September 2015 Link RoundUp

Here’s some of my favorite online articles from this past month:

Dorothy Day on Abortion and Mercy
“The image of the seamless garment like the image of the Body of Christ, with Christ as the head, is a hierarchical image. Abortion, the willful termination of human life, is simply not the same moral act as capital punishment or even economic exploitation. Rather, such a vision requires the careful and precise distinction evident in Evangelii Gaudium, when Pope Francis explained why the protection of the unborn takes primacy of place in the Church’s teaching on human dignity.”

The Secret History of Father Maloney
“Lloyd explained to us that Father Moloney used his privilege as a white man and as a Catholic priest in a heavily Catholic area to break down barriers of injustice. He started a federal credit union to help blacks who couldn’t get loans from local banks. He started a bus service to take poor black workers to and from the Avondale Shipyards, 70 miles away, so they could get good industrial jobs, and not have to settle for low-paying farm jobs. And he worked to undermine the plantation system, which played on the ignorance of poor African Americans to cheat them.”

Glen Keane – Step into the Page

Why Can’t We Do Catholicism Well?
“I do my best to wrench my thoughts back to what matters most—to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—to the beauty in the church’s architecture, the priest’s vestments, the poetry of the liturgy, and these things are all very good. But there’s something to be said about the beautifully vested priest mumbling the prayers or the fact that the liturgical motions—themselves richly endowed with meaning—are performed haltingly, truncated.”

Fourteen Tips for New Catholic School Teachers
“4. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the students. So learn how to spell the word ‘concupiscence’. Concupiscence is a tendency to put yourself first. Only divine grace enables us to rise above it.”

A Divine School of Solidarity: The Hours
“The gift of the Liturgy of the Hours as a daily practice is that the Christian is schooled in the fullness of the spiritual life as we meditate morning after morning, night after night upon the Psalms. And these Psalms are given to us. We do not get to choose which ones we pray. We do not simply praise God with timbrel and harp but must also acknowledge our deep woundedness, the injustice of the world, and the sorrow that comes with hearing only silence in the midst of our prayer to God.”

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

For many years I was ambivalent about abortion in the United States. As a teenager, and even through college, I didn’t give it much thought becuase a) I’m a guy, and would never have to directly make that decision, and b) I never planned on getting a woman into the situation where I would need to help someone else make that decision.

I knew the Church’s teachings on the matter and accepted them halfheartedly — like the vow of perpetual celibacy, I knew it wasn’t going to impact my life.

Then, while I was in graduate school, I saw a statistic that jolted me out of my complacency: My generation is 25% smaller than it should be because of abortion.

That seemed incredible to me. In fact, I didn’t think is was accurate. Surely abortion wasn’t that prevalent! So I ran the numbers:

I was born in 1978 — one of 3,333,279 live births in this country that year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1978 also saw 1,157,776 abortions.

4,491,055 pregnancies. 1,157,776 abortions. 25.6%.

That shocked me. I thought about the kids I should have known in school, the kids I should have swam with on the swim team, the kids that should have lived down the street from me.

And I thanked God that my mom chose life.

I still don’t consider myself a “crusader” for the pro-life cause. But I do consider myself proudly pro-life. Not just becuase “the Church says so,” but because I came to realize what abortion has done to my generation.

Who’s Missing?

I had given up, after wrestling for a better part of the day, articulating my own thoughts about the juncture between today’s inauguration and Thursday’s March for Life. Then Matthew Warner summed it up better than I ever could:

In Barack Obama’s lifetime our nation has struggled in accepting African-Americans and treating them as equals.   Finally, we’ve had a breakthrough.   A black president.

Unfortunately, in that same struggle to the top for one class of people – in that same lifetime – we’ve trampled the rights of yet another entire class of people.   Indeed, many of us no longer believe these people are actually human.   Sound familiar?

Of course, I am speaking of the 50 millions abortions that have occurred in the US alone during the last lifetime.   50 million voiceless human beings that were denied and are still being denied their human rights.   That are treated as garbage.   That are not given a seat at the table or a spot on the bus.   That don’t get the chance to drink from any water fountain or attend any school.   They will never get the opportunity to march on Washington.   They are not even given the dignity of being treated as 3/5 of a person.

Abortion and the Art of Making Distinctions

One of my “dirty little secrets” is that, when I lived in St. Louis, I enjoyed listening to the Lutheran (LCMS) radio station in town — particularly the show Issues, Etc. (which has since moved to another station in town for reasons that have been well-chronicled elsewhere). While I didn’t always agree with the show I appreciated their clarity of thought and courage in addressing current events from a Christian perspective.

I also came to appreciate the Lutheran definition of theology as “the art of making distinctions.” This is an art that is, sadly, lacking in much of what passes for discourse today. This is especially true in conversations around pro-life issues. Others more eloquent than I have bemoaned the distillation of various policy positions into the tidy packages of “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” implying that Americans fall into one camp or the other without nuance.

Two recent surveys make some important distinctions that rarely filter through the pervasive “pro-life”/”pro-choice” dichotomy. The first, conducted last fall for the Knights of Columbus by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, shows that only 8% of Americans favor totally unrestricted access to abortion. In fact, while 50% of Americans label themselves as “pro-choice,” 84% of all Americans believe that abortion should be restricted (either within the first three months; in case of rape, incest or for the mother’s health; or never permitted).

A new USCCB poll came to similar conclusions, finding that “four out of five U.S. adults (82 percent) think abortion should either be illegal under all circumstances (11 percent) or would limit its legality.” It also found that 95% believe that abortions should only be performed by licensed physicians and 88% favor parental notification laws.

In a couple weeks I will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to take part in the activities surrounding the March for Life. This will be my first such pilgrimage and I am hoping to use the opportunity to a) engage and educate myself more closley with life issues, b) encourage the young people of my diocese to do the same and c) try to find out more about the gap between the political discourse surrounding abortion in this country and the actual held beliefs of Americans.

Please pray for me and all of us making this pilgrimage.