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Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby rusmeister » 17 Feb 2009, 02:34

cyranorox wrote:I am certainly not confusing sinner and sin - I am directly talking about how we treat the person.

You may be thinking about RC episcopal authority; OC bishops' authority does not extend to the domain of lay people's politics. bishops do not have that dimension of authority. On matters of this sort, we do not owe obedience. On whether abortion is sinful, I am in full agreement with my bishop.

Insisting on making abortion illegal, then falling back on shame and shunning is no position at all.

I am not in any position to shame or shun anyone, whatever their sins, and I defy you to show that any Orthodox is in such a position, whatever may be the view of the RC, P, or other faiths.

Neither could any law force or oblige me to shame anyone, though it might bar me from hiring [do you really want that], marrying [were i single - and do you want that?], renting to, paying support to [the alternative being steal or starve], providing medical care to, etc etc. this class of sinners/criminals.

Scarlet letter A covers about the same territory. I find it ugly, mean, unforgiving, and unChristian. I won't do it, and I wont ask for it.


First, you are right, that, generally speaking, in most areas of politics we are free to act in the manner that our conscience dictates. The question of abortion is a unique thing to our place and time because Americans DO seem to have the ability to vote on, and allow or prevent abortion. There are no patristic writings that directly take into account this oddity of democracy and how our actions in it should reflect Orthodoxy. But the Church is not only Scripture and patristic writings. It is all of Tradition and includes the living hierarchs, who are our guides for the situations not covered in Tradition. Thus, it seems more than wise to listen if they all speak with one voice, and not so wise to simply say that they have no authority. They have whatever authority we grant them, and that reflects the extent to which we submit what we think is right to the Church. If one would speak against what they say they had better have the basis that St Maximus the Confessor had - which was the prior Tradition, btw, but I am afraid that in most cases it would simply be our hubris and pride in our own wisdom and intellect.

I think you misunderstood what I meant when I used the word 'shame'. It is not meant as a personal action that I do to other people to elevate myself above them. It is treating the actions as shameful, specifically as a matter of law. And while you are talking about how we treat the person, I am talking about how we treat the sin - and this sin is a crime against others. We do have laws denying people various freedoms, and this is one of the shameful freedoms that needs to likewise be denied.
Insisting on making abortion illegal, then falling back on shame and shunning is no position at all.
Now the Orthodox bishops are universally calling for the outlawing of abortion - but are not calling on us to shame and shun in the personal sense that you mean. So yes, you do seem to be confusing how we treat the person with how we are to treat the action. You are in agreement with the Church (as far as I can tell) on how we are to treat people as individuals. This is an entirely different matter from what we should do if we really do have any authority in society (demo-cracy, which implies that (theoretically) we are in the position of power to make these decisions - something that I do think questionable in a lot of areas - but it does seem that for now this is one of the few things that we might have a chance of influencing). If we have power then we have responsibility. (Ironically this goes against how I see the nature of modern democracy in practice vs its theory, but that's another kettle of fish.)

I agree completely that I am not to consider myself better than any murderer, and deny that I should put a scarlet letter on him but not on myself (so I'm not suggesting that). But that does not change the fact that we SHOULD condemn murder. God does hate sin and love the sinner. Right now we need to declare the hate for the sin in outlawing abortion even while we call for love for the people who have been deceived into doing this thing. The Good Samaritan, if he had witnessed the actual beating up, wouldn't have just stood there. He would've gone and stopped the beating and robbing if he could.

The only thing I said that I would retract is on the denial of benefits. I was off-the-cuff in throwing out ideas on responses. I don't know what the best legal consequence is, but I suppose it would be to treat it as murder or at the very least, manslaughter. Here I do not insist on the nature of the specific response. But the point is that it ought to be made illegal, just like it's illegal to steal or kill (and this IS killing). But on that question I would not hold myself to be the expert, and that is not the issue that rubs against faith. The rub is in saying that we should just let people do it no matter whether we approve or not, and it seems that this is the sum of what you are saying. Our hierarchs are calling on us to stop this thing if we can and to call it by its true name - killing babies, and even the lay people are in pretty much universal agreement. I'd invite you to go to any canonical Orthodox forum and float the idea of not opposing abortion and leaving it to personal choice as Orthodox. I don't think you'll get very far. If the whole Church is saying something that I disagree with the first thing that I question is myself. I know how little I know.
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Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby cyranorox » 17 Feb 2009, 16:29

First, that was a temperate and reasonable response, and I think you mostly understood what I was saying, though you ought to know that hubris can be used by any against any, where positions are definite and strongly defended.

Yes, I am saying that the Church is not a means, program, plan or vehicle for preventing sins or crimes of those outside, or even inside, the Church.it is [as no doubt you agree] principally a remedy for death, via theosis in Christ.

Democracy is rare, but the Fathers knew of Greek democracies, and the Byzantine system arguably had more democratic decisions within the imperial dome than most nominal democracies. I frankly do not have a whole solution to the issue of abortion. I simply refuse to join in, or ask for, or impose, punishments.

In general, i am suspicious of punishment; it seems to me that God does not literally punish - and St Isaac the Syrian, among others, agrees. That being so, shall men punish? perhaps, as a means to an end; never, as an axiomatic relation to fault. But if the end can be achieved any other way, then I submit that punishment per se is wrong and ought to be abandoned. Justice, you ask? justice insists on the criminal repudiating his crime - and it would be very good if those who had, or did, abortions repudiated this action. But does justice then insist on pain and privation for the criminal? Even raising this question puts me in the minority. I fall back on the monastic fathers, who everywhere accept the repentant, or even criminals before repentance, unreservedly; on the parables of the Kingdom, such as the prodigal or the feast where the many are called, or the direct acceptance by Christ of Zaccheus, Matthew, the Magdalene [whose sin is not necessarily sexual - might be simply the perfume trade] or any other flagrant sinner.
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Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby rusmeister » 19 Feb 2009, 03:51

cyranorox wrote:First, that was a temperate and reasonable response, and I think you mostly understood what I was saying, though you ought to know that hubris can be used by any against any, where positions are definite and strongly defended.

Yes, I am saying that the Church is not a means, program, plan or vehicle for preventing sins or crimes of those outside, or even inside, the Church.it is [as no doubt you agree] principally a remedy for death, via theosis in Christ.

Democracy is rare, but the Fathers knew of Greek democracies, and the Byzantine system arguably had more democratic decisions within the imperial dome than most nominal democracies. I frankly do not have a whole solution to the issue of abortion. I simply refuse to join in, or ask for, or impose, punishments.

In general, i am suspicious of punishment; it seems to me that God does not literally punish - and St Isaac the Syrian, among others, agrees. That being so, shall men punish? perhaps, as a means to an end; never, as an axiomatic relation to fault. But if the end can be achieved any other way, then I submit that punishment per se is wrong and ought to be abandoned. Justice, you ask? justice insists on the criminal repudiating his crime - and it would be very good if those who had, or did, abortions repudiated this action. But does justice then insist on pain and privation for the criminal? Even raising this question puts me in the minority. I fall back on the monastic fathers, who everywhere accept the repentant, or even criminals before repentance, unreservedly; on the parables of the Kingdom, such as the prodigal or the feast where the many are called, or the direct acceptance by Christ of Zaccheus, Matthew, the Magdalene [whose sin is not necessarily sexual - might be simply the perfume trade] or any other flagrant sinner.


Hi, Cyrano!
Perhaps the difficulty comes from perceiving this as imposing Orthodox faith on all, and it might help to ask on what basis you support any laws for anything. If there are no laws, then there is no society. Much as we would like to live in the law-free Kingdom of God, we are simply not there. As human beings, we live in a fallen world. Now it is true that often we are able to affect nothing, and then must accept with patience and humility what is dished out to us. But if we are in a position where we are given a little power and a little responsibility, should we not use it to affect the world for good - to do good? Again, how would you propose eliminating all law and punishment within the United States, or any other country, for example. You would not bring about the Kingdom of God, but mere anarchy. If we do have any collective power, then we should forbid certain things - the basic minimum that ensures the safety of others from our selfish, lustful, murderous selves. If we forbid anything, we must have the means of enforcement, and judges to decide what should be done with lawbreakers. Perhaps your quarrel is with the judicial system? It cannot be with law itself?

On a personal level, yes, we are to focus on our own sins, and we cannot save the world - we must always be trying to see the beam in our own eye - but if we are also to protect others when we can and sometimes force is required to do this. Kind words and gentle rebukes do not always protection offer. And what then, is the Orthodox Christian who finds himself given the power of the vote (if there is indeed power in it) to do? Again, in most cases we really are free to disagree on political questions. But not if that political choice actively or passively supports evil, and allowing abortion decidely does that. The only choice I can see for any Orthodox Christian on that one question is to either vote to outlaw abortion because the vote is perceived to have power, or to not vote at all because the vote is perceived to be powerless. That's the only issue that we could reasonably disagree on. For the most part, I hold that the vote IS worthless (at least regarding elections into power) - it seems to me that only in areas that the wealthy do not perceive as touching on their interests do they allow us, the people to actually affect things. But abortion seems to be one of those things, therefore I think that, for now, voting on abortion does matter.

The question of punishment is different. How lawbreakers should be punished is indeed a difficult question and here I would agree with you to a great extent. We do abhor some of the methods of punishment practiced in our society - execution and imprisonment most of all. But not whether lawbreaking should be somehow prevented - provided that the laws are those of we the people. There is a difference between deterrence and retribution. You would not have a comfy society in which to ruminate on these things if we did not have some kind of law, its enforcement and judicial response to its breaking. It is a form of peacemaking.
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Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby postodave » 19 Feb 2009, 22:00

I'd like to throw another Orthodox voice into the mix: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/why-im-prolife-and-pro_b_85636.html Rus tells me he isn't really representative of Orthodoxy but I would say if any man has a right to speak on this issue Frank does. For myself I was very involved with pro-life politics at one time but got disillusioned by the dirty way some of the Catholics chose to play. Well I was culpable as well. Let me tell you the story. It was one election time and we got asked if we would campaign in another area. As it goes our constituency was marginal and this other one was not so we had no chance of affecting the vote their. One guy who was a Roman Catholic said he would oppose late abortions but otherwise would be pro-choice. SPUC or certain Catholics in the SPUC leadership did not like this as they did not want this kind of position to become common among Catholics. So the whole campaign was pitched at this guy with pictures of babies saying these were so many weeks younger than the age he would allow abortions at. To my shame I didn't say this is wrong but joined in, persuading myself that what I was doing was right. A few months later SPUC supported the Alton Bill which would have banned late abortions and which this guy would have supported. When he said what his position was and put himself on the line he was depicted as a monster and seen as a traitor to the Church. When SPUC took the same position a few months later they called themselves 'brave'. Ideology kills.
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Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby rusmeister » 20 Feb 2009, 03:14

I should start out by reiterating where Cyrano is generally right - that the Orthodox Church does not take political stands (distinguishing Church positions from individual believers). There is a wide variety of positions on all sorts of topics, and even on the validity of politics itself. The Church is only taking this stand on this issue at this time because it is an evil legalized and done to others in a society where believers can, at least to all appearances, influence the law.

postodave wrote: Rus tells me he isn't really representative of Orthodoxy but I would say if any man has a right to speak on this issue Frank does.

All men have a right to speak. As Chesterton says, having a right to do a thing does not make him right in doing it. The question is whether he is right or not.
Schaeffer's position is oddly out of tune with pretty much everything I know about Orthodoxy, because he speaks as if some men are bad and unreliable and others are not and therefore offer hope.
Our country needs someone to show us a better way, a president who is what he seems, someone with actual moral authority that our diverse population can believe in who has the qualities that make us want to follow him. Obama is that person.
This pretty much sums it up. As soon as Obama stumbles in sin and is caught (Obama's sin laden, after all, like all of us :tongue: ), this "moral authority" that Schaeffer imagines in Obama will disappear. At any rate, he emphasizes the wrong things, and the main problem is linking the specific solution to abortion with a broad political stand, something that the Church won't do. It's an opinion, and a wrong one to me - not that I particularly want to debate that. But just because Schaeffer claims the label of Orthodox doesn't mean he IS thinking or acting in a truly Orthodox way.

In the end, I think the Church's call is likely to fail. The only true solution that would end this question once and for all would be for the entire nation (or at least a clear majority) to turn to a faith/philosophy that both forbids murder of pre-born babes and denies the authority of the individual over the authority of the Church. (I'd like to think this could include Catholicism, but I see a difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy - which I would be open to discussing, in that a person cannot disagree with Orthodox dogma and remain an Orthodox Christian in good standing, but it seems that one can remain Catholic and disagree with their Church - I'll accept correction there, but I have already encountered evidence that this is the case. Your example, PoD, is just one more nail in that coffin. I'd ascribe it to the excessive emphasis I see in Catholic belief in the efficacy of politics and the ability to change this world.)

In short, one cannot be "pro-choice" AND Orthodox. (Again, as far as I know, that is practically the only unified political stand within the OC, because it touches on our dogma and the sanctity of life. Everything else is "up for grabs" based on one's conscience and accepting guidance from one's priest, and Orthodox Christians are free to be Democrats, Republicans, or Free American Eskimos. :wink: )

postodave wrote:Ideology kills.

This requires clarification, as well as definition of the term. Right now we have an ideology that places human reason as the ultimate authority. I was listening to a great podcast http://audio.ancientfaith.com/hopko/stt_2009-02-18.mp3 by Fr Thomas Hopko (Alexander Schmemann's son-in-law) where he talks about how that impacts American political ideology. Hopko is a far more authoritative representative of Orthodox thought than Schaeffer.
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko

If you haven't checked out Ancient Faith Radio, then you should... http://ancientfaith.com/
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Re: Pro Life, Pro Abortion and Postmodernism

Postby AmoDman » 10 Jul 2009, 21:58

mitchellmckain wrote:It is the human mind that makes us human not genetics.

AllanS wrote:"You knitted me together in my mother's womb." The only mind that makes me human is God's mind.

mitchellmckain wrote:
Yes our humanity is an inheritance of mind from God. What our humanity is NOT is this DNA which is an inheritance from animals. In our DNA and our biology all the animals of the planet are our bretheren, and it is only in having a mind, if we actually choose to use and develop it, that we can find a relationship with the divine, including a compassion and responsibility for these bretheren we share this planet with.


Mitchell, since you clearly support the Christian perspective of man being formed in God's image and murder being evil, I ask you why you believe the the "mind" is the definition of God's image?

I posit the this thought to you. When we die we are told our souls continue on forever, as God intended our beings to last. In fact, in 1 Samuel Saul speaks to Samuel himself who is beyond the grave. Now, beyond the grave we are promised a brand new body, but Paul's and other NT writing seem to indicate that Christ's resurrected body was the "First Fruits" of this crop that God will reap for us at the end of this Age.

But, where is our intellect, memories... "Mind" kept? Scientifically, we can prove that it is in the body. The brain. Electrical impulses. That sort of thing. But, the Bible's representation and promise of life after death, of man being an ultra-important being to the Creator from beginning until eternity seem to show that the image he created us in and our very being does not simply end where we see our physical lives end.

I believe, and think that the Psalm 139 already mentioned illustrates, that the life of a human is not specifically tied to us even gaining physical sentience and what have you through the act of birth either. There is a spark of life that God loves beyond the simple, scientific development of a fetus. I'd like to quote more of Psalm 139 wherein David rejoices in how intimately the All-Present Creator God knows him.

Psa 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.
Psa 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
Psa 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Psa 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Psa 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Psa 139:18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
Psa 139:19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.


As yet there was not one of them... a single day upon the Earth. God's all-present nature knew and loved David even then.

But what does this mean to us? What does it matter in a free society if others differ on their opinion of what defines a human? Well, inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln monument in this very country are the words from his second inagural address...

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.


Abraham Lincoln was a student of the Bible. He knew and believed fervently that every drop of blood spilled during the Civil War was Divine punishment for a country that had ignorantly spilled the blood of so many slaves. It was a civil rights issue. Men and women were not being regarded as people and, thus, had their voices and humanity removed in the eyes of the law. For what was known thousands of years ago? Verses such as...

So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. (Num. 35:33)


Or...

They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, 38 and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood….40 Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance. (Ps. 106:37-40)


Because...

Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. (Gen. 9:6


Clearly, God hates bloodshed. Any bloodshed that destroys human life, life that He created, is abhorrent to him and stains the very ground it is committed on. We are God's people, protected by his mercy, but the world is not. The only chance it has, the only chance our homes have, is if we earnestly seek God's mercy for our country's acts and work towards a land that is pleasing to him.

Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them. (Ps. 106:23)


After all, we supposedly have the power to do so in a country that provides power and freedom of choice to the people.
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