Goldwater’s pro-abortion conservatism

David Mills, at the First Things blog, found a quote from Barry Goldwater arguing that being pro-abortion is actually being conservative:

While searching the web for something, I came across the Planned Parenthood site and followed a link to a group of theirs called “Republicans for Choice.” It included as a pull-out quote these words from Barry Goldwater:

A lot of so-called conservatives today don’t know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.

It is impossible for me to think well of someone who could say something so morally cretinous, whatever else may be said in his favor. If protecting the life of the unborn is not conservative, I don’t know what would be—or, alternatively, why anyone would care to be a conservative. And if “do-gooder” is an insult in this case, the man doesn’t know what the good really is. He has taken a position the man of basic, of normal and merely human, moral awareness does not take.

via Goldwater and the Do-Gooders » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

The ad man as one of the writers

We have commercials.  Then came product placement, in which commercials enter the storyline.  Now we have advertisers working with writers to make the product an intrinsic part of the plot.  From Harold Meyerson, <a href=””>Moviemaking becomes commercial art</a>:

<blockquote>As the cost of filmmaking continues to rise, “product placement” has become a serious source of production funding. The more a product is shown or used in a movie, the Times reports, “the more a brand pays for the appearance, offering fees ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to several million a film.”

But Yospe&apos;s niche — “brand integration,” as his law firm’s Web site nicely terms it — takes the concept further by starting the process earlier. Rather than have studio executives arbitrarily edit in a scene set, say, in an Exxon gas station as production is wrapping up, Yospe meets with filmmakers and writers while their pictures are still on the drawing boards to help the product placement become more integral to the narrative and thematic flow. And clinching deals for certain brands can affect the casting and other major aspects of a film.

The Times story begins with a script conference between Yospe and the writer of a thriller-to-be. Yospe suggests that at a certain point in the picture, the heroes might get hungry. “There’s no fast-food scene at all,” he points out, “but they have to eat.”

Golden Arches, here we come.</blockquote>

The last Protestant justice leaves

Justice John Paul Stevens, 90 years old, has announced his retirement.  He is probably the most liberal justice, to the point that whoever President Obama nominates will probably be more conservative than he is.  Even if he or she is as liberal as he was, it won’t change the balance of the court.  But once Justice Stevens leaves, there will be no more Protestants on the Supreme Court.  So much for WASP dominance in America.

Of course, being a mainline Protestant was no impediment to his liberalism and his support for abortion. And that most members of the court today are Catholic just demonstrates how split that tradition is between conservative and liberal factions, including on abortion. We did have a Lutheran justice not too long ago in Chief Justice Rehnquist. I think, in the name of diversity, we should have at least a token evangelical Christian of some sort on the court, religion surely being as valid a category as race or ethnicity.

See Protestants vanish from high court? » GetReligion.

God’s alien work and His proper work

In our Sunday morning Bible class, we are studying Luther’s Commentary on Genesis. That work is an example of Luther at his best. His expositions of Scripture are stunning in their depth and insight. And here we find explanations of some of his key theological ideas, including the three estates (household, church, and state) and his doctrine of vocation.

Sunday we learned about God’s blessing of Noah after the flood and this distinction: God’s “proper work,” because it best expresses His nature, is to give life, grace, and love. He does indeed punish sin, but this is his “alien” work.

This distinction, related to that between Law and Gospel, is a recurring theme in Luther’s theology. He refers to this text from Isaiah:

For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed–strange is his deed! and to work his work–alien is his work! (Isaiah 28:21)

From The Heidelberg Disputation:

And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope).

I think it’s important to realize this about God–something probably only knowable through His revelation in the Incarnate Son–that His deepest nature is life-giving, expressed in the Gospel, and that His wrath, while very real, being a function of His holiness, is somehow alien to His nature, though something He uses to bring us to Himself. I think some people have the opposite idea, that God is intrinsically wrathful, though He makes exceptions to some.

Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas”

From a sermon by Rev. William Gleason:

Like many biblical stories, there are many pictures, icons and statues depicting Doubting Thomas; but the one I find most remarkable is the one painted by the 16th century artist Caravaggio. In it, Thomas is portrayed in a most animated, almost humorous, pose of skepticism: he is bent over so he can peer closely into the side of Jesus, his left hand perched doggedly on his hip, and his eyes are opened wide in order to scrutinize every bit of this wound. His right wrist is held by Christ, as He draws Thomas’s hand, his index finger extended, right into the hole that is in Jesus’ flesh. Two other disciples stand watching, mouths gaping open, as if they are more astonished by a shameless act of touching, than by the miraculous appearance of the crucified Christ.

But here is where Caravaggio has captured most vividly an essential element of this scene. Unlike many other pictures where Thomas is barely touching the body of Christ, this artist has Thomas’s finger stuck right into the side of Jesus, so much so that the Savior’s skin is pushed up by Thomas’s knuckle. Seeing this graphic illustration, I, too, find myself scandalized by this impetuous invasion of Jesus’ body. But that’s it! It’s Jesus’ body—His real, flesh and blood, living body. I can empathize with those men and women who simply could not believe what they were seeing. Or, perhaps, to put it more accurately, could only believe what they could see. . . .

Through the testimony of His Apostles, Christ continues to proclaim His victory over the world. When He showed Himself to them, He breathed on them His Holy Spirit and gave them the office and the authority that sets people free from the darkness of death: the Ministry of the forgiveness of sins. It is in forgiving sins that Christ imparts life and salvation. That forgiveness He dispenses by His Word and Spirit, by the preaching of His Gospel and Sacraments. The voice of Christ’s minister absolving sins is the voice of Christ absolving sins. The proclamation of the Gospel in the Church is the breath of the Spirit blowing through our land. The baptismal Font and the holy Chalice is where we find the flood of cleansing water and blood pouring forth from the side of Christ. And in the blessed Host the very body that Thomas once put his hand into, is now put into your hand and mouth so that you may believe and confess Christ as Lord and God. And when we sing after every Lord’s Supper, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,” we are making the bold confession of all those who behold by faith the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

via Weedon’s Blog: Pastor Gleason’s Homily.


Two parallel tragedies at Katyn Forest

April 7 was the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacre.  Here is the story, in brief, a chilling example of Stalin’s tactics, knowing that he was about to take over Poland:

In March 1940, Joseph Stalin signed an order for the mass execution of more than 22,000 Polish officers being held as prisoners of war. The April 1940 executions were systematic: Each office’s hands were tied behind his back, and each was shot with a single bullet through the base of the skull.

According to Poland&apos;s conscription system, the Polish officer corps included anyone with a university degree — Poland’s intelligentsia.

“By murdering these people, the Russians created a leadership vacuum,” said Alex Storozynski, the president of the Kosciuszko Foundation.

via Meeting of Russian, Polish leaders could shed light on 1940 massacre.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, that aircraft went down in Russia, killing 130 passengers, including that country’s president and a big part of its government and military leaders. It crashed in the KATYN FOREST! With tragic irony, the group had just come from the commemoration of the massacre. And there are other connections:

The Polish President and numerous top officials died aboard a TU-154 while trying to land at Smolensk airbase.He was on his way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre which took place in the woods near that city. Lech Kaczyński “was an activist in the pro-democratic anti-Communist movement in Poland … During the martial law introduced by the communists in December, 1981, he was interned as an anti-socialist element. After his release from internment, he returned to trade union activities, becoming a member of the underground Solidarity.” A BBC blog soliciting reader reactions said “Mr Kaczynski has been a controversial figure in Polish politics, advocating a right-wing Catholic agenda.” . . .

Dozens of important Polish officials died with him. Among those in the crash were Poland’s first lady, the head of the National Security Bureau, the Chief of the Polish Army General Staff, the President of the National Bank of Poland and the Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Polish Army. In terms of loss it is a miniature of the decapitation event he gone to commemorate: the Katyn Massacre.

After Poland went down before the onslaught of Nazi and Soviet forces in 1939-40, Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria decided to decapitate the country’s society. Since the Polish army required all university graduates to become reserve officers, the NKVD decided to kill two birds with one stone and eliminate the both the trained military manpower of Poland and its “intelligensia”. In 1940 the Communists shot more than 22,000 Polish officers in woods near Smolensk. These included an admiral, two generals, 24 colonels, 79 lieutenant colonels, 258 majors, 654 captains, 17 naval captains, seven chaplains, three landowners, a prince, 20 university professors, hundeds of physicians lawyers, engineers and teachers, more than 100 writers and journalists among others.

In true Bolshevik style, there was a cover story: the Soviets claimed the Nazis did it. But although the Nazis were guilty of many other crimes, Katyn was not one of them. “In April 1943, when the Polish government-in-exile insisted on bringing the matter to the negotiation table with the Soviets and on an investigation by the International Red Cross, Stalin accused the Polish government in exile of collaborating with Nazi Germany, broke diplomatic relations with it, and started a campaign to get the Western Allies to recognize the alternative Polish pro-Soviet government in Moscow led by Wanda Wasilewska.” That government in exile continued until the end of Communist rule in Poland in 1990. In one of the crash’s cruel ironies of the accident, the last Polish President in Exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, was onboard the doomed aircraft.

Also, see this: The Curse of Katyn.