Sunday, February 28, 2010

The New Eugenics

Girl with Turner syndrome from Learn Genetics

I personally know someone who aborted her baby at 24 weeks gestation because her baby was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome.

Occurring in 1 out of every 2500 girls, the syndrome manifests itself in a number of ways. There are characteristic physical abnormalities, such as short stature, swelling, broad chest, low hairline, low-set ears, and webbed necks.[3] Girls with Turner syndrome typically experience gonadal dysfunction (non-working ovaries), which results in amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle) and sterility. Concurrent health concerns are also frequently present, including congenital heart disease, hypothyroidism (reduced hormone secretion by the thyroid), diabetes, vision problems, hearing concerns, and many autoimmune diseases.[4] Finally, a specific pattern of cognitive deficits is often observed, with particular difficulties in visuospatial, mathematical, and memory areas.- Wikipedia

She was told that her baby would have severe physical problems and, when tests revealed that her baby had a congenital heart defect amongst the other Turner symptoms, she elected to have an abortion. She has since come to realise that this baby was viable and that she could have helped this child to have a fulfilling life, and she deeply regrets her abortion. She is no longer able to have children.

We also had a neighbour whose daughter had a set of twins, one of whom has Turner syndrome. This little girl is a smart youngster who can hold her own in her classroom. When teased by another child about her height, she quipped back "but I am smarter than you". We also often sit behind a woman in church who has Turner syndrome.

The sad truth is that most women who have genetic testing during pregnancy will opt for abortion if the child has a genetic defect. Notwithstanding that much of this testing can give false results, we must face the fact that this is actually eugenics.

This week, on Mercator Net, Mark Mostert has written an article called The Disappearing Disabled. Mark opens with the statement: "Dread genetic diseases are disappearing -- because parents and doctors are eliminating the children who have them."

Read the article here

When I was pregnant with my third child, I was thirty-five and had a history of miscarriage; so I was in the "high risk" category for pregnancy. I was fortunate to have a very pro-life doctor who refused do conduct amniocentesis on his patients because he said "amniocentesis means that you are considering abortion, and I will not refer for abortion". Although worry about having a child with some abnormality was really not on my mind, this doctor told me that I could choose to think I was the one person out of 100 who would have a disabled child, or I could choose to think that I was one of the 99 who would have a perfectly normal child. I can honestly say that it was never a concern for me, I was free from that particular worry. And although other things worried me, having a child with special needs was not one of them.

Now, 24 years later, having amniocentesis seems to be par for the course. Women are referred for genetic testing if they are of a certain age or if they have had a history of difficult pregnancy. And now, some doctors are recommending testing for all women for Down syndrome children, so that these children can be eliminated before birth. Ever wonder why you don't see many so-called "retarded" children anymore (I know that is not politically correct)? 90% of pregnancies where Down syndrome is suspected are terminated.

In the fall, the university students hold Shinerama week, where they raise money for children with cystic fibrosis. Guess why there are fewer people with cystic fibrosis around these days? Yup, not because of advances in the treatment of the disease, but because genetic testing of women results in the aborting of children who have the disease.

Any allusion to present day biomedical practices as being eugenic usually leads to quite hysterical denials and the accusation that one sees everything one disagrees with as being painted with the inappropriate Nazi brush... The prevailing zeitgeist holds that eugenics was a terrible thing in a time gone by. It doesn’t happen any more. We learned from our collective social mistakes... Eugenics is now called preventive medicine.

As increasing numbers of women undergo prenatal testing at the behest of their physicians, genetic counselors, and medical organizations, more and more unborn children with genetic anomalies are being detected. The result? A genetic sorting that makes some unborn children (and human embryos) second-class citizens fit only for death. - Mark Mostert, The Disappearing Disabled, Mercator Net, Feb 25, 2010

What are we becoming? A world of people who will only accept those who are deemed worthy to live, a world of people who are not willing to care for those who have "special needs", a world of people who will not welcome someone who is considered "genetically inferior".

With this change in our attitude, what we will also see is a loss of compassion. We are becoming a people who don't have time for those who need extra care; we abort those who won't measure up to the perfect standard and we will soon legally eliminate those at the other end of the age spectrum who demand too much from us as well.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sixty Thousand and Counting

That's the number of babies that have been aborted in the tiny province of Nova Scotia between 1970 and 2004. For some reason, this doesn't even appear on the radar of any of our political leaders and, if you tell them, they simply ignore the statement. Yet, they are concerned with creating jobs, providing health care, looking after seniors' care, programs funded by grants, on and on, without ever once considering that all of these things require tax-payers to fund them.

With fewer and fewer people actually being born, where do they think these taxes are going to come from? I heard an alderman last week saying that we had to do something in this province to attract Maritimers to return here, to reverse the flow of workers to central and western Canada searching for work. Never is there a mention of the declining birth rate and one simple thing that could be done to help reverse that: strongly advise women against abortion.

Hello? anyone paying attention to the number of births in the province? Stats Canada shows that in 2007, there were 8868 babies born in Nova Scotia with approximately 1700 abortions for the same year. Nova Scotia is the province with the second highest percentage of elderly people, as those who should have babies aren't, and the percentage of the population that can actually have babies is decreasing.

The effect of birth control started to be reflected in population growth in the seventies. The Canadian population slowed from a growth of 30% in the fifties, to 20%in the sixties and 13% in the seventies. In Nova Scotia the growth rate in the seventies was less than half the growth rate of the fifties. By 1981 there were 12,000 live births in the province, only about 60% of the level in 1961. Part of the decline in live births over this period can be attributed to an increasing number of abortions -official numbers show an increase from 643 in 1971 to almost 1,700 in
1981. The total fertility rate per female aged 15 to 49 years dropped from 4.2 in 1961 to 1.6 in 1981.
While births were declining, the number of deaths were increasing gradually, from 6,100 in 1961 to 7,000 in 1981. The natural increase of the population (live births minus deaths) fell from a high of 13,200 in 1961 to 5,100 by 1981. This decline in the natural increase of the population has started to accelerate in the first half of the nineties, dropping from 4,800 in 1991 to 2,900 in 1995. While the total fertility rate has held steady since 1981, the declining numbers of women in the child bearing ages has resulted in a decline in the number of births from 12,000 to 11,000 in the past five years. At the same time increasing numbers of elderly persons resulted in a 12% increase in the number of deaths in the province in the past five years.
Despite the above extended life expectancy, the annual number of deaths in the province will jump from the present 8,100 to 8,900 by 2001, to 9,800 by 2011 and to 11,000 by 2021. These trends are based on the continuing growth of those in the advanced age groups and indicates that by approximately the year 2005 the annual number of deaths will begin to exceed the number of births. If net in-migration (combined inter-provincial and international) is not positive, the population of the province will begin to decline at that time. - Nova Scotia Statistics

Try giving any of this information to an elected official and they squirm away from it. They are held so tightly by the abortion lobby that they cannot even admit the facts: abortion is helping to decimate the population. Yet abortion is held as a right, even when it is so obviously damaging to society as a whole. In my mind, I see a large group of people moving towards the edge of a cliff, and each line drops off the cliff with the group getting closer and closer, all the while getting less numerous. Doesn't this concern anyone? We really are a society that doesn't care about the future, all that matters is our own life here and now.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pro-Life Consequences

The weekend question on Jill Stanek's site certainly got a host of comments - 207 at last count. People weighing in on both sides of this question whether Todd was right to protest outside of Christian churches, with signs that said Repent and 4000 Abortions per day. After efforts to get pastors to broach the topic of abortion in their churches, and meeting with no success, Todd along with his wife and two sons decided it was time to protest outside of those churches.

I am happy to say that Todd has found a church and pastor who are receptive to his message and he is pursuing that avenue. Todd's desire is that his church would become supportive of the local crisis pregnancy centre, after seeing how many young churched girls have been seeking abortions at the local abortion clinic. If the Christians in those churches where those girls were in attendance, had preached the real word to them of what God thinks of abortion, and had instructed them on sexual morality, they might not have found themselves in the situation they did.

While reading the comments, I came across a site called Operation Save America, where Kristin Wilson relates how she and her boyfriend have actually been banned from attending their church in Charlotte, North Carolina for passing out pro-life literature in front of the church prior to a Sunday service. Her boyfriend was even arrested for jay-walking, since the church leaders had called in the police to try and prevent these pro-life activists and arresting him for a simple traffic offence served their purpose of shutting them down.

Operation Save America

The story is quite shocking, in that two members of a church were treated this way and this in a church that they loved, in a church where they had tremendous respect for the pastor. They just never expected to get a reaction like this to pro-life activism.

This makes me think of Linda Gibbons who is still in jail here in Canada, for breaking an injunction that created a bubble zone outside of an abortion clinic in Toronto. The "temporary injunction" has been in place since 1994 and Linda has spent 8 of the past 15 years in jail for not observing it. Linda refuses bail because the terms of her bail include that she will not come within 500 feet of any abortion clinic in Ontario. Total repression of free speech. Yet in all those years, Linda's lawyers have not been able to challenge the injunction because Linda is always charged with a different offence, such as obstructing a police officer or disturbing the peace. She has never been given the right to challenge the existence of the injunction, even though one judge said that the temporary injunction must be made permanent or removed, neither of which has been done.

Pro-life activism is the one activism that is not tolerated in either Canada or the United States. You could go and picket any cause you want and you would not be treated like Linda or Kristen. Just try it, go and protest for some cause and see where it lands you - I guarantee that you would not go to jail. But try pro-life and see where that lands you.

The reason - to question the morality of abortion challenges the sexual morality of everyone, including those who claim to follow Biblical principles on sexual behaviour. To criticize someone's sexual behaviour is simply not allowed; the one exception being sexual abuse of children and, if some weirdos push their agenda, that taboo may fall too.

Pastors don't want to discuss abortion with their congregations because they are uncomfortable; not with the women sitting there who have had abortions, but with the fact that they may not have had pristine pasts themselves; what if some woman jumped up and said "I aborted your child"? It is quite possible to happen. There are so many skeletons in the closet when it comes to sex, that most people are really afraid to come clean.

Yet clean we have to become. If we don't, we are failing our children. We are leaving them a trail of broken hearts and, with abortion - dead brothers and sisters. We have to become sexually responsible human beings; time is running out for our culture. Acceptance of legalized abortion is the litmus test of just how well we are doing as a moral nation, and the past forty years shows just how badly we have failed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Challenge to Pastors

Weekend question posted on Jill Stanek asks if pro-life activists should become more confrontational with their own churches.
You can view the video at Jill's site; Todd, a member of Reality Church in Ventura, CA is frustrated with the lack of response from his pastors on the issue of abortion. After meeting with his pastors on several occasions, Todd has decided to hold graphic images of abortion outside the church, in order to try and "shock" the members into some kind of action.

Eric Scheidler, a long-time pro-life activist, street counsellor, a real veteran of the pro-life movement, and executive director of Pro Life Action League in the US responded thus:

This pastor seems to have made an idol of "fellowship." But I'm not sure Todd's strategy of using graphic images will be effective in this context.
As I see it—having conducted graphic "Face the Truth" Tours for seven years and in several states—the purpose of public displays of abortion pictures is to change people's hearts and minds on abortion. It's not to recruit activists.
Of course, graphic images can be a helpful tool in convincing people who are already pro-life to get more active; I use them in my talks to such audiences.
But in this context, I don't think they'll work, and may even backfire, leading church members to decide that "if that's pro-life activism, count me out."
My own thinking on how to deal with pastors reluctant to have their churches get involved in pro-life ministry is to try to reach out with dialog (I'm assuming Todd has done this), but if it fails, to walk away.
And as for recruiting people to get involved fighting abortion, it's all honey and vinegar. People need to be invited to get involved, encouraged to consider it a privilege to do this work. I don't think the pictures are going to be effective as invitation.
But all that said, I don't know the dynamics of Todd's church, and perhaps he will meet with success. Or maybe the pictures will turn someone away from choosing abortion, even if they also turn the church farther away from Todd, too.

I agree with Eric that Todd's actions will probably produce a result other than the one he is hoping to achieve. But, as both Eric and Todd agree, these pastors and others are really not understanding the problem of abortion. In fact, they don't understand the "sin of abortion". And they should. But they have distracted themselves with other works, relegating abortion to the shelf with all the other sins that humans commit.

I would kind of like to invite Todd to become Catholic because at least he would have the statements of our pope to draw upon. But then I thought what particular Catholic church could he join and I realised that the situation would not change one bit; Todd would simply have more authority to quote.

Last fall, when 40 Days for Life was starting up here in Halifax, I had an invitation to speak at a Baptist church in Dartmouth to tell the congregation about 40 Days and to invite them to join us in prayer. One week before I was scheduled to speak, the pastor emailed me and said that he was cancelling, as he had discovered that two of his elders had had abortions and the subject was "too raw" to bring up.
I responded to him that I was sorry that I couldn't come, but I did understand. I then encouraged him to take the opportunity to bring these women into contact with some post-abortive healing ministry. I don't know if he did that or not; I hope that he did.

Our pastors and priests do need to speak about abortion to their congregations because, unlike the two pastors in the Todd video think, just as many professed Christian women are getting abortions as those who have no religious affiliation. These pastors expressed the thought that the women getting abortions were not Christians, so confronting their congregations with the topic would be harsh since they are not the ones to be confronted. Not so, pastors. You better wake up. If you could take a survey of your congregation, I think you would be shocked to find out that there are a whole lot of women sitting there in front of you who have had abortions. Just listen to Abby Johnson who was the former director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station, Texas. Abby said that 80% of those she worked with attended church and that the same percentage of clients attended church as well.

Abortion is a solution being sought by all women, whether they go to church or not. It is the act of desperation of someone who has been sexually active when they should not and have got caught. Rather than face the embarrassment of the pregnancy or the inconvenience of a pregnancy, or the prospect of a child who is considered a burden at this point in their life, they are choosing abortion as the solution to their problem.

Pastors need to speak about abortion, but they should get some training first. They need to fully comprehend the extent of the abortion holocaust; they need to see the numbers, they need to hear the reasons, and they need to get some glimpse into the mindset of women who seek abortions. Then they need to find what resources are available both for women seeking abortions and for those who have had abortions. And pastors will need to deal with the issue of abortive fathers too, because the last time I checked every child had both a father and a mother. So there are men sitting in the churches who will need to confess their sins too.

Then, and only then, should they speak and speak loudly. Because then they can offer some help to those wounded women sitting in the pews, who will feel convicted at the mention of abortion. They need to extend the offer of unconditional acceptance of these women, and they need to set in place some way to deal with the numbers who are wounded. Because they are going to be surprised.

If one pastor with a congregation of 100, finds two of his elders have had abortions, how many more women in that congregation have had abortions? In a mega church, like the ones in Ventura, CA, how many women there would have had abortions? Literally hundreds.

These guys need to get their heads out of the sand on the issue of abortion. Because Todd is right, abortion is breaking the heart of God, and it is time that our spiritual leaders did something about it.

As one woman who had an abortion said, "if the churches are silent on abortion, that tells me and other women that the sin of abortion is unforgiveable; if they can't even mention it, then it must be the one sin we cannot even bring to the Cross."

h/t Jill Stanek

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Slippery Slope

Mercy killing, euthanasia, assisted suicide are being presented by the media as acts of compassion. What's the betting Ray Gosling, in the above video, will be acquitted of the crime of murder? The BBC is presenting this case of their former broadcast journalist with the bias that all the media is showing: that these acts of "putting someone down" are acts of compassion, and should not be treated as crimes.

Yes, they are "putting someone down", just as we would put down a domestic pet. And that argument is put forward all the time: we would not let a pet suffer like this. It is precisely because people are not animals and pets, that we don't "put them down". Life is a continuum from beginning to end, and someone's death is part of that continuum.

The emphasis needs to be on the elimination of pain and the easing of someone's suffering, not hastening their death because we think that it is just too excruciating for them to live. Excruciating for whom? With the variety of pain relief that is now available, most pain can be controlled and it is known from palliative care studies, that most people whose pain is controlled no longer wish to die.

When the media shows stories like this to the public, they are pushing the agenda of the euthanasia lobby upon society. Most journalists share the bias of the liberal left, and that includes favouring euthanasia.

After all, once God and eternity and the ultimate meaning of life have been shoved out of the picture, what is left except the feelings of people? There is no room for any idea that life might be more than what we see, that a person's soul might actually be something worth respecting, that a person actually is composed of body and soul. As it stands now, only the person's body is being considered and the feelings of those who watch their suffering.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"be prepared to weep"

Today's blog post on Conversion Diary tackles the subject of overcoming negativity and criticism. Jennifer relates how she was a critical person before her conversion and is still a critical person after conversion. She concludes that she needs to learn to ignore many things in the world around her that simply are not that important.

Lent starts Wednesday, and I think that one of the things I'm going to focus on the most during this season of penance is carefully noticing which messages I choose to hear...and which messages I choose to ignore.

I too feel convicted of being too negative and I have been told that I am way too judgmental by several people in the last while, including the commenter on my last post. So in the spirit of trying to be less judgmental and more aware of what is truly important and what can be dismissed, I will resolve to tackle that attitude in myself this Lent.

Father Tom Euteneuer of Human Life International just sent out an email the other day with advice for Lenten practices. He advises not undertaking one of those penances that are too closely tied in with losing weight or quitting smoking, in other words, using Lent to reform bad habits. Instead he advises:

....identify and practice faithfully just one really magnificent goal for your personal conversion this Lent. I say conversion and not "personal improvement" lest anyone interpret the call to spiritual discipline as a chance to lose weight or quit smoking! What Lent demands of us is to look into our vicious, slothful and petty nature and challenge it with the full prophetic force of the Gospel. A well-intentioned person who stacks up a dozen goals for personal change but accomplishes few or none of them is not a better person at the end of Lent. He is more scattered, less disciplined and under a the illusion of false piety thinking that he is doing something holy by multiplying activities without transforming his heart. In contrast, the one who targets his habit of petty backbiting with a shock-and-awe campaign of generosity toward those he finds disagreeable is the one who receives a blessing from the Lord because he acts like John the Baptist who Jesus said "took the Kingdom by storm." Any mature person will know that a single, firm and effective intention to convert one's heart is worth more than a thousand acts of superficial piety. - Father Tom Euteneuer, Human Life International

So, in the spirit of being positive, I thought I would give you a link to a blog that tells the story of the birth of a little girl. The story is remarkable, because the mother shares her real feelings publicly about having a Down Syndrome child. If you ever wanted to read something that affirms life and love without hesitation, then click here and "be prepared to weep" as my daughter told me when she sent me this link.

Nella Cordelia: A Birth Story

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Free Speech? not at UVic

Choice is deemed paramount. And I thought the word "choice" meant that you choose some thing or some action. But "choice", just simply "choice", is held as the value.

When someone says that a woman should be allowed to choose, they are really showing an inability to face what is obvious - what is the woman choosing?

Our culture has been seduced by semantics. Rather than asking what is meant by choice, we have come to believe that choice itself is what matters. That a woman has the freedom to determine the outcome of a natural physical process within her body even when that choice means someone else has no choice.

The unborn child has become the thirteenth floor of the human family... To accept the actuality of the unborn as one like us, a member of the human family, is to admit that this child belongs to us and we to the child. We are then required to admit that what makes us special also makes the unborn special.... What we decide about the unborn becomes the key moral question ....
However, when the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in 1973 (Roe v. Wade), it changed the question from what we decide about abortion to who decides. - Who Broke the Baby? by Jean Staker Garton

To think that we have reduced the fate of the unborn to a play on words indicates how far we have devalued human life.

The Orwellian use - or misuse - of verbal communication has found its way into politics, advertising, government, and most successfully into the debate surrounding abortion... A FETUS IS NOT A PERSON ... THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE ... A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CONTROL HER OWN BODY. But what do these phrases really mean? These and other slogans used to promote abortion-on-demand have been repeated so often .. that the words are worn smooth.
We fail to recognize their absurdity.
It is therefore words,not facts, that shape reality for many people... We must insist that words and images describe, comprehend, and recognize what really is rather than what is only an unrreality manufactured through word games that reduce us to intellectual and emotional children. - Who Broke the Baby? by Jean Staker Garton

Surely, on university campuses, more than any other place, the freedom of speech and the right to discuss the abortion issue should be given free rein. Those who try to gag any pro-life activity on campus are showing their own inability to give anyone else any choice other than the one they approve.

Monday, February 8, 2010

When it was more than just a word .....

I was walking behind two young women downtown last week, young working women. One was saying to the other how important her independence was to her. I believe they were talking about their relationships with men. And I couldn't help but think that young woman might indeed be independent (well at least until she got sick or something adverse that would make her realise she had been dependent all along but just never knew it) but she would probably end up alone.

How feminism has betrayed women. At one time, it was about equal rights when it came to job opportunities, education, civil rights, important stuff like that where the sexes should be equal. But instead, it has put a chasm between men and women so that we no longer trust each other and so few are willing to risk commitment.

I know that it is not wise to over-simplify things but in some sense, we have over-complicated life; we have neglected what was really important in our relationships. Now women are obliged to get educated, to establish careers rather than just jobs; to have children means to sacrifice what they spent so much time on. So now the family and children are sacrificed because women somehow got what they thought they wanted and it is just too dear to give it all up to become a "second class citizen", a wife and mother. Feminism has robbed women of their primary role as lovers and care-givers.

And yet, so many are incredibly lonely, both women and men.

I knew love when it still meant forever
When a feeling shared didn’t always have to hurt.
And a promise that was made
Would go unbroken,
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew a time when hope was all you needed
And if you cared, you found a way to make things work.
When life was what two people shared together
Oh I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew love when I could still believe
It was the greatest power in the world
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew hearts when they made it all so easy
Sad goodbyes were seldom ever heard
When I wouldn’t have to read this note
That says you’re leaving
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew love when I could still believe
It was the greatest power in the world
I knew love when it was more than just a word.
I knew love when it was more than just a word. - Nanci Griffith

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two years ago, when I was attending the national pro-life conference of Canada in Moncton, a Baptist minister from Boston gave a talk entitled "Cross Bearing for the Child Bearing". I recall hearing for the first time about the disproportionate number of black and hispanic children being aborted. And he stated that abortion would end in the United States, when these minority groups became aware of what was being done and became the leaders of the pro-life movement.

I believe that is happening, as I read about more and more African-American pastors getting really vocal about what abortion is doing to their race.

And now, Georgia Right to Life and Radiance Foundation are launching the "Endangered Species Project". They have erected 62 billboards in two counties of Georgia where 67% of the state's abortions are performed.

I can't even imagine being able to do this in Canada. Just today we have heard that a television network in Kelowna, BC has renegged on their decision to air the pro-life ad that I blogged about a few days ago. They claim that the ad is too graphic and will offend people. Oh sure, as if we family-oriented types aren't already offended by the sexualized ads they air day and night or we don't find offensive all the programming that states before it begins: Warning - coarse language and sexually explicit scenes. But they can't show the hand and forearm of an aborted baby?

I would venture a guess that there is no place in Canada where a billboard like the one above could be set up. And I would also say that no television network would have the guts to air an ad like the one that will CBS will air during the SuperBowl this Sunday.

Has no one in the mainstream media of Canada got any backbone at all?

h/t Jill Stanek

Guiding Our Children

I have heard this tale repeated by various people from different churches: when the subject of abortion is presented in a youth group, the youth leader gets a volley of complaints from parents. And his freedom in this area of teaching is restricted.
I asked a youth leader why he thought this happened and he thought that the parents were being overly protective of their children, not wanting them to find out things that are kind of gross for want of a better word.

I always wondered if perhaps the parents were trying to stop any discussion of the subject because of skeletons in their closets; the topic was just coming a little too close to home.

But this past weekend, the woman mentioned in the last post (director of the Pregnancy Care Centre here) said that the discussion of sexual morality (and abortion is the clean-up for unchaste behaviour) is not welcomed by Christian parents because they themselves were the ones who grew up in the sexual revolution. Their own behaviour won't stand much scrutiny but now they wish to raise families with Christian values and they are having trouble putting their past behaviour together with their present duties.

I have been mulling this over and thinking of people I know whose children have made choices that their parents wish they hadn't. And people who didn't feel that they had the right to give strong advice to their children. My generation has been raised in the rejection of Dr. Spock and we have been taught that our children are basically "good" persons, and that we should trust that "goodness" when they make major life decisions. Somehow we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to giving explicit moral advice, especially in the area of sexual morality.

And the thought came to me so clearly this morning over breakfast, while watching a clip from Focus on the Family. I wondered why it was that these strong evangelicals have no problem speaking clearly on moral issues, why they believe that parents need to be firm with their children in this area, even if sometimes they come across as dogmatic. They are not afraid to be dogmatic, to be clear, because they know that lives are at stake. Children make some very unwise choices, and some of those choices lead them down paths from which they may never return.

It is the confession of one's sins and faults that gives someone the authority to advise others.

So biblical, I must find the relevant passages and mark them down. But it was so clear; those Christian leaders who speak clearly on moral issues are often people who have had major conversions in their own lives. They have openly confessed their wrongs and have turned from them. It is that confession and the turning that gives them the ability and the authority to speak now. I am not advocating public truth-telling sessions; that would be unwise and unkind; but owning up to one's mistakes as mistakes or "sins" in the Christian context, not just as life experiences, seems to be the key here.

This explains why the father who had an affair that has been kept a secret cannot advise his son on the proper way to date and to marry a girl. And the son is often locked into behaviour that doesn't demand he grow up. There are so many young people today who live with someone for a while, then someone else, and a trail of broken relationships is all they have to show by the time they are forty. They can't seem to settle down. And they haven't been told that the way they are living is not right. After all, they are trusted to be the best judges of their own lives and eventually love will fix everything. They just haven't found the right person yet.

What a falsehood to be living with! But if the father who began the lie would only confess openly and admit that he had done wrong, lives could be built once again on the right foundation.

Everyone fails, everyone makes mistakes. It is in facing the truth of our failings and mistakes that we find freedom. And that freedom isn't for us only; it brings freedom to those around us. For parents who can confess to their wrongs, they acquire the freedom to speak with authority to their children. As always, "then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow ... Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me ... Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. - Psalm 51:7, 10, 13

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I've Changed My Mind

The use of graphic imagery to make the case against abortion is hotly debated amongst pro-lifers. Some are adamant that it is just too horrific, that it subjects the unsuspecting passerby to images for which they are not prepared, and that it causes many to become angry. Other pro-lifers feel that, unless people actually witness the graphic reality of abortion, they will simply never understand how awful it is.

I used to be of the second opinion; I was pretty convinced that people needed to be shocked, because something shocking was going on and they were simply "not getting it".

I realise the video above shows a graphic photo of the hand of an aborted baby, but that is the only image and it isn't gruesome and bloody like the large posters with all the body parts. The message on the video is very simple:

Let us mourn for these children
May our hearts be broken enough
for God to enter and stir us to
action to defend their lives.

Stirred to action, that is the purpose of the pro-life movement - to stir people to action, many people, all people to act for those who cannot defend themselves.

This past weekend, I spent with the director of the local crisis pregnancy centre here in Halifax. It is now called the Pregnancy Care Centre, as teens (those who have the most unplanned pregnancies) cannot relate to the word "crisis". The director is one of the most Christian women I have ever met; she set up this centre and has run it for the past 23 years. She has given tirelessly of her time and energy and she has gone even further, adopting the baby of the centre's very first client and she now fosters four children who would have no home otherwise.

She has seen it all; she was moved to work in this ministry when she cared for a woman who had jumped from the roof of the hospital. After three months of treatment for depression, she escaped the psychiatric ward, found her way to the roof and jumped. Her jump did not end her life; but it did leave her paralysed from the neck down. In the emergency room, she kept repeating "it hurts, it hurts". Willa had been assigned to stay with her and, as she held her hand, she asked "where does it hurt?" The woman shouldn't have felt any pain as her spinal column had been severed and with it all the nerves to her torso and limbs. She said "my heart" and then out came the story of her abortion five years previous. Willa resolved then and there that she would work in this ministry in order to prevent women from believing the lies about abortion.

All those years of experience with girls and women facing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, some of whom did abort and others who carried their babies to term, and what does this lady have to say about abortion?

Abortion is not the problem. The problem is that these women don't know Christ. They need a relationship with Him first. My job is to use this opportunity to offer them that relationship.

The problem is that our relationship with God our Father has been broken. And it can only be restored by meeting the person of Jesus Christ.

What does this have to do with graphic imagery? Well, that imagery may change someone's mind about abortion, although I suspect that it creates more anger in people than it does a change of mind. But the imagery doesn't bring them any closer to Christ.

I am not saying that graphic imagery should never be used. Actually, I think that it can be used to great effect as the Genocide Awareness Project uses it, on university campuses. This is a venue where students see other displays of graphic imagery and where they are challenged, as in no other time of their life, to think critically about important issues. Those who run the GAP are also there to talk with students who question what they are doing; the signs are accompanied by good information. People are not just shocked by the signs, but are engaged in discussion.

But for the general public, on a busy street, graphic imagery will probably produce more shock and anger than true conversion of mind and heart.

Bryan Kemper, the founder of Stand True, has been protesting abortion for 16 years. He founded the group that goes into schools and organizes the campaign where students put duct tape with the word Life written on it, and they don't speak for the entire day. They are silent in solidarity with the unborn who have no voice. And their efforts meet with great success. Kids love to do something like that, and the last time they did it, 57 girls (across the US) who were pregnant decided not to abort their babies because of the duct tape effort.

Bryan used to go to abortion clinics and protest loudly, holding graphic signs to scare the women out of having an abortion. He thought it was the thing to do and that saving the baby's life was to be done at all costs. Now he says:

Yes, we believe abortion is the act of killing a human person and should never be permitted. Yes, we believe abortion is a sin and is detestable in God's eyes. Yes, we believe we need to stand up against this evil and be there to help people keep from making such a tragic and horrific mistake. But more importantly than all of that, we believe those people need Christ, and we need to love them as Christ would...

We are committed to achieving these goals in love. And we will go to the abortion mills to be a voice for those who are dying horrible deaths there. But we will treat the abortion mill like a mission field (italics mine) rather than a protest zone.

Having organized two campaigns for 40 Days for Life here in Halifax, I have seen the fruits of what a witness of peaceful, non-confrontational prayer can do. We have heard of one girl who changed her mind about having an abortion and we have heard of one social worker who requested a re-assignment away from the abortion clinic. Plus a nurse who thanked us for being there; she has witnessed abortions and felt compelled to seek work elsewhere as she is being compromised in that hospital. Prayer bringing about changes of heart, without violence, without any shouting. We didn't get people shouting at us to leave the sidewalk; most people walk by quietly showing respect for the fact that we are just praying.

I believe that God has called me to be faithful to that prayer witness. To bring graphic signs into it would break that peace. Right now, that public sidewalk has been soaked with the prayers of hundreds of people and we have asked God for His protection on that place. It is a sacred place now, a place where Christ can come and minister. And He always does that in love.

Visit Bryan's site at Stand True

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ralph McInerny RIP

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010) died after a battle with esophageal cancer on January 29, 2010. I was surprised to find that he received his PhD from Laval University in Quebec (who even knew he had been to Canada?). He is best known in academic circles for his years as philosophy professor at Notre Dame University. He wrote more than two dozen scholarly books, as well as translating the texts of St. Thomas Aquinas for Penguin Classics. With Michael Novak, he founded Crisis, a journal of lay Catholic opinion now known as Inside Catholic. As if that wasn't enough, he also wrote 80 novels, most of the mystery genre, and under various pen names including Monica Quill, Harry Austin amongst others. His most famous novels were the Father Dowling mysteries which became a television series.

I have loved these novels of Ralph McInerny's. As my daughter emailed me this morning: "Every time I think of him I get a warm and nostalgic feeling ... I always feel so safe when I read his books." Precisely - warm and safe.

This was a man who loved his Catholic faith and salted his writing liberally with his beliefs. I was intrigued to find that his initial efforts at writing were rejected; I also read somewhere that he wrote novels and short stories after work hours to make more money to support his large family of seven children. Facing this rejection, he decided to be serious about writing and he wrote for four hours per day for a year (10 pm - 2 am). The result was his first novel The Priest which became a best seller. I read that novel about two years ago and was captivated by it; it was a current relating of the crisis in the Catholic Church brought about by the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, in which Pope Paul VI stunned the Catholic clergy of America by standing firm against artificial contraception.

Ralph writes further about this theme of the Church's stand on marriage, children, and contraception in some of his other novels and one gets the feeling that he wants to convey the rightness of the Church teaching in this area. I guess that should be obvious given the size of his own family.

I didn't know that Ralph was pre-deceased by his wife Connie and it is touching to read that he felt after she died, that his life was posthumous. They must have been close friends, the secret of a happy marriage.

In recent news, Ralph's name came up as opposing the invitation of President Obama to Notre Dame University and the conferring of an honorary law degree upon him. I can't find it now, but I recall that McInerny said that Our Lady, whose statue adorned the top of the dome, was weeping over this. He mourned the loss of faith at Notre Dame University as the emphasis on the academic credentials of staff took precedence over their authentic Catholic faith. Something that many of us can agree with, as the President of Notre Dame, Father Jenkins, refuses to drop the charges against the 88 pro-life protestors who objected to Obama's speech there.

All of this would make him sound like rather a serious fellow, but he was known for his wit and charm and his love of puns, as witnessed by the titles of many of his books. Apparently he once introduced his wife by saying "have you met my first wife, Connie?" He was also known to be "remarkably generous with his time and his help, especially for his students, in whose families he expressed an avid interest." - Thomas Hibbs

A wonderful scholar, a wonderful writer, and it seems a wonderful man. He will be missed. God rest his soul.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Please click this link

African American deaths since 1973

You just have to click that link, it only takes a few seconds - the diagram says it all.

h/t Gerald Nadal