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Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Follow-Up On Christian Left Justification For Abortion

It is claimed that banning abortion will only drive abortion underground, where it is less safe. (You can find Sen. Ted Kennedy's "wire hangar" speech against Bork for an example.) As an aside, even if this grisly practice were properly regulated--which to the present day, it's not--it's not safe for the baby. Moreover, the claim that abortion is at least physically safe for the mother is false.

Given the fact that abortion supporters and opponents agree that "back alley" abortions are undesirable, it's nevertheless the case that the "choice" side imputes a moral culpability for the harms caused by the illicit procedure on to those who wish to ban abortion as such. This doesn't follow, for one thing. For another, anti-abortion legislators and voters would only be culpable for the harm in such a situation with an unstated premise that abortion itself is morally neutral or good. If abortion were morally neutral or good, the only hardship would be caused by lack of access to abortion.

It's clear that the intent of restricting access to abortion is to make a completed abortion less likely. If a person suffers harm trying to circumvent an obstacle, the blame goes to that person, when the obstacle itself is good, and seeks to prevent an evil. Because most "choice" advocates claim that the common ground should be fewer abortions, they in effect concede that abortion is not desirable or good. Therefore, if abortion is not desirable or good, all those who claim to share that belief should agree that obstacles to its access should be enacted.

Finally, judgments of prudence or pragmatism often substitute for the proper moral judgments of things in themselves. It is a judgment of prudence and justice to say that stealing a loaf of bread should not merit a life sentence in prison. We can imagine the administrative nightmare and moral absurdity of enforcing such a penalty. We cannot however conclude that stealing is acceptable. If there is moral good in preventing some evil by placing obstacles in the path of those who would commit some evil, those who uphold that good should not be ashamed that attempting to circumvent a just law causes harm. The harm belongs to the evil itself, and those who would practice it. They ought to be shown pity and mercy, and those who enforce justice should do so without apology.

Friday, February 21, 2020

A Few Thoughts On Abortion-Agnostic Liberals

Let me start with Mark Shea, and say it like this: I get it. I don't want to be in the GOP tribe, either. I don't like the political culture of deflection. I don't like the notion of pretending that President Trump is a good man, who's misunderstood, or slandered, or whatever people say. I don't like the fact that most serious issues not related to sex are being discussed inside the Democratic Party.

I could go on and on about the GOP, and GOP voters, and that even most thoughts within that coalition strike me as irritable mental gestures in the direction of a philosophy, to borrow a phrase.

Yet I have some truth to share: A human fetus is a person, an innocent person, and killing an innocent person is wrong. Not because Jesus said so, although he does. Any person who loves reason can come to see this truth. We may even convince ourselves that "reproductive choice" is less wrong, because the set of Republican policies related to social support makes the choice to abort more likely (and perhaps it does, in fact).

There's still a lie lurking about: that banning or even restricting abortion does nothing to combat abortion. That cannot be true. We could find the stats about how many abortions there were prior to 1973, and how many there are now. The scale of this genocide puts the lie to this polite fiction.

Now, if you want to have mental seizures all day long about rank-and-file Republicans and their blind spots, fine. I don't care. I'm now an advocate for legitimate social democracy. But I'm not letting Shea, or his left-leaning friends sit in their pleasing delusions. There's nothing immoral--quite the opposite--about banning abortion. Joe Heschmeyer, who wrote the linked post above, sets up the discussion as a sort of false dilemma: social support, or abortion ban?

Why not both? And frankly, perhaps the biggest obstacle to getting this done is the tribal allegiance to the Democratic Party, and that party's slavish devotion to an unobstructed machinery of death. The second biggest obstacle is the tribal allegiance to the Republican Party, and that party's slavish devotion to capitalism, and a fake Cold War binary between capitalism and socialism. We will not turn into the USSR, if we insist on a living wage. We're not a bunch of entitled hippie snowflakes, to forthrightly consider that we are damaging this planet, and that we must act urgently.

I'd run as a Democrat, myself, if you made me choose. But we all know who greases the skids, don't we? They've said they don't want pro-lifers in their party. The closest thing to a social democratic party in the US doesn't want to even forthrightly reckon with the fact that killing children in the womb is heinously wrong. The party that had a death-grip on faithful Catholics for generations can't even give a voice to perhaps the most vital teaching (literally) in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

At least Gov. Bel Edwards hasn't been exiled yet. I'll bet he never becomes a major presidential candidate. I dare the Democrats to prove me wrong. Bob Casey, Jr. needs to check his catechism. At present, he doesn't have a hundredth of his father's courage, and good sense.

For the record, I'll take a Democratic ballot in my presidential primary, and I'll make my best effort. Secondly, you deserve to know that in Congress, I intend to vote for every conceivable Democrat on the ballot. I probably will abstain for president, praying that President Trump doesn't find a way to further coarsen and destroy the country itself. I will give enthusiastic thanks for the continuance of the Mexico City policy, the Hyde Amendment, and numerous other things, in the event of his victory. In the event of his loss, I will pray fervently for a change of heart about these things from the new president, and that he or she will not further criminalize anti-abortion activity, or traditional views on other subjects.

The Supernatural Is The Most Real

You can scan the news any time; the most obvious conclusion, though not necessarily helpful, is, "Everything is terrible." Sin, tragedy, alienation, death, and destruction are just a typical Friday.

I was praying a Chaplet of Divine Mercy last night for a guy with cancer I heard about. The Chaplet is an amazing prayer. And as I started to think about what we were saying, it bowls me over still. Father, we plead the all-sufficient merit of Your Son. If that won't help us, nothing will.

If you're suffering, I can't tell you how to feel that, or to get through it. I do know that I am not afraid of dying. I was kind of taunting the devil after a fashion in prayer the other day, in that it came to me in this way: What's the worst you can do to me, kill me? Do you understand, my friends? Our souls are eternal. These bodies will die, but we will not.

It sneaks up on some people, because of the pride of life. The evil one loves death in this world, because it hurts us and distracts us. We're separated from our loved ones, touched by grief to our very core. We know it's brutal and horrible, because Jesus wept for Lazarus his friend who died, knowing he'd raise him from the dead in the next moment. Death is so wrong that Jesus Himself couldn't endure it for two minutes, for all we know. Think on that. Yeah, you should cry. What else would you do?

Sin really is a confession of belief of life in this world only. This is why wicked sinners either avoid funerals, or turn them into parties. Belief in the general, bodily resurrection is dangerous, you see. We're all taking a risk, you know. Any one of us could be a goat, when he sorts the whole thing out. The last thing I want to do is frighten you inordinately, but my main point is, look Jesus in the eye and level with him now. There is no second exit interview.

Amy Madigan plays "Annie," the wife of "Ray," in the film Field of Dreams, a gospel story where the Good News is baseball. Ray is trying to decide whether to follow supernatural promptings, and in an effort to stop him, she says, "...we could lose this farm." Since I've seen it a hundred times, I can tell you, that line rings a little hollow, like her heart's not in it, or that the antagonists, supernatural or otherwise, are simply offering, "C'mon, be practical!" Ray sees through it, and so does Annie. The devil is like the bankers and Annie's brother, saying, "Wouldn't it be nice to stay here, be normal, and do what you like?"

It's not that the pleasures of this life have no reality at all, but they do make us forget that we are but a breath, and that how we live here is how we will live in the world to come.

The difference between mercy and "God as cosmic Oprah" (no offense) is that mercy draws us into making things right. It's pride that forgets and denies wrong. The mercy of Jesus is so powerful, because it changes enemies into friends. We can become agents of love and reconciliation, even if we have been agents of chaos and destruction.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

If You Hear A Knock, Answer It

When you're close to Jesus, he knocks on the door of your heart. Many people do prayers of various kinds, and we ought to be thankful that holy Church gives us so many prayers to learn. They guide us and help us when we are spiritually young. Later, the words take on new life, as things we know by the light of faith, not simply as practices we have.

Jesus knocks, because the deepest desire of the faithful heart is Him. And at this stage, we are no less likely in my view to fall back into sin or fear as any new person, but we recognize we may do it for an entirely different reason: the danger of an intimacy growing ever more deeply.

How scary it is to be known or potentially known by another human being! And if that is true, how much more the divine Son of God! How does Jesus overcome this in us? With a love that is relentless, unyielding, undying, like the burning sun in the desert in the middle of the day. We are the inconstant ones; we are the ones who fail and change. He has never stopped loving us. We think he has, because instead of hating sin, we hate ourselves who sin.

I don't speak as one who is past all self-hatred, as one who joyfully runs to Jesus and to the Father when he fails. But I see what I see. I read somewhere that the Holy Spirit drives us back to Jesus and the Father. In this way, it is altogether appropriate to call the Holy Spirit a Shepherd. He does the work of the Good Shepherd, leading us back to the loving embrace of the Family.

We have never dreamed that we could be loved as a child as we are loved. This is why we run after other things. It is easier to hate, and be hated, than to love. It is easier to fear than to trust. The saints are the saints, because they are utterly convinced that they are loved. They have known Love Himself so certainly that they ask for more of a capacity to love. They do not really renounce themselves from self-hatred; they renounce the distance between their ability to love, and what the Love deserves.

Perhaps the most trusting prayer of all is this: "Jesus, remove whatever fear keeps me from Your love."

Monday, February 17, 2020

Piety Plus Nonsense Is Still Just Nonsense

Admittedly, I have much less patience for people these past few months. That sounds weird and wrong to say. I mean that I am closing ranks; I have no time to join in a chorus of criticism directed toward myself.

I used to love meeting new people; I don't anymore. I will probably say a lot more offensive things in the weeks and months ahead, because I think I had an idol of being popular, an idol of being well-liked. I wasn't one to mince words to begin with, and now, I find that sometimes, diplomacy leaves leaves you holding the ashes of fruitless efforts to please others.

I think the Sacrament of Holy Orders is a wonderful gift, one of the greatest ever given to humankind. I also think it doesn't necessarily prevent any man from being a fool. Please do move the priests, powers that be. The broken cistern is more obvious the longer it stays in the same place.

I think I'll be one of those public intellectuals who dies, and someone will say, "he wasn't one to suffer fools gladly." The prospect of this doesn't bother me like it used to.

It's true that I want people to like me. Truthfully, I want people to love me. I haven't worked out how this will work, since I'm not sure I like most people.

The singer-poet Carole King wrote, "People can be so cold. They'll hurt you, and desert you. They'll take your soul if you let them. Oh, but don't you let them."

I haven't worked out how this works, given that a heart that loves is a heart that hurts, by definition. I do know that right now, the pagans are wiser to me than the children of light.