When the Strange God Wins, You Kill Yourself

A recent post dealt with the growing trend of (presumably adult) people, feeling entitled to express open displeasure at the public existence of children and their parents, or — as one contributor to the New York Times Magazine put it — “These wan goons. . .bringing their squealing offspring to brunch or for clogging up the sidewalk…”

The same issue featured this letter to the editor, written by “Carolyn” in Maryland:

Five years ago I faced an unwanted pregnancy. At the time, I had a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, and I was working full time as a college professor and living an upper-middle-class life. When I found out I was pregnant at eight weeks, I consulted with my husband (who supported either decision) and we scheduled an abortion the following week. I was overwhelmed at the thought of caring for another child. Had I been turned away, I’m sure that I would be able to report that I loved that third child, that our family was doing well and that there were no notable negative impacts or issues as a result of bearing and raising the child from an unwanted pregnancy. I can, however, say the same thing now, having not had that child.

The blood runs cold. Break it down to its essentials, and it’s “Yeah, I could have had the kid and we’d have still been fine, but what’s the difference? This way I wasn’t inconvenienced.”

Or, put another way: “I just sacrificed my child to the idol of I. The idol of myself. I can’t even claim he was sacrificed for the idol of future plans, or that she was sacrificed to the idol of a career. No, I just sacrificed my child to me. To the idea of me: Ms. Personal Autonomy. I am like a god! I decide who lives and dies; didn’t feel like having another baby, so I killed it. Because I could. My other two kids only breathe and live by my grace, alone.”

The rhetoric surrounding abortion is fraught with high drama and the mantra “rape, incest or life of the mother” is repeated so frequently most don’t realize that those circumstances account for less than 2% of all abortions. Some women are pressured into an abortion; some abort because they are frightened and do not believe they have an option, or support. “Carolyn”, though, exposes the ugly truth: for many women an abortion is nothing more than service to the self, a sacrifice to the Almighty-I, which is the Strange God that tempts us all, and whom we are all called to reject — to “run away from”, as Pope Francis would say.

Then why, one might ask, would the New York Times run the letter and risk exposing this ugly truth? Why wouldn’t they? It is the creed of the New York Times that abortion is a “human right” and as such should be available “any time, for any reason with no apologies”, and so the shrugging witness of a disciple like “Carolyn” would have delighted them. St. Gregory of Nyssa said that “ideas lead to idols” and that letter assists in normalizing an I-god making idea they have been happy to promote for years: that not wanting to buy big jars of mayonnaise at Costco is as good as any reason for killing your babies. Yes, both of them.

In my book, Strange Gods; Unmasking the Idols in Everyday life, I recall a friend who chose to have an abortion because her wedding was looming. Obsessed with having a “perfect” day, she sacrificed the baby to the idol she had made of her plans. The marriage didn’t last, but that baby would have been over 30 years old, now, and a source of love in her life. Very likely my friend would have loved her son or daughter as much as she loved the children she eventually delivered — especially as she got older, and realized (as we all do with age) that unconditional love is a rare and precious thing, not to be tossed away lightly.

. . .a baby is a coming of new love; it is a means by which God, who is love, renews the face of the earth. Anything might build upon it; new life, new love, and a new phase of God’s design. . . . a new human being, full of love, is so much more of a lasting adventure than a big wedding and a dusty honeymoon album.

It is precisely because a baby brings the unconditional love of God to us in a renewed way that evil cannot abide it, and works so desperately to prevent it.

Earlier today David French also wrote about “Abortion and the Idol of the Self”

. . .people love themselves so much that they’re willing to kill another person to keep a boyfriend, to maintain a standard of living, or for many, many other reasons — none of which would ever justify killing another person outside the womb. . . The precursor for abortion is the idol of the self [and] abortion won’t end until the idol is destroyed.

But the idol is the self and so self-destruction is, paradoxically, the only thing that will satisfy.

That Strange God — the idol that is the idea of I — has the full force of the press, the United States Government and a lot of mindless, deluded sloganeering drones, who have no notion that they are no further enlightened than Eve; that they are standing in Eden, before a slithering hisser of lies, who introduces death to their hearts and souls with a single promise, “consume it and be like gods…”

About Elizabeth Scalia

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