection at all points of development, from conception to natural death.

And I think that at least in parts of the world with a Judeo-Christian heritage, the Pro-Life position takes its cue from that world-view. Overall however, I see the Pro-Life ideal, not primarily as a Christian cause, but more inclusively, as a human cause. I say this because I believe that a logical basis for the position can be found in other world-views as well – But it cannot be found in the various manifestations of naturalism - which are all really just facets of that irrational view of the universe which claims the most absurd position possible - the ridiculous idea that something can come from nothing!

And so to establish the full Pro-Life Essential, it must be clearly demonstrated that each human being is the full person in their essence that they will always be, from the moment his or her conception occurs. Since science cannot provide an adequate basis for ethics, it is clear that at least in Western culture, this task falls on Christianity, or on established theories of Natural Law, or else fails completely, leaving the door wide open for the only ethic that pure naturalism can ever logically espouse – “The survival of the fittest” – which translates in reality to the domination of the weak by the strong. (For a comprehensive discussion about Abortion and Natural Law, see: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_08natlaw.html .)

Some might say the substantiation of the Pro-Life position from the Christian paradigm is a difficult task - I say Baloney!

What is the foundational story of the Christian world-view? Is it is not the Incarnation – beginning at that moment in space and time when the Christ Child was conceived in the womb of Mary - when the Eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, took on a human nature and became the God-Man? Christian theology asserts that he was fully that God-Man, one person, two natures - from that moment on, and for all eternity to come.

Now I ask - what was the greatest crime in all of history, and answer - was it not the murder of Christ Jesus the only begotten Son of God the Father on a Roman cross. But consider - would the intentional killing of Jesus at ANY POINT in His life on earth, even at one second past His conception have been any less of an offense? What Christian worthy of the name would attempt to justify such a dastardly act? And of course - that act would not have been the killing of the Divine Nature of Christ - for God cannot die - it would have only been the killing of the physical humanity of Christ – but it would have been an UNTHINKABLE crime, because He was from His conception what He will always be - Jesus the Christ.

And so to be logically consistent, we can and will and MUST assert that the full humanity of each of us is present as well, from that earliest of stages - conception!

That said, there are many closely related issues like non-abortifacient birth control, natural family planning, capital punishment, nuclear weapons, just war, self-defense, etc. that come up for discussion from time to time in the Pro-Life camp. And one can easily see that if we demand complete agreement on all these matters from each other, any semblance of unity is doomed. Members of CIRTL for example, hold some differing views on some of these things and the statement on unity above has served as a guiding principle, allowing us avoid some pitfalls and to focus on the main thing. (This is not to say that these issues are not extremely important, or that there is not a right and a wrong position on each of them.)

And, while thinking about these things, I hope we all try to understand a little of the pressure that some pro-life medical professionals are under to bend the Essential. I note however that the laws of man have generally not allowed for reduced responsibility in ethical matters based on professional status, either chosen or forced - whether it was soldier, doctor, lawyer, politician, pastor, or whatever - following orders and acquiescence to peer pressure did not hold much water at Nuremburg and I suspect it will not stand at the final judgment either. I think we will all have big problems there in many regards, short of the Grace of God. In any case this is exactly why attempts to remove the conscience protections must be resisted with all strength - and obviously, if one is relieved of the moral duties incumbent upon lesser women and men by one’s professional status, then protections for conscience are not that big a deal.

Most of us are realists as well, understanding that the culture is at another point than we might like and that a lot of people are engaging in non-marital sexual activity who would refrain in an ideal world. However, I would not sell people too short because I think the trend in both attitudes toward abortion and toward appropriate sexual behavior is on the improvement, especially among the younger generation in a lot of quarters.

Anyway, I believe there is room in the Pro-Life camp for some diversity of opinion on the tangential issues. The times ahead are foreboding. There will be plenty of opportunity after the battle is past to debate the peripherals with extreme vigor if we wish. Right now, it is the Essential that is in immediate, mortal danger and, as Mr. Franklin said so many years ago, " We must all hang together ... else, we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

CIRTL Movie Ads at Willow Knolls and Pekin Showplace

Starting May 8, Central Illinois Right to Life (CIRTL) will be running commercials at Willow Knolls Cinema and at Pekin Showplace. Directed at young people, the commercial provides an option for someone with an unplanned pregnancy to talk to someone who can help. A phone number at the end of the commercial is for an outfit that provides counselors who will direct them to a local pregnancy center.

New Vitae Ad has “YouTube” Feel

In “What If” a college-age woman talks directly to her audience about unplanned pregnancy. The message is simple, straightforward and powerful. There are no flashy images or artsy concepts. It has a very real, very “YouTube” feel to it.

Shot in an apartment where real college students live, the single-camera television commercial features a young woman who understands the trauma of an unexpected pregnancy. She talks to other women who are just like her. What’s important is that she offers the viewer the opportunity to talk with someone who won’t judge and who understands what they are going through.

The commercial was shot in Athens, Georgia, by Radar Multimedia Productions, Inc.It features a Caucasian actress. It was shot in one day, which makes it more economical. The set was an actual apartment. The camera was “fixed,” meaning there were no tracks for the camera to roll on.

“We were looking for a style that appeals to young people so that they would hear and connect with the message,” Debbie Stokes, Vitae’s Executive Vice President, stated. The commercial features a young woman who adjusts the “webcam” as if she is recording a “YouTube” segment. There’s even a track on the bottom of the ad just like a real YouTube segment.

Since it wasn’t shot on a Hollywood set, there were moments they had to stop filming due to lawn mower or airplane noise coming from outside. “It’s amazing how every little noise is picked up by the microphones,” Debbie noted.

Working with young actors is always a delight for Vitae staff. There is frequently an opportunity to talk with the actors and production staff about the work that Vitae is doing. It is great to see the interest these young people have and how open they are to the Vitae message.

Preview of “What If” Commercial

http://web17.streamhoster.com/vitaecaring/videos%20for%20reel%20news%2008/whatif.swf