My Credo – Abortion 2

Some months ago I published my credo on abortion. I presented my views on what I thought should be a balanced American approach to treating that controversial subject. I thought my idea included a respectful recognition of different points of view, but had as its central focus the reduction of the incidence of abortion. Since then, however, I have received substantial criticism from members of the evangelical community for my “anti-Christian” and “murderous” attitude.

In private email (no one had the courage to post in my blog forum) my critics’ rhetoric seemed to have little to do with an honest interest in reducing abortions; it was directed much more toward efforts to force Americans to yield to a particular political agenda. So, shifting to the purely political implications:

Though I am a lifelong MODERATE conservative I am offended by the hypocrisy of the Republican/Evangelical alliance and its hateful intolerant message on abortion. They try to claim the moral high ground but invariably actually travel the low road. Their leaders howl loudly about the preciousness of life and how abortion is such a moral sin against God and country. But at the same time they brag about their law and order credentials and take pride in their record of putting “vicious criminals” to death. While there is no agreement about when life begins, certainly no one can deny that a man led into the death chamber is alive when he enters.

When I challenge conservative evangelical extremists about this clear hypocrisy they typically offer one of two defenses: “Well I haven’t focused on the death penalty; my main concern is the poor innocent unborn babies”; or “those criminals were found guilty in a court of law and got their just punishment”. Both arguments ring hollow to me. Either life is precious or it isn’t! If their faith and political convictions are sincere why is it that they think God allows them to decide which life to protect and which to take. On the other hand, if their argument about the death penalty is valid, would they also be comfortable with and supportive of abortion as long as a jury of her peers agreed that a woman could have that procedure?

Regardless of my personal feelings on the subject it is clear that the public debate about abortion is not primarily driven by spiritual or moral concerns. It is a wedge issue Republicans/Evangelicals use in jockeying for political power. Democrats are generally an undisciplined party and not particularly idealogical; they are pro-choice because they depend on broad political coalitions and that is where most Americans are. Republicans on the other hand are much more idealogical, disciplined, and wedded to group-think. They are pro-life because they have forged a narrow coalition with white evangelical leaders, gun rights advocates, anti-immigrant activists, old paternalistic white men, and various other ultra-conservative groups.

Finally, I know nothing I can say will sway Republicans or Evangelicals; they are stuck in their own “righteous” political bubble. But the most despicable aspect of their “holier than thou” attitude is their hateful abuse of poor families. They work tirelessly to block abortion rights which mostly only affect poor women; but then they insist on cutting the very social services that help provide for the children that result from unplanned pregnancies. That seems both un-Godly and un-American to me!

I don’t plan any more comments on this subject barring some unanticipated major political development.

Book Reviews 51 to 57

I am beginning to feel signs that I may be coming out of the ever deepening funk I have been feeling over the past four years. I don’t suddenly see sunshine everywhere. And after the chaos of the 2020 election and its aftermath I still fear for the future of our democracy. Nevertheless, with our new President’s efforts to recover a measure of our national sanity I am beginning to see some hope that over time America’s democratic experiment may survive.

Meanwhile over the past few months, to protect my own sanity I have shifted much of my personal literary focus toward history, philosophy, and recreational reading; to the extent that I read it I lump religion into the philosophy category.  I also decided not to write long commentaries on what I read anymore; going forward I just plan to identify the books I read with a very brief sentence or two on the central theme of the work. And I won’t report on fiction or other recreational reading. With that, following are the books I have finished since November:

51)  The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare : how Churchill’s secret warriors set Europe ablaze and gave birth to modern black ops – Damien Lewis

This book is the true story of the World War II exploits of members of the British SOE and SAS as they fought a hit and run guerrilla war against the Nazis. The characters are all the real people with a central focus on Anders Lassen, a Dane with a personal score to settle with the Nazi’s for overrunning his country.

52)  The Last Train From Hiroshima – Charles Pellegrino

This book documents the experiences of people who were residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before, during, and after the atomic bombs were dropped on those two Japanese cities. It is well researched with scores of eye witness accounts.

53)  Churchill’s Shadow Raiders – Damien Lewis

This is the true story of a World War II behind the lines operation to capture Germany’s secret RADAR technology in an effort to find ways to defeat it.

54)  South To Freedom – Alice L. Baumgartner

This is the historical account of the slaves who chose to escape south to Mexico instead of going north to free states or to Canada. It is a little known or researched part of our history. This book describes why they chose that course and its associated results.

55)  The Bible With and Without Jesus:  How Jews and Christians read the same stories differently – Amy-Jill Levin and Marc Zvi Brettler

This is the study of how the meaning of the stories in the Jewish Talmud (Christians’ Old Testament) have evolved over the centuries from what the original writers probably meant. It especially focuses on how Christians and Jews interpret those scriptures differently today.

56)  Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho

This is an effort to help white people understand the black perspective and how to initiate respectful dialogue with black people to foster more understanding and mutual respect.

57)  The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Re-made the Constitution – Eric Foner

The author focuses on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment and how they fundamentally changed the relationship of citizens to their national government; he further discusses how in the following 4 or 5 decades the Supreme Court systematically dismantled the impact of those amendments.