Pro-life without being pro-birth

That’s the position taken by the Methodist church.  From Mark Tooley:

Recently a newly appointed official with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society explained on her agency’s website that “we are a church that is pro-life, not pro-birth.”

Interesting explanation. What does it mean to be “pro-life, not pro-birth?” She describes United Methodism’s stance:

“We do not believe that abortion should be used as birth control or as a means of gender selection. We ‘call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion,’ and we take consideration of the mother’s health. Also, we affirm ministries to both women who do and do not terminate a pregnancy. Unlike pro-birth proponents, we don’t believe in forgoing the life and safety of the mother.”

She further explained that “like Jesus, our denomination doesn’t seek to treat any person — male or female — as simply a means to an end.” So “to emphasize birth at any cost means treating a woman as if she were worth nothing more than her reproductive utility.” She also boasted that United Methodists “don’t believe that the church’s commitment begins and ends with the act of birth,” supporting “prenatal, postnatal and a lifetime of social and spiritual supports for all of God’s children is central to the work of the body of Christ.” She lamented that “current discussion on reproductive health has attempted to cut this conversation short, focusing only upon the act of birth and not the journey of life.”

It’s not clear who these morally numb people are who care only about the “act of birth” but lose interest in the child minutes later. Here’s one question for this “pro-life, not pro-birth” official with our church’s official lobby office: If pre-born children have no intrinsic value, dignity or protection, then how or why should society invest so much in the children after birth? If the value of human life is so fluid, then inevitably much of society will look at all children, and all vulnerable persons, through a utilitarian lens.

via United Methodists Are “Pro-Life” but “Not Pro-Birth?” « Juicy Ecumenism.

Questions for the debates

Tomorrow is the first presidential debate.  If you were one of the moderators, what questions would you ask Barack Obama and Mitt Romney?

Are the Republicans still a national party?

Daniel McCarthy,  the editor of The American Conservative, answers that question with a “no.”  He points out that Republicans have become very successful on the local and state levels, but haven’t won a plurality of votes in a national presidential race for four out of the last five elections.  McCarthy explores why this is and why Republicans keep nominating moderates who have to masquerade as conservatives, only to lose national elections.  Samples:

If the only effect in play were the strength of grassroots right-wing constituencies, you wouldn’t expect the party to consistently nominate moderates like both Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney. None of those nominees had impeccable conservative credentials — far from it. But once they got the nomination, they didn’t run as the moderates they were; most of them sold themselves as being at least as right as Reagan, even in the general election. At least since 2004, this is because the party has pursued a base strategy: an attempt to eke out a narrow win by getting more Republicans to the polls than Democrats, with independents — a small and difficult-to-market-to demographic — basically ignored. The party tries to leverage its regional identity and regional organization into presidential victory. It has failed four times out of five. . . .

Republicans tend to have a clear establishment front-runner going into their presidential contests, and that individual pretty much always wins the nomination, in part because he usually has far more money than his opponents. Indeed, that financial advantage allows the establishment front-runner to discourage viable semi-establishment opponents — your Mitch Daniels types — from even entering the race. That leaves the ideological groups to field their own non-viable standard-bearer — Huckabee or Santorum types. Because the eventual GOP nominee pursues a base strategy, though, he winds up embarrassing himself by trying to sound “severely conservative.” He has to get religious right and Tea Party voters to turn out for him. But even if they do, they’re not enough: those constituencies don’t add up to 50 percent of the electorate. Republicans are actually closer than Democrats to being the real 47 percent party. (Though it’s more accurate to say the GOP is the 48-49 percent party and the Democrats are the 49-50 percent party.)

This isn’t all about elections, however. The policy options that Congress and the president get to consider and the intellectual life of the nation are also warped by the GOP’s “47 percent” ideology. Because conservatives over-identify with the GOP, and the GOP’s identity is determined by factional and regional ideologies, the result is that conservatives take their definition of conservatism from the party and that definition is more regional- and interest-based than philosophical. This accounts for the spectacle of the GOP periodically getting worked up about “big government” while in fact expanding government — welfare state, warfare state, banning internet gambling, you name it — whenever it’s in power. The blue state/red state psychological divide is more fundamental to the party’s understanding of the world than is any consistent view of the proper extent and uses of government. . . .

None of this has anything to do with the historic conservatism of Edmund Burke or John Adams, Russell Kirk or Robert Nisbet. It doesn’t even look like the capacious conservatism of Ronald Reagan. It’s a scam: it does little for values in the culture as a whole because the values in question are those of an ideological minority only interested in winning through minority-organization politics; it can’t look at big-picture economics because doing so would tick off the financial interests and get anyone who broached the question read out of conservatism by Wall Street’s coalition allies. A traditionalist or consistently libertarian critic would be perceived as speaking up for lazy immoral city-dwelling welfare queens. This fanciful identity politics, and not principled economics, is what lies behind talk about “socialism,” “big government,” and the “47 percent.” If the case were otherwise, you’d see the anti-dependency case made against the Pentagon, defense contractors, churches taking government money, and red-state recipients of all kinds of largesse.

Is the GOP Still a National Party? | The American Conservative.

HT:  Todd

Nationals win NL East

The Washington Nationals, my home team now, after years of being bad, have won the National League East, contending with Cincinnati–another team that came out of nowhere–for the best record in baseball.  (The Nationals lost to the Phillies, but Pittsburgh beat Atlanta, arriving at the magic number.)  I’m enjoying watching the players come out of the dugout to spray the fans with champagne!

Nationals win NL East with Braves’ 2-1 loss to Pirates.

Nothing left but sex and ennui

Great quotation and embedded quotations from novelist Andrew Klavan, as part of his review of the founder-of-Scientology movie The Master:

There’s a reason modernism collapsed into the ruinous and stupid-making morass of post-modernism. Ultimately, modernist reality was smaller and seedier than human life as it is lived. As the novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici points out in critiquing one modernist novel, “describing the smell of sweat and semen during the act of sex no more anchors the novel to ‘reality’ than writing about stars in the eyes of the beloved.”

Myself, I attribute the unrealistic smallness of modernism to its secular nature. Without God, as Tolstoy explained, there’s nothing left to write about but sex and ennui.

via PJ Lifestyle » Why The Master Is No Master-Piece.

What a stunning insight from Tolstoy!   That was back in the 19th century, but he predicted the major subject matter of 20th and 21st century literary art.  I would just add that one can also write about–or make movies about or make music about–attempts to mask the ennui, the boredom, with sensationalistic distractions.  Thus, the explosions, car chases, murders, gore, escapism, and psychological fantasies that make up much of our pop culture.  (Not that there isn’t much of value and even greatness in 20th and 21st century literature–I am by no means dismissing or even criticizing it–but there sure is a lot of sex and ennui.)

Big issues before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court opens a new session today.  Lots of important cases are on the docket:

The first blockbuster case — a lawsuit challenging affirmative action in college admissions. The court will hear oral arguments in the case on Oct. 10, only the second week of the term. . . .

Another racially charged case could join the docket if justices take up a challenge to part of the Voting Rights Act. On the heels of an election with rampant charges of voter fraud and suppression, the court could weigh whether states with a history of discrimination should be required to get approval from Washington before changing their voting laws.

Walsh also said there’s a good chance the court will take up the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Two challenges to DOMA have been appealed to the high court, and a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 is also in the mix.

Legal experts say there’s no question the Supreme Court will rule on same-sex marriage in the near future; the only questions are which case or cases it will hear, and how quickly. . . .

Social issues aren’t the only big cases on the court’s horizon. The term will begin Monday with a closely watched case over whether U.S. judges can hear certain international cases.

The case was argued previously, but some justices seemed to want to rule on a broader question, so a re-hearing was scheduled. The last time that happened was the polarizing Citizens United case on campaign finance reform.

The justices will also consider police officers’ use of drug-sniffing dogs and possible invasions of privacy. A pair of cases set for argument in late October deal with canine units and the scope of the Constitution’s ban on illegal search and seizure.

via Controversial cases await justices – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com.

This reminds us of another issue in the presidential race:  Who gets to appoint Supreme Court justices?  At least a couple are in their 80s, and those life terms can have a big impact.    Any predictions as to how any of these cases will be decided?  Can there be any doubt that the Supreme Court, despite or perhaps even because of its conservative bloc, will rule in favor of gay marriage?


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