|THE FIRST CAMELLIA|
When all is said and done, this political emphasis of the pro-life movement has built and sustained many pro-life organizations; it has provided quite a few jobs; it has created claims on the loyalties and purses of pro-life Christians; it has become a significant industry. And it has accomplished almost nothing.
The time has come to admit the obvious and, in consequence, to speak the unspeakable. Is it not clear now that the social order as we know it in the West is utterly incapable of sustaining successful pro-life politics? The evidence is overwhelming. First, there is again the remarkable lack of success over the past forty years despite the staggering resources expended in the cause. Second, in the United States at least, this lack of success seems to conflict with polls that repeatedly show a majority of voters to prefer restrictions on abortion—which proves that such voters do not regard abortion as significant enough to influence their votes. Third, as indicated at the outset, the number of other serious social and political challenges which have so rapidly emerged in recent years are clear signs that our mainstream culture has problems far deeper than a disagreement about how to handle the question of legal abortion.
It is no longer satisfactory—in fact I would say it is disingenuous—to stress (for example, in response to the Obama juggernaut) that we simply need to go back to the trenches and mobilize more people and more resources in the same political effort next time around. Twenty-five years ago this seemed to make sense. Ten years ago people were reluctant to suggest that it did not. Today, anybody who thinks this is a reasonable response to the problems we face either has his head in the sand or possesses a vested interest in the economic viability of one or more of the many pro-life organizations which—almost certainly through no great fault of their own—simply cannot succeed...
Yes, we have a grave obligation to be pro-life in our thinking and to favor a culture of life in everything we do. But we have no grave obligation to make political change a high practical priority, not when a realistic assessment shows that the likelihood of positive political change ranges, at our current moment in history, somewhere between extraordinarily unlikely and impossible. Western culture cannot now sustain it...
This misreading of the signs has unfortunately caused us to waste enormous amounts of energy fighting not so much for Christ as for political outcomes which cannot be sustained without Christ...
I urge you to read the piece in full. It underscores many similar thoughts I've advanced here (e.g., "Why I Am For Life, not Pro-Life") and in my (loooong) essay, "Poor Baby."
Just one additional thought: That the pro-life movement has become a "significant industry" points up another hidden cost of abortion; namely, the potential for spiritual corruption when we make a career out of using the very weapons of "us vs. them" aggression, power-mongering, and war mentality that give rise to abortion in the first place.
In fact, the very notion of a "war on abortion" is emblematic to me of a near fatal misreading of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Truly, who among us can bear the scandal of the Cross? Really--results that are that meager? Weapons--charity, meekness, love--that seem to avail so little against the worldly powers and principalities? Our anonymous trudging to Mass, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to Adoration--these seemingly ridiculously "small" acts, this laughable devotion, are supposed to prevail against the gates of hell?
Mother Teresa tending the dying untouchables on the streets of Calcutta--where is the medical advance, the girrrrl power, the relevance, in that? St. Therese of Lisieux, behind the Carmelite grille, writing the Apostle's Creed in her own blood and wearing it against her heart--what contemporary pregnant single mother is that supposed to speak to?
Where is the glamour of triumph, the pumped fist, the crowing victory speech in the inner life of prayer that Christ assured Mary, Martha's sister, was "the better part?"
Are we to give our whole strength, our whole mind, our whole heart and still be denied even the quiet consolation that we have helped convert even a single heart; that our sacrifices have gone to ease the pain of even one other human being; that we have prevented even one abortion?
That is the Crucifixion. And our belief that our work and heart and charity and prayer do bear fruit is the Resurrection.
How, where, and when we cannot know. But we do know this: "No follower of mine shall wander in the dark; he shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
|THE SILVER LAKE RESERVOIR|