What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

About

What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

“Obama’s Abortion Extremism” by Robert P. George

(HT: Justin Taylor; cross-posted)

That is the title of the essay that appeared this morning on the Witherspoon Institute's new web page, The Public Discourse. It is authored by my good friend, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. This should be distributed far and wide to Catholic and Evangelical groups throughout the United States. Here are some excerpts:

Sen. Barack Obama's views on life issues ranging from abortion to embryonic stem cell research mark him as not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals-even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

What is going on here?

I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying. But before proving my claims about Obama's abortion extremism, let me explain why I have described Obama as ''pro-abortion'' rather than ''pro-choice"....

This ultimate manifestation of Obama's extremism brings us back to the puzzle of his pro-life Catholic and Evangelical apologists.

They typically do not deny the facts I have reported. They could not; each one is a matter of public record. But despite Obama's injustices against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn (which should be a good indicator of where he stands), some Obama supporters insist that he is the better candidate from the pro-life point of view.

They say that his economic and social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall number would actually go down-despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn babies, they say, is to vote for the pro-abortion-oops! ''pro-choice''-candidate. They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.

This is delusional.


You can read the rest here.

Comments (81)

Thanks, Frank. This is an important document.

Dr. George writes,

I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying.

Dr. George asserts that Mr. Obama's pro-life supporters are dishonest? Wow.

Dr. George is your friend, as you say. Fair enough. He must be a good man, then. Your friend's argument however is not calculated to persuade. The argument is far too quick to question motives Dr. George does not seem to understand, in my view.

Mr. Obama has been at pains to downplay his pro-choice zealotry during the general-election campaign. Frankly, the Republicans have not made much of an issue of it, inasmuch as John McCain prefers to run against his own Republican party. There is room for Dr. George to inform and persuade people, then. Does he really need to begin the persuasion by questioning his audience's motives?

It is not as though his persuadable audience were composed of Marxists.

What I like or dislike carries little weight, maybe, but I don't like it. This particular article of Dr. George's does not even rise to the level of a good polemic. One hopes that he will do better next time.

"Frankly, the Republicans have not made much of an issue of it, inasmuch as John McCain prefers to run against his own Republican party"

Mr Harrison is right. It takes two to tango (or tangle) and basically McCain is in agreement with Democrats/leftist that Republicans are the problem. Especially pro-life conservatives, or anti illegal immigration conservatives. I think he views both as equally bigoted. Sorry to break the news to you.

Sorry to break the news to you.

That's not much of a secret around here.

Obama's so-called "pro-life" supporters are so messed up, I wouldn't even know where to begin to talk to them. I'm disgusted at the thought of them. I think George is being nice simply to say, "It's hard to see how they can honestly believe what they are saying." That's a kind way of putting the fact that anybody who calls himself "pro-life" and supports Obama is, at a minimum, deceiving himself.

As for Obama's pro-abortion positions, has anyone noticed how pro-aborts, people who support Obama enthusiastically, still talk about viability as if it matters legally? It nearly makes me ill. They would, of course, engage in major evasive maneuvers if asked, "Oh, so since you think unborn children are persons after viability, I assume you support the overturn of Roe v. Wade so that protective laws could _at least_ be passed after that point, right?"

"Oh, so since you think unborn children are persons after viability, I assume you support the overturn of Roe v. Wade so that protective laws could _at least_ be passed after that point, right?"

Oh, no. If you pass laws that protect after "viability" you undermine the right to abortion, since the "when" of viability is rather subject to flux because of technological/medical advances. Anyway, how do you define "after"? Time is itself a flux, and since there is no such thing as the instantaneous moment, there can be no "moment" of viability. The whole notion of a viable personhood in the womb is specious, since you can never say "when." You can't even posit viability at birth. Viability can only be meaningful in terms of the voluntary desire of the mother for the life of the child. Where no such intention exists, there can be no viability. Hence, there can be no ban on PBA, and no born-alive protection laws, since such laws have no basis in objective fact. A child cannot be a legal person under the law until the mother designates an intention for the child's life. To legally stipulate otherwise would be tantamount to an injunction on the mother's freedom, and thus immoral.

The barbarian need not appear in bearskins with a club in hand. He may wear a Brooks Brothers suit and carry a ball point pen with which to write his advertising copy. In fact, even beneath the academic gown their may lurk a child of the wilderness, untutored in the high tradition of civility, who goes busily and happily about his work, a domesticated and law-abiding man, engaged in the construction of a philosophy to put an end to all philosophy, and thus to put an end to the possibility of a vital consensus and to civility itself. This is perennially the work of the barbarian, to undermine rational standards of judgment, to corrupt the inherited intuitive wisdom by which the people have always lived, and to do this not by spreading new beliefs but by creating a climate of doubt and bewilderment in which clarity about the larger aims of life is dimmed and the self-confidence of the people is destroyed, so that finally what you have is the impotent nihilism of the "generation of the third eye," now presently appearing on our university campuses. (One is, I take it, on the brink of impotence and nihilism when one begins to be aware of one’s own awareness of what one is doing, saying, thinking. This is the paralysis of all serious thought; it is likewise the destruction of all the spontaneities of love.) - John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths, 1960

To all "pro-life" apologists for Barack Obama, if the shoe fits...since thanks to you we can now be sure that cogent arguments exist by which any political candidate supporting any position whatsoever can be defended by anyone supporting any other position whatsoever. In such a climate, what's the use of making an argument at all? Gorgias and Derrida take their revenge.


Lydia:

I do not know if you would include me in the class with whom you are "disgusted at the thought." If so, this would be your prerogative; there would be little I could do about it and hence would be little point in our continuing the conversation. (Or, alternately, maybe you would feel that I were not nearly important enough for you to classify one way or another. This position had the virtue of being factual and correct, whatever else might be said about it.)

You, Francis and Dr. George seem to be arguing either of two things. Perhaps due to a lack of perspicuity on my part, I have not yet been able to discern which. Either (i) you are arguing that few if any pro-choice positions are reasonable enough to be worth rebutting or; (ii) you are arguing that Mr. Obama's pro-choice stance is self-evidently so extreme than no person of integrity could support it. If (i), then that is another discussion from which perhaps I have much to learn but to which I would have little to contribute. If (ii), however, then has it not occurred to you that some at least of Mr. Obama's pro-life supporters, like me, might be misinformed? If so, then why does Dr. George not take the trouble to inform us? Why, exactly, does he think it necessary only to impugn our characters?

It is nontrivial to discover the details of Mr. Obama's pro-choice sentiments. Good legislators frequently vote against bills they would rather support because the bills are bad bills that include nongermane provisions or threaten unintended side-effects. I am not a lawyer. Mr. Obama, who is, claims that he voted against that anti-abortion bill in Illinois because it was a bad bill. How can I know that his claim is insincere? I cannot read the man's mind, I cannot interpret all the provisions of the bill, the media are not investigating the matter, the McCain campaign is not making an issue of it and, frankly, even with the aid of the Internet the bare facts are not trivial to find.

As I said, I am not arrogant enough to believe that Dr. George, or you or Francis, had me in mind when you wrote what you wrote; but, if you had had me in mind, then would you really have meant to question my motives? If so, then that would be your privilege, I guess; but, personally, I would think that you're all wet.

Otherwise, please consider this comment a request for detailed information: chapter and verse, if possible. You can judge the sincerity of the request, if you like, by following the hyperlink above, observing incidentally that it predates Francis' article above.

"Mr. Obama, who is, claims that he voted against that anti-abortion bill in Illinois because it was a bad bill. How can I know that his claim is insincere?"

But the reason why he said it was "bad" was the same reason he later said it would be "good." That's the problem. Here's the evidence, with links: http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2008/02/links_to_barack.html

This seems to be adequate to challenge Senator Obama's sincerity. But, at the end of the day, sincere or not, the man from the Land of Lincoln is more Stephen Douglas than he is the Great Emancipator.

Francis:

I see. Good link. Good point.

If (ii), however, then has it not occurred to you that some at least of Mr. Obama's pro-life supporters, like me, might be misinformed? If so, then why does Dr. George not take the trouble to inform us?

Perhaps I didn't read the George piece closely enough, but I thought that this was precisely what he was doing--informing. Somewhere buried in his diatribe is a good bit of information offered in refutation of arguments put forth by pro-life Obama supporters, isn't there? Click on the link and read the George piece in it's entirety. His refutation includes evidence that is a matter of public record, fairly easily obtained for verification, it would seem.

Byronic:

I am forced to admit that when I read Dr. George's excerpted words above, "This is delusional," along with the rest of the excerpts, I felt that I had read enough---for I did not believe that I was delusional. Scanning the full article per your suggestion I now see that my error was in misinterpreting the pronoun "this."

I shall read the full article in detail, without futher cavil.

Francis and Lydia:

Permit me to withdraw my whole complaint. Thank you for entertaining it thus far. I am answered.

thebyronicman,

Is this the type of administration you would like to see in the future?

Pro-Life Catholics For Obama

Biden is not the only Catholic who will be seriously challenged by an Obama administration bent on reversing what its pro-choice allies regard as eight years of defeat; pro-life Catholics will face different, if equally grave, dilemmas. The bishops already find themselves defending the Catholic integrity of Catholic hospitals under pressures from state governments; those pressures, as well as pressures on doctors and other Catholic health-care professionals, will increase in an Obama administration, especially if FOCA succeeds in knocking down state conscience-clause protections for Catholic health-care providers and institutions. And should an Obama administration reintroduce large-scale federal funding of abortion, the bishops will have to confront a grave moral question they have managed to avoid for decades, thanks to the Hyde amendment: does the payment of federal taxes that go to support abortion constitute a form of moral complicity in an "intrinsic evil"? And if so, what should the conscientious Catholic citizen do?

About which, it will be very interesting to hear what professors Kmiec, Kaveny and Cafardi have to say.

SOURCE: http://www.newsweek.com/id/163896/page/3

Mr. Harrison,

I'd suggest that the esteemed Dr. Goerge is inviting you to become more epistemically self conscious on the issue. I'd also suggest that there is ample proof that Obama simply fudged as his comments in full are available on the internet. Check out http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2008/01/top-10-reasons.html

I'd also suggest that a bit of common sense should move pro-lifers to realize that given his voting record, his comments are most likely a dodge since Obama has taken no significant action to either reach over to the pro-life side or taken any significant action to actually reduce the number of abortions. He's voted with his own pro-abortion party 97% of the time, which has recently removed the word "rare" concerning abortion from its platform. Asking PP to reduce the number ofabortions is akin to asking the slave trade to reduce the number of slaves. It's about the economy, isn't it? From Molasses, to Tobacco, to Rum, to slaves!

The other problem is I suspect that some pro-lifers view it as one issue among many, rather than a baseline of human rights. For my part, it doesn't matter if a candidate has a great economic policy (which Obama doesn't anyway) if his moral judgment is so lacking that he can't get obvious cases of moral evil right (que Moral Particularism).

For what its worth from the "separated brethren" side of the ecumenical divide: the US Bishops should come out fast and hard with a preemptive strike, e.g., "if you Dems down this road, you get the label 'party of death.'"--and that's just for starters.

Keith,

the US Bishops should come out fast and hard with a preemptive strike, e.g., "if you Dems down this road, you get the label 'party of death.'"--and that's just for starters.

I don't know if you were being sincere or merely sarcastic =^) but, in any case, something like that (i.e., Dems being labelled as the "Party of Death") would perhaps simply embolden them and bolster more support for them, using the label as some sort of Leftist 'Seal of Approval', as it were.

"if you Dems down this road, you get the label 'party of death."

Without concrete acts attached to such an odium, we are left with an easily dismissed perjorative. See the note below. If a legislator voting for abortion isn't materially cooperating with evil, then we've consigned the traditional undersatanding of moral actor to the ashbin and its time to let the last flickering lights of civilization go dark.

I've given up on any short-term transformation of the American culture through political means. The real battle is fought within the Church and if Joe Biden and a host of other accomodationists are receiving the Eucharist a year from now the Church in America is little more than a cultural trapping drapsed across a corpse. For the record, I am hopeful Biden et al, will be either attending services at Sinead O'Connors temple or mending their ways and repenting.

US bishops to ponder excommunication of pro-abortion legislators
October 14, 2008
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, revealed in an interview with John Allen on Monday that the US bishops will discuss in November whether voting for pro-abortion legislation entails automatic excommunication. ‘I think there are several issues’ to be discussed, Bishop Kicanas said. ‘One is, what is the level of cooperation involved in a legislator voting for legislation that encourages, or allows, intrinsically evil acts? Is that formal cooperation, or isn’t it? That’s a critical question, because if it is formal cooperation, then serious consequences flow from it.’ When Allen asked, ‘You mean automatic excommunication?’ Bishop Kicanas answered, ‘Right. That’s one question that has not been answered.’ Bishop Kicanas made clear there was no consensus in the conference about that issue or about the related issue of withholding Holy Communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

Kevin,

Did you refer to the most recent Weigel article I had quoted above in my comments to thebyronicman?

There is an even far worse reality that will occur than that which currently exists.

Kindly note:

The bishops already find themselves defending the Catholic integrity of Catholic hospitals under pressures from state governments; those pressures, as well as pressures on doctors and other Catholic health-care professionals, will increase in an Obama administration, especially if FOCA succeeds in knocking down state conscience-clause protections for Catholic health-care providers and institutions. And should an Obama administration reintroduce large-scale federal funding of abortion, the bishops will have to confront a grave moral question they have managed to avoid for decades, thanks to the Hyde amendment: does the payment of federal taxes that go to support abortion constitute a form of moral complicity in an "intrinsic evil"? And if so, what should the conscientious Catholic citizen do?

Ari, lets embrace the moral clarity that Obama's reign will bring.

Is the Church simply a social agency and reassuring extension of the pagan State, or is part of her supernatural mission the saving of souls? We will soon know how our Shepherds answer that question, and the measures we the faithful are willing to take. Lets face it, the days of cheap grace are coming to an end. Voting is not a worthy form of witness in times like these. It is in fact, a sedative for the troubled conscience and tool cynically employed by the "powers and principlaities of this world."

Kevin,

Voting is not a worthy form of witness in times like these.

Clearly, voting is not; however, they can in the aggregate act as a means of staving off a far worse disaster that would allow the armies for the Culture of Death even greater powers than those they already possess -- certainly, and most especially, the executive powers of the Government!

I think Keith Pavlischek is pro-life and is serious.

Lydia,

I don't doubt that; what I do doubt is if the Dems being labelled as the 'Party of Death' would actually have a negative consequences for the Dems. (apologies, in advance, should you be of the same party)

Should the bishops label them as such, as I had alluded to previously, the Dems could simply herald the pejorative label as some badge of honor, providing them with even greater ammunition; giving greater reason (and, consequently, resulting in fiercer support) for the popular culture of the day consisting mostly of the New Left & young crowds largely of that persuasion to dedicate themselves to the party that only has their best interests in mind that they even take umbrage at the Church's persecution.

Is this the type of administration you would like to see in the future?

Now Ari, why you got to go baiting me like that? I've been getting weaker on the abstention thing as the day approaches. McCain doesn't have to do much to get my vote at this point. Maybe just a casual mention of his opponent's heinous life stances in the upcoming debate. Think there's a chance of that?

Interesting that the MSM has been picking up on the Ayers thing again, now that McCain/Palin have been stumping it. Funny how that works. Is there any major politician on the national stage right now, any at all, who has got the stones to bring Obama to account for his barbaric views on abortion? There is talk of a national abortion debate, but I don't see that it exists (one looked in vain at the RNC). In that case, FOCA wouldn't amount to a settling of any questions, as Obama likes to put it, but merely a legislative acknowledgment that the issue is already settled.

"Is there any major politician on the national stage right now, any at all, who has got the stones to bring Obama to account for his barbaric views on abortion?"

Yep, Ron Paul, Huckabee and even Romney. The first 2 would slap the guy senseless.

The issue is not "already settled". The field of battle is shifting, so the tactics will differ, but settled? Not anytime soon. Speaking of tactics, anyone in the NY metro area should know about thisi Saturday;


WALK FOR LIFE 8:30am
Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.
Holy Mass will be followed with prayer and a peaceful procession to a nearby abortion center. We will pray and peacefully give witness to our support for life. The walk is sponsored by Good Counsel and will benefit Expectant Mother Care, Good Counsel Homes, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, National Black Catholic Apostolate For Life, Project REACH, Sisters of Life, and Youth 2000
THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR
59 PARK AVENUE at 38th Street
contact Nivene at (212) 307-1254

Yeah, you're right on Huckabee and Paul. It seems I saw an article somewhere recently (may have been NRO but I didn't actually read it) called What If Huckabee Were the Nominee? What if?

Obama's actions and views on all of this are _so_ well-documented. We even have video of him standing up in Illinois and saying that he opposes the BAIPA because it would be a "burden" on the abortionist to try to care for the child if it didn't come out "just limp and dead." I mean, what more could anyone who calls himself "pro-life" possibly need? And whether the FOCA is a worsening of the present position from a pro-life perspective certainly doesn't turn on the minutiae of just how quickly, how surely, or how easily it would strike down conscience laws and force hospitals to allow abortions on-site. How about parental notification laws, informed consent laws, bans on partial-birth abortion, and so on and so forth? And since when is Roe v. Wade not "extreme" itself (since the pro-aborts say that the FOCA would "just" affirme Roe--as if Roe needs "affirming")? To a pro-lifer, that is.

One hardly knows where to start in "informing" someone who calls himself "pro-life" about Obama. The information is all out there, all easily available, and all damning.

Well, the implication of your statement Byronic is right too; the GOP can't produce many people of stature who possess the basic moral courage to state the prolife case. We have to transform the culture first and the politicians will follow. First the cult must animate wiht Life. For us that means a more prophetic and perhaps smaller Church for the time being.

Kevin,

How far are you willing to practice your Christian faith in an Obama administration where your tax dollars will be going towards the federal funding of abortion?

Will you be like the Christians in the early church who would refuse to burn incense to Caesar?

Or will you be like the rest of us sorry lot who will continue to pay taxes and fund those abortions by our tax dollars?

Yeah, right, all we need is to "pray" ourselves into a Pro-Life administration and care nothing about politics or government.

"Without concrete acts attached to such an odium, we are left with an easily dismissed perjorative. See the note below. If a legislator voting for abortion isn't materially cooperating with evil, then we've consigned the traditional undersatanding of moral actor to the ashbin and its time to let the last flickering lights of civilization go dark."

Yeah. Maybe. But before we turn out the lights I'd like to see the Church weigh in. This shouldn't be that hard. The Bishops should simply say, "If you vote to fund abortion, then you will be excommunicated." I'm sure they can put more meat on those bones (e.g., if you deny parental consent then...) but that is a good place to start.

I must say that I've never found the "change culture" first vs. the change the law through politics debate all that helpful. Here's an idea: do both at the same time. Or at least try.

Keith:

I must say that I've never found the "change culture" first vs. the change the law through politics debate all that helpful. Here's an idea: do both at the same time. Or at least try.

AMEN to that!

However, Kevin continues to support only one thing: to "pray" ourselves into a Pro-Life Culture.

Sorry, I happen to think, in keeping with the Gospel, that instead of praying that the hungry be fed, one actually feeds the hungry!

I believe likewise in this circumstance.

You can't simply pray yourself into a Pro-Life government; at the same time, you need to usher in the necessary political changes that are required to that end.

For us that means a more prophetic and perhaps smaller Church for the time being.

Kevin,

Yes, I think this is right. The holy father has been saying this for some time now, endorsing the thesis of Toynbee that influential minorities are the true forces of cultural transformation. Camus, IIRC, shows this in The Rebel, that there is no such thing as a mass revolution. American Catholics are hopelessly divided, loyal to a Democratic Party tradition that has betrayed them; bemused, befuddled, and secularized, the laity are no longer able, as a matter of general character, to function as Catholics. This situation is aggravated by a generation of bishops who have, frankly, for too long played into the hands of the New Left (your ++ Egan a shining example of the shifting culture in USCCB), thus giving you the Kennedy's, Kerry, Pelosi, Biden, et al. So suddenly hammering away at the folks in the pew isn't going to do a lot of good, and likely exacerbates the problem. Average Catholic-in-pew is so sensitive that he won't distinguish between a bishop's voting advice and James Dobson stumping for McCain on the radio. Our Catholic people need to be converted to Christ. Only then will they be disposed to receive teaching on how to conduct themselves properly as political beings. One can't give to the culture what one does not possess.

Ari,
Here's what Christians have done regarding abortion;
* founded and staffed crisis pregnancy homes and shelters
* staged non-violent protests leading to mass arrests - Operation Rescue
* Quietly protested out side of clinics in adherence to the boundaries established by FACE.
* Marched on the federal and state capitols and been "blacked out" by the media
* lobbied legislative chambers at the state and federal level
* voted religiously for a wide array of candidates varying in their level of commitment to the cause; from Henry Hyde to squishes like Bush I, Dole and Bush II.

People of good faith have been arguing about the efficacy of all these approaches since Brent Bozell first spilled blood on the records of an abortuary, and it will continue for the foreseeable future. I'm done with lining up behind whatever tepid, tongue-tied candidate the GOP throws up next and who'll sink under the weight of his party's moral contradictions. And before you bring up the Burkean approach, let me point out a big difference; Burke was repelling a revolution, we’re repealing one. Different contingencies all around.

Will it come to mass civil disobedience? I'm well aware of the penalty it brings. I was with O.R. in '92 at the Democrat Convention and don't recommend it unless one is next to a bishop and a helluva a lot more people. (No Randall Terrys or Elmer Gantrys, please)But, can't we agree that cleaning up our own sanctuaries comes first? Contact your local bishop and tell him the only way the episcopacy can recover the moral authority lost due to the abuse scandal is by ending the scandal of Catholic politicians mocking the Precious Body and Blood. I won't tackle you on Election Day if you promise to do that much.

Byronic,
Wow! You said it all right there; "One can't give to the culture what one does not possess."

Kevin,

While I admire the virtuous idealism in your approach, I believe it is the very same that has blinded you to the fact that if we do not hold the line somehow, you (and others who think likewise) are apt to surrendering the reins of executive power to the very forces we are fighting against.

I'm sure you know there is a difference between deposing Caesar and, on the other hand, actually making him emperor.

I believe it is the very same that has blinded you to the fact that if we do not hold the line somehow, you (and others who think likewise) are apt to surrendering the reins of executive power to the very forces we are fighting against.

I have been under the impression that this is the exact reason why Kevin won't vote McCain.

thebyronicman,

Ok, I concede: there is no difference between Obama and McCain. McCain will undoubtedly implement a FOCA-like agenda and devote our nation's resources toward the promotion of abortion much in the same manner as Obama.

McCain just gave a nice bit on his pro-life stance. I wish we'd have seen it sooner, and they quickly moved on to another topic. It's the first time, I believe, that the question has come up in any of the TV debates this season. McCain could have been stronger, on that point, but he did what he could.

I'm not going to get drawn into the abstention controversy again, but I'll just say that it's not a question of whether or not there is a difference between the candidates. If it were that simple, there would be no argument between us.

Otherwise, I thought it truly brilliant that both candidates managed to deny and affirm, in the same breath, their commitment to litmus-testing judicial nominees on Roe. You wonder how much of the country caught that one. That was perhaps the most entertaining moment of the whole debate season, next to "say it ain't so, Joe."

Keith P.,
Lets assume Roe v Wade gets overturned tomorrow. How do you think the pro-life cause will fare in a state by state battle
over banning abortion? Remember 16 states had liberalized their abortion laws prior to Roe v Wade.

Do you think we've prepared the soil sufficiently for the culture of life to flourish? I don't. I think millions of prolifers view this epic spiritual battle as one that requires little more than voting every 2-4 years. They've over invested in the wrong place and as all conservatives should know, neglected the real arena where hearts are won or lost; at the personal and local level.

As for the Church, lets start with the more prudent pastoral approach of withholding the Eucharist first. We are dealing with individual souls in various stages of rebellion, ranging from moral confusion to apostasy. A decree of mass excommunication is possibly in violation of Canon Law and a sweeping step that will lead to formal schism without the benefit of spiritually fortifying the laity for open, internal conflict.

Byronic, I think McCain should have simply said; "Senator Obama can talk all he wants about reducing abortions but he has promised the abortion industry to pass their FOCA bill which would force taxpayers to pay for abortions, remove parental notification laws and require doctors and nurses to violate their consciences perform abortions against their will. Is that the kind of country we want? One where no dissent is allowed and people are forced to commit acts they hold to be immoral?"

This issue above all others will be the one to define us as people. The professional political class loathes the unknown and that which they can't control. They are actively seeking to sideline an issue where the stakes are so high and the potential for deep social discord so strong. Better to talk about jobs and taxes than life or death, even if failing to do so ultimately kills you.

Kevin,

Well said and agreed on all points. The ground, both morally and politically, is not sufficiently prepared. Bill Clinton, I must say, spoke to this point well in that incident where he was interrupted at a speaking engagement some months back by some pro-life demonstrators. I think Prof. Beckwith posted the video of that event here. Anyway, Clinton gave the usual spiel about how his policies resulted in fewer abortions etc ad infinitum. But his real zinger--and this part was pretty much true--on the subject of overturning Roe and federally barring abortion: "you know you don't have an ounce of political support for it."

You're going to change the culture first, then change politics?

Show me. I honestly don't see it. I don't see any historical indicators whatever from recent decades that your plan will work. Heavens, it seems like you haven't even prepared the ground for moral change inside your own church's leadership, much less in the culture at large. Your view of the church's moral status in America is utterly disconnected from the culture's view. They aren't listening. They aren't even close to listening. They think you've forfeited the right to be heard. They might be right.

When it comes to, say, the Catholic bishops in America, the failure to change culture is both staggering and humiliating. Saying so is not anti-Catholic in the least. Indeed, my complaint rests upon the ground of Catholic morality itself, which the leadership of the Catholic church in America has not well defended. Because of monumental failures in some areas of ethical conduct on the part of those bishops, American culture pays virtually no attention whatever to them. The culture seems to think that the bishops have very little moral capital to expend on any front. The ground for moral change hasn't been prepared by the bishops. It's been poisoned. The Catholic bishops in America have been changed by the culture, and then banished to the margins of American life. The culture kicked your butts on that front, my friends, and now, by default, you're going to let them kick your butts on politics too by declining to vote.

It's hard to imagine a more unrealistic assessment of the current landscape than yours because, from the perspective of those whose views you wish to change, the church is irrelevant at best, and culpable, at worst, and that perspective probably won't change for years and years to come, if ever.

In other words, you will not prepare the cultural ground for change by means of Catholic moral suasion. You'll have to do it by power or not at all. Until you guys figure out how to get your hands on the levers of political power morally, and then how to use those levers effectively, you will fail. Declining to vote is not the first step in that process. When Catholics decline to vote, the enemies of beauty, truth, and goodness rejoice. But, that's your plan. You guys actually think that by giving the anti-Catholic forces in American culture exactly what they want most is the way to win. Machiavelli has you right where he wants you.

When, at last, you finally decide to engage the world that really is, let me know. I'll be glad to stand side-by-side with you. Indeed, I'd be proud to do so. But first, come out of the hall of mirrors.

KEVIN ASKS: "Lets assume Roe v Wade gets overturned tomorrow. How do you think the pro-life cause will fare in a state by state battle
over banning abortion? Remember 16 states had liberalized their abortion laws prior to Roe v Wade."

I suppose it will depend on the state. And it will be a long struggle. And we may lose. But we may win. But we sure as hell won't know unless we get a chance to test the question. But we can't do that now. We need to make the hypothetical question a real-life question.

MICHAEL SAYS: "When it comes to, say, the Catholic bishops in America, the failure to change culture is both staggering and humiliating. Saying so is not anti-Catholic in the least. Indeed, my complaint rests upon the ground of Catholic morality itself, which the leadership of the Catholic church in America has not well defended."

I wish I said that.

Prof. Bauman,

I thought that I had given sufficient indication that I believe there is simply a lack of conversion on the part of Catholic people, a situation which needs to be rectified before the laity can receive proper teaching (but the number of truly converted Catholics in any age will always be a minority--most Catholics will always be bad Catholics). And I certainly agree that the US bishops have, to put it mildly, sorely disappointed as a matter of general character over the last 40 years or so, in teaching properly in the moral sphere (and just about every other sphere), and in setting a good example (some line or other about the road to Hell and the skulls of dead bishops comes to mind). I am in full disagreement with the thesis that the moral authority of the bishops has been deeply compromised due to the scandals of which we are all painfully aware. This is a tragic situation, the post-V2 confusion.

But there is strong evidence, for those who are watching, that reform is in process. Witness, for instance, the recent bishops responses to Pelosi and Biden on the abortion issue. Witness the new crop of orthodox seminarians, zealous for orthodoxy and loyalty to the magisterium. The rise of strong and orthodox bishops on the American scene is an observable phenomenon, proved by the shrill complaints of leftish dissenters. These are hopeful signs. However, I'm sure you will agree that the whole of the problem cannot be laid at the door of the American Catholic Church. We should also consider that mainline Protestantism in America has almost wholly defected left over the past century, an almost total abdication to the prevailing culture. What you have now is a political alliance (generally a good thing all around) between conservative orthodox Catholics and Evangelicals--and even Evangelicals are not without defectors in their ranks these days. The failure is a failure of American Christianity. I think we just need to come to grips with that.

It does seem problematic to me, however, that in want of a solid front of leadership from our bishops and pastors, and in the light of the general abdication of the laity on the moral front, we think we can turn to politicians for a solution. The Church always risks her credibility when she becomes too closely allied with the secular power. This is a weakness of the Evangelical right-wing currently (provoking the liberal response of many evangelicals lately), and orthodox Catholics ought be aware of the pitfall. Politicians respond to the culture and to the demands of their constituency, since their principle interest is in being elected and re-elected. We get the political leadership that we deserve, as the saying goes. Insofar as this is true, a reform of Christian culture--a smaller, more vibrant and prophetic Church--brings the right sort of influences to bear on the political scene, and real cultural change (the kind you can actually believe in) becomes possible.

I'm no longer involving myself in the abstention question. In the end, I may indeed vote McCain. But I'll work through that dilemma on my own from here on out. For me, now, that's neither here nor there, however. My main interest is in the evangelization of Catholic people, in the conversion of Catholics to Catholicism, since I believe that until American Catholics are, as a matter of general character, actually converted to Catholicism, it won't be much use preaching them correct social doctrine.

Michael and Keith,
Interesting that your approach to this question is laced with a couple of Leftist assumptions; 1) politics trumps culture and 2) laws can be imposed and enforced by a central authority upon a resisting population.

Here’s a rule of thumb; politicians go where the votes are and right now the pro-abortion side holds the greater number, largely because we have failed to evangelize at the grass-roots level in order to overturn a cultural consensus. requires more than placing some McCain lawn signs around your neighborhood and then hoping for the following chain of events to unfold;
1) hope he wins
2) hope he appoints a prolife jurist to the bench
3) hope a liberal Senate approves the nomination
4) hope the new appointee doesn’t do a O’Connor, Kennedy, or Souter
5) hope there are 5 votes to overturn Roe v Wade
6) take it to the states where - oops we haven’t done much!

Please not your game plan doesn’t require much heavy-lifting and seems to smack of the same kind of non-engagement you criticize the Catholic hierarchy for.

You guys opt for a ride on a slow boat commandeered by a GOP all too happy to have you on board. Fine. But if the goal is saving lives, doing so one baby at a time by employing the tactics listed above, seems to make more sense.

As an aside, no need to lecture me on the virtue and vices of the Catholic hierarchy, as you criticism supports my original point; the battle will be won or lost there. The pro-life movement draws its greatest leaders (do I need to list them?) and strength from the R.C.
Church, but it must now draw a clear bold line between itself and the pagan practices of both the state and civil society.

Kevin, I see no reason why one can't vote against a pro-abortion extremist and "hope" for 1-5 on your list -- while working extremely hard in the cultural arena for the changes you describe. I also see nothing in Dr. Bauman's and others' comments that suggest they are relying solely on politics and do not believe in working within the culture. It needn't be an either/or position. I know many, many people who work tirelessly for the pro-life cause in both arenas.

Apologies for the host of spelliing errors and bad grammar above. Will bow-out for now as multi tasking is beyond my capabilities and Mammon calls.

Right on Byronic!

EDIT;
Interesting that your approach to this question is laced with a couple of Leftist assumptions; 1)politics trumps culture and 2) laws can be imposed and enforced by a central authority upon a resisting population.

Here’s a rule of thumb; politicians go where the votes are and right now the pro-abortion side holds the greater number, largely because we have failed to evangelize at the grass-roots level. Overturning a cultural consensus requires more than placing some McCain lawn signs around your neighborhood and then hoping for the following chain of events to unfold;
1) hope he wins
2) hope he appoints a prolife jurist to the bench
3) hope a liberal Senate approves the nomination
4) hope the new appointee doesn’t do a O’Connor, Kennedy, or Souter
5) hope there are 5 votes to overturn Roe v Wade
6) take it to the states where - oops we haven’t done much!

Please note your game plan doesn’t require much heavy-lifting and seems to smack of the same kind of non-engagement you criticize the Catholic hierarchy for.

You guys opt for a ride on a slow boat commandeered by a GOP all too happy to have you on board. Fine. But if the goal is saving lives, doing so one baby at a time by employing the tactics listed above, seems to make more sense.

As an aside, no need to lecture me on the virtue and vices of the Catholic hierarchy, as your criticism supports my original point; the battle will be won or lost there. The pro-life movement draws its greatest leaders (do I need to list them?) and strength from the R.C. Church, but the Church must now draw a clear, bold line between itself and the pagan practices of both the state and civil society. See Byronic's cooments.

Kevin,

I don't think the strategy is as anemic as you make it out to be. Supposing McCain wins, which isn't as far flung given the number of undecided voters at the moment. It is unlikely that a SC judge would step down in the first part of his term. By midstream, the senate could change. It has happaned before. Given McCain's recored on the whole, I don't doubt he would nominate a pro-life judge, albeit more moderate. That system has been working, slowly but surely. If it weren't, NARL wouldn't be screaming about the SC this election like a harpy from the nether world. As for Souter, and Co. that is a possibility no matter. Given a drop out from the likes of Ginsberg, two more moderate conservatives would make prospects for Roe dire indeed.

And if it went to the states, prior to Roe, 16 states had pro-choice laws. 36 pro-life staes or at least states where there would likely be significant restrictions on it and possibly taxes. That would be a huge win.

But there is something else missed ITSM, namely that an Obama presidency would motivate all of the fruities. Now, tax payers don't need to support it directly and they can protest if they don't like it at their local abortion clinic. This functions as a pressure release valve. If you take that away, as Obama will do with FOCA, you are going to create or rather motivate a whole lot of fruit loops into domestic terrorism or sabotage. The discussion will be over. I am certainly not advocating this type of behavior, but the fact remains that when you eliminate free expression and the ability to protest, you channel more motivation into violent behavior.

If it weren't, NARAL wouldn't be screaming about the SC this election like a harpy from the nether world.
Well, it may be just a matter of NARAL seeing Obama as a huge win, with McCain as, from their perspective, not nearly as attractive an option. They don't have to view McCain as a threat to the status quo (though they may position their polemic that way) in order to really, really want Obama to beat him.

Beth,
I understand we’re in the middle of the modern circus maximus know as The Campaign, but I see an overinvestment in the political process by most and not enough genuine witness in the commons. Can we agree to a little recalibration of energies?

Let’s try this; Obama is elected in a landslide. He has a filibuster-proof Senate of 60 Dems and full control of the House. What is the prolife response to such a plausible scenario? Wait for the 2010 elections?

Perry,
The passage of FOCA will remove any pretense that we live in a morally sane society. The Catholic Church will have to let hospitals close, shutdown many charitable agencies dependent on gov’t funds, close many schools and call her communicants to non-violent civil disobedience while she loses her tax exempt status. In other words, a Kulturkampf begins.

Imagine that during a pronounced economic downturn, states and municipalities were to lose the services of Catholic hospitals schools and agencies and instead absorb those costs. I’d bet the pressure to rescind much of FOCA would be quite intense and there would be some serious soul searching on the part of our nation.

Can we drink from this Cup? Let’s find out. Bring it on.

Well, Kevin, we apparently see different people doing different things. No one that I know who is very active in the pro-life movement would "wait till 2010" to do anything. They have not been waiting till this election year. They are not pouring all their energy only into politics this year, either. Perhaps we simply live in very different parts of the country.

I believe that it isn't yet too late to do quite a bit in the states, and I also think it is a mistake to believe that we have to "do more to change the culture" or "do more in the states" _before_ it would do any good to overturn Roe. On the contrary, Roe IMO is like a constant infection polluting the culture and making it ever-harder, the longer it is in place, to change the culture. The longer Roe remains in place the less likely it is that we will be able to do anything at the state level, because of sheer inertia and the bad teaching of having regarded murder as a "constitutional right."

However, I fear that my opinions or anyone else's on this are probably moot, because there is very little likelihood of Roe's being overturned as a result of anything John McCain does. If I turn out to be wrong on this, I still won't say I was wrong not to vote for him, but I will find a way to take someone who disagreed with my on my vote this year out for a victory dinner to celebrate the overturn of Roe and shake our heads over the unpredictability of history.

Other than the activities Byronic and I have listed, I've yet to read anything except VOTE from the other commenters. Such an over emphasis on electoral politics is itself a sign of an ailing and fatigued culture.

Kevin:

[P]oliticians go where the votes are

Congratulations, Kevin et al., thanks to all of you, the GOP will finally figure out from this election that it's more profitable to court the Pro-Choice Vote! Witness how a Pro-Choice constituency led to an incredible Obama Win! You will have successfully convinced the GOP to convert itself completely into a PRO-CHOICE party!!!! Well Done All!

Ari,
Try the decaf, o.k.? I enjoy and marvel at your ability to inhabit the extremes of polemical expression, but sometimes you fail to engage the point.

Converting others to your cause comes not through the anonymity of the ballot box, but by moral susaion at the personal level. Do that and you won't be sweating out moments like McCain's incoherent and defensive answer on appointing Judges. If he thought his view conformed to the zietgeist, he'd pound home the issue. It isn't, so he didn't. Simple as that.

It falls to us to create the climate and conditions for the Gospel of Life. Why so many are resistant to that idea is beyond me.

Kevin,

You missed the point of my comments -- in fact, details in your very own confirm the very point I was trying to make.

What you see there is early evidence (although, admittedly, there is even earlier evidence than this) of a nascent trending toward the Pro-Choice end of the spectrum for the GOP.

Ultimately, we will see in the next election a more accentuated attitude from the GOP:

Forget the Pro-Life constituency: Pro-Choice is the way to go!

When both parties end up espousing the Pro-Choice agenda, what will your catacomb approach to all this have accomplished?

With all your tax dollars having gone toward the federal funding of abortions (I doubt that you would actually refuse to pay taxes in spite of all the fervent expressions of Christian faith) and the millions more unborn children killed daily throughout the 8 years of an Obama administration; what will you do then?

Ari, how do prayer vigils, peaceful picketing and raising money for one's lcoal crisis pregnancy center qualify as quietism? The reverse is closer to the truth;
passive voting is a self-defeating form of escapism, which only leads to you're being taken for granted by a party that says: "where are you going to go?"

Here's a deal; if this election gets down to the point where a swing of several hundred votes will decide it, then I'm on board with a guy who frightens me with his reckless militarism, O.k.? In exchange I want you get involved at the local level on a non-electoral basis. We on?

Kevin,

As I've remarked before, I have but high admiration for your idealism & the integrity with which you uphold your Catholic principles & moral virtue (same as I do of thebyronicman).

Perhaps with Catholics as devoted as you & thebryonicman are to your Christian ideals, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Yet, it is beyond me how surrendering political power to our Pro-Choice nemesis could actually result in winning the war for the Pro-Life movement.

Personal efforts devoted to the Pro-Life cause such as those you've described certainly may help win the battles on the local level (and, indeed, are worthy of praise & merit); however, without making an impact on the governmental level, it becomes as effective as treating the symptoms of a disease rather than the cause -- and you know what happens to the patient when you don't treat the cause in time.

KEVIN SAYS:
"Michael and Keith,
Interesting that your approach to this question is laced with a couple of Leftist assumptions; 1) politics trumps culture and 2) laws can be imposed and enforced by a central authority upon a resisting population."

Good grief, Kevin. That's as far wide of the mark as I've seen anybody be regarding someone else's views. I won't speak here for Keith. He is quite capable of speaking clearly and compellingly on his own, as is quite evident. But I will speak for myself:

First, I did not say, nor do I believe, that politics trumps culture. I said that your plan first to change the culture and then to change politics is unrealistic and will not work. It will not work because the church in America does not have the moral capital needed for it to work. I did not say politics trumps culture or anything of the sort. If the church had not been so morally negligent, perhaps things would be different. But that is not the case. This is an issue of ecclesiastical failure, not of the comparative supremacy of politics over culture. By our moral failings, we have frittered away perhaps the better of the two options open to us. We are left now with just one. But given your view of politics and of voting, you'll fritter that one away too. In short, on the issue of prudent voting, Ari is spot on.

Second, laws can, and laws have, been imposed upon resisting populations. That is not a conclusion of leftism, Kevin; it is a conclusion of history, which we ignore at our peril. I remain firmly convinced that the careful study, and prudent application, of history is a deeply conservative enterprise. Unless you understand that in the real world such impositions can, in fact, happen to you, you will not be able to resist them. Falsely invoking the leftist label is not effective resistance.

Byronicman,

Even as myself a convinced Protestant, I think you are quite right to begin where you do: Making Catholics Catholic. The more that happens, the better the world will be.

Now, if we could just make Catholics Protestant (wink).

ChARIty, I'd ask you to testify on my behalf when I go before Eternity's Court, but the prosecution has a long list of hostile witnesses, and besides I just may strangle you after this thread!

What protocol do the editors suggest for address here by given name?

Untoward informality is not a good thing; but, on the other hand, I do not know how to call Dr. McGrew by her given name, a usage she pleasantly seems to encourage, and then to call Dr. Beckwith by his family name in the same conversation---and then to call Zippy by his whimsical pseudonym. It does not work. Over the Internet, we cannot tell who is old enough to be whose parent, we do not know who has a J.D. and whether to give him the honorific of "Dr." in the company of Ph.D.s, and so forth. But the quality of the analysis and writing here is very high and one does not want to encourage impertinence, either.

Fortunately Dr. George is not a contributor here; so, calling him "Dr. George" in this context is easy enough. However, an editorial suggestion on addressing convention at What's Wrong with the World would be well received.

Kevin,

Thanks, at the very least, for your patience in all our discourse.

Yet, we can agree on one thing -- those sentiments as eloquently expressed by thebyronicman:

But there is strong evidence, for those who are watching, that reform is in process. Witness, for instance, the recent bishops responses to Pelosi and Biden on the abortion issue. Witness the new crop of orthodox seminarians, zealous for orthodoxy and loyalty to the magisterium. The rise of strong and orthodox bishops on the American scene is an observable phenomenon, proved by the shrill complaints of leftish dissenters. These are hopeful signs. However, I'm sure you will agree that the whole of the problem cannot be laid at the door of the American Catholic Church.

We should also consider that mainline Protestantism in America has almost wholly defected left over the past century, an almost total abdication to the prevailing culture. What you have now is a political alliance (generally a good thing all around) between conservative orthodox Catholics and Evangelicals--and even Evangelicals are not without defectors in their ranks these days.

The failure is a failure of American Christianity. I think we just need to come to grips with that. (my emphasis)

It does seem problematic to me, however, that in want of a solid front of leadership from our bishops and pastors, and in the light of the general abdication of the laity on the moral front, we think we can turn to politicians for a solution. The Church always risks her credibility when she becomes too closely allied with the secular power. This is a weakness of the Evangelical right-wing currently (provoking the liberal response of many evangelicals lately), and orthodox Catholics ought be aware of the pitfall. Politicians respond to the culture and to the demands of their constituency, since their principle interest is in being elected and re-elected. We get the political leadership that we deserve, as the saying goes. Insofar as this is true, a reform of Christian culture--a smaller, more vibrant and prophetic Church--brings the right sort of influences to bear on the political scene, and real cultural change (the kind you can actually believe in) becomes possible.


"And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand." -- Mk 3:24

Michael,
I appreciate the centrality the Catholic Church plays in your narrative as it: 1) echoes Tocqueville's (a fallen Catholic himself) prediction; America would likely face a choice between polytheism and tyranny, or the Catholic faith, and 2) confirms my earlier point; "The real battle is fought within the Church". Byronic states the case much better. And, while you seem convinced the Church is hopelessly lost in modernity’s grip, I differ and will simply add; if that is true, then good luck maintaining any semblance of a civilization without her.

I know this from history; laws imposed on unwilling peoples generate ferocious backlashes. Roe v Wade is Exhibit A. Overturning it at this point in time would generate a counter-swing the other way, which I don't think we could withstand. Why? We failed to transform the culture, but instead spent too much time and energy on the political game. Often leading us to compromise our moral clarity by supporting politicians and poliices that mocked our goal of defending human life; renditions, torture, ill-concieved invasions and the like.

Ari,
We’re united. This is a fight over strategy, not essentials.

Kevin,
You are a gentleman and a man of faith, and on both counts I support you. Thank you for your good will.

It looks as if we disagree on whether or not laws can be imposed without what you call a "ferocious backlash." I think they can be, and have been, so imposed. In my view, Roe v. Wade was precisely such an imposition, and there has been no ferocious backlash in response to it, even though millions and millions of us dissent quite strongly from that decision. We have been stymied by it for 35 years, and seem nowhere near turning it around. That law was imposed, successfully.

It seems to me that, just as it was imposed by judicial power and not moral suasion, it might not be overturned in any other manner than that. It might have to go out by the same door it came in. Democratic presidents make that impossible. So, as does Ari, I think we'll have to keep putting Republicans in the White House until the courts change.

Michael,
Look at it this way; 35 years later we are fighting what the entire establishment thought would be a quickly forgotten ruling. If we have done nothing else we have forced millions who would prefer not to, to look in the mirror. We have stood and fought against the abolition of man and in doing so have kept the faith and saved lives. If one day I find myself in an ACORN run reeducation camp, I will rejoice in your good company and take courage in your witness. Ari will be in the next cell refusing to apostasize and take the pledge; "There is no God but Obama, and Ayers is his Prophet"

Victory will one day come, and we will place our own small, miniscule role before the scales of Justice. Be well.

Roe v Wade is Exhibit A. Overturning it at this point in time would generate a counter-swing the other way, which I don't think we could withstand.

There I don't agree. That makes it sound like we shouldn't want Roe to be overturned as soon as possible. I think just to the contrary and if it lay in my power would do it in a heartbeat. If it doesn't happen soon, it will get harder and harder to change hearts and minds. And let's please not forget that _all_ that overturning Roe does is to move us back into the legislative arena where we can begin to do something. It's our ignorant or blatantly dishonest opponents who like people to think overturning Roe actually protects unborn children. We know that there is nothing to "backlash" against if Roe is overturned.

HJH, I suggest you not worry too much about inconsistency in addressing people. I call you "HJH" here because you sign comments with your full name, including middle initial. I might call you "Howard" in some other comment, following the convention whereby people who give their first name in a discussion are signaling willingness to be called by it. I'm sure Frank Beckwith wouldn't mind being called "Frank." I've noticed that some people feel they are being treated snobbishly or insultingly if referred to as "Mr." or "Mrs." in blog threads, but whether that is intended will depend on context and shouldn't, of course, be assumed.

Speaking for myself, the only thing I insist on in blog discussions is that no one call me "Ms." :-)

For someone like Robert P. George, who is not "present" in this electronic discussion but only being quoted and discussed, referring to him as "Robert" might give the impression that you know him personally. So to avoid that confusion (unless you _do_ know him personally), you can use the academic convention of last name--"George argues" or the honorific "Dr. George."

That, however, is all just my opinion.

Even as myself a convinced Protestant, I think you are quite right to begin where you do: Making Catholics Catholic. The more that happens, the better the world will be.

Now, if we could just make Catholics Protestant (wink).

Prof. Bauman,

You are a man of good faith, wisdom, and much learning, and although I think you are a Donatist (wink back at you), I would much rather sit at your feet and learn many things than to argue the point.

"I think just to the contrary and if it lay in my power would do it in a heartbeat."

Power in this case comes with having more votes than the other side, and you don't have the votes. But a whole lot of half-hearted pols have gotten your vote.

"And let's please not forget that _all_ that overturning Roe does is to move us back into the legislative arena where we can begin to do something."

Begin??? What are you/we waiting for? A lot of ground has shifted in 35 years and I don't want to even guess how many states would legislate an outright ban at this point. I know it would not be as high as the 34 that existed in 1973.

The clinking of champagne glasses at the overthrow of Roe would be the shortest lived celebration since Al Gore was briefly declared the winner in 2000. Many of the comments the last couple of days confirm my worse fears; by and large, we are not ready for the Day After Roe goes.

And Lydia, to clarify my comment;
"I know this from history; laws imposed on unwilling peoples generate ferocious backlashes. Roe v Wade is Exhibit A."

I meant the 35 years of activism and agitation that have followed an unjust and elitist ruling.

What I am suggesting now is a reversal will work against us because we have not converted the culture in which it is abortion is embedded and flourishing.

Sorry for the confusion.

When I said "begin to do something" I meant, of course, legislatively. And I think that is very important. The fact that the abortionists cannot be stopped as they murder, legally _cannot_ be stopped, is an abomination. Laws are important, and there are states which would pass and successfully enforce laws. I believe we could at that point put through some protective legislation in the states. Perhaps not thirty more years from now, but for a while yet. Of course the entire purist vs. incrementalist debate would then flare back up again. Indeed, perhaps the weirdest way in which we are "not ready for the day after Roe" is that among ourselves, among pro-lifers, we would be likely to begin fighting the day after Roe about how much to try to do in state legislation.

There I don't agree. That makes it sound like we shouldn't want Roe to be overturned as soon as possible. I think just to the contrary and if it lay in my power would do it in a heartbeat. If it doesn't happen soon, it will get harder and harder to change hearts and minds.

I'm sure an Obama administration will make it quite easier for lots of folks to change their hearts and minds...about the gravity of abortion & it actually being moral evil (did you catch that in last nite's debate of how Obama nonchalantly shrugged it off???)!

The upcoming administration will make abortion seem as ordinary as the daily morning donut!

Lydia & Kevin -- Make sure you provide President Obama with your mailing address so that he knows where to send the "Thank-You" cards!

"When I said "begin to do something" I meant, of course, legislatively."

In the meantime, if we do all the non-legislative things available to us now, we will have saved lives, been true to our calling, and begun a dramatic cultural transformation. The subsequent adoption of laws would be the crowning glory to what we have already largely accomplished.

I can't disagree with that, Kevin, to the extent that it can be done. I probably have a stronger idea than you do that the very fact that something is not only legal but dubbed a "constitutional right" and literally _cannot_ be made illegal (unless the states precipitate a crisis by defying the Supreme Court, which they won't do) makes people believe it to be either right or at least not so bad. Certainly it can't be murder, they think, or it would not be thus protected and enshrined legally. I think there are as a sheerly sociological matter limits to how much we are going to change people's hearts so long as Roe remains in place. It has a power over people's minds. That's not rational of them, but that's the way it works, I think.

Lydia, I understand the dynamic; legal = acceptable, if not down right good, but we've been here before, haven't we? Slavery. The barbarism of the so called Golden Age when the family patriarch could murder his wife and kids. Abominations have enjoyed state sanction throughout history and yet our ancestors overturned the prevailing cultural mores of their day. We can too, but not without paying a price. All of us are about to face a serious gut-check. I pray we're up for it.

Kevin,

I am not so sure. And the reason why is that the vast majority of Catholics are ignorant of and in a number of cases outright reject core teachings of their church. Further, most of them have never seen church discipline exercised significantly in their life. They see church affiliation as a right and to be told that it isn't won't sit well. Add to this the number of Catholic bishops who are lefties themselves and couldn't give a hoot in hell about abortion. What is on paper is one thing and what is reality may be anoher. Fiscally, the last thing Rome needs is a major schism in the US.

Of course I am not Catholic, but Orthodox and we have similar problems unfortunately.

Lydia:

Rest assured: I shall not insult you with the dishonorific of "Ms. McGrew." I should sooner call you "McGrew."

Thank you for the advice. It makes sense. I will adopt it.

For what it's worth, unfortunately, since what I do for a living is quite unrelated to journalism, politics or philosophy, and since my nonblogging associates frankly would not appreciate my heavily anti-PC views, the name "Howard J. Harrison" is a mere pseudonym like "Zippy." To call me Howard therefore is quite right.

Perry,
What aren't you sure about, that history is made by the few, brave unheralded souls willing to bear its costs? Valley Forge had plenty of open parking spaces, and the road to Yorktown wasn't exactly backed-up in traffic. A bunch of disciples cowering in an upper room couldn't have appeared much of a threat to the empire off their day, yet we know how that turned out. Will all our Shepherds lead and most of their flocks follow? No, but has always, our call is to be faithful, not successful, and sooner or later, more prolifers will have to match their rhetoric with actions. When that day comes, and I think it quickly approaching, we will begin to transcend the oppressive confinement of modernity, shed its anti-human trappings, and replace the culture of death with something more worthy of men created in His image.

Kevin,

What aren't you sure about, that history is made by the few, brave unheralded souls willing to bear its costs?

Are you?

Seriously, are you aware of what your continued expressions of such Christian discipleship would require on your part as well as everybody elses?

Note that those disciples cowering in the upper room as well as those who would follow after them subsequently gave powerful witness to the Christian faith through persecution and even unto their own deaths in refusal to give into the corrupt, pagan state of their time and pay faithful witness instead to the Gospel of Christ.

This is how they changed history.

How far are you willing to do likewise?

I doubt that anybody in America as well as anybody here would be as willing to pay the same sort of powerful witness that the Apostles & martyrs gave in their time come the period we shall all find ourselves when Pro-Choice leadership are given complete reign over the American people.

I have yet to find Christian witness in America (whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox) who would go to such lengths as the great Apostles and martyrs of the early church!

Ari,
"those who would follow after them subsequently gave powerful witness to the Christian faith through persecution and even unto their own deaths!"

True, so nothing is required of us? Sacrificing some time to bear quiet witness may be a form of white martyrdom. If we're unprepared to do that now, we will only hasten the day when harsher trials and more stark choices await us. Everyone hears a different call, but how many are hearing; "just vote, my faithful servant, just vote"?
There is a lot of dormant power within the Church, time to awaken it, before we truly suffer from Leviathan's attentions.


Kevin,

I'm not saying your ideas are wrong -- on the contrary, they're genuinely Christian, very much reflective of our Christian Heritage.

However, what I do doubt is the extent of the sacrifices Christians here and elsewhere would be willing to go when that time comes.

American Christians enjoy "easy Christianity" ("Christianity Lite", if you will) and are more willing to *talk* Christian than they are to *do* Christian.

That's why I admired the general sentiments behind those remarks thebyronicman made previously.

That is why I continue to laud some of your very own remarks in that regard.

Yet, I doubt the virtue & sacrifice that goes along with the kind of discipleship you are calling for will actually find its fulfillment in any of the Christians in our country as well as those who participate here on the blog.

Christianity LITE -- if anything, that's The American Way!

Ari, your response, like several others can be summed up as follows; "the Church is a half-way house for eunuchs and I've pretty much resigned myself to moral impotence, too, since everyone else has". How much of this is self-fulfilling, I don't know, but let's hope it stops soon.

Kevin,

The question is simple: are you willing to provide financial backing to an organization that funds the explicit murders of unborn children? For that matter, how about the state that does so?

Speaking elegant Christian rhetoric as you have is a much easier endeavor than it is attending faithfully to the Christian practices of our brothers & sisters in the early church who suffered even death as opposed to yielding to the demands of a corrupt, pagan government of the day.

Post a comment


Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.