Proverbs 14:15 MSG
One of my favorite pastors and teachers of all time was the late Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Barnadin.
More than anyone else, it was he who influenced my thinking about not just abortion but all life and death issues which Christians must face. He called us to what he called a “Consistent Ethic of Life.”
It is not enough, he said, to tout the sacred value of life when taking about abortion and then forget about it when talking about war, capital punishment, care of the terminally ill, genetics, and how we treat the poor.
If life is sacred in one area then it must be sacred in every area. One life cannot be “less sacred” than another. It is not enough to be pro-life on one thing; we must be pro-life in everything.
Cardinal Bernadin used the metaphor of a “seamless garment.” This, he said, is how the Christian ethic of life is constructed. It is a whole. There are no gaps or weaknesses.
We may disagree on the practical applications of this ethic. We may argue about how this ethic is to be lived out in the day to day world, but we all agree on the basic premise that all life is sacred.
I, for instance, believe that abortion is a tragedy and that we should work fervently to reduce the number of abortions in this country. But the lives of the unborn children are not the only lives that have value, here. The lives of the mothers and the doctors who treat them are valuable as well.
So I do not agree that we should use violence, intimidation, and the threat of prison to force these women to bring their pregnancies to term. I believe, instead, that we should be offering them alternatives and love and help and support. And I do not think that is contrary to a consistent ethic of life.
I believe that a consistent ethic of life requires us to actually live the commandment of Jesus to love our enemies and not shoot, bomb or torture them, even if that means that we will suffer for our choice.
I believe that a consistent ethic of life calls us to love people who aren’t like us -- people who have different color skin than ours, and people who have a different sexual orientation than ours, and people who belong to different political parties than we do.
I believe that a consistent ethic of life calls us to care about not just the length of a person’s life but the depth and quality of it as well. I believe that we are called to heal those who are sick or injured, and feed those who are hungry, and educate those who uneducated, even if it means that we have to do with less.
I believe that to do anything else is to be inconsistent in our Christian ethic.
Jesus had a word for inconsistency.
He called it hypocrisy.
And he considered it one of the worst sins of all.
Thanks to Cardinal Bernadin for calling us out of our hypocrisy to a consistent ethic of life.
The election of the Orange One vexes and troubles me.
How shall I respond to this attack on all that I value and hold dear?
Shall I become hateful and mean, filled to overflowing with the bitter bile of disappointment and resentment? I must admit that it is tempting. It would be nice to be on the offense after being on the defense for these past 8 years. It would be fun to make up ridiculous, absurd accusations to hurl at the Orange Pretender, knowing that no matter how unbelievable, how untrue they are, there will always be someone who believes them.
It is tempting not just because it would be fun, though. It is tempting because it would take no large amount of imagination to justify such behavior. I truly believe that our beloved republic is about to enter a dark and dangerous time under his leadership.
The danger lies not only in the bad judgement, the shortsightedness, the avarice and hubris, and simple meanness of which he has shown himself to be capable during the campaign. The greater and more realistic danger lies in the possibility that those who voted for him will see in this election permission to be as prejudiced, as proud, as mean spirited and crude as their candidate. They will, in their rush to spurn that which is “politically correct,” embrace apathy, insult, rudeness, and an utter lack of empathy as constitutionally protected rights, rights to which they are entitled and to which they can be proudly immune to critiism.
He has allowed the camel’s nose to enter the tent and it will surely not be long before antisemitism, racism, misogyny, and other forms of prejudice are considered the acceptable norm.
So, how shall I respond to this attack on all that I value and hold dear?
Well, I will not let this election change me and those things which I hold to be good and true. I will not play the game by their rules, rules which allow half-truth, innuendo, and groundless accusation to be proclaimed as fact.
I will not lie even if I know that people will believe it.
I will treat even the women who voted for him no differently than I will treat those who voted for her.
And, no matter how many times I hear it, I will not "get over it" if by "it" they mean injustice, prejudice, or the disregard of the poor, the powerless, the ignored, or the forgotten.
I will continue to believe that our country and our community will be better served when we are driven by these five caring ideas:
1. A stronger country (state, county, city, neighborhood)
2. A Broader Prosperity
3. A Better Future
4. An Effective Government; and
5. Mutual Responsibility
More about these five important values in coming posts.
Backward Hieronymus Black
This guy that I know, named Hieronymus Black
Has the most amazing knack
Of turning his head so it faces in
The direction that he has already been.
So it’s hard to get where he wants to be
‘Cause his past is all that he can see.
He trips, he stumbles, he walks into walls.
He has the most horrendous falls.
But never does Harry turn forward his head.
He says he prefers to look backward instead.
And though it’s a marvelous, wondrous stunt,
It would be better yet if his face, faced front.
Then he could go walking or running so fast!
Into the future instead of the past.
He could open his eyes! He could take in the sights
Of all of the possibles, maybes and mights.
But it never will be. Oh, alas and alack!
For Harry insists that his head face the back.
Dean Feldmeyer is the author of 5 novels, 4 non-fiction books, three plays, and over 100 essays, articles, poems, and short stories, some of which can be found on this web site.