Monday, December 27, 2004

This comment on Amy Welborn's blog, which I should hasten to add, she has not endorsed.

What about all those people, many not even Catholics, who show up for baptisms and turn the Mass, between the readings and the Eucharist, into a giant photo-op and video fest. The nerve of them, overperfumed, with large hats, bright lights, and funny accents, jumping from their pews into the aisles, walking all around snapping pictures and taking video, talking and calling out to the little child to "Look this way!" I've even seen some carry the naked baby from the font and lay them on the altar to dress them in their white robes as if we were about to celebrate Eucharist at a changing table! Oh, the indignity of it all! How dare they! Who are these people, and why do they insist on taking over our church for their family events?

I sincerely hope this is a joke, because it's really hard for me to imagine someone with the first clue about the sacrament of Baptism spouting off about it like this, but assuming its not...

This comment has it all -- complaining about a local issue to hundreds or thousands of people throughout the country, devaluing the sacraments ("family events????"), and utter contempt for the other folks worshopping with us each week at Mass.

I sincerely hope the other congregants greeted this new Christian with more warmth and pleasure than is reflected here.

I also can't help but think how confirming this looks to pro-choice folks out there who think that pro-lifers don't care about people once they're born.

I also think it's ironic that this was in a comment about lamenting the replacement of "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays." Before we insist that our public spaces be more friendly to Christianity, maybe we should make our churches more friendly to the newest Christians.

UPDATE: I had contacted the author of the comment, and, thankfully, it was meant as a parody of another poster's expressed frustration with the Christmas and Easter crowd. That's a relief!

Monday, December 06, 2004

In a society as hostile to arguments based on the dignity of the human person, it is tempting to use utilitarian type arguments to advance pro-life cases.

One example is confronting the hype about embryonic stem cell research with the observation that adult stem cell research is just as promising.

This is very tempting. For one thing, it provides a counter-example to the strawman argument that those who oppose embryonic research do so because they "hate science." Bringing up adult stem cell research helps to demonstrate that we aren't against research into life-saving cures; we're just against destroying embryos to do that.

But if we put all our rhetorical eggs in this basket, and adult embryonic research truns out to be a flop, then what? The promise of adult stem cell research is a good thing, but even without it, embronic research would be just as wrong.

Another example popped up in Amy Welborn's comment box concerning immigration. Some were asserting that US Catholics should favor liberalized immigration policies because the immigrants in question come from Catholic pro-life backgrounds, and would likely move the culture more towards one that embraces life. Others responded with data that suggested otherwise.

But it's all irrelevant. Thinking like this reduces the immigrants to tools, rather than human persons with their own dignity to be repected. It's absurd to think an authentically pro-life society will emerge based on a policy derived from arguments like this.

A final example is the latest go-round on torture over in the Disputations comment boxes. One commenter notes that a good argument against using torture is that the information gleaned from it is unreliable. But what if someone combines torture with some truth serum?

These types of arguments are very tempting, and I've used some of them myself. But trying to build a pro-life culture out of utilitarian arguments like this is building our house on sand.