Summer Plugs

June 26, 2009

PatHood

On a more trivial note, I suppose, I have to plug a few things. I haven’t posted on new albums and things in awhile, so I’ll take a few lines to spread the word on some notable releases.

First of all, if you’re a Drive By Truckers fan (and if you aren’t you should be), it’s a pretty good time to be one. Patterson Hood, co-founder and one of the lead singers/guitarists for DBT released his second solo album two weeks ago, “Murdering Oscar (and other love songs)” and CNN is already calling it the best record of the year so far. It’s a great album, backed by a full band on most tracks (unlike the at home solo recordings of Hood’s last non DBT outing). All are great sounding fully formed songs that are lyrical character studies of a wide range of humanity. Great music with good lyrics. Pick this one up the old-fashioned way (you know, at a record store), because the packaging is nice and the liner notes are very insightful. The record should hold you off until July’s CD/DVD combo release of DBT’s “Austin City Limits” live show and the upcoming fall release of a DBT B-sides, rarities and outtakes compilation

Also noteworthy recent music albums are the great power pop rock songs from French rockers Phoenix’ third album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.” Also, for seriously bouncy perfect pop music check out “Manners” by the band “Passion Pit,” a throwback to 80s synth pop that remains sounding fresh. And, Morrissey’s latest album “Years of Refusal” may very well be the best and most cohesive work he’s put out since leaving the Smiths almost two decades ago.

In other mediums, if you are even a casual comic or graphic novel fan and you aren’t reading writer Jason Aaron and artist R.M. Guera’s excellent “Scalped” series from Vertigo/DC, you are sorely missing out. It’s available in 4 collected volumes (Indian Country, Casino Boogie, Dead Mothers, Gravel in Your Guts) and new single issues come out every month. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, a completely new and wholly American noir tale. The only thing giving “Scalped” a run for it’s money on intensity, depth and originality is the relatively new “Unknown Soldier,” another Vertigo title by writer Joshua Dysart and artist Alberto Ponticelli. “Soldier” is a thoroughly researched and eerily visceral take on Uganda and Congo political, war and civilian issues complete with child soldiers, violent civil wars and the re-imagining of the old DC character, the soldier clothed in full bandages. It’s available monthly, the first collected trade is scheduled to come out on September 1st, so mark your calendar and earmark your ten bucks because it’s more than worth it.

Last of all, with movies like “Star Trek,” “Wolverine,” “Angels and Demons,” “The Hangover” and “Transformers 2” raking in dough hand over fist, (good as some of them may be) it’s evident that the months of big, dumb, summer movies are upon us as the critical darlings are held back for the fall and winter. These big flicks are usually fun popcorn fare (Wolverine and Hangover were, I can’t speak for the others I haven’t yet seen them), but if you’re an indie, old-school horror or ‘80s underground film fan don’t forget to show director Sam Raimi a little love for “Drag Me to Hell,” his messy grand return to B horror schlock. I’m catching it this weekend hopefully, we owe him a bit of support for the “Evil Dead” films (even if he did drop the ball on a few aspects of the Spider Man films when he went big budget).

That’s all for now.

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Salvation

June 26, 2009

Recruitment. Conversion. Uniform lifestyles, in-line opinions, conformed worldviews. Membership, belonging, being part of the in-group, tribe, community or church. Salvation?
In case you don’t know, I do not believe that last term belongs in a list of the terms that precede it. Meaning, “salvation” is not synonymous with belonging to a group or adopting an exact worldview.
I would argue that salvation is not a term for a momentary singular moment in which suddenly someone is adopted into a large spiritual family either. Salvation isn’t the reward for praying the right prayer or reciting the right doctrine or interpreting a religious scripture in the exact way as another has.

“Salvation” is a blanket term for something that is hard to describe succinctly. Salvation merely captures the essence as best as an English word (a human word for that matter) can. Yet it also means exactly what it infers. It’s a transformation, a lifted burden, a successful rescue. It’s when one finds what one has been missing, that moment or series of moments when the culmination of searching, pondering, questioning and struggling to make sense of life and the world all line up to give that person a sense of fulfillment, peace, guidance and direction.

It’s not about heaven, not really, at least not entirely. It’s certainly not about escaping a literal, physical place called “hell.” When I was a child I was scared to death of hell, so many church sermons and Sunday school classes convinced me that even as a young kid I was so rotten and misguided that I was hell bound, and that no matter how many times I prayed the right prayer, walked the aisle or got baptized, I never felt secure that I truly believed deeply and rightly enough to dodge the flames of hell. Then I got older, became more cynical, more doubting, a little more rebellious. I soon stripped all of those fears and spiritual insecurities from myself and for a time got over religion altogether. For many, that’s where it ends. A lot of people that are exposed early on to the “hellfire and brimstone” style of preaching turn away. They find such simplistic concepts of heaven, hell, salvation and damnation as out-of-touch and unrealistic and cringe over such stark black and white legalistic codes of morality. They don’t really know of any other version of Christianity, many probably assume the more liberal versions of it are just a softened and more PC version of what they grew up with, and these people are often pretty sure that since the supposed “pure” form of it that they were exposed to is hogwash, any “diluted” form of it is as well.

So as not to recap a lot of impertinent information for this article, I’ll briefly say that despite periods of doubt, cynicism, skepticism and anger at the establishment of modern American Christianity, I’ve always been interested in religion, theology and philosophy and that my searching eventually led me back to it, yet in a much different manner. I’ve written on this site many times about differences between moderate, liberal or traditional Christianity versus conservative, fundamentalist and legalistic Christianity. I’ve written of the multiple Christs that people create from their studies and worship. Yet as I grow deeper into my personal spiritual life, through study, reflection, education, worship and thought, I find a more solid, real perception of salvation, one in which I never fully grasped as a younger person. Salvation as I’ve said here and in other pieces, isn’t a “get out of hell free” card.

If you read my recent post, “The Church as it Could be: Social Justice Hub,” parts of this may sound like I’m beating that same topic to death, but I can’t help it, it seems so important to me. In the past two centuries Christians in America have been the primary “in group,” the group of folks who had such status that any negation of rights seems treasonous. Yet Christians started out as a subversive, alternative and persecuted group. After the Roman Empire, who had been the primary persecutor and opponent of Christ followers adopted Christianity as official national religion, the violence that Christianity so opposed suddenly began to be used to expand it. Now, of course in America it hasn’t been done that way. Yet in a land of civil liberties, religious freedom and encouraged tolerance most Christians haven’t experienced true persecution, intolerance and the like. So, fundamentalist preachers invent that sense of persecution. “The Government doesn’t support us.” Well, they shouldn’t. Separation of church and state is good for both church and state and historically supported by both. Not to mention that even when the government that is in power is a just, morally responsible one that most church members would be supportive of, the church still must exist wholly outside of government. Government and empire are polar opposites in that they are the established normalcy of civilization that the church is called to stand outside to urge toward just action and criticize for unjust action, always remain apart….remember, Rome was “the beast numbered with 666.” Empire is a form of antichrist….nothing more, nothing less.

The imagined persecution as perceived by the fundamentalists goes further. “The education system doesn’t respect us. We send our Christian children to college and they become liberal, anti-Christian.” This perception has created an irrational, eerie fear of education amongst religious fundamentalists. It’s gone so far that fundamentalists churches refuse to consider anyone who has received religious training, education and preparation from a seminary or state university as an applicant for a pastor at their church. Furthermore, in many areas of the country churches have formed “Kingdom Schools,” alternative “Christian” schools that they state exist to train their young to have the same beliefs, share the same doctrines and work in the same manner that they do. No longer do these schools attempt to prepare their children for state universities, universities that will “liberalize” and change them and send them away from their communities. Now they prepare them to step into their own community with the same opinions and values as their parents, right or wrong.
“The Media and pop culture deride us and persecute us.” Well, even though I am an ardent fan of quality pop culture, music, film, television, books or magazines I realize that pop culture and mass media are a reflection of society and it’s people. So, not even accounting for the poorly made garbage containing bad values or poor quality, even the best and most entertaining work still exists as a product of “normal” society. So although Christians may very well enjoy and love much of what comes to them through pop culture, they should always realize that it’s not supposed to express their values, beliefs and perceptions. It may echo them occasionally, sometimes it may capture the heart of it completely (and almost every time I’ve ever seen this happen in art, music or film it has come from established mainstream media and culture, not from so-called “Christian entertainment’ which usually exists to reinforce a small portion of Christianity and to exclude and separate Christians from the rest of the world rather than incorporate them with their fellow human). Christians in America, at least in fundamentalist camp, have forgotten that they aren’t meant to be the “in-group.” They shouldn’t depend on society, government, media or pop culture to prop them up, reinforce their opinions and applaud them.

The past few paragraphs probably seem like a detour since I’m discussing the concept of salvation, but I think it’s central to the issue. Christians that look for acknowledgement, respect and support from all of the above listed institutions are missing the point. Salvation is a release from desiring the support of those institutions. Salvation is a freeing of the mind, a renewing of the spirit. It’s a dying to the old ways of empire, society, wealth, and war and a rising to the ways of love, compassion, peace and nonviolent justice. In the early years, Christians faced real persecution. The kind that consisted of being beaten, beheaded and crucified, not made fun of in a Hollywood comedy film. The law of the land was stacked against their best interest, they were downtrodden, seen as threats to Roman security. Much different than a mere senate ruling that goes against a conservative pet issue (and then gets inflated and badly exaggerated from the pulpit).

A lot is made of England and western Europe being “post Christian” now. In England, only about 13 percent of the population attends any sort of Christian church on any type of basis. After decades of swelling, some have predicted that things would begin moving in that direction in the states as well. I can’t help but think that 13 percent, in England and in the states, is probably much closer to reality anyway. True Christianity is a minority, because it’s demanding, difficult and alternative. It’s a minority mindset, practice and lifestyle. Now, I don’t say this in the sense that some fundamentalists do. Many famous fundamentalists have stated that only a small percentage of their congregations are actually “saved.” I’m not stating that. I don’t consider only 13 percent “saved” in that sense. Of course, I don’t consider evangelicals, conservatives, fundamentalists or traditional Christians as “damned to hell,” but neither do I consider spiritually sound and loving Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews or Agnostics as damned to hell either, but that’s another issue altogether. No, I think 13 percent is more accurate because most of us who are raised in the Christian tradition make a public proclamation of faith at a very young age. I consider most of those early times I traipsed down the aisle more akin to the infant baptisms done in certain religious traditions. That infant baptism is a sign that parents will raise the child in that tradition. That young plod down the aisle and recited prayer was, at best an early sign that I would be raised in the tradition (at worse, and more close to the truth in my personal case, it was an overwhelming fear of the burning fires and gnashing demonic teeth of hell).

The point is, most people in America that walk down the aisle and proclaim the Christian faith really don’t understand the concept fully. It’s hard to understand that the normal machinations of society are built on war, greed, consumption, division, prejudice, violence, destruction and “peace through victory” and to feel a call to an alternative system of peace, love, compassion, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, unity, inclusion and “peace through nonviolent justice” at a young age; for many it’s hard to grasp that at any age. It’s hard to imagine that the majority of young converts feel the weight of societal pressures, personal failure, self-doubt and the incomplete feeling that one gets by being led to believe that happiness can only come from money, power, respect and adoration and thus find that deeper meaning, the sense of real fulfillment that results in realizing true
happiness comes from being at peace, working for justice, displaying love and compassion, and getting in touch with yourself through personal reflection and meditation. That all being said, I’m sure there are young converts that do just as I’m sure that there are many older people who never grasp the issues either.

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day. We talked about the concepts and forms of Christianity that differ from our personal feelings and beliefs. I mentioned that I am consistently trying to be at peace with other beliefs, respect others positions even when I disagree. Yet my friend and I both agreed that certain aspects of Christianity as it’s expressed, falsely in our opinions, just angers us. My friend said he thought of why that was. “I don’t get angry at Buddhist, Jewish or Hindu doctrines, forms or thoughts I disagree with. Why do I with Christian opinions I differ from. Then I realized its because I am a Christian.” He gets angry at perversions of the central core of Christianity that he sees in popular, conservative thought because it is being done in the name of Christ when he sees no Christ in it.

So although I can peacefully and silently disagree with or politely debate with Christians who hold different opinions and doctrines from my own on a whole host of issues, and I can most certainly work side by side with them doing the actual physical social and community work that needs being done, there are certain issues, thoughts and perceptions that lose Christ so badly that I simply can’t help but feel angry at what is being marketed to huge populations of people who want to do what’s right and our truly seeking God yet are being shoveled something else. It makes me angry that such misperceptions have spread so much that the world at large thinks these misperceptions are generally what Christianity is and so they scoff at it, conversely making many of the intelligent and respectable liberal thinkers to write it off as well and state their own misperceptions towards it.

So I’m ending with a few key statements that set me and those like me far apart from many who claim to be the new mainstream Christians.

My God is not a vengeful God of wrath. My God does not look forward to some great raining down of fire and blood upon humanity, nor does my God prepare to be the cause of the destruction of all creation.
My perception of Christ is that of a Lamb. Jesus defeated evil and injustice through suffering, love, forgiveness and peace. He did not do this through violence, military might, the sword or battle. I am not waiting on a violent return of a Christ clothed in battle gear who will punish the world and accomplish his rule in a manner inconsistent with his teaching and living.

My God doesn’t expect me to wage a holy war on non believers. I am called first and foremost to look for Christ in the heart of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the children, the incarcerated, the forgotten, the war torn, the displaced, the immigrants, the prejudiced against, the discouraged.
I do God’s work by serving and helping others, giving others a kind word, encouraging and supporting, teaching and learning, living and loving. Not by seeking to conform others to a universal thought, opinion or lifestyle.

The Kingdom of God isn’t a future tense far removed place set outside of this world and I do not seek to rescue people from this world and lead them to set by and wait for either their death and removal from the world or some downpour of violence and Armageddon so that this world can be destroyed and replaced by something better. No, if I’m able to at all I point others in the direction of the kingdom of God by showing them help, love and consideration so that they can enter it here and now as a way of living in peace, working for peace and spreading peace wherever they go.
God does not hate. Jesus is not a violent warrior. I am not a Christian soldier.

“Play it, Sam”

June 17, 2009

blanca1

So obviously “Play it Again, Sam” would’ve been a better title in regards to this articles point, but I’d hate to perpetuate the incorrect phrasing of “Casalanca”s most misquoted line, so if you’re one of those few people who still didn’t know, Bogie really said “Play it, Sam.” Okay.
I was thinking about movies, specifically about what draws many of us to watch the same films over and over again. I know of many people who simply won’t watch a film a second time. They see it, they know what’s going to happen and they see no reason to visit the same material again…there are millions of other movies out there to watch for the first time, after all. Others will watch almost any movie multiple times, some very often. Those of us that are at least medium level film buffs are between those two extremes. I own quite a few DVDs, many I watch every year or so, some I watch several times in any given year. If I go to the trouble to buy a film, my intention is usually to watch it at least once a year, to view it with commentary and the complete package otherwise a rental would cover all bases.

So what does a  second (or multiple) viewing of a film give us? Why do those of us that do this do so? I’ve read Roger Ebert and other film critics comment on this in their own columns before, I’m sure I’ve pilfered some of their reasons into my own in some form, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read their opinions so said pilfering is unintentional and done unknowingly.

For most films, the first viewing is all about story. You follow the plot, wonder what’s going to happen, determine if the ending gives you the full payoff for the time you’ve invested in watching it. For many, this is what a film is all about, so once that part is done the film has in effect been exhausted for that particular viewer.  Many people will revisit some of these films if the first time around was thoroughly entertaining. If an action, horror or comedy movie, a second or third viewing may yield the same excitement, thrill or laughs that the first did. But non-genre films on second viewings can give the film buff time to watch for things other than story. A second viewing allows the viewer to take note of the acting ability, the directorial perspective and technique, the subtext, the success of particular shots, the framing of a scene or the cinematography. With the arrival of DVDs there’s also the chance to view great films with commentary now. Of course, some commentary tracks are pointless but on some DVDs they can add a lot of  worthwhile knowledge to a fan, if given by the right director or cast.

Films I’m personally drawn to the most for multiple viewings become that way to me for a variety of reasons. “Casablanca” is like listening to a favorite album or looking at an amazing painting. Watching it becomes a matter of marveling at the acting of Bogart and Bergman, loving the contrast of black and white in remastered high quality digital video as perfect shots are restored to precision, listening to the music that is essential to the film and in several scenes takes center stage. “Casablanca” for me is like reading “A Prayer for Owen Meany” or listening to “Highway 61 Revisited,”  something that delivers each time and expands a little more. Few films carry that much weight, but being a huge Hitchcock fan I find many of his require multiple viewings for different reasons. “Vertigo” for much of the same reasons as “Casablanca,” and also because it makes a little more sense each time you see it. “North by Northwest” for pure fun, the action never ceases to be entertaining. “Psycho and “The Birds” because they are near perfect fright films. “To Catch a Thief” and “Dial M for Murder” just to see Grace Kelly.

Some movies for me just work for unknown or a multitude of various reasons, they never grow old. For me those include “Dazed and Confused,’”  “School of Rock,” “High Fidelity,” most recently “The Dark Knight.”

Then there are movies that are ritual, for certain holidays. My wife and I watch “Bad Santa,” “Gremlins” and “A Lot Like Love” at Christmastime every year. I watch John Carpenters “Halloween” and Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” every October because they are the perfect horror films and they work every year.

In short, and here if anywhere I’m probably recapping and rewording what Ebert and many other film critics have said before. A favorite film watched at the end of the day can be the crowning touch on a great day or a pick-me-up on a lousy one. They can work as full immersion to move out of what you’re doing at the time or they can be like a few favorite pieces of music and simply play in the background while other things are going on. You can show a key scene to a friend who’s never seen them before or analyze them in a way you’ve never done before. In short, a great film is a masterpiece worth experiencing again, especially on those times when nothing new looks remotely close to being worth your time.

Some time back I was speaking with a more conservative friend of mine. The subject of Rick Warren, the evangelical mega church pastor and author of “The Purpose Driven Life” came up. Now, I’m not a huge Warren fan on many issues, but I was speaking favorably of a plan of Warren’s that had  been recounted in a Time magazine interview at that time. In the article, Warren posited the idea that globally, the Christian church could become a central hub of help and support for the community around it. Theological arguments and differences can become so big and divisive that Warren was laying out an area of overlap for all churches to focus on. Poverty, sickness, hunger, depression and other global problems can and should be addressed by the local church. Warren envisioned a system in which each church in a given town could provide shelter and food for the area homeless and poor, basic and preventive medical and dental attention for the sick (after all, there are church going doctor’s and nurses), counseling for the depressed and so on. My friend made a comment similar to ones that many conservatives often make. “If you’re going to be mainly concerned with feeding and clothing people around the world, simply focusing on physical and bodily needs and forsaking the spiritual business of saving souls you may as well just join the peace corps.”

For many conservatives, the church should only be concerned with evangelism in the sense of “soul winning,” and “preaching the good news.” Save their souls, for there’s a better place in heaven and this world’s just a dirty old pond for us to fish folks out of. That’s 19th and 20th century evangelical thought in it’s most basic and concise form.

Yet isn’t it obvious that “preaching the good news” is synonymous with caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, loving the outcast and welcoming in all to the fold? Isn’t that how one breaks the Kingdom of God into the present world in the highest form of outreach that one can do?

I commend Warren’s plan in this case. There are areas in which I would take it much further than he, but I feel that’s okay. I’m sure Warren would be fine with me and “mine” keeping a more liberal theological stance for ourselves as long as we share in the common goal of doing God’s physical work on earth.

Of course, it sounds too simple. Much more simple than it is, unfortunately.  For many people, faith is wrapped up in a few key concepts that tend to leave the true heart of Christianity out. For some, anything that challenges their belief in biblical inerrancy, substitutionary atonement or dispensationalist rapture theology is unacceptable, and often heretical. A quick scour of the internet doing any sort of theology research will load you up with plenty of angry refutations of Borg, Crossan, Funk, Rob Bell and even NT Wright, for their larger probing questions as well as their most basic thought that push far outside of those few “key” concepts. It all comes down to how someone understands the concept of salvation and how someone reads the Bible. It’s worth noting that dispensationalist and rapture theology is largely absent from the Bible in any notable way and only began to be taught in the past 150 years or so and that substitutionary atonement is but one of many interpretations of New Testament thought, not the sole doctrine it’s thought of in certain circles. So bear with me for the sidetrack, but I think a quick summation of this particular doctrine is necessary at this point.

Substitutionary atonement holds pretty much the following: Humankind is sinful, people are born full of sin and earth had become so base and vile that a great sacrifice was required to pay the debt that such sin had created. This debt was so large that only a Godlike sacrifice would suffice. So God became incarnate in the human flesh of Jesus whose entire purpose in life was death, to die on the cross so that the debt could be paid in blood. Now, since that debt has been paid, humans can receive forgiveness and the gift of salvation. Salvation understood in the context of this particular framework is explicitly life after death in heaven and this gift is received by praying a certain prayer once one becomes knowledgeable and thus accountable for their sins.

This may seem like one of those theological tangents that are so divisive that I mentioned earlier. This article is concerned with the local church being a “social justice hub,” so why mention such a thing? Well, such a mindset helps explain why such a seemingly agreeable cause can be considered “radical’ or “liberal” by many Christian groups.  I myself am much more in tune with a more “participatory atonement,” one in which as a  Christian I  don’t rely simply on Christ to die and rise to pay my debts in my place but instead feel that we ourselves must metaphorically die to our old way and rise again to a new way of living, to “pick up our cross daily,” so that it’s never a matter of finished and complete. No, we must constantly die to the ways of the established order, the order in which greed, money, empire, violence, injustice, self interest, anger, bitterness, spite, and war reign and instead rise to live to a new and alternative order, one in which peace, justice, love, compassion, truth, honesty and progress reign. In this sense the world is not a “dirty pond to fish people out of,” no, it’s a wonderful creation full of immense possibility in which we are called to break this alternative kingdom into being, a world in which we do our best to spread peace and non-violent justice everywhere we go. In this sense, salvation isn’t just a gift that provides us a ticket out of this world once we die and so we must simply bide our time till this all falls away, no, it’s instead a means to provide us with inner peace, comfort, guidance and preparation so that we can set about making things here and now the way they ought to be with the belief that we will one day find it so. (Not to mention I also feel Jesus’ life and teachings were very important, not just his death)

It’s understandable how looking at things from a way never before considered can be upsetting to people. Universal inclusion, acceptance, non-violence, equality, an open and evolving interpretation of scripture, environmental preservation and responsibility, and being open to new discoveries every day are challenging to those that have boiled spirituality down to a matter of a “get out of hell free card,” an upcoming violent battle of end times, a well defined and boxed in list of do’s and don’ts. Not to mention that the politicization of a certain religious thought has led to a tie-in with capitalism and republicanism causing peace and justice issues to seem just a bit too “socialistic” for some.

Not to be snide, but all are free to think how they want to, read scripture in the manner they choose to, rally behind whatever causes they are drawn to. Yet knowing that for even the most far-right Christian who holds to their concepts I’ve mentioned earlier, the call to “plead the case of the widow” and “defend the fatherless,” the call to feed the hungry and nurture the sick, to love the outcast, this call is not defined to either liberal or conservative. This is universal, basic, heart of Christianity material. To ignore it is to ignore the entire person of Jesus and his teachings.

So I can let go of my difference of opinion on many issues with Warren and still support his universal cause of outreach to the less fortunate. I feel that this is the call of the church in the modern era to remain relevant.

Tiller

Every time this incident is mentioned, Dr. George Tiller is referred solely as “the late-term abortion doctor, one of only three clinics in the country where such a procedure occurs.”

That may be, but little attention is given to why and how such procedures were arranged. The very term “late term abortion” is code word, it’s supposed to be an area even those of us who are very pro-choice are forced to concede, to agree with the opposition that such a thing is heinous and never acceptable. Surely if a woman can’t make up her mind before the 21st week, surely if she’s carried the child to that point and begun to significantly show, surely there can also be no doubt that there is a heartbeat and numerous signs of life, surely we can all agree she has waited to long and to have an abortion at such a stage is irresponsible, wrong and unforgivable. Surely?

Well,  not exactly. Now, I can’t state everything as exhaustively written and researched, but I can’t help but do my part to mention that from what I have read, Dr. Tiller‘s work was not just a matter of very late term pregnant women stumbling in deciding at the last minute they just didn’t feel like having a child after all. No, from what I have read it seems that many tests were always ran, second consultations were requested, and the procedure was for those women who had discovered that the child they were carrying would be born significantly disabled, mentally incapacitated and/or plagued with a very difficult and life-shortening disease. In short, many things that don’t show up until that point of a pregnancy have thus shown up for these women, and they have been forced to face the decision. Will they, or can they, devoted the time, effort, sacrifice and devotion to care for a child that cannot care for him/herself and may not even be aware of him/herself much at all either? Certainly women, men and families raise such children every day and many find such work rewarding and heart fulfilling, and of course many of the people in such situations found themselves without a choice or a preemptive decision in such a regard. Yet can we tell others that do know beforehand what they will be getting into that they must make that decision for themselves? That at the very least they must bring such a child to full term and put him/her up for adoption in the hopes that someone else will seek out and care for them, and failing that leave them to be cared for by the state? Should we be able to tell all others they must have no choice in such a matter? (Keep in mind that at the 22nd week we’re still not dealing with a fully formed human child that would live on their own outside of the mother’s body either.) So should the state strip all women from any choice in the matter when it is indeed such a heartbreaking and difficult decision that none of us would ever hope to have to make ourselves? I don’t think so, and evidently Dr. Tiller did not think so either.

No, the term “late term abortionist” is so loaded that I feel the media strips Dr. Tiller of some honor by negating him to such a term. Here is a man who was violently, ruthlessly gunned down while worshipping in his Lutheran Church on a Sunday morning, a church where both he and his wife were both regular attendants and active, as deacons and choir singers respectively. Here’s a man who has been shot and injured before, and as soon as he recovered he was back at work stating that his community had taken care of him and he wanted to be back at work to care for them. His clinic was bombed, he regularly received death threats and had to be escorted by a body guard much of the time. Yet he honestly believed he was doing work to help others.  Work that sought to help those that were looked down on by much of the world, the desperate and sad, those left to make the hard choices with often little support. He felt he was doing good work and he was gunned down in church for doing so.

Lamott
I’m ending this article with some excerpts from Christian writer and philosopher Anne Lamott’s chapter on abortion from her book “Grace (Eventually),” which I happened to run across while reading on Sunday.

In this excerpt she was at a panel discussion with two other Christian writers and speakers, both of the somewhat liberal lean (for their particular denominations at least), one an evangelical the other a Catholic. During a question and answer session a man stood up and  asked how they (Lamott and the other speakers) could reconcile their “progressive stance on peace and justice with the ‘murder of a million babies every year in America.’” Lamott’s co-panelists proceeded to address the question, speaking heavily of such a painful issue but that focus should instead be placed on other “pro-life” matters like “capital punishment, the war in Iraq, poverty and HIV,” and that the efforts should go to “reducing unwanted pregnancies, the need to defuse abortion as a political issue,” etc.

Lamott-  “I announced that I needed to speak out on behalf of the many women present, including myself, who had had abortions, and the women whose daughters might need one in the not-too-distant future–people who must know that teenage girls will have abortions, whether in clinics or dirty back rooms. Women whose lives had been righted and redeemed by Roe v. Wade…I actually feel, and said that it was not a morally ambiguous issue for me at all….Then I said that a woman’s right to choose was nobody else’s goddamn business…Plus, I was–I am–so confused about why we still have to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about miniscule zygotes, when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the government now in power [the symposium was during the Bush administration]. …But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women are a crucial part of that. It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.”