HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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The Abortion Question (Part I)

Just this last week there has been a great deal of chatter around the wordpress blogs regarding a story posted by Mr. Daniel Florien titled “How to Stump Anti-Abortionists with one Question” Over 950 comments on the original post and dozens and dozens of follow up posts on other blogs.  At first I didn’t want to get involved, as most of the people I write this for probably won’t even have noticed any of the discussion going on.  But sometimes God has other plans.  Over the past five days since I read that first post, I have been faced with the discussion of Abortion again and again, seemingly at every turn.  It may have taken me a while to clue in, but I think I got the point finally.

So here, then are some thoughts I have on the issue of  Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, in two parts.  In this first part I will answer the question to stump anti-abortionists (and others like it).  In the second I will give you a very near and dear personal story and ask a question of my own.

The question laid before those opposed to abortion was this:

If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?

Now watch their faces as the cognitive dissonance sets in. They believe abortion to be murder. Murder deserves severe punishment. Thus, women who have illegal abortions should receive severe punishment — like life in prison or the death penalty. That’s the logical conclusion.

But they can’t accept this conclusion. They know it’s absurd and unfair — which means they know abortion is not really murder.

Following this is a video of some poor protesters being hit with this question they are simply  unprepared for.  I feel sorry for them, but I do not blame them for their trouble in answering  because it (like most arguments against pro-lifers) is not really a fair question.  It paints them into a corner that isn’t really there.  Here’s what I mean.

First the question throws the pro-lifer off balance because it accuses them of wanting to ‘unfairly’ (and yes this is implied in the question) take the life of someone else.  In essence it is presented in such a way as to say “Oh yeah?  You’re no better yourself … maybe even worse … you killer!”

Secondly, it is an unfair question because it begs the question.  What I mean is that it begins with an asssumption of truth that is at the heart of the debate between pro-life and pro-choice.  It begins with the assumption that the fetus in question isn’t really alive, or at least not really human.  How can I say this?  Consider the question with just a little change in wording and you will see what I mean …

What if terminating the life of a toddler was illegal?  What should be done with the women who have done it?  Not such a morally hard question anymore is it?  What about terminating the life of a teenager, fireman, senator, housewife, pro-choice advocate, retiree?  No morally grey area there either.  The question in question therefore is only morally ambiguous IF what a pregnant woman carries in her womb is not really a human being.

And this is the question at the heart of the debate.  Not whether it is a right of choice.  Not how, when, or if abortionists should be punished or not.  But whether this unborn life is human or not.  This, is the real question to be asked and answered.  This is the one question that the pro-abortion side is forever trying to dodge, or re-write, or simply ignore, because they know that to truly, honestly, answer this question will re-write the whole debate.

For more insight into how to respond to abortionists and pro-choice advocates I highly recommend you go to Issues Etc and listen to the series “Five Bad ways to Argue about Abortion” with Scott Klusendorf

Here is just one of the five part series:

Bad Ways to Argue About Abortion: Assume What You Are Trying to Prove

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I’m Sick …

sickI’m sick.  I have a bad cold that is making life miserable.  But that’s not the worst of it.  I’ve had colds before, and I will again.  I know that eventually things will get better.  But what makes this cold so miserable is the fact that my kids and my wife are sick too!

I know this may sound cliche.  I know that this may sound pathetic, but I’m a man, and when I’m sick I like having someone else take care of me, be concerned for me, check in on me from time to time.  And usually my wife is very caring and generous in playing along (never once making me feel childish either)!  I can count on her to help me feel better almost every time I get sick.  The only exception is when she herself is sick.

Then the games stop.  Then I’m on my own.  Then it is a matter of who’s sicker than who!  (Which, if she’s admitting to being sick is almost always her.)  Then, sick or not, I must get up and do for others what I want so desperately done for me.

And it has got me thinking.  When I’m sick and suffering, I don’t really want anyone else suffering with me.  I want someone to tell it it’s going to be all right, that I’m brave, that I’m getting better!

And you know, that’s what this world wants too.  This world that has been sickened by sin does not want a saviour to come and suffer with it, pain for pain, ache for ache, ill for ill.  They want a saviour who will remain bright and cheery and tell them that everything is OK, that we are all very brave, and that given time we will all get better.

But on our own we won’t.  We can’t.  No amount of time will grant it.  For the medicine this sin-sick world needs is found only in the Christ who came to suffer along with us.  The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, is the only comfort we have as we suffer under sin.  But it is a comfort that we often feel we could do without.  It is a comfort that doesn’t play along with our pity-party games.  A comfort that will not allow us to go through life childishly oblivious to the truth of sin and its consequences.  A comfort that is not based on false hopes, or self-worth, but on the holy precious blood of Jesus Christ … blood willingly shed upon a cross for you, me, and this whole sin-sick world.

It is a medicine that doesn’t always taste good in our self-righteous mouths … but it is the ONLY medicine guaranteed to work every single time!  So hold your nose, you sinner, swallow it down and start feeling better already!


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Issues Etc Soundbite(S) of the Week …

Here again, is something I would like to do from time to time in an effort to point you towards a wonderful resource for your Christian faith and life.  The show is Issues Etc and the faithfulness, the proclamation, and the scholarship are all second to none.  I know it gives me so much to think about each and every episode.

Each week on the show they post a series of soundbites for listeners to vote on as the soundbite of the week.  Today I will give you the TWO (yes two) I chose as my pick for this week.  They did not come from the same interview, but they do both speak to the same issue.  I chose these because I see it all too often, good Christians who misunderstand apologetics (defending the faith) to be the same as apologizing for the faith.

You hear it in the attitude that says This is my faith, but yours is fine too.  This is what I believe, but far be it from me to burden you with it!  Jesus is great for me, but maybe you have someone better. There is only one God, and many different paths to Him (her/it).

Where does such an idea come from?  Certainly not the Scriptures!  Jesus said (John 14:6) “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.”  To believe anything less dear Christian is to believe that your very own saviour is a liar … is that really what you want?  Not all religions are basically the same.  They all disagree on one important fundamental point – who Jesus is and what Jesus means for us and our salvation.  It is never doing a disservice to anyone to make sure that we point this out, and then point them to the truth!

Soundbite #1 (Bishop Gene Robinson denying the Truth of Christ Alone)

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Soundbite #2 (Rev. George Borghardt’s defense of the Truth of Christ Alone)


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Be It Resolved …

resolutionsNew years resolutions, lots of people have them. Some people even keep them. Most everybody has had an unpleasant experience with them at some point in time or other. As you can tell by how late in the “new” year this post is coming … I’m not so great with New Year’s resolutions.

And I’m OK with that.

I tried for many years to have positive new year’s resolutions. I tried to eat well, live right, exercise more and all of the tired cliches you hear the crowds of well intentioned people swearing every late December, early January. Soon enough, however, my sincerely sworn best intentions turned into sour experiences that just left me swearing. For some reason the life I wanted to change for the better just didn’t want to be changed.

Then I decided to get smart about things. I figured if you can’t beat them (me) then join them (me) … So it tried my hand at making resolutions that I knew I already liked. Resolutions to play more games, read more books, have more adventures. “How could it fail?:” I thought. I guess I didn’t think it through well enough.

Sure enough, only a few weeks into it and all my best intentions to do what I like doing were causing me just as much misery as trying to make myself miserable with things like diet and exercise. The more I told myself I should be doing certain things (even things I liked to do), the more I resented myself for not being able to do them. Work got too busy, life got crazy, and suddenly my resolutions to have more fun felt more like an accusation hanging over my head. “What happened to you man? You used to be so much fun! Now you’re like … old and serious or something? What happened?!”

What happened is that in my rush to do I forgot that the law ALWAYS accuses. It’s basic catechism stuff, but I forgot it none-the-less. By making even something I like doing into something I should be doing I made it into the law. And the law always accuses. And that’s no fun.

How many Christians have likewise taken the fun, the joy, the comfort out of the gifts of God by turning them into the law, by saying in effect I could have, I should have, I ought to … How many of us end up feeling guilty about Church, Bible reading, praying, witnessing etc… because instead of seeing them as a good that God gives us, we turn them into a good we could be, should be, ought to be doing for Him and for ourselves. Even if we normally enjoy these things, they turn sour and accusing when we can’t, we don’t, and we fail to live up to our expectations.

So I’m not so great with New Year’s resolutions, and I’m OK with that. Instead of turning the things I enjoy into the Law, this year I wised up. I’m simply going to enjoy what I enjoy and leave it at that. I will enjoy all the wonderful gifts God has given me, most especially the gift of forgiveness for when I break even this un-resolution and find myself frustrated all over again. Happy New Year!


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The Christmas Star “Explained” …

the-christmas-starMatthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” … 9 they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

As an amateur astronomer, there are few times of year that frustrate me as much as right now. Every year it seems, in one astronomy magazine or another, someone is trying to give the definitive “explanation” for the Christmas Star (actually a center-piece of today’s celebration of Epiphany). Some astronomers are gracious enough to try and do it as a way of giving the nod to the quaint (but nice) traditions of the Christian holiday. In essence giving proof that it might actually have been real. Others are simply out to try and debunk Christianity and anything relating to it outright. In essence saying don’t be a chump. But unfortunately, in almost every single case, whether well intentioned or not, they end up doing neither well … much less definitively.

You see, the problem is that they all begin from the wrong place, so there is no possible way they can end up in the right one. Each astronomer I have ever read on the subject (and I have been subjected to many of them over the years!) is more than happy to trace back the motions of the planets and known solar system bodies like asteroids and comets. Most are willing to consider such possibilities as supernovae, GRB’s (gamma ray bursts), rare alignments and alternate datings according to Jewish, Roman or ancient Babylonian astrological calendars. But few are ever willing to take God’s Word at face value.

Sadly the only one I have encountered who was willing to do so, did so only so that he could definitively laugh it off as full of contradictions and nonsense which cannot be believed. Stars that come and go, stars that move and then stop just can’t be explained! But at least he read Matthew’s account for what it said.

Such disregard for the Word, and the clear meaning it conveys – as it is written – is a subtle and all-to-familiar trap into which we “learned” people so often fall. Trying to make sense of what “really” was when what the Bible says couldn’t possibly be. And we don’t just do it with the Christmas star, we do it with the Scripture’s clear words on the sanctity of life, the roles of men and women, the definition of marriage, the nature and power of the sacraments. If it doesn’t make sense we try to cram it into a box where it might (with no regard of what we might be losing or trimming to make it work!)

As if we and we alone in all the history of the world are the first to be capable of judging such things rightly, when so many who went before were so obviously wrong. As if our sense or wisdom or understanding is somehow better than God’s! Yet trying to find completely natural (and rational) explanations for the supernatural workings of God simply deny that God is truly supernatural or even at work!

So what was the Christmas Star? I don’t know, nor do I need to know. How do we explain it? We don’t, because we can’t. Begin your quest in the right place and you are much more likely to end up where you need to be. When you consider again the Christmas Star, this Epiphany be like the truly wise men of old and simply heed its call to follow where it leads in all its supernatural strangeness … to the Saviour of the world, Jesus who is Christ, the Lord. Amen.