The Catholic Church IS differentMay 4, 2010
Politics and Polls: Fading Abortion Era Makes Way for the Millennial GenerationMay 4, 2010
“There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
So spoke Nancy Keenan, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), as she described her awe and fear at the sight of the swarming masses of the new generation of pro-life activists at the 2010 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, Newsweek featured an article titled, “Remember Roe!,” which told the story of the dying era of abortion activism and the new age of pro-life America, rising up with politics, polls, science, technology, youth and culture on its side.
The Newsweek article forecasted that, if things keep going as they are now, Roe v. Wade and abortion activism will soon be nothing but a memory. It seems that the pro-abortion movement can’t rely on anyone these days – not the Democrats, not popular opinion, and certainly not the new generation of millennials.
For example, even with a Democratic President and congressional majority, Democrats could not take control the abortion issue during the recent health-care debate. With a number of Democrats espousing a pro-life position, the association of the Democratic Party with the pro-choice movement has gone the way of the do-do.
In addition to its lack of congressional leadership, the abortion movement as a whole suffers from a lack of new leadership. The leaders of NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization of Women (NOW) will retire in the next decade with no one to replace them. Self-proclaimed as part of the “postmenopausal militia,” Nancy Keenan was revealed in the Newsweek article as having “grown fearful about the future of her movement.” In the face of ardent pro-life enthusiasm demonstrated by the younger generations, “she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation” for abortion activism.
You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of the growing pro-life trend among today’s youth. For example, the top-rated reality show, Kendra, followed the pregnancy and birth of the former Playboy superstar’s new baby. The show is currently centered around the star’s life as a new mother. Previously, movie stars and celebrities were rarely photographed when pregnant. Today, it seems that pregnancy and babies are the key to getting the celebrity spotlight and the attention of the reality TV-watching generation.
The disillusion of the youth with abortion activism can be explained very simply: both science and ethics support the pro-life argument.
The availability and use of ultrasound technology, along with recent scientific research on the ability of an unborn child to feel pain at 20 weeks gestation, has helped to reveal the humanity of the unborn child. Even with abortion rhetoric flying through the air, the truth about the humanity of the unborn speaks for itself when people are faced with cold, scientific facts and live ultrasound images of an unborn child with a heartbeat.
Kate Michelman, former NARAL President, stated that “technology has clearly helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being.”
The pro-choice movement has admitted that it can’t argue morality or ethics, either. Relying solely on the legal rhetoric of Roe v. Wade, they have historically and strategically avoided making moral arguments. The pro-life movement, on the other hand, has vigilantly kept the conversation on the morality of abortion alive through the years. It has fully-formed, well-thought ethical arguments to support its ideas, as well as experts who have spent a lifetime examining the ethical aspects of the life issue.
Branding the moral debate as “taboo” because of the possibility that doing so could bring faith and religion into the dialogue, the pro-choice movement has lost footing in the abortion battle. Their strategy of staying away from the moral debate did not help them in the long run, because they did not count on the new generation being so interested in the ethics and morality surrounding abortion. Keenan has publicly stated, “In our silence, we have ceded moral ground.”
NARAL’s own research poll found that the majority of young voters under 30 oppose abortion rights and consider the abortion issue as “very important” in their voting decisions. Significantly, the NARAL study found that young voters consider abortion to be immoral.
A Zogby International poll conducted from March 10-14, 2010 – more recent even than the polls cited in the Newsweek article – showed that Americans strongly favor all types of pro-life legislation that have been introduced in both state and federal legislatures, and believe that life begins at conception.
The Zogby poll included over 30,000 participants across 48 states, giving it a miniscule 0.6% margin of error and a very high level of accuracy.
The poll found:
• 59% agree that abortion ends a human life, only 29% disagree
• 50% agree that life begins at conception, only 19% agree that life begins at birth
• 71% disagreed that only pro-abortion justices should be confirmed, only 17% agreed
• 69% agree with laws that prohibiting federal funding of abortion, only 21% disagree
• 69% support parental notification for abortions on girls 16 or younger, 23% oppose
• 56% want 24-hour waiting periods for abortion, 37% oppose
• 64% favor laws that charge criminals with two crimes when both a pregnant woman and an unborn child are injured or killed, 23% disagree
• 69% support the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits use of federal funds for foreign abortions, 21% oppose
• 86% oppose sex-selection abortions, 10% support
• 56% oppose health insurance coverage for elective abortions, 12% support
* * *
In short, the Zogby poll confirms the pro-abortion movement’s greatest fears and supports the main conclusion of the Newsweek article: that the era of abortion activism will soon be bowing out to a generation of pro-life Americans who will then take the stage.
Be Sober and Vigilant!May 4, 2010
This past weekend I preached on what I believe to be a primary force which has infected our Church in the years following the Council of Vatican II. I referred to this as the “Cult of the Casual.”
So, what do I mean by this?
I believe the forces of evil are formidable, and are not to be taken lightly. St. Peter cautions us to … “Be sober and vigilant. For your adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion, traveling around and seeking those whom he might devour. Resist him by being strong in faith, being aware that the same passions afflict those who are your brothers in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). The lion is looking to strike the weakest in the herd … those who mistakenly take their predators for granted and are, therefore, left vulnerable for attack. In other words, they do not take things too seriously.
The word “sober” actually means “to be serious.” You see, I believe this is THE problem in our Church today … how many are truly taking their faith seriously today?
Our ancestors were used to taking their faith – their relationship with God – very seriously. Therefore, they were diligent in all aspects of the interior life. They were, in this deeply loving relationship with God, seeking to perfect themselves, as an offering unto God. They sought heroic virtue and had a profound commitment to follow the will of God, as it was revealed to them through sacred scripture and the teaching authority of Holy Mother, the Church.
This was an army of saints – the Church Militant – that let the contagious spirit of their “seriousness” lay hold of the hearts and minds of millions of people across this planet who were seeking the meaning of life, and they found it through the inspiration of the “dedicated” followers of Jesus Christ.
As individuals, they were evolving into the perfect man – our Omega – Jesus Christ, the Lord. As a human race, they were leaving aside a self-serving barbarism as they were building a civilization of love. All this, I believe, because they took our faith “seriously.”
This momentum of evolution made a 180 degree shift into devolution as our world culture, seemingly overnight (beginning in the 1960s), went from striving for excellence in character to lusting after every primal appetite possible, in the name of freedom.
The pervasive youth movement (baby boomers) of the time managed to normalize this personality disorder of narcissism. This childish condition, that is much like an infant crying out for her mother’s milk, needs to have every pleasure of the flesh satisfied, and it must be done at once (immediate gratification).
In order for this disorder to thrive, an atmosphere of carelessness must be fostered at all times. Thus, the “Cult of the Casual” is fostered and nurtured in our culture. Self-seeking gratification of the flesh is considered unacceptable in any environment proposing any degree of seriousness in the art of living. Therefore, to the childish narcissist, “dedication” is a form of unacceptable constraint.
The “Cult of the Casual” is all about living on the surface … living superficially. If their participants are ever made to live and think more deeply, to honestly face life’s questions, their whole narcissistic pleasure-fest will come to a screeching halt and, deep down, they know it.
After preaching on this topic last weekend, I also received an email from a friend which included a short video clip of the funeral of a strong Catholic man who was a Marine (1st video below). As I watched the “seriousness” by which these valiant Marines honored a fallen comrade, I asked myself how we ever allowed the Cult of the Casual to infest our Church, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Also, while I was contemplating the battle ready “seriousness” of our Marines, I started thinking back to an old sitcom from the 1960s: “F-Troop” (2nd video below). I thought to myself how true it is that we have, as the Church Militant today, allowed ourselves to go from being akin to the greatest fighting force in the world – the US Marines – to a bungling, unkempt and undisciplined F-Troop, vulnerable to any level of attack at all. And haven’t we, as this ineffective F-Troop, allowed disgrace, sacrilege and an entire culture of death thrive under our watch?
The time has come to get off our duffs and into the boot camp of developing our interior life, and turn from being an F-Troop and back to being the Marines we once were!
Finally, let the contrast of two approaches to the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass speak for themselves in the last two videos.
Was Our Church Militant Once Like the Marines?
Has the “Cult of the Casual” Turned Us Into F-Troop?
Forgive Us, O Lord, for our Profanity.
Be Not Afraid … This Is the Mass of Our Newly Ordained: The New Church Militant! Seriously!