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April 26, 2007

Comments

Peggy

It was the topic on the (STL) local Jamie Allman radio show (and on KMOX)--Allman was the most recent spokesperson for the diocese. Allman thought Burke should have gone and use the opportunity to speak up about stem cell research. I have gathered that the archdiocese did not know about Crow's planned presence until recently? We've been out of town, so only heard about it today. [Hey, isn't her 1 square proposal enough to keep one from sharing a venue with her!]

Julia

This story is the topic of the Today's Talk-News of the Day blog for the paper. You can try to get to it from the link at the main story. The blogmaster, to his credit, said comments were to be on who did the right thing in this matter - the Archbishop or the Foundation event planners - and was not to become a forum on abortion itself. As of 8:30 this morning there were already about 60 comments. I can't get into to it now at 9:07 - the interest in the issue may shut down the site for awhile.

There were about 3 or 4 positive comments on the Archbishop out of about 60. Only one comment referenced the problem of the "inconsistency" of the church opposing abortion and simultaneously OKing a very public advocate for abortion. And only one mentioned that it is the bishop's job to teach. Lots of folks, including Catholics, think he just likes publicity and his actions are political.

Lots of mentions of pedophile priests as you would expect. But I'm shocked at the numbers of self-identified Catholics who are parroting the "Jesus taught us to love one another" talking point and the "compassion" schtick and the "poor, sick children" bit. Also lots about the archbishop's lack of tolerance for people who disagree with him.

It appears that the term "scandal" is not understood at all by people today, even Catholics. And I'm not sure it was explained very well in the article or in the Archdiocese Q & A. It has that quality of disheartening shock at the behavior of an admired or authoritative person doing something wrong - resulting in the shocked person being more likely to do that wrong thing, too. It's actions by people that Jesus said would be better to have a millstone around their necks and thrown into the sea than to lead little ones into sin.

Today "scandal" is what you see in tabloids and always has to do with sex. The church's definition has been hijacked, not the other way around. You see this happen with legal terms that continue to mean the same thing in law, but have changed in general usage. Maybe we need a new term.

I used to work at that hospital and it does great things for children for nothing. People didn't read the article very well. It is the fund-raising FOUNDATION that is at issue - not the hospital iself or the wonderful doctors and nurses, etc. The Foundation has to be a separate entity to satisfy tax law, it is not controlled by the hospital and sets its own agenda and policies. Burke is not at war with the hospital.

Brigid

Agree or not, I am happy that Bishops are discovering that their own Web sites and now YouTube are powerful ways to communicate to their faithful. More, more!

Aimee Milburn

Here's the hospital e-mail address, if anyone wants to write to them:

cgch_internet@ssmhc.com

Morning's Minion

There is a correct and an incorrect way of doing this. Apb. Burke chose the incorrect way. The correct way (as App. Wuerl would say) is to emphasize the teaching office of the Church. The key is to persaude, and nobody who is inconsistent can persuade. I've said a million times that the Church's moral authority comes from the fact that it has a consistent ethic of life that transcends secular ideological divisions.

The wrong way to do it is to single out individuals for attack. Yes, Crow is wrong to support abortion and ESCR, but how is attacking personally her going to bolster the Church's case? It just creates sympathy for her.

And, on ther topic of consistency, if the Church were to shun all those who took positions that violated its moral principles, it would be very lonely indeed. But there never is consistency with the likes of Burke, is there? Would we see Burke call on Catholics to boycott talks by Phyllis Schlafly who has said things like "the atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God" and a "lifesaver bomb"? And what about current public figures who defend torture? The reason I keep raising these two issues (nuclear weapons and torture) is because they are as "non-negotiable" as abortion and ESCR, and not "mere trifles" as another commentator around here would say. Consistency, indeed. Or not?

Aimee Milburn

I couldn't find an e-mail address for the foundation itself, but their website with phone number is here: http://www.glennon.org/

Jay Anderson

"Allen Allred, chairman of the planning committee for the fundraiser and a board member of the Cardinal Glennon's Children's Foundation — the fundraising arm of the hospital — said Crow is not coming to make speeches.

"This event is about helping sick kids," he said. "I'm disappointed and saddened there are people in our community who are attempting to use this event to further a political agenda."

Yeah right, Archbishop Burke is just making a "political statement".

Oh, and somehow I knew Tony A / MM wouldn't approve, and (as usual) would find some way to turn the discussion to advocating his pet causes (which generally align with electing Democrats and promoting their agenda).

Becky

MM - I think it's important to remember that Ms. Crow supported the legislation in Missouri that legalized human cloning and the destruction of embryos. Her proximity to this most recent state-wide debate makes this particular case even more prone to scandal. For the Church to be a visible opponent of the legislation for months, and then to invite an extremely visible proponent of that same legislation does indeed cause a terrible scandal. It is preposterous that Catholic Charities would do this.

It is also important to remember, especially when the media paints him as such an outspoken, harsh and critical watchdog, that Burke is an extremely humble and holy man. He only speaks out when it is absolutely necessary, and after much discernment and private conversations. He has acted in this prudent way many times, and he has acted prudently in this case as well. I had the pleasure of meeting him once, and I don't think I've ever seen such humility and kindness radiate from someone. He is indeed a very quiet, shy man.

Ave Maria

"There is a correct and an incorrect way of doing this. Apb. Burke chose the incorrect way. The correct way (as App. Wuerl would say) is to emphasize the teaching office of the Church. The key is to persaude, and nobody who is inconsistent can persuade."

And how many pro-abortion politicians has archbishop Wuerl persuaded?

I applaud Archbishop Burke who is a ROMAN Catholic bishop and will not allow scandal to attach itself to him by a failure of his duty.
My bishop did attend a foundation supper with a pro-abortion advocate and the few who protested were told to not come to the parish again. At leasr Archbishop Burke does more than talk and wink at the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Julia

I finally got back in to the discussion site and there are suddenly some positive statements about Burke's action. One even emphasizes "inconsistency".

I was suspicious and sure enough the Open Book folks have been encouraged to add their thoughts. Great !!!!!!!

Props to our blogmistress!!

Dave Hartline

Poor Morning's Minion, he sees clear doctrine enforced right before his eyes and all he can say is that it is incorrect. In my book, The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism, I note that because of leaders like Archbishop Burke, Catholics are beginning to understand their faith. As a matter of fact, I quote Episcopal leaders like Canon Kendall Harmon who relish the clear teaching and doctrine coming out of the Church since the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Indeed, that is why many of the orthodox minded in the Anglican communion are coming our way. If the Church as a whole would have followed the advice of Morning's Minion, we would be in the same sinking boat as the Anglican Church. Thank God the tide is turning!

Catholic Mom

I am beginning to think there is something in the water in St. Louis. First St. Louis University and now this. If you want to raise money to help children without a concern for ideology, stop identifying yourself as a Catholic charity. Catholicism is not something we turn on and off. It should pervade every fiber of our being. An organization that claims to be Catholic must adhere to Catholic principles in every aspect. It is a scandal to distance oneself from Catholicism for financial gain. We should not allow the ends to justify evil means. Three Cheers for Archbishop Burke.

austin

"The only reason for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Although I believe MM probably took Schaffley's comments out of context and she could raise the point that her thoughts come in the context of a just war argument, let's assume she's wrong. The fact that few bishops have called her on the carpet about that does not mean that all bishops should buckle under to being entertained by those who publically call for the murder of innocents. Was it right that some bishops went along with Hitler's concentration camps? Should they have invited his entertainers to charity events? After all, to make a stand against Hitler was very divisive.

Tim Ferguson

MM - how is stating that Ms. Crow's views are inconsistent with the teachings of the Church "attacking personally her" ?

Mary, the doctor

Kudos to the Archbishop. I'm sure he knew publical criticism would come from his correct actions.
Admire his courage and pray for more of the same from all our bishops.

Morning's Minion

Dave Hartline,

How in the name of God can you accuse me of promoting Anglicanism, when I defended the Church's teaching role? (interesting: yesterday I was accused of bigotry against evangelicals, today I love Anglicans... can't win!). If your book says that the virtue of Catholicism lies in its consistent moral teaching, then I'm with you. But they key is consistent. But if I see somebody railing against abortion and ECSR and saying nothing about war, torture, poverty etc, then I get suspicious. For the record (and I'm talking to you, Jay!!), I also have problems with Catholics who "shill for Democrats" by only focusing on issues like poverty and immigration, and not abortion. Again, there needs to be consistency. Catholics must always stand ready to criticize even the people we choose to vote for, should the deviate from Catholic teaching.

The Church needs to persaude people who today are not persuaded. It benefits nobody to preach to the choir. You guys might enjoy seeing Burke give somebody a good whack with the crozier, but how does it further the Church's teaching? The point is to spread the gospel, not to make you feel good. If you want to see where this method ends up, go to Ireland. There you see a Church that made little effort to persuade, but did much thumping with croziers. And today, it has completely lost credibility. We need to reach out to secular humanists, because I believe they would be amenable to the Church's teaching on the dignity of life, derived from human reason itself, if only they understand it (trust me, they don't). We must challenge them intellectually: OK, you believe in human dignity, oppose war and the death penalty, and want to protect the environment-- but why do you not extend protections to the unborn? You oppose consumerism and materialiasm, but why do you treat the human body as merely a pleasure device? This is the debate we must have. And we cannot have it unless we are consistent.

Maureen

How is the Archbishop attacking Sheryl Crow? He's just saying that, given her views on abortion, it's not a good plan for a Catholic foundation named after a Catholic cardinal to have her performing. And that he can't be part of that plan.

It's exactly like having Michael Jackson raise money for a children's health foundation, or the Ku Klux Klan doing a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund -- inappropriate.

Cardinal John J. Glennon apparently did a lot of social justice stuff in his archdiocese, and worldcat.org reveals the existence of a good many books about him as well as at least one thesis. I'm sure there are bloggers out there willing to research exactly what RPM he's producing in his tomb under the basilica.

caine

MM,

Can you direct me to the resource where I can learn how many innocent people the US kills with nuclear weapons each year? I confess ignorance on that one.

It seems like you're living "back in '82" with Uncle Rico.

And putting abortion on an even plane with CIA torture as a moral concern? Even you would have to admit the distinction between murdering the innocent and violently torturing those that may have forfeited their innocence. One's bad, but the other is BAD.

Please forward predictable comments about not turning ethics into a "numbers game" to blahblahblah@thatsjustgoofy.com

Dave Hartline

Goodness Morning's Minion this may be worse than I thought. Have you ever listened to Archbishop Burke? He is a calm, sedate leader. What's this about me enjoying Archbishop Burke whack someone with the crozier? I suppose every basketball coach or movie producer must be a tyrant to you for simply wanting the rules followed. Human beings want clear and concise leadership. The warm, fuzzy 70s were a disaster for the Church. I am sure you are familiar with myriad of examples from scripture in which Jesus made His views very clear. He certainly didn't think that people needed persuaded by being all things to all people. In my book, The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism, I note how those prelates in Denver, Omaha and Lincoln have plenty of men in the seminary. For example Rochester, arguably the nation's most heterodox diocese, is double the size of the combined dioceses of Lincoln and Omaha and has six men in the seminary, while Omaha and Lincoln have over 60. Look at Los Angeles, one ordination last year in the largest archdiocese in the country. All this persuading is doing wonders isn't it Morning's Minion? I have no doubt that you are a sincere Catholic. Do me a favor and e-mail me and I will send you my book. Then tell me if you still feel the same way after reading it.

Nick

MM-

Your most recent post most certainly clarifies the point of your orginal post on this thread.

In the original post, you lost me right at:

"There is a correct and an incorrect way of doing this. Apb. Burke chose the incorrect way."

I can't read that without wincing. Maybe if you had dropped a "perhaps" in front of that sentence it might have gone down easier. For me at least, I get put off by such certainty displayed on issues such as pastoral counsel, in which there really can be varying degrees of right/wrong.

Sam Schmitt

MM,

I'm confused. You say "The wrong way to do it is to single out individuals for attack." But then you suggest that, in the name of the Church being consistent, it should single out individuals like Phylis Schlafly.

The reason for "singling out" Crowe, as the archbishop makes clear, is not her views on ESCR, but her *actions* supporting it. (I also fail to see how the archbishop pointing out that her actions are against Catholic teaching constitutes a "personal attack" - it's just a statement of fact.) So it actually would be inconsistent for the archbishop to tell people not to listen to Mrs. Schlafly on account of her views, while resigning from the hospital board on account of the hospital directly benefitting from someone who has actively promoted ESCR.

joe

"Reg Ragtop" is about regret, absolutely, but it also insidiously passes along a passive acceptance of abortion as an inevitabe if lamentable aspect of life. It sort of falls into that whole odd country semi-religious zone, where you want the hook-up but you also love Jesus. At least, If you ask me...

diane

Mr. Hartline, I am dying to read your book...I will order it toot sweet!

In the meantime, I have a question for you re your research findings....When you get a chance, could you e-mail me at diane_kamer@yahoo.com?

Thanks so much!

ContraMundum

MM--

You say you support the Church's right to teach. So long as it doesn't back up those teachings with any sort of actions, apparently. I, for one, think that actions are often more persuasive than words.

It's ludicrous to suggest Bp. Burke is attacking Crow. He's removing himself from the Hospital Board for its association with a prominent pro-abortion and pro-ESCR agitator. Nuthin' wrong with that at all.

Morning's Minion

Nick-- fair enough.

Sam-- I was making a point. No, I don't think the Church should single out Phyllis Schlafly, but it should teach very clearly that her opinions on nuclear weapons at least are beyond the pale. My point is that singling out people on an individual basis leads to a very empty room indeed. I think Cardinal Egan had the right idea when asked about Giuliani and Clinton recently-- he would not shy from pointing out where they are wrong, but would steer clear of select attacks on individuals. They tend to backfire.

Dave-- you can contact me at morningsminion@gmail.com. If you want to get into seminary numbers, you need to include McCarrick in both Newark and Washington-- he packed them!

Contra-- a personal decision to remove himself from the board is no big deal, as a matter of individual conscience. Sorry, I should have been clearer about that. But telling Catholics to reconsider simply attending a concert is another thing. Are we now to vet the views of all entertainers before we go to movies, theaters, and concerts? This is the kind of silliness that backfires.

Thanks! Did I miss somebody? :)

Mike Petrik

I applaud Archbishop Burke's actions.

Yet ... it is fair to question his judgment even though I happen to agree with it. Desire for consistency requires a more careful identification and application of operative principles than perhaps most of us are prepared to do. E.g., a small town Catholic pastor tries to raise money for a sick child. Is it intrinsically wrong for him to accept a donation from a local lady notorious for the red light in her window? I don't think so. I think that there is a prudential factor here and that reasonable people might come our differently. I happen to think he made the right call in this case, but I wouldn't have faulted him if he had handled it more as MM suggests.

Tim Ferguson

MM - you missed me -

how is pointing out that fact that Ms. Crow's stance on several issues is incongruous with the mission of a Catholic hospital "attacking personally her" as you say? I guess I just don't see how Burke is attacking Sheryl Crow.

It also appears that the Archbishop tried to take the route of persuasion and pastoral teaching, but when the hospital board refused to reconsider their decision to include Ms. Crow, then he went public. That seems to me to be the essence of prudence - or is the "pastoral approach" limited to only talking, even when that dialogue has proven ineffective?

ContraMundum

"But telling Catholics to reconsider simply attending a concert is another thing."

Even if the entertainer in question is a major advocate for abortion, huh? Sorry, that may be your opinion but it ain't mine. I definitely boycott wacky lefties in the media and entertainment, and companies that support abortion, etc., to the extent I can. If you boycotted everyone you wouldn't be able to eat, so of course you have to pick your battles. And of course it wouldn't be supporting abortion and ESCR directly to go to a Sheryl Crow concert, but I do what I can to support the good guys and deprive the bad guys of my bucks. Good on Bishop Burke.

Mark Benz

I don't live in St. Louis any more, but it is good to see the Archbishop standing up for Catholic teaching. I will always have a soft spot for Cardinal Glennon hospital, because they saved my life when I was 3 years old, way back in 1965.

I wish all of the church leaders would be this clear on Church teaching. I now live in Los Angeles, where the leaders aren't so committed to the truth.

And MM, I think the problem with Sheryl Crow is that she is an outspoken advocate on abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell Research. I'm sure other performers at the annual event are pro-abortion, but they don't preach about it. They aren't associated with a stance that is against Catholic teaching.

Eileen R

Morning's Minion:
But telling Catholics to reconsider simply attending a concert is another thing. Are we now to vet the views of all entertainers before we go to movies, theaters, and concerts? This is the kind of silliness that backfires.

I don't think that's the context. The context is the opportunity for scandal this particular concert is. It's not just any entertainment event. It's an entertainment event being put on by a Catholic foundation with a pro-abortion activist, in open defiance of the local bishop.

The Catholic who *does* go to it is giving scandal, in a way that going to a concert or a public non-Catholic fundraiser with entertainers with questionable views doesn't.

Eileen R

Also, comments on Newspaper stories are always mostly from people who are a bit logically challenged, at the best. Like this unintentionally hilarious one:

I am constantly amazed at how reactionary Archbishop Burke can be. He would have fit in great back in the Dark Ages, when theologians sat around in the comfort of the abbey and argued the “Big Questions” while the common man outside in the real world did what he had to do to stay alive.

Aimee Milburn

Channel 5 in St. Louis is running a poll to see if people agree or disagree with Abp. Burke. The vote is running 3-1 against him. Anyone want to vote? It's here:

http://www.ksdk.com/

c matt

MM

Your comment was simply wrong - there is not a right way and a wrong way to handle this. There are many right ways and many wrong ways. Abp. Burke handled it in one of many right ways.

The Church needs to persaude people who today are not persuaded.

Persuasion is a two way street - that is, the one persuading has to provide arguments that are persuasive, and the one to be persuaded has to be open to being persuaded. There is no legitimate argument anyone can make that the Church (backed up by embryonic science) has not made persuasive arguments. There is plenty of evidence that in a pleasure uber alles culture, some people are simply not open to persuasion on this issue.

In the end, actions speak louder than words.

c matt

After reading a few of those comments at the paper's website - the sheer ignorance of the average joe never ceases to amaze me.

Dave Hartline

Diane & Morning's Minion, thanks for the kind words Diane. I have sent you an e-mail and hope you enjoy my book, "The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism." Morning's Minion, I don't have the data in front of me concerning vocations & Cardinal McCarrick. However, my point was about the truly heterodox-led dioceses in the Church, LA, Rochester etc. The number of vocations for these dioceses are abysmal. Compare those abysmal numbers to recent ordinations and current seminary students in Denver, Omaha and Lincoln. The numbers are simply stunning.

tom

I think the whole thing is getting a bit silly. Burke has the right not to participate in something if he thinks it involves actions or people that violate his ethics and those of the church.

That said, I also question how he handled the situation. He seems to have the "I'm not getting my way, so I'm taking my ball and going home" attitude, as was mentioned in some other posts. If he doesn't like Crow, that's no reason for him to try and ruin things for everyone who doesn't agree by implying that Crow is evil and anyone who goes to the concert is supporting abortion rights and stem cell research. That's simply not true. He could make his point just as well by saying he won't attend the show because he doesn't agree with Crow's activism. Catholics can make up their own minds about Crow's politics and whether they think supporting the hospital is worthy of their time and money.

Burke's handling of the situation makes him come off as petty and overbearing: if his need for idealogical purity is more important to him than supporting the hospital's critical mission, then maybe it's better for him to resign from the board. Singling out Crow for personal criticism is more about his own pride than it is about the church's teachings.

The other problem is that Burke seems to think Catholics should have no dealings or friendships with anyone or anything that isn't in 100% in agreement with his view of orthodoxy. Does he expect Catholic charities or hospitals to turn away anyone who isn't a Catholic or who holds beliefs contrary to the church? I'm sure the Catholic hospital in question here doesn't quiz its patients about their support for abortion rights or stem cell research as they're being wheeled into the emergency room. Does that mean the hospital is cooperating with evil?

The Bible shows Christ didn't just hang around with those who were idealogically and religiously pure, or only those he agreed with on spiritual matters. Instead, he spent much of his time with prostitutes and sinners. When Jesus wasn't with them, he was with the Apostles, a group of people considered by the authorities and society of the day to be a bunch of heretical low-lifes for their devotion to Christ. I think the archbishop needs to remember Jesus wasn't condemning people while sitting in some ivory tower somewhere. He got down in the mud of humanity, and he wasn't afaid to get dirty.


Donald R. McClarey

Bravo to Archbishop Burke! He is obviously a member of the Church militant and not the Church mushy! If drawing the line at entertainers who believe it is just fine for children to be sliced and diced in the womb is controversial, so be it.

Catholic Mom

Tom,
The issue with Sheryl Crow is not her personal state of grace or sin. We are all sinners. It is impossible to say we will only hire saints as entertainers. However, she has parlayed her celebrity status to promote abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Such public advocacy for causes contrary to Catholic doctrine is what makes her an unsuitable choice for a Catholic charity event.

JonathanR.

"I think the archbishop needs to remember Jesus wasn't condemning people while sitting in some ivory tower somewhere. He got down in the mud of humanity, and he wasn't afaid to get dirty."

I think the archbishop knows this quite well. He also knows that when Christ hung out with the scum of the earth, he did not encourage them in their mediocrity. He told 'em "Go and sin no more". Which, I think is what his move was trying to say.

carlos

MM said: But if I see somebody railing against abortion and ECSR and saying nothing about war, torture, poverty etc, then I get suspicious.

Why is that? Abortion and ESCR are non-negotiable issues inasmuch as they both destroy innocent human life. Other issues do not provide such bright-line rules of demarcation. For example, almost everyone opposes poverty, but I believe that the free market is the best way to alleviate poverty inasmuch as it provides for the free movement of goods, capital, and labor. Others may legitimately argue (at least on a theological basis) that a fascist economy (think Japan from the 50s to the 90s) wherein state and industry are intertwined provides greater alleviation of poverty.

PMcGrath

I applaud Abp. Burke's actions, but --

Couldn't he have sacked the Board, or whoever was responsible for bringing Miss Crow there, on the grounds that such an action, an advocate of babykilling to promote a children's hospital, is unworthy of a Catholic hospital?

NorthNone

Catholics here in St Louis are taking a beating in the media. Here are some links should you have the stomach to weigh in... PLEASE. Just add a com to the end of most of these to find the sites. stltoday, ksdk, kmox, kmov, myfoxstl, belleville.

J. Christian

NorthNone,

I tried to fight the good fight on that one yesterday, but unfortunately, as cmatt earlier said:

Persuasion is a two way street...There is no legitimate argument anyone can make that the Church (backed up by embryonic science) has not made persuasive arguments. There is plenty of evidence that in a pleasure uber alles culture, some people are simply not open to persuasion on this issue.

What is evident from those St. Louis comboxes is that an argument from embryonic science -- not religion -- is not enough. People just will not be persuaded than an embryo is a human being because it doesn't bear the face of suffering that the kids in the hospital do. Only faith and the identification of Christ's suffering on the cross can answer that one, and most of those commenters don't believe it. Without that, the very real suffering that we witness in those sick kids will derange us, and drive us to do desperate things... After all, it's just a small ball of cells with no awareness, no sense of pain, no "suffering." Such a little thing...

But calling this attitude the product of a "pleasure uber alles culture" is unfair, I think. This is why Catholics are taking a beating. When we minimize that kind of suffering, we get labeled with charges of callousness. It happens with all pro-life positions: if you're against abortion, you must be anti-woman; if you're against euthanasia, you must want the terminally ill to suffer; if you're against ESCR, you must want sick children to suffer... Of course, as Catholics we know that this isn't true at all, but to a non-believer, what can you say in the face of this suffering and hardship? The appeal to Jesus on the cross won't cut it with them. They demand a worldly answer, and we seem to have very little to say to that. We look callous and indifferent.

It's an unfair charge, but that's how it is. If someone has a better line of argument, I'd love to hear it. Because the secular world *may* one day accept from reason that the embryo is endowed with the right to life, but what the world apparently will never accept is that suffering is part of life. The arguments from reason fail in the face of emotion and sentiment there. And Christian faith? If only...

c matt

But calling this attitude the product of a "pleasure uber alles culture" is unfair, I think.

I don't know if by unfair you mean innaccurate, or if you mean those who exhibit the attitude are not completely culpable for such predicament. I would certainly disagree with you if you mean it is inaccurate. 90% of our culture's resources seem to be directed towards getting us to pursue one pleasure or another and avoid pain as much as possible (and seemingly at all costs). Thirty minutes of TV, a short drive down the nearest road (and the billboards lining it), or any other number of exposures to our culture should present an ironclad case.

How culpable are these people to seek to benefit the visibly suffering even at the expense of the lives of the not so visible after being soaked 24/7/365 in such a culture since the day they were born? I don't know. Sometimes I consider it a miracle that the country is anywhere near half pro-life given the toxicity of the culture and the extremely poor moral, ethical and philosophical formation most of us receive.

In that sense, "pleasure uber alles" culture seems fair to me - we are conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid suffering, both for ourselves and others, regardless the moral cost. In short, just as you point out, we are a culture that does not understand suffering. Coupled with a great affinity for consequentialism, it leads to devasting moral results.

Richard

J Christian,

I saw your stuff over at the Post boxes, and:

1) I admire your dedication - you posted at least as much as I did. Sadly, it seems, to similarly little effect.

2) I agree with your take.

It's a wide chasm that seperates us from the kind of thinking on display over there. We're not even speaking the same language. In the end, the unborn are just lumps of cells, because they can't see them, hear them, know them. Sick children, the elderly, pregnant women - these they can. It's a strange mix of emotivism and empiricism.

And, to some degree, a real measure of utilitarianism.

J. Christian

c matt,

I agree with your comments, but there's a big difference between pleasure-seeking and suffering-avoiding. The former could be characterized as hedonists, the latter could be a decent parent agonizing over the suffering of a very ill child. One wouldn't walk into the cancer ward of a children's hospital and blithely announce, "Well, the problem you have is that you've been raised in a culture saturated with the message of pleasure above all else. Get over it and pick up your cross already!" At least, no human being I know would do that!

Therein lies the disconnect. You need to know the God that enters history to interpret that kind of pain. I can't think of any other way to make sense of that kind of terrible, deep suffering. The secular sensibility might one day come around to a rational argument for the humanity of the unborn, but it almost certainly will not find an argument that does not rely on faith to make sense of suffering in the world. Unfortunately, it seems that to persuade others on the life issues, you need to make both arguments, and you need to make them without resorting to faith.

J. Christian

Thanks, Richard. It was a little misadventure on a sick day for me!

Yes, it's all those things that widen the chasm - utilitarianism, consequentialism, or even the dreaded moral relativism. Whatever form it takes, it's a very different and dangerous philosophy.

Naively I think that an appeal to reason will work on this one. (It does for me, anyway.) I guess I'm missing something. Oh, yeah - faith! Can't separate those two, can we?

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