From Sacred Cows to Hobby Horses

It is not lost on me that I keep harping on this issue lately. Sorry. But, in my own defense, one with my views can feel put upon in these heady days of an election year. Good and humble reader, suffer me my hobby horse.

That said, on the hooves of the last post (“Kingdoms and Cows”), and perhaps against better judgment, I thought I’d post these excerpts I came across at both the New York Times and BeliefNet.

They both revolve statements by Douglas Kmiec: a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University, Roman Catholic, Republican, pro-life architect from the Reagan Administration and famously excommunicated for his official endorsement of Barack Obama (which apparently was corrected by Cardinal Roger Mahoney).

Insofar as this is in the context of a particular political endorsement, I should remind that I have no political axes to grind here. But I found two quotes interesting:

“There is a widespread misconception that overturning Roe is the only way to be pro-life. In fact, overturning Roe simply returns the matter to the states, which in their individual legislative determinations could then be entirely pro-abortion. I doubt that many of our non-legally-trained pro-life friends fully grasp the limited effect of overturning Roe.”

What is interesting here is how he is, as a self-avowed pro-lifer, defining the “reversal of Roe.” Because it has accepted the premises of political-moralism, it is necessarily the exact opposite of pro-choice rhetoric, what typical pro-life rhetoric means by this phrase is “the federal outlawing of abortion.” But, according to a trained legal professional, it actually means a return to states’ rights. That strikes fear into the hearts of both fetus-moralists and femme-moralists because it means that somewhere out there the powers that be could very well decide against their morality.

And,

“No, the intent of the ‘Born Alive’ Act was to use the law to recriminate against the women involved, to criminally intimidate the participating doctors (indeed, companion legislation would have greatly increased the potential civil liability of the doctor – a fact which partially
explains the opposition of the Illinois Medical Society), and apply without purpose medical equipment that most assuredly has better placement.”

He is giving credence to my own suspicion that a fair amount of what gets a pass from projects like the pro-life movement has as much to do with the punishment of particular sinners as it does with the ostensibly noble effort to simply “save babies.” (After all, who has anything against babies? The other part of the“twofer” is typically the anti-homosexual campaigns. That one usually accompanies the other is a sign that what whatever noble intent about saving babies and families attends what also subsumes is an ignoble sexual ethics that is about said punishment). But from a more Augustinian-Calvinist point of view, the human situation is simply a lot more complex than that. Though I resist the rather two-dimensional kinds of terms like “pro-life or pro-choice” and consequently the rhetoric of those who insist on one or the other, Kmiec represents the sort of honesty I can listen to, his comfort with one of the slogans notwithstanding.

While unlike Kmiec I am satisfied that the answer more or less stops at states’ rights, and while like Kmiec I am not so naïve as to also understand that will never happen, none of it is ultimately anything that keeps me up at night. Impious as it may sound, I reserve that for things that actually affect my own life and those over whom I am actually charged.

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4 Responses to From Sacred Cows to Hobby Horses

  1. mboss says:

    “He is giving credence to my own suspicion that a fair amount of what gets a pass from projects like the pro-life movement has as much to do with the punishment of particular sinners as it does with the ostensibly noble effort to simply “save babies.””

    Kind of reminds me of preachers who preach about the evils of homosexuality and those evil homosexuals, which leads them to the inexorable conclusion that we need the church to support laws that preserve the “traditional” definition of marriage, while the evils of hetrosexual adultery and sexual abuse and those evil hetrosexuals get a pass. Or, if we were to weigh things in the balance of iniquities, the homosexuals clearly outweight the heteros. It’s kind of what makes those secular comparisons between Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists a little too close for comfort.

  2. David Cronkhite says:

    Why judge the motives of the pro-life movement? It is not just about ‘saving babies’, it is about honoring the image of God in man. If the female anatomy is designed in the three tier temple model, (her nakedness corresponding to the outer court; her vagina corresponding to the holy place; and her womb corresponding to the holy of holies where the image of God is tabernacled) then this is not merely murder, this is defiling the image of God in the holy of holies. The pro-life movement has it’s faults but putting abortionists to shame is not one of them.

  3. Zrim says:

    Mboss,

    I hear you. At the same time, though, I am not so sure that the way to correct the hypocrisy is to broaden the field of who gets brutalized. The church is in the business of the gospel and balming all variety of sinners, even the ones that put me off (I won’t say who they are, but I will say they aren’t the usual suspects).

  4. Zrim says:

    David,

    Whoa. I never heard that analogy. Interesting. But, to be honest, it’s the sort of reasoning that will never make the case to those you really want to reach. It only gets the base excited. Are you advising the McCain/Palin campaign?

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