Monday, March 15, 2010

Series About Abortion Opens Thoughtful Dialogue--Something Truly Needed!

Bringing Both Sides Together to Talk

For the first time, perhaps ever, people from both sides of the abortion debate entered into an international conversation about the issue that was truly honest, thoughtful and civil. I've never seen anything like it. The web series, Bump+, a fake reality show, which followed three women facing unplanned pregnancies, has received endorsements from numerous pro-choice and pro-life groups. Perez Hilton praised it--and so did Fr. Frank Pavonne, the head of Priests for Life, probably the most well-respected Catholic pro-life organization. When has an attempt to bring people together to discuss the issue been so successful? When has such a thing ever happened?!

The show has easily been the most talked about web series ever. This has been by far the most amazing development in the conversation about abortion I have ever witnessed. Anyone who watched the show and participated in the conversation knows that something really remarkable took place here. Here's the retrospective, but if you did not follow the show as it aired live, you really need to check out the brief episodes (go here) the conversations revolve around. The message boards are only going to remain open for another 72 hours! "Join the conversation!", as they say.



The Need for Dialogue

Some might be surprised by my support for this show. Readers of this blog know how much the experience of becoming a father has reinforced my belief that abortion is evil. In my mind, you can't look at an ultrasound and not be transformed--it certainly looks like a human life to me! So it might seem odd to some that I have supported this show, which fosters open dialogue.

In fact, I'm always a big proponent of honest dialogue--whether that be about theological issues, biblical issues, philosophical issues, moral issues--etc. Having, as a Catholic, received most of my education at non-Catholic institutions, I can testify first hand to the fact that much fruit comes from open and honest conversation. I would submit that most, though admittedly not all, of the theological and biblical disagreements stem from misunderstandings and knowledge of only straw-man arguments in support of various positions.

Yet some clearly have a mistaken view of what dialogue entails, claiming that it should be avoided because it necessarily involves compromising principles. Laura Ingraham, a conservative talk show host, slammed the Bump+ show. As a Catholic, she claimed, it is wrong to open up dialogue--Catholics are called to "take a stand" she stated, "not dialogue".

Ingraham's thinking is flawed on many levels--I can't possible enter into a full discussion here. But, fundamentally, her view seems to illustrate the problem: people have given up talking to each other in favor of talking at each other.

Moreover, Laura's Ingraham's position reveals her own ignorance of Catholic teaching, which has repeatedly called for dialogue. Engaging in honest conversation is not antithetical taking a stand. In fact, Bump+ is about initiating the kind of charitable, intelligent conversation the Second Vatican Council called for:

Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.

This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions.(10) God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone [Cf. Luke 6:37-38; Matt. 7:1-2; Rom. 2:1-11; 14:10, 14:10-12].

The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries [Matt. 5:43-47], and extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the New Law: "You have heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you (Matt. 5:43-44).

--Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 28.

If Catholics and Christians seriously took these words to heart and put winning friends over simply winning debates in the abstract, the world would be in a much better place.

The way people talk at each other--oftentimes ignoring the women most especially involved--was in fact illustrated in this, my favorite episode of the series. If you haven't seen it, here it is--and seriously, you've got to see the whole show to really understand this in context. Again, you've got 72 hours--go add your voice now!

7 comments:

Michael Pigg said...

Michael,

First off, I love the article and share your passion, however, I see it differently. Though I feel dialogue is a good thing, I am not quite sure talking with the devil ever gets anything good accomplished, unless you are an exorcist. Sacred Scripture is clear on this, thus we need no more revelation concerning this matter. The best way to solve the problem of abortion is to stop treating the symptom (abortion) and target the root of the problem (Godlessness). And what does the woman’s situation have to do with it? In most cases, it is totally irrelevant how, when, who, where, and why? Today’s age is all about the individual and not about the Creator. Even people that claim to be Christians and support abortion are Godless and/or ignorant. There pride and love for individualism has replaced God with self. This series will accomplish about as much as a “dialogue” between a Catholic and a Muslim concerning the commonality of their gods would accomplish.

I think you are forgetting that this problem is not new, people have always done it and will always do it until Christ returns. And how much “dialogue” is Jesus going to engage in upon His return, not much if any at all.

I think it is time for Catholics and other Christians to quit trying to “fix” everything and just stick with preaching the Gospel. The rest of the dominoes will fall shortly thereafter. I may be wrong about the series and pray that it does bring people closer to God, but I just don’t see it. People are not who they say they are when they know they are being filmed. For me, the desire to entertain flaws this series from jump street.

Also, I really hate when people use the "don't judge others" line out of context, which is 99% of the time. It is our duty to judge the actions of man, and the last time I checked abortion is not a person but an action. People are surely involved and we can't judge the person, meaning we can't condemn them to hell since we are not God, but we can surely discern whether an act is good or bad. What kind of witness would we be if we didn't?

Thanks for the post. I forwarded it to my wife. She heads a pro-life ministry at our church. We usually disagree with tactics, also.

Michael

Sara said...

I think the root of your disagreement is found in your second sentence - this show is not about "talking with the devil." These are young women making a decision, not devils. I don't like that Roe v. Wade made abortion into a choice, but it happened, and unfortunately we have to work within that framework.

Of course people have always committed sins and crimes. Whether certain actions are legal doesn't always influence their commission. The point of "Bump+" is to move beyond the abstraction and recognize - and help, and save - the persons involved.

Michael Pigg said...

Sara,

The devil is the cause of the influence behind the evil actions and motives of these people. The people are not devils. An example of what I meant was when Jesus told Peter "get behind me Satan". I am not saying that the people are devils but that they are instruments being used by the devil, just like all of us are when we sin.

My concern is this. Giving these girls a platform to spew their indecision about having a child (as if it were the boyfriend of the month) is perverted in and of itself. People act as if it is good to provide these girls the opportunity to convince others that it is o.k. to abort a child. Just remember that for every positive influence this show has, it is likely to have the same amount of negative influences.

The key is to win their hearts over and if this show can do that, then praise God either way. But this show, to me, is just another so-called reality show that is far from reality. Cameras don't follow people around in the real world and most people never do in the light what they do in the dark.

Now if this was a self help ministry with no public viewing, I would be all on board. Cameras and people equals show time and show time is for entertaining, not truth. Just look at Hollywood these days.

Michael

Michael Pigg said...

Sara,

I just realized that the reference I made to Jesus and Peter really sums up my entire point from my first post. I left part of my second response out prior to posting because I felt the way I was responding was not that charitable. To defend my position on talking with the "devil", I point to the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Not just what Jesus told Peter but what followed from Peter. After Jesus chastised Peter for tempting Him with the glory and no cross, Peter said nothing. There was no conversation. Jesus found no reason to ask Peter what he meant or why he felt that way, or what events in his life led to his misinformation. Jesus had the truth and was not interested in perverted thoughts. He said "get behind me Satan, you are a scandal to me..."

That is the message that needs to be sent out. There is no reason for us to come to understand the mitigating circumstances of why people do evil things. We can leave that for the scientists and doctors. Besides we already know, it is called demons and spiritual warfare. We simply need to preach the Gospel and let the Grace of God fall on those that hear and open their hearts.

Michael

Michael Barber said...

Michael:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. However, I think talking with people who disagree with us about abortion isn't the same thing as Jesus' conversation with Peter--in fact, I think there are some important differences there. For one thing, Peter accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but pro-choice advocates do not look at pro-lifers in a positive light.

I think many people shut out Christian voices because they don't believe we are listening to them. If we want to be listened to, we need to listen as well. At the end of the day, I believe in any open dialogue the truth will always be vindicated if we present it well.

One more thing. No sidewalk counselor approaches a pregnant woman entering an abortion clinic saying, "I'm a Christian. I want to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Now, let's talk about your abortion." We need to reach people where their at and demonstrate our real concern and love for them. That kind of conversation starts with listening. Many people think pro-lifers do not listen but only preach. We need to break down those walls.

Michael Pigg said...

God bless you, Michael. You do wonderful things for the Church. I understand your position and agree with much of it. I disagree with the tactic because I don't like the "airing of laundry". It reminds me of gossip, and we know where the Church stands on gossip. Yes, these girls need help and they need to be met where they are but their inclination towards this evil act should not be public hearing. For me, it would be like allowing Hitler to go on CSPAN and explain to the world why he thinks all Jews, Christians and Africans should all be exterminated. We would not want his thoughts to inspire another like him.

Take care, brother. I enjoy your teachings. The one on the Prodigal Son was very good.

Thanks,
Michael

Anonymous said...

With God all things are possible!