Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Can Only Break A Nose So Many Times

Two weeks since my last post. Mea culpa, readers. Let’s get to business.

Earlier today, I prayed with friends in front of an abortion clinic in Kansas City. We didn’t do much. Two Rosaries, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Sign of the Cross, and a litany. On finishing those, we walked slowly away. As usual, I looked back at the building, still unable to process what was happening within. I had seen a girl walk in there, clutching her stomach. Were they seriously going to… do that to her? Murder her baby? Murder?

I finally get a grasp on it, sometimes. And whenever I do, I want to go start a fight. And that’s why the man I saw today was such a distraction from the praying.

I think he was Protestant. I don’t know many Protestants, but there’s a stereotype I have of them, and he fit it like a club in a hand. A white man, not very old but not very young. He stood with another man, flanking the road, right where it comes into the clinic parking lot. In their hands were signs. The pictures on them were grisly.

The first man had a bullhorn and a voice with a bull’s fury. With those, he barraged every single person who walked in that clinic with a condemnation of what they were doing.

I can’t remember the precise words, but it sounded something like this…

“Do you realize that what you are doing is murder? That this is the work of the devil? See these pictures? That’s not God’s work! It’s the work of the devil! Stop now before it’s too late!”

“I have a wife! And eleven children! Homeschooled ‘em all! They take care of me!”

“You know there was a case in California, where a man murdered his pregnant wife? He was charged with a double count of murder! Killing an unborn child is murder! The only place where this law doesn’t apply is an abortion clinic! These men are not doctors! They are abortionists!”

He’s right. Dead right; pun intended. At the moment, he had my ear. I was trying to listen for when to chime in for the Hail Mary prayers in my group’s Rosary, and this man was leaning forward like a whipped-up Puritan judge, and hollering and carrying on like an elephant with a spear in its rear. Not too menacing when you read it, is it?

In real life it was loud, jarring and dangerous. I was half-expecting him to whirl round on us and berate us for not being more militant like him. And I would have welcomed it. I could feel his rage, and I loved it. I wanted to fling it right back in his face, and then in the face of the security guard, strolling back and forth with a loaded pistol.

But I didn’t. As I reflected, and talked with some friends here (including the venerable Patrick Button) I found out why, and made some conclusions.

If I try to be offensive like that man, I will not accomplish half as much as what my friends and I did with presence and prayer. The biggest result he got was someone yelling, “You’re an asshole!” I said he was right, but I didn't say the delivery was right. He appealed to what seems to be hate. We appealed instead to a Universal Love and Power that will not fail us. I would not be surprised at all to learn that our intercessions helped somewhere, somehow. In fact, I will be so bold to predict it will. I cannot be sure, of course. And I do not make such statements lightly.

While we’re at it, shock tactics like that man’s pictures must be used only in hour of greatest need. I’m fed up with people displaying, in public where children can see them, pictures of murdered fetuses. I’m not even 100% it will work in a nation that helped Saw get seven sequels.

But it is reality, and it cannot be ignored. And it is because they are reality that we must treat them with gravity. This is documentation of evil in one of its most disturbing incarnations. Such a shocking thing must only be used when there is no other choice. If I were to use them, I would save them for a private friend who was pro-choice. If all else failed in my efforts to show him the evil of abortion, then I would show him the pictures. 

As a last resort.

P.S. While we're on pro-life issues, I have another one of a sort. I don't know if you believe in the power of prayer but if you do, I'd like you pray for the soul of Keenen Charles Dunn, an old high school classmate of mine. He crashed his car Monday. He didn't make it.


  1. I'm a long way from being venerable, but I appreciate the compliment. I think that graphic images should be used in places like college campuses, but I'm not so sure about using them on street corners. From your description, the worst thing about this man was not his sign but his words. Harassing people will not change anyone's mind.

    As for feeling like a fight, I know what you mean. Vigilante justice is strictly prohibited by the Church and we must not engage in violence against abortionists. All the same, when I hear about infanticide my natural instinct is to go punch someone, not pray. (Though prayer is the correct response.)

  2. I can't remember who said it, but: "America will not stop abortion until it sees abortion."

  3. @The Ranter. Somewhere, in one of the Gospels, I read about some Jews asking Jesus for a miracle. Jesus refuses. If they can't believe His teachings, how can they believe the actions that come from them?

    I concede that those pictures may work for some people. But it seems your quote implies that the best way to fight abortion is to show those images at every opportunity. If that was the argument you intended, you have a long debate ahead of you. Such depravity must NOT be shown lightly, even under these circumstances. We must show respect for the victims of these crimes, even if our opponents won't. Those bodies are more than political points.

  4. Sean: When I 1st read what the guy said, I began wondering if he was a part of the Westboro Baptist gang, but on reflection he wasn't quite that far out. Actually he sounds to me more like a hardline fundamentalist type to me. Most of the pro-life protestants I know wouldn't be yelling the way he was.

    Ranter: Fr. Frank Pavone & Priests for Life use that line as the name for 1 of their projects, although other groups like Operation Rescue & Pro-Life Action League have similar projects.

    The images do have their place. But where has been the subject of much debate. All I know is the longer I am involved in fighting abortion the more I see the need for it when dealing with abortion supporters.

    Patrick: venerable –adjective
    1. commanding respect because of great age or impressive dignity; worthy of veneration or reverence, as because of high office or noble character: a venerable member of Congress.
    2. a title for someone proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church to have attained the first degree of sanctity or of an Anglican archdeacon.

    I'll leave it up to you to decide if you fit any of the definitions although I could make an arguement for at least 1 part of the 1st definition applying.

  5. It's sad. I can't even express how sad. All I can do is think of when my children were in utero, and then look at them now, and wonder how anyone can do that. I don't think I get as angry as I do sad, to be honest. I must remember to pray more.

  6. @Al: Thanks for the intel. This is a difficult issue.

    @Patrick: Thanks for commenting. We had our dialouge about that, but about college campus we may need to have another one.

    @Archaeology cat: It's hard to care when there are so many millions who don't even understand what there is to care about.

  7. Sean, I don't believe images of aborted babies should be at every protest, but I do believe they have their purpose. For example, one of my former students was hard-core prochoice (even though she worked with Down's syndrome kids) and if I would have been allowed, I would have showed her those pictures. For those hard-core prochoicers who propel the myth of 'it's just a blob of tissue', pictures of aborted babies can and do serve a purpose.

    @Al - that's what I thought, but couldn't be sure. Thanks.

  8. @The Ranter. It seems I misread your comments. Sorry about that. I do agree with you in the case you describe here.