Week in Review: Stop The Moralizing, Power of Images, Abortion, & New Playlist
This Week in Review was written by Ricardo Huerta.
1. Pew Research polls continue to give us the same dire results for American religion: it’s in decline. Theories on why this is the case run galore. Over at the Mockingbird blog Sean Dwyer gives a personal account of why he stopped attending his church. Dwyer writes,
“Like everyone, I find myself under the immense weight of countless demands in life, from within myself and from without. And I am not meeting the standards I inherently set for myself or the standards others inevitably set for me. And then I go to church and get a heavy dose of this “fresh poison”—more exhortations to holy living and kingdom activism, as if this could motivate exhausted people like myself. In this I experience the “deathless death”: while I realize that “we were born sick,” I am left wondering if the solution is for me to double down on my efforts. My conformity to these precepts even gives me some things to believe about myself, namely, that I may be overcoming my illness, and/or that I am proving to myself that I really belong. Really, there is nowhere else to turn when the Church “offers no absolution.”
Dwyer gets things oh-so-right here. Forgive the cliché, but a great number of church’s today are far from hospitals for sinners. Instead, we get our weekly dosage of biblical moralizing rather than the Gospel message of grace and forgiveness that we all know we need to make it to the next Sunday. You don’t tell exhausted and wounded people (i.e. sinners who sin against other sinners) that if they take on the virtues and morals of said biblical passage things will turn for the better. No, you feed them the theology of the cross that says Christ has done what they could never do for themselves, namely, take on their guilt and sin (absolution) and grant them righteousness they never deserved (imputation).
2. Over at First Things J.D. Flynn has penned a piece on Down Syndrome Ireland’s condemnation of Irish pro-lifers using images of people with down syndrome in their activist efforts to halt abortions of the unborn diagnosed with the disorder. Flynn’s case is simple: aborting unborn children with down syndrome is a form of eugenics and images prove to be a powerful tool in humanizing people that abortionists have deemed unfit for life. Perhaps the most powerful part of the piece is Flynn’s assessment of fear. He writes,
“If I’m being honest, I still find it difficult sometimes to talk with intellectually disabled adults I don’t know well. I don’t know where to begin. Their world is different—they are different—and their other-ness provokes, in many of us, a kind of fear… Abortion activists often mask their fear in the language of compassion. They say that no one should have to live with the challenges of Down syndrome. That it’s unfair, or even unhealthy, for parents to face the burden of caring for a disabled child. That the disabled ought to be spared their short, difficult, and painful lives. But in large part, it’s the fear of living with people who are very different from us that causes the staggering abortion rate of children with Down syndrome…I understand the fear of otherness. But I also, from the experience of my own family, know that familiarity will overcome that fear, as will friendship, and, eventually, love. The best hope we have for ending the propensity to abort children with Down syndrome is to help people overcome their fears.”
3. This past week the Republicans presented a bill to ban abortions that took place past 20 weeks. The Democrats successfully blocked the bill after Republicans failed to meet the 60-vote requirement in the senate to stop a filibuster. Was this a win for the Democrats? New York Times columnist David Brooks doesn’t seem to think so. Writing his column from the vantage point of a Democratic consultant, Brooks points out the contradictions in the party’s stance on the issue. He writes,
“We need to acknowledge our vulnerability here. Democrats support the right to choose throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy. But babies are now viable outside the womb at 22 weeks. As Emma Green wrote in The Atlantic, scientific advances “fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion.” Parents can see their babies’ faces earlier and earlier…We’re [also] learning how cognitively active fetuses are… I’m asking us to rethink our priorities. What does America need most right now? One of our talking points is that late-term abortions are extremely rare. If they are extremely rare, why are we giving them priority over all of our other issues combined?”
4. Coming to you a few weeks late with this, but Cathy Newman’s car crash interview of University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson is well worth your time. Newman was roundly criticized following the interview for misrepresenting Peterson’s views and continuously telling him what she thought he actually believed. Isn’t that just the best!? If anything, this is a lesson in how not to have a thoughtful dialogue. Enjoy!
5. Speaking of Jordan Peterson, I can't help but throw in this piece from the Babylon Bee.
6. Finally, take some time to listen to Vista’s new February Playlist. The theme for this month’s playlist is love (Valentine’s Day is around the corner so why not). It’s an odd but interesting mixture of hip-hop, rock, and something else!