Tag Archives: Pro-Choice

Right and Wrong in Heterodoxy, Orthodoxy, and Culture Wars

This morning, I just sat through a social activism meeting in the basement of a Catholic church, between two different proponents of the culture wars. They were all doing their best to be conciliatory. But no surprise, it wasn’t exactly successful.

It was painful.

I cried later that day about it. Both sides probably felt so dismissed and silenced, or dismissed and judged. I could feel it both ways. I admit I’m not exactly an impartial outsider of the culture wars, but I think I’ve seen enough of both sides to feel both their pain.

Also, I had the awkward advantage of being the only protestant outsider in their tense discussion of their current pope’s views. My faith doesn’t depend on Pope Francis’s theology. It’s a terribly vulnerable thing, having a leader to follow and love and fear for. Communal, shared identities inevitably become battlegrounds, and that is rough on everyone.

I’m not sure if it is worth the fight. Probably it is, I don’t know. But there is something far more important. There comes a point when each one of us must cry out to the Holy Spirit, and then follow our own conscience. In the end, we each will stand before God alone.

For it is written:

As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

And:

And I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will have to give account of it in the day of judgment.

And again:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life.

And the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to what he had done.

We will each stand before God alone. So cry out to God, and then follow your conscience. I’m not saying whatever you do is fine. Of course your choices matter, and matter so incredibly much at that. I am saying, hash it out with Him personally. Talk to Him, fight with Him, talk to Him, cry out to Him, talk to Him. Rage at Him if you must, but don’t stop talking to Him. Then, with fear and yearning, do what you think is right. Because God is righteousness. So do what you think is right, what He wants you to do. Some day you will stand with Him, face to face.

And then you will know, it was always just between the two of you.

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Advice to younger pro-lifers

Caution: as indicated by the title, this is an article on the abortion issue.

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Experiences of a pro-life undergraduate at an Ivy League school on the East Coast.

 

He looked to be in his early fifties, stylish, in a suit, with a briefcase, grey hair. Most likely a professor at my university. He walked over to the edge of the college green, where I stood by the pink and blue flags commemorating those aborted since Roe V. Wade. I tried to hand him a flyer on fetal development. He shook his head, and looked me in the face.

He was animated. “I just want you to know—twenty years ago–I aborted my kid and I don’t regret it!” I stared. He was trying to look defiant, but instead, agitated. We were both as surprised as a deer and a driver locking eyes on a night road. Finally, I stuttered, “There is this counseling for…”

He shook his head, “No, no, I don’t want anything.” He turned and walked swiftly towards one of the classroom halls of my campus.

I didn’t know why he told me that. “My kid”–those were his words, not mine. I’ve thought about it a lot since. It was as if he wanted me to judge him, to get emotional, so that he could fight back. All I can guess is that, being around 20 myself at the time, I was the age of his “kid.” He was ashamed, and he wanted me to be angry, to be angry back.

We had our Pro Life Cemetery of the Innocents, once a year. It was nothing gory–just pink and blue flags to commemorate those taken from this earth by abortion, and some signs like “Women deserve better than abortion”. Our Pro Life university group (all of half a dozen active members) would take shifts to stand at the edge of the college green by the flags, and offer people flyers on fetal development.

When I stood there at the edge of the college green during my shift, I’d see hundreds of faces a day. Almost no one came close enough for me to try to hand out a flyer on fetal development, but from a distance, as they first came in sight of it, I’d see their faces—that initial moment, when startled. There are many different commemorations on our college green—most were anti-war and pro-vegetarian cemeteries and such, so people were used to that. But when they read the signs, they realized this was different, and for a second, you could see their initial reaction, before they’d mask it. I saw that expression the most—the same expression of the trim grey-haired professor—vulnerable, vulnerable, ashamed, and angry.

There were others too—though by then, the mask was on. Many white frat boys, walking slowly in my line of vision, smirking and holding up their middle finger. I think they were hoping for a reaction. Then, the preppy, immaculately-dressed fellow female students, who were a little more proactive. One of them came over to speak to us, “You arranged this? And you are students at this university?!”

“Yes,” I answered, “would you like a flyer–”

She interrupted, looking straight at me and my fellow pro-lifer. “I think this is disgusting. You are disgusting.”

We said nothing.

She turned and swept away, righteously indignant.

But this rage, this shock…it is the same thing. She doesn’t mean it. She thinks she does, but she really means….this makes her feel the way she described us. Just look her in the eye and say, “I’m sorry.” Sorry that she has to feel that way about herself. Sorry that deep down, she is afraid. That the more our culture says human beings are expendable, the more our culture erases the innate preciousness of human beings…the more people will believe that they, too, are meat. A world where there is no forgiveness but only regret, so it must be stuffed deep down, and that will only cause self-hatred and self-revulsion… which comes out masked as disgust, and indignant rage.

Stay calm. Don’t be baited. Sometimes, they want you to judge them. They will bait you.

So don’t be baited. This really isn’t about us at all, it is about them. And we have to somehow, show them the world as it really is—where all human beings are created sacred, innately precious, and where regrets don’t need to be buried, because there is forgiveness. There is healing. Because we are sacred.

Women’s Abortion Rights — A Wager

CAUTION: As indicated by the title, this is a blog on a sensitive topic. Please don’t read this if it will deeply damage you–this is a painful topic. I don’t mean to discourage those with different viewpoints from reading it, this was written for you, and debate is good (with a desire to understand on both sides)–the world needs more of that. But like any duel, I should not ambush…
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Women’s Abortion Rights — A Wager

Pascal had a famous wager. This is mine.

Women get exploited all over the world, particularly, in sexual and familial matters. Hence, oppression, domestic violence, and rape. It is something we must fight all our lives.

Abortion gives a woman control over her body, she can decide if she wants to carry a pregnancy to term or not. It is her choice, her body, her decision.

So abortion rights is for the woman, right?

On a spring morning in Philadelphia, for the first (and last) time, I stood outside an abortion clinic a mile or so from my undergrad campus. We held homemade signs about adoption, and tried to talk them out of it. Unlike many clinics, the cars didn’t drive quickly past us into a fenced off parking lot, but instead people were walking down the sidewalk, into the clinic because the entrance was right near the street. The stretch of sidewalk directly in front of the clinic was off-limits to us, so we had to stand back, with the prochoice escorts sweeping past, but it was a long sidewalk, so we had a chance to speak to them as they walked past us first. It was a Saturday morning, about 20 women went in. None of them spoke to us–they were in no mood for talking. About 18 of them looked annoyed or upset, suddenly texting their phones, looking past us, their steps quick, their eyes averted.

But two of them looked at us, or maybe I should say, gazed blankly in our direction. One was a young Asian girl–she looked to be in highschool. The tears were streaming down her face. A middle-aged Asian man–he looked to be in his later forties, had her by the hand, leading her into the clinic. She trailed behind, silent, tears streaming. Probably her father. I can see him in my minds’ eye, saying something along the lines of: you must accept Yale’s offer and be ready to focus on pre-med studies by the fall! The opportunity you must not miss! This relationship with that loser Jim will ruin your life

The second woman’s face still haunts me. There were three of them, one woman and two men. They got out of the car, and got on the sidewalk. She was white, in her mid-thirties, at least six months along her pregnancy if not more. Her eyes were bright red, her face puffy from crying. Her shoulders were slumped, her neck bent down. She took small steps, and looked down at her feet. Two men accompanied her, one muscular man who looked to be in his early forties and another man with grey hair but still spry, who looked to be in his early sixties. They walked before and behind her, moving her along. Her feet dragged, slowing down, turning in my direction. I took a small step closer to her, looking towards her face–and then the muscular man stepped between us, eyes blazing, his arm tense and fist tightened, as if about to strike. He made a motion with his arm at me: I stepped back instinctively from fear, and the two of them hustled her past me. It all happened in a second. In a couple more seconds they were in the prochoice escort’s area (that was fenced off to us) and they entered the clinic.

Accompanied by those men, looking like a beaten dog, exhausted, she had looked to me— and I had not helped her. Because I had been afraid of being punched.

Women do not make their choices in a vacuum. The same men that pressure them in other decisions will pressure them in this area as well.

It comes down to this:

If abortion is outlawed, more women will be forced to give birth against their will.

If abortion is legal, more women will be forced to undergo abortion against their will.

Which is more devastating? Which violates their body more? Which one is more terrible? To have given birth when you did not want to, or to be coerced to put your feet into those stirrups, as something alive is torn (piece by piece) from your body, to be dumped into the bin of biohazardous waste?

People endure so much ghastly suffering in this life.

Let us not make it any more painful than it already is.

Thoughts from rhetoric in the last election

The anti-abortion cause is not actually about condoning rape or about hating anyone.

I know it is a crazy dream….infanticide has been a fact of life for every truly civilized society from the Ancient Near East to Classical Rome to Progressive Sweden….

But that odd rabbi came and changed everything. He said we really could, that we really could make everything in our ordinary human lives into something sacred, as a breath of love, through pain and degradation, to the end. And he stuck to his word too—beaten and bloody and nailed to a stake of wood. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We can live in a world where we treasure the little ones, the weak, the mentally retarded, and all those more dear and precious and sacred than ourselves. And yes, all the little ones, those hurt and hated and *shameful* and abused—so even those called ‘products of rape’.

In the ‘despised of the earth’ is the incarnation of Christ. They ARE Christ to us. It is an honor to carry the burden of these little ones. Of course this world is dark, and there are times of hellish pain. But let us live through it, for a different kind of world. A world where the little ones, especially the malformed and sick little ones, are treasured–not politely discarded onto the scrap heap of utilitarianism.

Where we hold them in our arms, and treasure them to their last breath.

Can’t we live in a world like that?

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life: Politics and imposing ‘Morality

I was at the March in Washington. Among the vast majority of the marchers, their problem with abortion was not the many economic and legal ramifications, but:

Every life was created by God for a reason.
Each of us, by God, is willed, is loved, is necessary.
Every human life, every biological fetus, is Sacred, infinitely precious.

So? Detracters say, that’s just a religious belief. Why is every small, malformed, biological piece of a human that important? Why should we recklessly and blindly value it, especially when the birth of that life will bring about unhappiness, economical harm, shame, emotional trauma, and restriction of rights on others, especially the woman who has to bear the fetus? And that fetus you guys care so much about, will have to live a life an unwanted by-product of sex, and be medically handicapped, or oppressed, or subjugated, or victimized? The majority of these fetuses were conceived in a situation where their life would be unlikely to be well-adjusted. Who are you to tell them to just suck it up and be suffering victims because you happen to think that you know what is best for them? Who are you to impose your strict, blind personal religious views on a poor woman and her unhappily conceived fetus?

And the marchers put their kids on their shoulders, or push their handicapped kids in wheelchairs, and they carry signs with pictures of a woman and child and a lamb. They sing, “Christ, for the sake of Your sorrowing passion, have mercy on us and on the sins of the world. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners…”

The marcher’s answer to the prochoicers is simple:

Human life is sacred. Every human life, be it retarded or unhappy or the product of rape, is Holy, is precious, has a plan from the beginning of Creation by a God who loves with a love that is more than human, who suffers with us, who has brought us holiness, redemption.
To destroy a human life that has been given, is like throwing away of a priceless inheritance, snapping off the buds of the plants in spring, ripping up a million-dollar check, pouring out on the ground your last water bottle while stranded in the sahara, deserting your one faithful friend, embracing the death of hope, of love.

You are blind to the holiness and worth of every human!
No, YOU are blinded by your stupid, subjective, arrogant religion!

The prochoicers and the prolifers stare at eachother, on two sides of great chasm, shouting out across the divide in two languages incomprehensible to the other.

America is splittting in half, and we can’t communicate.

The biggest problem in our times is that people have radically different definitions of words.

On one side, they say:
And the Word was made Flesh. Holy Holy Holy.
God is Love. God is Truth. God is Holy. God is Life. God is Beauty.

On the other side:
‘Love’ is ultimately selfish drive for survival, or the hormone-driven and intense sexual attractions that are immortalized in syrupy songs. ‘Life’ is in all its complexity, the day-to-day existing in a lousy world that oppresses and subjugates. Beauty is a product of cultural upbringing and hormones. ‘Holy’ is an adjective for four letter words referring to the biohazardous end-product of human digestion.

What now? Six-party talks?

Words are useless.

We speak two different languages. So we do not understand eachother. We Americans can only scream and laugh at, pity or despise, psychoanyalyze or pray for ‘the other side’.

So the Prochoicers say, ‘There goes the arrogant religious nuts, who don’t really care about people…because if they did they would let a woman choose the way out of an unwanted pregnancy. Also, to say there is Right that you know, is to say there is Wrong that other people believe, and calling people wrong is not tolerant, and it is dangerous and arrogant when you say that you know “Righteousness” and do not tolerate “Wickedness”. Labeling people ‘wrong’ is what the Nazis did, what the racists did, THAT is definitely the One Wrong. The One Right thing to do is to be tolerant, and realize that we all should make our own personal beliefs and not impose our morality on others. This ‘human life’ thing is drawing lines in the sand, is being extreme, is calling a normal medical practice ‘murder!’ Sure the fetus looks like a human, but that is beside the point. It isn’t that it won’t become a human, but there are so many other factors to take into account, if on really cared… You are just blind, blinded by your harshe religion to true compassion!

And the marchers do not speak. They think, if you are that blind, if you can look at a small human face and not see a human child worthy of love, if you think it is humane for doctors to dice them alive in their mother’s womb, no words of persuasion or rational arguments can make you see. If you can see a baby and NOT see infinite preciousness, sacred beauty, holiness, hope for the world, a message of love from God, Nothing I say will do any good.

And so the marchers do not speak, and they raise their voices, singing, “O CHRIST, For the sake of your sorrowful Passion, Have mercy on us, and on the sins of the World. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy on us sinners, and pray for us…”
“For God, all things are possible, bring light, that they may see. Have mercy on us, bring the Light of Christ!”

I’ll try to bridge this chasm (impossible, I know) by pathetically attempting to tell a story. I am not a good story-teller, give it 2 minutes and try to understand.

Let me tell you a story about a woman who lived in a male-dominated society, oppressed by a rich foreign power:

There is a Being, behind the mountains, the stars, the thunder, the dawn, snow falling from the sky, and human love.

He is a Holy God, who is all brightness, light, Beauty and justice. But there is so much that is Damn wrong with the world, damn wrong with us. Strong oppressing weak, rich oppressing poor, men hurting women, women hurting men, humans loving hatred and hating love.

He came down to our world and was made flesh. He was a lumpy zygote implanting in a uterine wall, and developing fetus. He was born to a teenager from a economically and politically exploited people. The mother’s life was a life of pain, oppression, and alienation because of this pregnancy.

She had to take the disbelief and censure of her neighbors, then the painful medical risks of pregnancy and delivery, then the alienation of fleeing to a foreign land when capricious political powers wanted her child and her dead. She lived a life of political oppression and poverty in a defeated and humiliated country.

And after years, she stood, a powerless woman and victim of the political powers of that day, while swaggering soldiers took her child, and humiliated him, beat him, stripped him, tortured him, and nailed him to a stake of wood to scream, bleed, and suffocate to death.

Her life would have been so different if she had been able to terminate the pregnancy. No social rejection, no medical risks, no persecution from the powers that be, no victimhood. She could have spent her life improving her economic situation, and fighting for her rights in an oppressive society.

But she didn’t. She took the way of persecution, physical and emotional pain, oppression, powerlessness, suffering, victimhood.

And the prolifers see this, and cry out and say, “Holy Mary, mother of God; Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

And other think: How stupid! The oppressed of the world should be fighting for rights, for feminism, economic equality, peace. Mary should have not wasted her life like that, she was a strong woman, she should have fought for rights in her messed up world. Instead you follow your blind religion and inflict pain on yourselves and the weak!

But see, we say we have met Him. We have seen the face of Incarnate Love.

We know that there is so much that is Damn wrong with us, there is so much that is Damn wrong with you, there is so much that is Damn wrong with every human since the beginning of humanity. And the strong(whoever they are) always exploit the weak, and humans degrade humans, objects to be degraded and used and exploited and humiliated. A mere change of power will not cure this ill, it runs too deep. If you deny this Damnable wrongness, you will only be spraying perfume on a wound set with gangrene.

And so he became a fetus, he became child, he became a man. He was born among the oppressed, the victims; and He himself became a victim to the bigotry and hatreds and Damn-wrongness of the people of his times.
The answer to all our pain, is a human hand, with a gash ripped through it. And pierced feet, and a hole in his side.

And he poured himself out to death. HE HAS BORNE OUR GRIEFS AND CARRIED OUR SORROWS. HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS. BY HIS SCOURGING, WE ARE HEALED. HE SHALL SAVE THE PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.

And so he atoned for the Damn-wrongness of us all; and holds out his hands to lead us on another way, to save us from ourselves.

And his face is Beauty, this incarnate Love, this HOLY GOD, this Love, the infinite worth. These cannot be described in words, nor expressed in any human emotion. It is Spirt.

And he was made flesh, a human like us. And because of this, man was made holy. Every human being is not just a pathetic biological package that (hopefully) will lead a well-adjusted life before a quiet death. No, in every human life is an image, an echo of His. If you have not seen his face, then these are all empty syllables.

Every life, every human life, was willed by God, is loved, is necessary, is needed.

And so every human life, every misshapen fetus, is a sacred gift from this God, a gift of a Human Life. Yes, it is suffering, yes, it is ‘victimhood’; yes, it has pain. But God sends his Spirit to us, he sends his spirit of healing, of hope, of Holiness, of beauty, of joy, of laughter, of Love.

It is always worth the cost. We pray and wait for the day when you realize:

We all are made in the image of Him, this holy God, this man, this incarnate Love.
And it is worth this cost of having to live, a thousand thousand times over, for you will see His Face. And then you will see, you will know, what LOVE TRUTH BEAUTY HOLY are.

And then you will understand, and realize that you too, are made in the image of this holy God, this God-in-flesh, this Love.

But you cannot see, so you cannot see why human life is sacred, and must not be destroyed. God save us from future evils, future holocausts, future slaughters and injustices perpetrated by our blind America that will make the genocides of the past century pale in comparison.

There is nothing left to do but pray, pray for the forgiveness of our sins, for the atonement of the world, and that your eyes may be opened, and that you would see his face.

Bring your mercy, to us, O God. For the sake of your sorowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the sins of the world. Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.