Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Great Pro-life Ad

This ad ran during broadcast of the Innagural ceremonies. What a terrific message!
Check it out!


David said...

I really like this Ad and hope that its focus on "potential" signals a re-integration of traditional theological reasoning in pro-life arguments.
Aquinas sees life in terms of it being a composite of actuality and potentiality. It's a very "common sense" perspective, after all, we tend to feel a greater sense of tragedy at the death of a child than the death of a nonagenarian. Both have suffered the same loss in terms of actuality but we instinctively recognize and mourn the loss of the immense potentiality lost in the child's death.
The unborn child is overflowing with potentiality and his Ad reminds us of this. Such potentiality is interwoven with an understanding of life as a gift from God and also a proper appreciation of divine providence and the potential for miracle. It is for this reason that the abortion issue, for Archbishop Chaput of Denver, is fundamental in terms of shaping our political choices. It is not "just" murder - it is a refusal to see life as gift, human life as loved by God and therefore of inherent dignity and a refusal to accept God as sovereign and acknowledge God as Lord. It is a rejection of, not just the person, but God and creation with it, and, as such, must take ultimate precedence in shaping our political choices.
Most pro life arguments though seem to be wholly non theological in that we speak about the "right to life" using modern secular "rights" language which is surely competitive with seeing life in terms of pure gift. Such a discourse seduces us into imagining a competing cadre of rights and a subsequent weighing of them in terms of our political stances (health care v war in Iraq v abortion etc)
This confusion, in my opinion, leads to the kind of mess we see with Jim Wallis and I only hope that this Ad signals a recognition in pro-life circles of the need to recover an authentically Christian reasoning in this area. "Red letter" Christians like Wallis can be comfortable with a kind of agnosticism about anything not in red letters and such a perspective won't do when millions of unborn children are being murdered and the world is being desacralized in the process.
Anyway, enough of my rant! Thanks again Craig for this exceptional blog, it's so very generous of you to share you time and thoughts with a wide audience like this.

Craig Carter said...

That is a highly astute set of observations. Thanks so much for the insight.

You are so right about the issue being the refusal to see life as a gift and God as Lord. Abortion, like all other examples of the culture of death is really an attack on God.

As for rights language, you are surely right that modern, secular "rights" language is an alternative to the Christian understanding of creation as gift. However, "rights" language as used in the early modern period (eg. the Declaration of Independence) is different from late modern "rights" language in one crucial respect. The problem is that the doctrine of creation presupposed in the earlier usage has withered in the face of Darwinian Naturalism into an understanding of the universe as the product of random chance. Human rights cannot survive the loss of the Christian doctrine of a purposeful creation.

At best, the language of human rights may be able to function as a middle axiom between a fully Christian anthropology rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation and the secular idea of humans as unique and deserving of respect. But in the long run, I agree that either we believe in the doctrine of creation, as a culture, or we don't.

Another problem with "rights" language is the incipient individualism, which is corrected in the understanding of human life as gift and potential. Still another problem with "rights" language is the implied static nature of the human person, in contrast to the dynamic potential of human life that you describe so eloquently.

I am totally with you in hoping for a re-integration of traditional theological reasoning in pro-life arguments.