Friday, January 30, 2009

Small in number, big in commitment

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
  maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
  deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
  - Ps. 82:3,4
Continuing the "Pro-life strike" theme: A recent Google search directed me to an online debate on the question of paying taxes that fund abortion. Delighted to find others who are asking this important question, I joined the debate. The initial delight was tempered upon finding the majority of debaters on the side of obediently paying the murder tax. It was further squelched when my opening comment was censored for pointing to the new Pro-life strike website. But let not my words be misconstrued: these folks are at least debating the idea, and that is a good thing. One can hope that at least some of them will pick up the mantle of righteous pro-life tax resistance. One can hope; but there obviously exists a great reluctance to cross certain social lines. The very thought of legal or financial turmoil sends many hurrying for plausible excuses.

Earlier today, I happened across a blog post that simply reproduced Dr. King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" of 1963. Some of King's words jumped out at me.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany...

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"

...In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed... Small in number, they were big in commitment.

Better thinkers than myself have called abortion the new civil rights issue of our time. As before, it may be a small but committed few who recognize this, and who are willing to sacrifice, to stir things up for the sake of justice.

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes


Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Shall I tell you why we have not been successful in driving out abortion from this land? We have relied too heavily on ourselves and not enough on Jesus. Read and meditate carefully on Mark Chapter 9. Especially verses 28 and 29:

"When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, 'Why could we not drive it out?' He said to them, 'This kind can only come out through prayer.'"

Why do we not believe Jesus? Why do we believe we can drive out the evil spirits which bring abortion through our own actions? Fasting and prayer are the sacrifice we need.

Until we humbly acknowledge this, our pro-life efforts will continue to fall short. Without Him, we can do nothing.

Jerry said...

Amongst serious Christians it should go without saying that only God can deliver us from evil, and that prayer and fasting are foundational and paramount. This is, in fact, a primary reason for pro-life tax resistance: to purify our prayers and other pro-life efforts. We pray for life; we must stop paying for death, so that our prayers will be true. I therefore respectfully disagree with your assessment, suspecting, rather, that our prayers have not yet cost us enough.

The idea of a pro-life strike is admittedly risky and difficult. Some ought not partake, at least not in the early stages. Many others will not dare. That is why this post anticipates that it will likely be a small but committed few who do this important work, not unlike Gideon's 300 (ref. Judges 7:2-7).

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

His Eminence Cardinal William H. Keeler would agree with me. He said the same thing in a homily given at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on January 21, 2001 during the National Prayer Vigil for Life:

"In 1983 we bishops of the United States wrote a Pastoral on the Challenge of Peace. In it we pledged that we bishops, on Fridays, would abstain from meat as a sign of our commitment to the cause of peace and as a form of penance seeking God’s gift of peace for our world. We reaffirmed this commitment when we published our 1989 Pastoral Statement Toward Peace in the Middle East and again in 1993 on the tenth anniversary of the original peace pastoral. Jesus spoke of some devils that can be cast out only by "prayer and fasting." It seems to me that our society is in such moral disrepair that only the combination of prayer and fasting can open our hearts to the Lord’s action to fix it." - Source:

And John Cardinal O'Connor said the same thing just before he died. He said that abortion would only be defeated through much prayer and fasting because some devils are only driven out this way.

Your disagreement is not with me. It is with the Lord Jesus Who said, "Without Me you can do nothing."

Any other attitude stems from pride.

God love you.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

"Several years later, now John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York and the leading voice for life within the Church, he prayed to understand why the efforts of the pro-life cause were not gleaning the results expected. His eyes fell upon the passage from Scripture, “This kind of demon can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.."

Jerry said...

To repeat: i heartily concur that prayer and fasting are primary. True prayer is complemented, not contradicted, by action. We must pray as if everything depends upon God, and then act as if everything depends upon us. Coming from almost anyone else, your comments here would seem to dispute this. But previous comments as well as your own robust blog writings indicate otherwise. Is it this particular action (i.e. tax resistance) that you find disturbing? Know that i find it disturbing and disquieting as well.

Ellen Wironken said...

What is it about John 15:57 ("Without me you can do nothing") that you find disquieting? Mr. Melanson never said that action is not important. Neither did Cardinals O'Connor and Keeler. But by emphasizing that, "This kind of demon can only be cast out by prayer and fasting," Mr. Melanson is acknowledging (with these two Princes of the Church) that actions alone are grossly insufficient.

Jerry said...

I do not find Jn.15:5 disquieting.