The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Podcast #23: Life Is Precious
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Podcast #23: Life Is Precious

The enshrinement of abortion may be France's "disaster triumphant?"

Dear Friends,

I trust you had a joyous Easter and may this season be one of great blessing for you.

I am busy working on a new film—my “tent making”—but offer this earnest essay/homily for your consideration.

Your thoughts, in response, are always appreciated.

Enjoy these beautiful spring days. It’s been raining a lot here in Indy!

He Is Risen! Hallelujah!

D. Paul


Life Is Precious

It’s been hard not to watch the riveting videotape of the massive cargo ship, MV Dali, running into a critical support pier of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, bringing the heart of this 1.6-mile, continuous truss bridge tumbling down in dramatic fashion. The 21-member crew remain on the ship. To date, six workers on the bridge have perished. More bodies may be found. The fact that the Key Bridge serves 31,000 people a day crossing the Patapsco River and is a vital link to the Port of Baltimore adds a cost of millions to the inestimable loss of life.

Tragedies and mysteries and miracles abound, don’t they, and are the stuff of which our lives and stories are made. I still find it hard to believe that Malaysia Airlines flight 370 may be, except for bits and pieces, somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean—modern technology notwithstanding. On a happier note, I still find it amazing that Captain “Sully” Sullenberger III was able to land his powerless US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, with all 155 passengers and crew accounted for, the good Captain Sully walking up and down the aisle twice in knee-deep water to make sure not a soul was left on board. That’s my kind of Captain. *

Because life is precious, we are instinctively drawn to the tragic, whether when passing a horrific motorcar accident that we can’t help but look at, or when Isis terrorists invade a concert hall and kill 133 Russians, we mourn the loss, in spite of Putin’s own barbarity toward his Ukrainian neighbor. Yes, every life is precious—born and unborn.

And, so, I found it disquieting to read that President Emmanuel Macron and the French Parliament had enshrined abortion within their constitution (the first nation ever to do so), with French lawmakers on Monday, March 4, at the Palace of Versailles, voting to amend Article 34 of its constitution to state: “A woman has the guaranteed freedom to have recourse to an abortion,” strengthening a 1975 law that already legalized abortion in the country. This highly praised, “progressive” move marks only the 25th amendment to the Constitution of the Fifth Republic of France, which was established in 1958.

Now, here are some interesting, contextual facts: Though the exact numbers are shifting, approximately a million women a year get pregnant in France, with recent abortion statistics running about 200,000 annually, a surprisingly high percentage when the readily available contraceptives are taken into account. Add to that number a falling French birth rate (only longevity keeps it steady) and a growing Muslim birth rate (a Muslim woman gives birth around 3 times that of her French counterpart), the future for the Republic looks dim. Some actuaries, particularly after taking immigration projections into consideration, calculate France will become a majority Muslim nation by 2060. The implications are staggering—from the expansion of the ungovernable banlieues to the acceptance of Sharia law within the judiciary—the ultimate irony being the possibility of a Muslim-led Parliament removing the currently enshrined “guaranteed freedom” and permitting abortions only when the life of the mother is threatened, as is the case in most Muslim countries today. If such projections and speculations could even remotely be true, one can’t help but ask if France is in the grips of a subliminal death wish.

For many Christians, including devout French Catholics, this enshrinement of abortion into the French constitution is an ominous sign. If “light, “reason,” and “humanity” were core values to the enlightenment of the French Republic, it is now accompanied by a narcotic arrogance and narcissism. Perhaps it’s best put in the Dialectic of Enlightenment, a 1947 book by philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno: “Enlightenment” they wrote, “has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. Yet the wholly enlightened earth radiates under the sign of disaster triumphant.

In our disposable culture, we have little idea of the value and ultimate worth of what we are discarding. Might it not be that among the 200,000 French abortions in 2021 there might have been another Joan of Arc, a Pierre-Auguste Renoir, another St. Vincent de Paul, a Charles de Gaulle, a Louis Pasteur, another Madame Curie, or just a brilliantly talented street urchin turned soccer player who would delight 80,000 roaring fans with his “football” skills at the Stade de France. The Guttmacher Institute’s latest reports put US abortions at over 900,000 in 2021. Might there have been a baby girl or boy among them who would eventually be the one to crack the code to cancer?

Not heeding the “disaster triumphant” warnings, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told MPs and the Senators who had gathered at Versailles, "We're sending a message to all women. Your body belongs to you, and no one can decide for you." While “My body, my choice” rings true for millions, Scripture offers us a very different narrative: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, which you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]. You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20 Amplified Bible, AMP).

Well, my friends, no wonder the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is considered counter cultural. You mean to say, “I am not the Master of my own body?” No, as much as I may wish to be, I am not, and the “faith of our fathers” continues to offer us and the Church a rich, exciting, and mysteriously counter-cultural narrative.

The Psalmist David writes: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:15, English Standard Version).

Jeremiah agrees: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV).

Isaiah adds to this, imploring: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named me by name” (Isaiah 49:1, ESV).

Such Scripture is rubbish to some, questionable to others, and subject to interpretation, even among the faithful. When is the last time you heard an in-depth sermon on any of the above scriptures? Today’s Church, in great part, ignores them. It’s just too controversial.

Yet another powerful testimony to “life” in the womb awaits us as chronicled in the Gospel according to Luke: a pregnant Mary, the mother of Jesus, visits her relative, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant with a child who will be named John. Elizabeth exclaims to Mary that, “As soon as the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44, NIV). This was not an early contraction, a random kick, or a theatrical Elizabeth exaggerating in hopes of “bonding” with Mary—no!—the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy simultaneously to Elizabeth being “filled by the Holy Spirit,” that same Holy Spirit animating the six-month-old John to leap in joyful acknowledgement at the presence of the baby Jesus—the Christ—who would save his people from their sins. Hallelujah!

Impossible you say? So thought the young, virgin Mary when told by the angel Gabriel, “You will be with child and give birth to a son” who “will be called the Son of God,” Gabriel assuring the fearful Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” and that “…with God, nothing is impossible.” As that wise 19th century commentator, Matthew Henry, puts it, if “nothing is impossible with Godthen…no word of God must be incredible to us, as long as no work of God is impossible to him.”

On a personal note, when my Down Syndrome daughter, Danelle, was born, the doctor suggested to my wife and me that we might not want to give her the digitalis that was keeping her alive, asking us point-blank whether we needed to be straddled with someone so severely handicapped. A year later, in 1978, when Danelle had open-heart surgery at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, we were told the odds of her making it were about 50/50.

How impoverished the life of my family would have been over the past 47 years if we’d heeded the doctor’s “suggestion.” Every life is precious, and “with God, nothing is impossible.”

Teach it, Church, preach it, live it! Jesus’s words are true: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

Amen

* If you haven’t seen the movie “Sully,” starring the irrepressible Tom Hanks and the indefatigable nonagenarian, Clint Eastwood, catch it where and when you can. It’s a treasure of a movie.

“The Church’s One Foundation Is Jesus Christ Her Lord.

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The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Dramatist, D.Paul Thomas, writes and podcasts on the Church's one foundation--Jesus Christ her Lord!