Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest" [SK]

Read this moving speech and be reminded why Fr. Richard John Neuhaus will be missed by pro-lifers in the difficult days ahead.

Here is one of my favorite parts of the speech:

The culture of death is an idea before it is a deed. I expect many of us here, perhaps most of us here, can remember when we were first encountered by the idea. For me, it was in the 1960s when I was pastor of a very poor, very black, inner city parish in Brooklyn, New York. I had read that week an article by Ashley Montagu of Princeton University on what he called “A Life Worth Living.” He listed the qualifications for a life worth living: good health, a stable family, economic security, educational opportunity, the prospect of a satisfying career to realize the fullness of one’s potential. These were among the measures of what was called “a life worth living.”

And I remember vividly, as though it were yesterday, looking out the next Sunday morning at the congregation of St. John the Evangelist and seeing all those older faces creased by hardship endured and injustice afflicted, and yet radiating hope undimmed and love unconquered. And I saw that day the younger faces of children deprived of most, if not all, of those qualifications on Prof. Montagu’s list. And it struck me then, like a bolt of lightning, a bolt of lightning that illuminated our moral and cultural moment, that Prof. Montagu and those of like mind believed that the people of St. John the Evangelist—people whom I knew and had come to love as people of faith and kindness and endurance and, by the grace of God, hope unvanquished—it struck me then that, by the criteria of the privileged and enlightened, none of these my people had a life worth living. In that moment, I knew that a great evil was afoot. The culture of death is an idea before it is a deed.

In that moment, I knew that I had been recruited to the cause of the culture of life. To be recruited to the cause of the culture of life is to be recruited for the duration; and there is no end in sight, except to the eyes of faith.

Perhaps you, too, can specify such a moment when you knew you were recruited. At that moment you could have said, “Yes, it’s terrible that in this country alone 4,000innocent children are killed every day, but then so many terrible things are happening in the world. Am I my infant brother’s keeper? Am I my infant sister’s keeper?” You could have said that, but you didn’t. You could have said, “Yes, the nation that I love is betraying its founding principles—that every human being is endowed by God with inalienable rights, including, and most foundationally, the right to life. But,” you could have said, “the Supreme Court has spoken and its word is the law of the land. What can I do about it?” You could have said that, but you didn’t. That horror, that betrayal, would not let you go. You knew, you knew there and then, that you were recruited to contend for the culture of life, and that you were recruited for the duration.
My own recruitment happened here.

HT: Doug Groothuis


  1. Hi Scott,

    So many are so grateful that you said yes to your recruiting!
    May I ask you, at present,where is the best website for the current status and implications of the Freedom of Choice Act? And do you have any advice for pastors here? This feels like Germany in the 1930s.

  2. Hi Reepicheep,
    Thanks for the kind remarks about my work. Th best sites for keeping tabs on FOCA are The Family Research Council and National Right to Life. (I'm having trouble inserting links in the comment section, so you'll have to google.) National Review's The Corner is also good at keeping up on things.

    For pastors, you can see the link on our home page (www.prolifetraining.com) which reads "The Pro-Life Pastor." Also, my new book, due out March 31, has a three chapters dealing with the role of the church on abortion.

    Hope that helps. Keep contending like that powerful little mouse who never shrank back from a good fight!

  3. "by the criteria of the privileged and enlightened, none of these my people had a life worth living"

    Powerful stuff ...

    If the culture of death is an idea before it is a deed (as I agree with him that it is), then the fact that he, and you, and Jay, have been recruited to defeat it is no accident. Each of you is a mighty example to all of us about the mastering of both ideas and deeds in the pursuit of that goal.

  4. Hi Scott,

    Since you mentioned you are working on your new book, I would like to encourage you to vigorously refute David Boonin’s abortion-choice arguments in your book. If we can consistently refute Boonin’s arguments clearly, the pro-life view can make an even greater impact. If Boonin’s arguments are refuted in a way that is easy to understand, that would be great. I’m on page 260 of Boonin’s A Defense of Abortion and I’m still amazed by how thoroughly he examines the abortion topic.

  5. Kyl,

    Frank Beckwith already pretty well handled Boonin and his book in Defending Abortion Philosophically: A Review of David Boonin's A Defense of Abortion.

    If you google it you should find it pretty easily.

    God bless,

  6. Kyl,
    I deal with Boonin's bodily autonomy defense in my book (though Beckwith is more detailed than me), but Serge has some excellent posts on the subject in general, one of which you can access right now:


    I will try and find the others relating to bodily rights claims later tonight.

    Boonin also claims the unborn are not valuable human beings because they lack higher cortical organization. WHy this is decisive and not something else is not clearly stated. But beyond that, his criteria for what makes humans special doesn't fit in either worldview, theistic or Darwinistic. For theists, humans have value because of who's image they bear, not because of some developmental function they perform. In Darwin, humans of any stage of development are mere cosmic accidents and thus have no intrinsic value.

    So where, exactly, does Boonin fit in terms of his own attempts to ground human value?

  7. Thanks for the information. I’ll study those resources.

    God bless,


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