Sunday, March 10, 2013

towards a new pro-life movement

towards a pro-life culture:

I've never had all that much luck forcing my views on other people, not that I tend to do that, but I guess I've had my days, where I've found myself in arguments. Maybe it was my upbringing though, more characteristically, being the youngest and the smallest in a family that couldn't communicate, how I learned to stay out of the way, that was how I survived. And so as a kid, when you go to school, you learn to stay out of the way there too, and then you get a job, or find yourself in another not so great relationship (that would have been much of my twenties), you realize that you're falling into the same old pattern. Stay out of the way, no one gets hurt. So, I was always a quiet Christian, a quiet pro-lifer, and there's nowhere where you get that, stay out of the way message, more in our culture than with the topic of abortion. Just stay out of the way, or so we tell ourselves, again and again. Don't talk about it. Pretend it isn't there. It's none of your business. Yet I feel compelled by the things I find myself writing about in mid-life because I can't help myself. I figure I either have really bad judgement, or God has a sense of humour, or maybe it's a bit of both. But if God works in mysterious ways, maybe He is healing that little four year old that was always looking for a place to hide. I think sometimes this is getting a bit easier, saying what I think that is, or maybe it isn't, depends on the day...

So, I don't like conflict. I really really don't. I don't like to offend people. I try to be positive as I'm looking at a culture, where what I believe is mud, Christianity, and telling people what they can and can't do with their own bodies is seen as unforgivable. In short, we have an image problem, Christians and pro-lifers. Yes, we do. And I guess that was what got me started doing this sort of thing, the realization that my secular minded friends wanted nothing to do with what I believed, and it had nothing to do with having love for your neighbor, or treating others the way you wish to be treated. And then I would go to church, feeling like I had been in a submarine all week, submerged in the depths of a dying culture, and find myself in a different world for a couple of hours, and then I would be back in my submarine, trying to breathe against an ocean that was gushing in. And so I find myself treading water, sinking sometimes, while trying to build a bridge between the two worlds that I find myself in.

I was listening to a little blurb a while back on You Tube with Os Guinness, where he was reflecting on a conversation that he had had with the founder of MTV, where this media giant had apparently said that if the pro-life movement were to focus on persuasion, rather than pronouncements (or legality I would add), that we would have won the abortion debate long ago. I've been thinking about this, persuasion, contrasting the typical mental images in my mind of the pro-life movement: slogans, placards, with Anne Geddes, baby photographer extraordinaire, yes that Anne Geddes. Anne Geddes knows how to market babies, lots and lots of babies, and she's done very well for herself selling stylized images of babies. Every bathroom I go into it seems, at least if it's in the house of a woman, there's Anne Geddes, selling babies again haha. I don't go gaga over babies in flower pots myself, doesn't do much for me at all actually, haha. I usually just think-that's a baby-in a flower pot, and then flush haha. Time to wash my hands. But seriously, if Anne Geddes can sell babies, why can't we? Why is it that Anne Geddes can "sell" babies, and the pro-life movement can't sell babies to save our lives, -or theirs? Just something to think about.

Something I remember learning in sociology class, about advertising or messaging, is that if it's too difficult of a message, or hits people too hard, that we tend to tune out. That was a long time ago now that I remember hearing that, but it makes sense to me, that people can only take so much emotionally, and images especially are very powerful. I know that's true with me, I have to balance how much I take in, make sure I have a couple of good sized cups of tea in me in the morning before I turn on the news, for example. So, it seems reasonable to me (that a good part of our problem as pro-lifers), that when people see images of broken children, it's too much for them, and that anger gets turned on the messenger. Why not instead show images of mothers with children, happy healthy little kids, tiny babies in utero with their little bums up, sleeping with their thumbs in their mouth? How cute is that?  I just remember a friend describing her ultrasound like that haha. Or, newly adoptive parents? I'm in the final stages of what has been a difficult adoptive process, but I wouldn't change it. And I feel very humbled, knowing that I wouldn't have my little boy, if not for his mom and dad. I know it wasn't easy, but it is an option, an option that we can promote with compassion, as I know many pro-lifers do graciously, giving of their personal time and resources, to help people in crisis pregnancies. We could do all this while accepting, I'm suggesting, that we're not going to change every mind. I think that's just reality, please forgive me. But I am hoping, that if we were to focus on positives, rather than seeing this as a battle ground, that people might begin to be more open to what we're trying to say. I can dream, right?

In short, I'm not in marketing, but I always thought that if I was a business person, if I believed in a product, I could sell it. I believe in the sanctity of life, what could be more precious, what could be of greater value to safeguard, to treasure, to uphold as a culture? Life: the sanctity of human life, and the unborn potential of a tiny human being, formed in the grace of God. I don't see how you have a foundation for any other value or human right, without a culture that values life itself firstly, as an end in itself. I want to be part of creating that culture, a culture of life, a culture that inspires, that seeks to cultivate meaning and purpose, joyfully, beautifully.

I was listening to a lecture about C.S Lewis the other day, and the professor commented that C.S. Lewis remains a very influential and inspiriting writer, probably because he was very good at combining ideas or reason with imagination. It brought to mind the words of an adult friend reminiscing about his childhood and how at 11 years of age he would read and reread the Narnia books, as he expressed, recalling longingly, "I want to go to Narnia!"  I don't remember hearing about the Narnia books until I was grown, but I want to meet Aslan too, and that's coming from a middle aged woman haha. Wouldn't that be great, to meet Aslan, face to face? Hmmn. I've had enough of this angst filled misery of dejection that they call art these days, the pop songs say it all about where our culture is at. How long can a society go on, tearing itself down, turning in on itself, questioning everything, while building nothing?  I've had enough of the teeming white noise, the pulsating  rhythms that go nowhere, the posturing without harmony, the words without melody, the screams without meaning. I want to be part of creating a culture that inspires rather than repulses, that motivates and uplifts. But how do you do that, and where do you find that, when it seems like everything is broken, with no handbook in sight? Well, one final thought from Guinness about how interesting it is, that while we in the west are cutting ourselves off from our Christian roots, that many parts of the world are embracing that very foundation, our historic foundation. I don't know if the west will ever reclaim it's Judeo-Christian heritage, but I would hope that the church itself could have a new awakening, and maybe that's all that matters, that we awake from our slumber, and that Aslan is on the move.

thanks for listening,

M.A. Harvey

C.S. Lewis quote:

“They say Aslan is on the move - perhaps has already landed.”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning - either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Chapter 7


Art Linsley on C.S. Lewis:

Os Guinness: The Christian church and the western world

Os Guinness on apologetics:

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