Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cognitive dissonance

O LORD, why dost thou make us err from thy ways, and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not?
  - Is. 63:17
Why is Jerry so hung up on tax-funded abortion? Why can't he and other pro-lifers just get over it, and 'get a life', as they say?

This question has a flip side. Why, or how, have other Christians apparently gotten over legalized abortion? As evidenced in our democratic process, a sizable percentage of Christians seem largely untroubled by it. Why?

There may be a clue in the phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance. From Wikipedia:

Psychology Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs , and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
The part about "awareness of one's behavior" is germane. It would appear that the enemy of our souls scored a major coup here. I do not refer to the infamous shock of Roe v. Wade, but to the quiet and mundane coup of congressional budget allocations, i.e., the public funding of abortion and of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

When ordinary taxpayers found themselves paying the abortion invoice, many may have succumbed, through cognitive dissonance, to a belief that it was not such a big deal after all. Just get over it.

If this helps to explain our cultural ambivalence, then it may also tell us how to begin to effectively turn the tide back again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Abortion and Your Taxes

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.
  - Ps. 144:1
There may be a silver lining in the dark political cloud. Committed Christians seem to be waking to the realization that the situation demands a serious, even drastic response. We are the Church Militant, of which Jesus says, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt.16:18b KJV) This is not a picture of desperate saints defending their citadel from intruders, but of Christian warriors on the offensive, boldly attacking the enemy's stronghold.

And just what is that stronghold? We know that we battle against spiritual forces (Eph.6:12), and our best and ultimate weapons are the spiritual: prayer, fasting, trust in God, and the pursuit of holiness. Yet we must also be "wise as serpents" (Mt.10:16), which is to say, we must be aware of practical reality, and act accordingly, aiming for concrete, tangible results. Where should this practical focus be? Precisely where the political and cultural battle lines have been drawn: the personhood and legal protection of all human life, and marriage as the firm foundation of our civilization.

One fellow blogger has amply shown that he is awake for the battle, recognizing and revealing the unsettling signs of our times, especially regarding the recent political fiasco [1][2].  There are both spiritual and practical ramifications. In a recent post, he lays out the Church's clear teaching that, when human law violates Divine Law (e.g. laws legitimizing abortion and euthanasia), the Christian must disregard or disobey that human law. This might strike some folks as drastic, but these times demand such a response. We need to face it: loyalty to Christ means we must obey God rather than men, though we be martyred in the process.

Allow me to suggest a further sharpening of the practical focus. In concrete, practical terms, the core matter is: money. Take that away, and, for all practical purposes, the abortion industry collapses, as does human embryonic research, etc, etc. If we really want to end abortion, let's stop buying it! If this sounds like a broken record, so be it. (See related "Pro-life strike" posts at the left side bar.)

Presentation Ministries offers a brief brochure entitled Abortion And Your Taxes which succinctly explores the moral problem of tax-funded abortion, and offers simple guidelines to follow in considering a response of tax resistance.

The thing is, this is not just a concrete and practical matter, but reflects back upon our spiritual actions, the real heart of our faith. We refuse to fund abortion so as to purify our prayers and other pro-life efforts. We must stop paying for death so we may sincerely pray and work for life!

Monday, November 10, 2008

U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child

C-Fam logo As just noted, we have much cultural evangelization and political work to do. Let's begin with something easy. C-Fam, the pro-life presence at the United Nations, has prepared an online petition to be presented to the U.N. early next month. Many lobbyists and unelected panelists at the U.N have been illogically claiming that the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights must now be interpreted as mandating legalized abortion and same-sex 'marriage', and so have been pressuring member states to enact these legal changes. The purpose of this C-Fam petition is to reaffirm that human rights begin with the right to life and the integrity of the family unit.

Please read the entire petition (it's brief) by clicking on this C-Fam page. If you agree with the petition, fill out the form and click the 'Submit' button to sign it. You may receive email updates from C-Fam, or you may opt out of those updates.

I have been greatly impressed with the work of C-Fam, and can personally testify that they are the real deal. The last I saw, the pro-abortion campaign had only garnered 600+ signatures in over a year, while this pro-life one has secured over 67,000 in a relatively short time just from English-speaking respondents. By getting lots of signatures on this petition, we can show our support for those nations that still uphold the integrity of human life and of the family in their legal systems.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Back to normal

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.
  - 1 Peter 4:12
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake
  - Phil. 1:29
Let's be honest - this election cycle was a bust, pretty much an unmitigated travesty. Well - (sigh) - what's done is done, and at least now we can return to our normal lives. President-elect Obama But -- just what is normal?

The New Testament norm for the followers of Jesus is to be outside the mainstream. Historically, this has often meant hardship and persecution. Jesus repeatedly told his disciples to expect hatred from the world in which they lived. (e.g. Mt.10:22, Jn.15:19)

We must continue to evangelize our culture, but at the same time recognize the signs of the times. As demonstrated in the popular vote, the evil and immoral policies of the Democratic Party are acceptable to most people. Chiefly, the raw injustice of legalized and tax-funded abortion, the ghastly practice of human embryonic experimentation, and the growing acceptance of homosexual "rights" all indicate the continuing decline of our collective conscience. The political landscape, now swung far left, will likely result in further erosion -- an even more intense assault upon goodness and a greater intolerance for truth.

Who can tell where it might lead? We may hope - and pray - for a swing back to the right. But we ought also to be realistic, and know that may not happen. We must be prepared for even greater evil. Perhaps the Church - the true believers, that is - will soon be driven underground. Perhaps the whole damned system (and I do not use the 'd' word in a flippant or crass manner here) will finally collapse, as all godless systems eventually do. In either case, we seem to be facing an adventure, and ought to steel ourselves for a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When pro-lifers choose death

"Father forgive them; for they know not what they do."
  - Lk. 23:34
The sober and troubling reality is that, even as I write this, millions of U.S. citizens are casting their votes for Barack Obama. Many of these voters are Christian, and many identify themselves as pro-life Catholics.

Ballot box How can this be? Is it because they have an uncritical loyalty to the Democratic Party, an unthinking herd instinct reaching back to early childhood? Are they disgusted with the Republicans' pathetic failures, and suppose there is only one other option? Is it a matter of "white guilt", of feeling obliged to support the African-American candidate? Do they not recognize the intrinsic evil of abortion? Are they therefore intimidated into seeking a "balance" between this and lesser evils? Have they been duped by media bias, and actually believe the euphemism that it's about "choice"? Do they believe the over-population myth, and secretly fear human propagation?

The plain truth is that Barack Hussein Obama is the most rabidly pro-abortion candidate to ever seek the U.S. Presidency. Whether or not he wins it today is not the main issue. Folks who say they are pro-life Christians are voting for him. Followers of Jesus are choosing death. I wish I could find a reasonable explanation for this.