The Fall of Roe

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings,” J.R.R. Tolkien.

After nearly 50 years, Roe has fallen. The dragon is slain.

The decision overturns the 1973 ruling of seven men who eradicated every law in America that prevented or restricted the destruction of preborn children.

Now states can decide whether and how to limit abortion. Sixteen states have already taken up the mantle of protection for the unborn.

Mississippi’s case, the one SCOTUS ruled on, limits abortion after 15 weeks–more than a third of the way through pregnancy.

Oklahoma passed a law protecting the unborn from fertilization (with exceptions, reported rape or assault, medical emergency, Plan B). Texas’s law restricts abortion after six weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. (See here also)

Arkansas’s law is also quite restrictive, allowing abortion only when the mother’s life is endangered. Aside from cases like a tubal pregnancy in which the non-viable child’s death is assured, ending a pregnancy prematurely because of a mother’s health issue does not require the death of a viable child. That’s an idea pro-abortion advocates have ignored since before Roe. There’s a big difference between seeking the outcome of a dead child and ending a pregnancy early to care for both mother and child.

In anticipation of today, eight states promised legal access to abortion until birth as per Roe. At least New York expanded abortion access so as not to require a licensed physician to perform the procedure.

Efforts to pass expansive abortion laws on a nationwide basis have failed.

That’s where things stand today. What comes next?

For the other side, the battle has risen to a new level where there can be no limitations–and not just inside abortion facilities.

A prime example is the firebombing of crisis pregnancy centers recently.

These incidents rightly remind us of abortion clinic bombings in the late ’70s through the ’80s and into the ’90s. Media outlets widely publicized the bombings and arson of abortion facilities. Pro-life advocates decried the violence.

This time, the media have largely ignored attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers.

Further, legislative leaders (see here and here) have ignored or have gone so far as to support illegal protests outside the homes of SCOTUS Justices. The White House encouraged such demonstrations supporting a clear violation of the law prohibiting citizens from attempting to intimidate the judiciary to achieve a desired decision.

Not prosecuting illegal protesters may have contributed to a more serious form of protest also muted in the media.

The New York Times buried the attempt to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh on page 20.

Did the media tell themselves that one “crazy” person showing up with a knife, gun and other paraphernalia didn’t deserve a prominent headline. We must ask whether there is only one or a crowd of people willing to allow (or perpetrate) assassination for the sake of a political end?

It’s a crowd, and it’s larger than we would have imagined. Forty-four percent of young Democrat males as well as 34 percent of their Republican counterparts affirm “assassinating a politician who is harming the country or our democracy” as a moral good.

The Culture War is getting hotter, more warlike.

With Roe gone, a great deal hangs in the balance.

On the side of life, there are the children, parents, and other family members who become walking wounded after the trauma of abortion.

On the other side, Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion entity recorded its fifth-highest profits in 2017 at $98.5 million. Profits for 2020 were a mere $69.7 million. The University of Pittsburgh garnered millions in federal tax dollars for its companion industry of fetal experimentation.

The entities who make money from the deaths of children won’t give up easily.

Radicals willing to bomb and threaten those who oppose them won’t either.

Those of us on the side of life must continue to advocate peacefully for the innocent. Aside from the Dobbs decision, we have made progress.

As with many other issues, Americans are very divided over abortion although 70 percent of us favor some limitations, and growing numbers now call themselves pro-life.

We see courage in those willing to stand their ground in crisis pregnancy ministries–especially in states where the balance is tipped in abortion’s favor.

A decision has come down. But the argument is not over. Today is a day to proclaim repentance for our nation’s sins.

It’s a day to celebrate.

It’s a day to commit to courage come what may.

“Courage comes from the deepest recesses of our soul, where belief, hope, conviction, and grounded optimism, tempered by life experience, reside. It is seldom needed; when courage is called for, we either have it or not. those who know how to rally, in heart and deed, carry the day. Those who fold to fear slide away,” Robert B. Charles.

Let us not slide away.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Men Healing from Abortion

You pick up the stone on a Friday. At some time over the weekend, you’re supposed to put it down.

The stone can represent many things–your sin, your bitterness toward yourself, toward someone else. It’s the burden you’ve been carrying. It’s been the rock in the pocket of your heart for years.

But over the next few days, you’ll finally be able to put it down. And you’ll finally find healing you didn’t know was possible.

Such is the experience of many men attending a retreat to heal from abortion.

A typical situation begins with two people who come together in passing or in love–but always in passion.

She becomes pregnant.

He doesn’t resist when she says she’ll have an abortion–even though she may be hoping he will take a stand on behalf of their child–that he will choose to stand by her.

Or perhaps he pushes her to abort the baby.

Or perhaps he will learn of the abortion only after it’s already happened.

He’s often the neglected one in such situations.

Since before Roe v. Wade, we’ve heard that abortion is between a woman and her doctor. It’s nobody else’s business.

Except it doesn’t work that way–even though it may take him years to understand that the wound from abortion is the stone that has been weighing him down.

In The Tears of the Fisherman, Kevin Burke writes:

“[Many men] do not associate the symptoms they are suffering [depression, addiction, inability to maintain relationships] with that abortion event in their past. Even if a man is aware that he is hurting from participating in the death of his unborn child, there is no safe place to share that burden.”

He has no place to go–either because no one else knows about the abortion or because those who do know don’t want to discuss it.

Burke explains why healing is so important:

“When you went through that abortion experience the natural need for you to grieve the loss of your child and your parental relationship with your son or daughter was also aborted. For some men and women, forgiving self and letting go of the burden of self-condemnation feels like letting go of the only real connection with their unborn child or children.”

Yet there is hope–for both men and women. Hope comes, not in forgetting, but in honoring and remembering. Healing ministries provide the opportunity to remember, to name the child, to repent, to find forgiveness.

Burke’s book lists the following:

Abortionforgiveness.com is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Menandabortion.net helps men find healing and works to raise awareness of men’s abortion pain in counselors, pro-life workers, and society at large.

House of Esau offers weekend retreats for men seeking healing from abortion.

And Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry for married couples, parents, and grandparents. This ministry provides the stone that symbolizes the burden of abortion.

Burke quotes an attendee of a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreat: “After I picked up my rock, I was inspired to share with the group. ‘I’ve been carrying this rock for 14 years. I’ve been emotionally dead for that long.’”

He is dead no more.

Laying down the burden of death brings new life.

Reposted from 9/26/19

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertisement.

HEADlines: No Other Way

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, April 23, 2022

“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction,” Malachi 4:6 (ESV).

“A society based on ‘agape’ [sacrificial love] alone is all very well, but it will not reproduce itself: nor will it produce the crucial relation–that between parent and child–which is the basis on which we can begin to understand our relation to God. Hence, the redemption of the erotic lies at the heart of every viable social order.” Roger Scruton~

Charles J. Chaput includes the above Scruton quote in his book Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living. Earlier in the book, Chaput explains that the word sacrifice “derives from the Latin sacrum facere–to make sacred; to set aside as holy.”

In his chapter on the family, “The Ties that Bind,” Chaput provides four factors that work against the process of strong families forming a strong society.

The first is political: The Christian view of what a family is–mom, dad, and the kids–is “a magnet for ill will” in a society informed by a “pervasive and permissive mass media–permissive toward some causes; bigoted toward others.” Chaput asserts that the independent-mindedness that democratic government fosters ultimately leads to this ill will since the “biblical authority of the Christian family is, finally, undemocratic.”

A family that functions with father and mother, equal in status, wielding authority, and filling different roles, is anathema to today’s liberal thinkers. Even so, the institution of the family is the primary factor in societal stability.

The second factor is economic: “Globalism has served America’s wealthy top tier quite well. But as lower-skilled jobs disappear, middle- and working-class wages have stagnated–or worse, declined . . . [forcing] both parents out of the home . . . [and keeping] many families from saving even for emergencies.” In such an environment, “the liberty and power of most individuals has declined.” We are now “free to make very few significant choices.”

The shift from local production to worldwide manufacturing has made the American Dream, family-sustaining independence, a memory for many.

The third factor is technological advances: “[C]oncern for electronic diversions and their impact on the mental health and development of children is now widespread.” Addiction to screens, addiction to porn, and mental passivity result from our devotion to daily screen time.

Even more concerning are “family-related technology issues” such as “mitochondrial replacement therapy–i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF) with genetic material from three different adults.”

Chaput quotes Brendan Fohr: “The willingness of the fertility industry to use experimental technologies like three-parent IVF to satisfy the kinship desire of prospective parents, even when it means putting the health of the child at risk, bodes ill for how they will use the even more powerful technologies of genetic engineering now on the horizon.”

We have embarked into a Brave New World in which sex and reproduction continue to lose connection. That connection is the primary tie that binds, the “crucial relation” Scruton cited as a foundation for our understanding of God. The melding agape to eros (romantic, physical love) in families is how God created us to reproduce–physically and spiritually.

Finally, the fourth factor circles back to the first and echoes the third–hostility toward the family and pursuit of increased distance between sex and reproduction. Nineteenth-century “revolutionaries, like Marx and Engels, wanted their economic policies to dissolve the need for traditional families. Where they failed, feminists like Shulasmith Firestone (1945-2012) have not.

She explains: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege, but the sex distinction itself.” She proposes artificial reproduction–“Children born to both sexes equally, or independently of either,” eliminating “the dependence of the child on the mother,” and thereby breaking “the tyranny of the biological family.”

Over the last few decades, society has deprived innumerable children of their fathers. Firestone would remove the influence of mothers as well leaving children to an institutional parent or a set of parents distorting the family model designed to point us to God.

Chaput: “Eros produces the family. Agape sustains it.” Western culture wants to sweep married eros under the carpet, telling us that only our desires matter. Our responsibilities to each other are secondary–perhaps not even worthy of consideration.

Firestone’s radical ideas have become more deeply entrenched as we find ourselves battling public entities over sex education, especially for young children. We’re watching this battle play out as politicians and “educators” sometimes demand the power to overrule the influence of parents.

Roger Scruton tells us that “a society based on ‘agape’ alone” is not enough to turn things around. His statement implies that agape is necessary, but more is needed. Chaput provides this answer:

“Renewing family life will require a healthy skepticism toward the secular culture that surrounds us, an appropriate caution regarding its tools, and an active, convicted Christian witness of courage, intelligence, and love. And that demands a faith rooted in one thing that finally matters: a living relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That relationship often requires sacrifice–something many of us with our independent-mindedness, economic struggles or standing, technological comforts, and aversion to necessary conflict with those who hold “ill will” against our faith would prefer to avoid.

Committed marital physical love forms families. Sacrificial love builds and sustains families. Both sanctify families.

Each generation builds or destroys the foundation of society. We build by committing to pure eros and sacrificial love. We destroy with a sledgehammer of selfishness.

There is no in-between. There is no other way.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Manhood Does, Womanhood Is

“Manhood must be demonstrated. It is largely an action. Womanhood is an essence. Manhood does. Womanhood is.” (Qtd by Stanton)

That’s a statement many would challenge today. That there is a difference–and that the difference is significant.

Some might challenge the statement as religious. After all, it is largely in the orthodox corners of Christianity that such discussion happens at all today.

But this statement comes from a secular person–one who did not advocate biblical marriage and sexual purity.

Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist and an advocate of “loosening social strictures on sexuality . . . [which]  could lead to more pleasure, and less pain and suffering.”
Hardly a puritanical perspective. Even so, according to Mead, the differences between men and women are innate–born into us; they matter in our daily lives, and they are universal.

“In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young. . . .

“[E]very known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men. . . It is the precise opposite for women. They must be ideologically and politically pressured, with great potency, to abandon and ignore their children.”

There is no lack of ideological and political pressure on women to pursue lives that contain minimal involvement with children–especially their own. Our society has few structures in place to support the essence of women and pass on the model of manliness. This passing on of manliness is not religious pablum.

More from Mead:

“[T]his behavior [manliness], being learned, is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”

And no society that works as hard as ours to ignore the differences between men and women can effectively teach manhood.

Teaching manhood requires a traditional view that effectively works in various cultures. We see it in primitive cultures. In the postmodern West, the Christian perspective is a lone voice in a technological wilderness.

The orthodox corners of the Church are where manhood mentoring can and must still occur. Solid families headed by fathers and mothers can pass manhood’s tasks and womanhood’s essence to their own–and perhaps to others around them.

Neither public education nor industry has the impetus nor the freedom to launch such an effort. We in the Church can pass along the truth science now ignores.

Christ calls us to this work in every generation.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Carrying the Torch for Life

Published on January 22, 2022, in the Mustard Seed Sentinel.

In January of 1979, I had two children, a husband and a house, and cable television. The cable company ran scrolling public service announcements, and for the first couple of weeks of that New Year, one announcement, in particular, kept catching my eye.

The message declared that buses would be heading toward Washington, DC, to mark the sixth anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the US Supreme Court decisions that eradicated every abortion regulation in every state.

Two phone numbers ran along the bottom. I called one or the other at different times, finding out what was involved, what I’d need to arrange for my children for the day, what I’d need to wear and bring with me, and how much it would cost. I learned that the two numbers led me to sisters with multiple children, (They would have 14 between them, one or two not yet born).

On January 22, I got on the bus while it was still dark. I had a sandwich and most of a large bag of M&Ms in a brown paper bag. I had on my new boots and coat and thought I looked great.

When we arrived, we walked from the Ellipse to the Capitol where we heard many inspiring speakers. It was a balmy 50-something degree day. I carried one or two of the layers I’d piled on to protect me from the expected cold.

We visited our legislators and walked back to meet our bus—late, even though, or more likely because, one of the organizing sisters Anne was leading our way.

We sat down on the bus physically exhausted. Remember the new boots? I wanted to chop my own feet off.

But we were internally energized.

Over the years, Anne became a mentor to me. My own mother had passed away in 1975. This woman was a wise sage who walked with me through my adventures of young motherhood, held my hand through my years as a single mom, and celebrated with me as I married again.

Her house was a must-stop for me and my kids on trick-or-treat nights. Halloween came before Election Day, which made for enlightening conversation and the chance for me to gather poll working materials.

But Anne was not one-dimensional. She was a fully engaged mother who made amazing homemade pierogis and, with her children, designed elaborately painted (not just dyed) eggs for Easter. She was a Registered Nurse.

And she was our community’s spokeswoman for life. Despite the plates she kept spinning at all times, she was humble.

When I would ask her: How do you do it all—eight kids, a husband, a house, a job, along with volunteer work? She would say, “Sometimes, not very well.”

For anyone who knew her, she led the way by example, sponsoring refugees from Vietnam and housing unmarried pregnant girls.

On January 22, 1980, I stayed home with a new baby. Iranian radicals had invaded the US embassy in Tehran capturing the diplomatic staff. Like today, inflation was high, in double-digits. That winter brought the Miracle on Ice—the 1980 Olympic hockey victories that garnered the gold medal for the US team. I adjusted to having three children, attended the March again in 1981 with my baby, missed 1982 caring for another new baby, attended in ’83, and carried my unborn son, my youngest, there in 1984.

Most of the following years, we attended, various children and I. One year when I had to work, Anne took my younger daughter with her.

When my kids went along, they knew the trip involved a long walk followed by hot chocolate in a legislator’s office. They learned about peaceful protest. They learned about life.

As my children grew up and got busy with school, jobs, and their own families, I began to take students to Washington for the March. In 2002, that meant a few phone calls from parents wanting reassurance of safety in the wake of 9/11 the previous September. The trip came off without incident.

I write as we plan another trip to DC, this year on January 21—the Friday closest to the anniversary—a change from the vision of Nellie Gray, the March’s founder who insisted the event be held on the 22nd every year. This alteration allows for an extended program, helps those who travel from afar (and many do), and more easily facilitates visiting legislators.

Except this year.

Because of COVID, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has forbidden Marchers from entering legislative offices. We are to be allowed inside public buildings only to use the restrooms.

So be it. We go anyway.

It’s been a few years since Anne has gone. Her years of activism were a flaming torch she has passed to those of us still able to make the trip. May we carry it well.

From our private school, we’re to be a small group, my husband and me, several students, a parent, and grandparent or so.

COVID and perhaps the aftermath of January 6 cancelled the March last year.

Pro-lifers head to DC this year with renewed hope, unprecedented hope of seeing Roe and Doe turned into their own grave. Anticipating this turn of events, 15 states are said to have “codified” Roe. Three have absolutely no restrictions “throughout pregnancy.” That means a woman could be in labor, change her mind, and have her baby killed before birth. Others allow abortion until viability, a slippery definition reliant on guesswork and subject to “exceptions” that allow the killing of the allegedly less than perfect.

Further, nineteen states allow “caregivers” to refuse treatment to newborn abortion survivors. Living, breathing little ones, left to die.

Perhaps Roe and Doe will die this year.

There is still much work to be done.

We March on our feet.

We pray on our knees.

We carry the torch of life to the next generations.

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Praying the Pledge

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen for His own inheritance
(Psalm 33:12 NASB).

On January 7, 2021, I was leading eight 10th graders in the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only could I not finish, I had begun to weep. I felt awful for crying in front of my students and upsetting them.

“What happened?” one of them asked.

I composed myself and explained as best I could. A few of them were aware of what happened the day before, what some call insurrection and others called a large protest, a portion of which became a riot.

I’m not here to argue the terms of that day (and won’t approve argumentative comments about it). I write to propose a way to say the Pledge without hesitation in these days of division.

Over the summer, I mentioned my difficulty to a friend. I told her I was having trouble saying, among other phrases, “One nation, under God, indivisible.”

She gave a simple reply. “Say it as a prayer.”

Oh.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America,

and to the republic for which it stands,

one nation, under God,

indivisible,

with liberty and justice for all.

I add a phrase inspired by a friend. For her, it was a statement, spoken from her heart, from conviction. For me, it’s a tribute to her, still a prayer, spoken softly, not for the ears of those around me.

Born and preborn.

As January 6, 2021, showed us, the United States has divisions that go deeper than issues like abortion. But abortion is part of our bleeding wound of strife and separation.

Say the pledge. Say it as a prayer. Silently pray about the divisions God lays on your heart.

Pray for our nation to honor God and be indivisible in that quest. Pray for the babies, their parents, their families whom we will remember this week as we mark the 49th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in all 50 states until birth.

Pray those decisions will be overturned soon. Pray America will indivisibly turn to the Creator who blessed us to be here in this time.

Pray for liberty. For justice. For all. For America.

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Reading in a New Year

It’s been my New Years’ resolution for the past several rotations around the sun. Every year I build a stack of books in no particular order. Some fall by the wayside displaced by new texts that call my name.

This year’s stack seems a bit more solid. Most I waited to obtain. One was a surprise.

It may help that our television rendered itself useless last summer, and we’ve committed to adding more seating in its place for conversation, including the silent kind that moves from writer to reader.

At the top of the pile sits Dante, an ambitious–perhaps even a bit afflictive commitment. A grandson and I began last summer with his youth version and my noteless translation. In the previous school year, we had read middle school versions of Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid in the classroom.

Dante seemed like the next place to go for a youthful foundation in the classics, but I struggled to keep up while googling the confusing parts. So much for a noteless rendering. As the weeks of summer passed, we remained in the infernal regions. I want to climb higher this summer.

For Christmas, his mother found me versions of Inferno and Purgatorio with notes by Anthony Esolen. (His annotated but difficult-to-find Paradisio arrived yesterday. Apparently, it’s an elusive text on the more well-traveled sites of book vendors showing that everybody really does want to go to heaven.

I plan to walk further into Dante’s vision with this grandson when the school year ends. Perhaps we can find Paradise before the start of another academic year.

In the meantime, I rang in the New Year finishing A Canticle for Leibowitz. Sci-fi, post-apocalyptic–even post-post (far after) the flame deluge otherwise known as nuclear war. Dry in spots, hilarious in others, vastly profound overall, Canticle is worth your time. I punctuated my reading of Walter M. Miller Jr.’s final few pages of the text with frequent exclamations of “Wow!”

Toward the bottom of the pile sits my first foray into the works of Isaac Asimov. I’m not quite halfway through Foundation, the first in a series. Both Asimov and Miller emphasize the importance of recording and remembering history.

The men’s divergent worldviews are apparent. Miller’s text presents a secular world in which a Christian remnant champions the effort to rescue literacy and preserve the past in the hopes of preventing humanity’s self-destruction. Miller invites us to remember what the world is, and is not.

Asimov’s text makes no allusion (so far) to faith. His depiction of the political is apt, some may say accurate, others, cynical. Asimov is the easier read. Miller is worth the work.

The rest of the stack is non-fiction. Ross Douthat presents our society, The Decadent Society: America Before and After the Pandemic. He offers us two possibilities for COVID’s ultimate outcome: catastrophe or renaissance. We are truly at a crossroads.

Carl R. Trueman offers The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution. It’s another study of how we got where we are.

The Final Pagan Generation: Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity by Edward J. Watts provides insight into what the world was like as the power structure of an empire was turning upside down, from pagan to officially Christian. That seems pertinent in our world as a form of paganism, at least in the West, displaces Christianity.

Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind by Grace Olmstead discusses the ramifications of the uprooting many (most?) Americans have experienced today.

I remember the local communities of my youth, neighborhoods within our city. The second and third generations removed from immigrants felt a connection to the motherland and to our locale. The grandparents and great-grandparents came here but kept close ties through the fellowships of the Sons of Italy social hall or the Unter Uns (German) Society.

Some of those ties still bind smaller communities together. Many have scattered. Olmstead calls them home, truly and virtually.

The cover jacket calls the book “part memoir, part journalistic investigation.” It promises Olmstead will help us cultivate “rootedness.”

In a similar vein, Sohrab Ahmari’s work The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos proposes a way to find happiness, not in a self-crafted identity, but in pursuing virtue and accepting limits. Ahmari emigrated to the US from Iran and, among other job titles he holds, is a contributing editor for the Catholic Herald. He calls himself a “radically assimilated immigrant” and invites us to examine our lives to “live more humanely in a world that has lost its way.”

Ahmari’s book is the surprise in the pile, a gift from a son who often finds gems I’ve not stumbled over yet.

Finally, Christopher Hollingsworth has crafted The Poetics of the Hive: The Insect Metaphor in Literature. I don’t like bugs, but I anticipate the delight of following a thread of metaphor through literature.

As I write, I realize that, including the bugs, these books are about the importance of remembering history, understanding our own culture, and urging society toward renaissance instead of catastrophe.

Reading can be easy or hard depending on the text. The remembering, understanding, and urging are hard work. But important work, work with eternal purpose.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Gift Prepared Ahead of Time

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (I Timothy 1:17, ESV)

It was a work of Providence I might have missed. I have no idea how long the book sat on the shelf waiting for me to buy it. But I do know it was there just for me, for us, just for the moment we would need it.

That moment would be one every mother who has watched her son go to war knows. It’s an indescribable emptiness. But an almighty God can reach down to fill a heart’s void. And He can use any little nook or cranny to do so.

My daughter and I were in an antique store passing time as we waited to see my son off. He was deploying to Iraq.

While we shopped, his unit was on base packing equipment. Families would see our soldiers later that evening for a short time before they left for their departure point.

A yearlong deployment lay ahead.

But there on the shelf sat his favorite book. It cost only a couple of dollars. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. How good it would be to give him a book he loved.

But there was more.

As we were helping him pack later and preparing to say farewell, my daughter picked the book up and read the back cover flap.

“This book can be sent to a serviceman anywhere in the world for the price of a postage stamp.”

The book was copyrighted in 1942. Published for soldiers during World War II–when my father served–it landed in the hands of my soldier son decades later.

I wondered where it had traveled and who had already read it.

Buck’s masterpiece is about a man who battles hunger and injustice. Not quite war–rather wars of a different sort. He had moments of glory, times he didn’t do the right thing.

He was, in short, like all of us.

Even before my son read it, it was a book I had come to love. I’d read it because it was my husband’s favorite book. Paper ideas about important things in life. Paper becomes glue connecting those who’ve read a book and discussed its meaning.

When my son left for war, he carried a piece of home and history with him.

I still had moments of emptiness, moments of worry during that year. But a great God had put a book on a shelf for us to find that day–to remind us that He sees. He cares. He loves.

This time of year is when we celebrate His coming.

He came to give us more than “chance” literature on a shelf. He came to give Himself to us and for us.

Emmanuel—God with us.

Merry Christmas.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduIce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Is Texas the End of Roe or a Temporary Reprieve?

Early in the pro-life movement, I attended a rally for a Pennsylvania bill. A reporter asked one of the bill’s authors if he thought his proposal was discriminatory. The question implied that such a law would make abortion more difficult for low-income women since wealthy women have always been able to travel freely–to go wherever abortion is readily available.

The legislator’s response still rings in my mind.

“Yes, it’s discriminatory. It’s highly discriminatory. It discriminates against the children of the rich whose slaughter will continue unabated.”

That bill eventually ended up before the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

While SCOTUS gutted much of the bill, some of the provisions stood.

Now Texas is trying to nearly eradicate abortion. And SB 8 has been largely successful–so far, saving an estimated 100 babies every day since September 1.

Roland Warren is the President of Care Net, a pro-life umbrella organization comprised of 1,200 affiliate pregnancy centers, 82 in Texas. Warren says in Texas, “The call volumes are up 30% or so.” Pregnant women are seeking help from those who can provide it for mother and child.

SB 8 is the recently passed legislation that allows someone to sue the physician and anyone who aids and abets in an abortion after six weeks’ gestation. That includes Uber and Lyft drivers (whose companies have promised to cover legal expenses for employees involved in an abortion situation).

The minimum cost of a judgment against an abortion purveyor or abettor is $10,000.

In The American Spectator, Ellie Gardey cites a source who says 20 of 23 Texas abortion clinics are still open despite the new law but doing fewer abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood’s open clinics are concentrating on “other missions . . . providing birth control, STD testing, and transgender hormone treatments.”

Even so, some clinics struggle to keep the doors open. Gardey explains that one of the largest Texas clinics saw a staff reduction of more than half when nine of 17 staff members quit the day before the law took effect.

The effort to protect the unborn is not new to Texas.

“In 2010, Texas had more than 40 abortion clinics, but more than half closed altogether during the legal battle over a 2013 Texas law that required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and for clinics to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers. The Supreme Court struck down the law in a 5-3 decision in 2016.” 

The composition of SCOTUS has since changed. The court’s new conservative leaning has resulted in the current Texas law going into effect despite an “emergency” plea from abortion advocates in late August. The high court did not pass judgment on the law itself. They merely allowed it to go into effect while the arguments make their way through the appellate system.

In the meantime, Gardey says, abortion appointments in nearby Oklahoma have seen a big jump as Texan women travel out of state to get around the law.

Sometimes discrimination works geographically rather than just economically.

Yet, the vast size of Texas does make it more difficult to obtain abortions for those who don’t live in the vicinity of Oklahoma. SB 8 is indeed saving unborn children from death and their mothers from trauma.

The saving of some unborn, and the travel out of state, may only last for Texas until a federal judge (an Obama appointee) hears the first appeal sometime this month. We can expect the Texas case to go back and forth until it reaches SCOTUS for a final determination.

Again in the meantime, before the Texas case can reach the high court, SCOTUS will meet in person to hear the dispute over Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act that has been working its way through appeals since 2018. That law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies and severe fetal deformities.

At some point, perhaps in December, the court may choose to make clear the degree of severity fetal deformities must attain to warrant abortion.

In these situations, discrimination isn’t just geographical and economic. It’s based in an ideal of human perfection. An ideal that operates on a sliding scale, condemning some and protecting no one.

At last in the meantime, the US House of Representatives last week fueled the flames of debate by passing the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act.” The vote came mostly along party lines with one Democrat lining up with every Republican in opposition to the bill that “codifies Roe” and Doe, the primary and companion 1973 cases that effectively allowed abortion for any reason at any time in pregnancy. Now the bill goes to the Senate.

David Morgan and Richard Cowan write about the bill’s chances in the upper chamber:

“It is not expected to pass the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to support it. Republican Senator Susan Collins, [R-Me] a moderate who supports abortion rights, has said she opposes it. She said the House bill would weaken exceptions provided to healthcare providers who refused to perform abortions on moral or religious grounds.”

If the bill dies in the Senate, we may consider America to have dodged a bullet. Not only would children continue to die and mothers continue to be traumatized, but already over-extended medical professionals would be forced to decide between their conscience and their paychecks.

Abounding discrimination would expand to a new population.

If SCOTUS overturns Roe, the chatter about bloating the high court with an unprecedented number of new appointees will become a roar from a minority that is merely loud, not vastly populated.

No matter how many children have died, how many abortion purveyors repent and turn from killing, no matter how many women regret their abortions, this radical, minority voice that calls for unlimited abortion keep singing their song of death.

Even if they have to twist the nation’s arm by forcing medical personnel to participate or get out. Even if they need to add justices to the court that has remained at nine members since 1869.

Imagine new presidents stacking the court every four or eight years.

Those in support of life do not have the ear of the media as do those who sing death. We must raise our voice. We must sing the song of life.

Sing in love. Sing often.

Never stop singing life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Our Cracked Country

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, September 26, 2020.

Two teens stood across from my book table at a national event. They weren’t yet old enough to vote. But perhaps when they are, they’ll cast their ballots to excise their part of Virginia to make it part of West Virginia–a harkening back to our Civil War. (Or our first Civil War?)

They are frustrated by legislators from the northern part of the state threatening to limit gun ownership and having voted to expand “abortion rights” more broadly than all but a few places around the world.

They are not alone in that way of thinking. Those hoping for Southern Virginia’s annexation to West Virginia will find a communion of spirit in Oregon, some of whose voters want to become part of Idaho. And California also has its own initiatives brewing. But those efforts aren’t about becoming part of an existing state. There are calls to split into multiple statesor even leave the United States altogether and become a separate nation.

Imagine what these efforts–if successful–might lead to.

Political pundits speak of the conservative part of my own Pennsylvania in terms of the T across the north and through the center with Philadelphia in the east and Pittsburgh in the west–although Pittsburgh sometimes joins the T.

The T carried our Keystone State for Trump in 2016–even in heavily Democratic Cambria County–coal country.

If voters in the T decided to follow suit with southern Virginia voters, the bulk of Pennsylvania might also join West Virginia.

Even the bluing state of Texas could end up splitting over voter ideology.

While proposals for state-splitting are still in their infancy–or perhaps in their early childhood–it seems a good time to consider some of the ramifications.

For example, would Philadelphia decide to become part of New Jersey? Could Jersey support the costs of the City of Brotherly Love that rural PA taxpayers have helped to bear for decades?

What if the rural/conservative voters of every state thought it best to cut themselves free from every city that wanted to limit guns and fund abortions throughout gestation?

Would cities’ leaders moderate some of their views to stem the tide of departure (and lost revenues)? Would rural folks bend? Can both sides occupy a middle ground for long?

Rural voters want to keep their guns. On farms or in nearby forests, guns have practical purposes completely unrelated to crime and unfathomable to many city-dwellers.

Conservative and liberal voters can only remain at an impasse over abortion. Room for compromise on this issue is scant because the unborn one either lives or dies. There is no state of in-between.

And there seems to be no room to bend among those who insist our abortion laws continue to go far beyond those of European countries that limit the procedure. The US is one of only seven countries that allows abortion after 20 weeks.

Secession and state-splitting sound far-fetched. But perhaps we are closer to making such dividing lines than we realize.

In American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup, F.H. Buckley writes:

“[W]e are now facing another constitutional crisis, as we did in the 1850s, when Congress was unable to compromise on slavery or avert the impending civil war. Today again, changes that must be made seemingly can’t be made because of our divisions and failure to compromise. The Constitution was designed for another country, one in which people agreed on fundamental principles, and that’s not today’s America. We are divided on things that used to unite us, and we don’t like politicians who compromise on things we care about.”

Explaining that the framers assumed secession was permissible (“by the consent of the governed“), Buckley lays out the arguments the Constitution’s crafters made as they shaped the document different factions today see either as pliable or etched in stone. It cannot be both.

He makes the case that California, for example, if it seceded, would save “$103 billion … [paid] in federal taxes [more] than it receive[s] back from Washington” and, therefore, should be able to pay for its plethora of social programs. He notes later that California has never had a majority wanting to secede.

But that may change as the middle class continues to flee the Golden State. It also remains to be seen whether $103 billion in extra revenues could truly create the entitlement utopia its leaders seek to create.

Even with such efforts and proposals on the table in multiple places, it may still be hard to imagine the fracturing of states or an actual secession attempt. But here’s part of what goodreads.com says about Buckley’s discussion:

“Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we’re tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that’s what its voters wanted.

“But if that isn’t what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans.”

Secession Lite would require a live and let live mentality. And just that option is under consideration in the state of New York. Conservatives in that state have introduced bills in the state house and senate that would divide the Empire State into three regions—New Amsterdam, upstate New York; New York; Manhattan and the five boroughs; and the Montauk Region, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland.

Chris Enloe writes:

“’New Amsterdam & Montauk regional governments would have the power to repeal these unnecessary NYS regulations and bad laws that are killing jobs,’ Divide New York State Caucus explains, [Gannett journalist Julie] Sherwood reported. ‘While the New York regional government could enact those changes it wants for NYC only that upstate currently blocks.’”

The bill remains in committee. But if it passes, it won’t need approval from the US Congress as it would if it were proposing splitting New York into separate states.

Perhaps Buckley has found a philosophical mean that could ensure freedom of conscience. For example, freedom for children to openly pray in schools governed locally. Freedom for municipalities to respect life, if they choose. Freedom for pharmacists to refuse to provide the means for chemical abortion. And that could only happen if the Supreme Court—whose membership is a new battleground for our day—will refrain from dictating what must be for the whole country.

The ideas of secession, state splitting, and regional secession light sound crazy. Buckley tells us they’re not. They or some form of them are real and on the way.

The unprecedented is what we’re experiencing in 2020. Our divided house hovers over a chasm of chaos. And chaos will continue unless we find a Golden Mean of citizenship we can agree on—or navigate how to go our separate ways.

Photo Credit: NASA (Unsplash)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”