Saturday, February 12, 2011

A house divided

Are we ramping up towards another civil war?

In the last three weeks, the pro-life movement has been handed gifts, first in the revelation of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his little shop of horrors, then in the most recent undercover videos released by LiveAction, which in turn has prompted several state governments to begin inquiries into Planned Barrenhood’s activities. We’ve also learned that Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) plans to call HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius to testify before the House on taxpayer funding of Planned Barrenhood in light of the videos … not to mention a $1.3 billion dollar discrepancy between public funds received and spent.

All this has taken place as HR 358, the Protect Life Act, makes its move to a full committee vote. PLA is part of a package of House bills aimed at the abortion industry and the pro-aborts’ efforts to frog-march the rest of America into participation. Naturally, the pro-aborts are feeling the pressure and are promising to fight back … in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s words, “make this issue too hot to handle”.

But Pelosi has said other things that should give us pause for consideration:

While some would expect abortion opponents to support family planning programs that reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, Pelosi argued that conservative Republicans are “in a different philosophical place on…all engagements that result in a child. So that’s why homosexuality, that’s why birth control, all these things that are not consistent with their beliefs that are all about procreation.”[1]

Pelosi added that the unreconcilable [sic] philosophical differences between Republicans and Dems on abortion left Dems no choice but to adopt a scorched-earth approach to the war ahead. “We don’t have a set of shared values,” she said. “We have to fight this out in the public domain, so when we move to the Senate it has no popular support.” [2]

Pelosi, who is apostrophized in the Catholic blogosphere as a CINO (“Catholic In Name Only”), has summed up the difficulty with admirable precision. As Tom Peters put it, “[Pelosi] makes the fight we are in absolutely unambiguous.” At the heart of the abortion controversy are two separate and irreconcilable philosophies of sex and its role in human life, a difference that also shows up in our beliefs about contraception, homosexuality and marriage.

Let’s look at this in a different light by asking a question: Why is the anti-abortion part of the fight beginning to pick up steam while the anti-same-sex-marriage portion is simultaneously losing ground?

The person in the soft center—Joe Schmuckatelli—can be convinced that Johnny Unborn is a living human being who deserves the protection of the law. It doesn’t follow, however, that he’ll be convinced Johnny Unborn’s conception is anything but an accident, one that can be prevented by technology. It doesn’t follow that he understands chastity to be desirable or practical. It doesn’t follow that he’ll see a necessary, anthropological connection between reproduction and marriage. It doesn’t follow that he’ll begin to see same-sex attraction as a sexual dysfunction, or “gender reassignment” as a bogus surgical cash cow.

In sum, as long as Joe Schmuckatelli sees no connection between sex, reproduction and marriage, he won’t see any connection between abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage. Believe me, it took me many years to connect the dots, and I like to think I’m smarter than a bag of hammers.

Much of the successes of the culture of death have come because previous generations of philosophers and public servants succeeded in tying conscience to religious belief, so that “freedom of religion” and “freedom of conscience” are considered virtually interchangeable.

This has come at the cost of blurring the meaning of “freedom of religion”, so that Constitutional clauses meant to protect individuals against the imposition of a state church are now being selectively misused to argue against the moral content of laws. Because we can’t be required to share common religious beliefs, the argument runs, we can’t be required to share moral values. Period; paragraph; end of revelation.

This puts me in mind of Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 “House Divided” speech. “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

So far, the forces of so-called “progress” have succeeded in pushing the separate items of their agenda through a divide-and-conquer strategy, while undermining the soft center’s resistance through dominance in public and post-secondary education, as well as through saturation of the entertainment industry. They’ve had a generation’s head start; it was only Ven. John Paul II’s coining of the fortuitous term “culture of death” that has allowed various elements of the resistance to see themselves as fighting different aspects of the same war.

But as our opposition coalesces, the risks increase. For the last thirty-eight years, the culture war has been mostly a cold war. Pelosi’s rhetoric reminds me that, in the last ten years preceding the War Between the States, as opposition to slavery mounted Southern pro-slavery rhetoric increased to ever-shriller heights. They, too, thought the Supreme Court had settled the issue for all time. But where ballots no longer worked for them, they turned to bullets.

Either we, the opponents of the culture of death, “will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward” … until our worst nightmares of dystopia be realized.

Sometimes cold wars turn hot.

Delenda est Partu Meditato

[1] Igor Volsky, “Pelosi: GOP Offers The ‘Most Comprehensive And Radical Assault On Women’s Health In Our Lifetime’”,, 2/10/11


  1. Very thought provoking.

    I doubt we'll see it turn into a shooting war. It might be better if it did, compared to my own prediction.

    I'd say there are enough "CINO" pewsitters to give the Culture of Death plenty of cover. Look at the high number of self-identified Catholics who voted for the most proabort President we've head. These folks don't have to be active members of the Faith, they don't even have to make their Easter Duty ( a quaint, outdated practice in their eyes ). They only have to apply the label of "Catholic" to themselves, have a number of spineless, relativistic priests and bishops in their ranks and voila, those of us holding to Church teaching are now marginalized and viewed as Neanderthalic misogynists who should be held suspect of whatever evil can be made to stick to our name.

    We see some of this already as Pelosi, Biden, the Kennedys, Sibelius, etc. all loudly proclaim their love of the Church. They're allowed to receive the Eucharist in most churches they show up at and have no strong condemnations proclaimed against them by their bishops. In short they provide perfect cover for the Culture of Death and justify the disregard shown those who remain faithful.

    So we'll see an increasing marginalization of any prolife dissenters. The tide seems to be turning on the topic of abortion but there is so much more to the fight, so many areas we're losing ground.

    That would include the area of homosexual behavior. Much of the current thinking is typified as "what someone else does in their home isn't my business. True enough but when it's on open display in the public eye, when it's celebrated in movies such as "Brokeback Mountain", when it's encouraged in our schools, it's gone beyond the realm of private acts.

    It includes the area of euthanasia. It's hard to justify NOT allowing Granny to die after she's gotten full blown Alzheimers and now just sits in the corner, drooling. It's a tough sell to a family drained by the cost of keeping an unloved relative alive when that relative is comatose. I mention "unloved" relatives because let's face it, every extended family has a character thats difficult to live with. For a decent example, think of Lt.Col. Frank Slade in "Scent of a Woman". THAT is the sort of relative many folks would cheerfully assist in shuffling off his mortal coil!

    Then theres the topic of IVF. This too is a part of the Culture of Death in that it cheapens human life to the status of a commodity. How do we appear compassionate and sensitive to a childless couple while at the same time denying their "right" to have a baby?

    These are just a few areas where we'll find ourselves on the defense, pushed to the side or worse (I'm sure you're aware that the FBI has been sponsoring seminars where prolife groups are depicted as "potentially dangerous", it was on several reputable sites a few months back).

    So I doubt we'll get in a shooting war. But you and I may be sharing cells in a yet-to-be-constructed reeducation camp. Bring your shovel.

  2. I hope we at least get adjoining cells, so we can face martyrdom or foment insurrection together! :^)=)

    Funny, though, I've just been reading Chesterton's Heretics. He reminds us that the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are most useful when there's least reason for them. The more desperate things appear, then, the more we should hope.

    Now, you do make the point I skipped over, in that the CoD comprises euthanasia and IVF, largely because I was looking at how the iron triad of sex, childbirth and marriage lies at the core of certain issues. But in thinking it over, I realize that Freud gave the CoD another model in separating human urges into two orientations, eros and thanatos ... sex and death. That will take some more thought. And thanks for provoking it!

  3. This probably is all over my head. Is it wrong for me to question why Catholics (or Mormons for that matter) would want to legally force noncatholics like me to produce unwanted children? Did I misunderstand when I was thinking the objective was for the number of Catholics to grow? With the overpopulation of this planet continuing, you can't possibly want more of us heathens around.

  4. BetternBefore:

    Your questions deserve a longer response than I care to give in the Comment section. Be on the lookout for it in the near future. But as to the last statement: We're not Moslems; it's not a matter of "convert or die". Two or three popes wrote bulls during the Spanish conquest of the New World condemning forced conversions; the Inquisition was only concerned with Jewish conversos who were accused of continuing Jewish practices in secret. "Convert or die" was mainly a phenomenon of the religious wars of the Reformation, and a matter between Catholics and Protestants.

    Even if I were to grant the presupposition that the planet is overpopulated—a conclusion that's still contestable—better to have you heathens growing in number than allowing such a hideous atrocity as abortion to continue.


Anyone can leave a comment. Keep it clean; keep it polite! (As a rule, I automatically delete comments that use non-Roman alphabets,i.e. Greek, Chinese, Cyrillic, etc.) WARNING: If you include more than one link in your comment, it's likely the comment will end up in my spam folder!