Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wisdom for the abortion war: a peacable solution making everyone a winner without compromise

If our thinking could be so changed as to end the abortion war, it would be like dominoes affecting other seemingly unsolvable problems.

If you would convince me of error, you must first demonstrate you heard what I said.
--Charles Finney

It is said to be the issue that won’t go away -- as divisive as slavery before the Civil War. Is there a peaceable answer to this conflict? I believe there’s a win/win solution without compromise and that we are closer to agreement in our hearts than we comprehend. I propose this as an answer all can accept:

(1) Can we agree that outlawing abortion will not solve the problem or stop abortion. The reversal of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, would be extremely detrimental for our country no matter which view one currently takes, as it would further fragment our society and actually distract energy from the goal of fewer abortions.
Romania had the most stringent anti-abortion laws—abortion was punishable by death. Yet when freedom came, records showed that Romania had one of the highest abortion rates in the world under that law. With the fall of Romania’s oppressive Ceaucescu regime the world discovered the horror of more than 150,000 malnourished, neglected children held prisoners in antiquated systems of hospitals and orphanages. Latin American countries also have strong anti-abortion laws and yet multiple dangerous illegal abortions are still performed.

So if efforts to reverse Roe vs. Wade should succeed, then what? We’re back to the beginning. What shall we do about abortion, and what shall be done for the suffering children?

(2) However, if we focus on the conditions leading to abortion, instead of giving our attention to legislation, think of all the peace we can sow. Let those against abortion redirect their energies to the root of the problem where it will do permanent good. What circumstances surround women resorting to abortion? Individual and collective efforts to improve society and alleviate suffering will surely result in more wanted conceptions and fewer abortions.

It is time to realize what we have been taught: the laws that will change the world are not those written on paper, but those written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:33,34). The answer, of course, is love-- “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NKJV). We need to work with the people who need help: single mothers, unwed mothers, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Mothers in Prison, Children in Crisis, the homeless, alternative mental health facilities -- or wherever else the Spirit of Love leads us.

If our energy is consumed with the reversal of Roe vs. Wade (which is fruitless effort to stop abortion), then it will not be sufficient to attend to the audible screams of children in our own country and all over the world.

From U.N. Prepares for a Debate on Dire Needs of Children:
Ten million children die yearly from preventable diseases. 300,000 children are fighting in wars. Countless children have three fates: war, drugs, and prostitution. 100 million children are unable to attend school. In many countries a large percentage of newborns do not live to the age of five. Sub-Saharan Africa has 10 percent of the world’s population but 90 percent of its AIDS orphans. There are more than 100 million street children around the world who live in fear every day of their lives. According to Amnesty international many of these children “disappear,” are beaten, illegally detained and confined, sexually exploited, tortured and systematically killed by agents of the state. For innumerable children water is costly, dirty and scarce.
This is just a short list of needs to be addressed.

Charles Finney said, “If you would convince me of error, you must first demonstrate you heard what I said.” We must look out the window of those who oppose us to see how they are thinking and what their needs and goals are. These polarizing words need to be changed, “A woman’s right to choose.”
When people say, “A woman’s right to choose”, immediately Roe vs. Wade opponents say, “A woman’s right to choose murder? Her body ends where the child’s begins.” We hear such words as, “Baby killers.”
Instead FOCUS on (1) the fact that outlawing abortion will not solve the problem and (2) attending to the needs of the people and root causes is the quickest way to fewer abortions and more wanted conceptions. That’s all we have to agree upon to end this abortion war. We don’t have to get into such questions as to when the soul enters the body, etc. Don’t distract by saying, “A woman’s right to choose.” If people are against abortion, let them be—only focus on the above two points. Then everyone’s goals and needs are better met.
If our thinking could be so changed as to end the abortion war, it would be like dominoes affecting everything else. Imagine a world where people on both sides feed the hungry, help the widow and fatherless and visit the prisoners..
It is vital to end this war, which is tearing our country apart, wasting so much time, money, and energy without result or solution and fomenting hate. Causing havoc in our political process and draining our resources this internal impasse touches us all. In our mistaken focus we are weakening our whole society in neglecting the problems and suffering that need to be addressed as we allow that which is at the root of the problem to drift away from our consciousness. The faulty thinking, surfaced by this issue, graphically illustrates the erroneous way we go about solving the issues that face us – all elements of our discord are represented. The Abortion War—there is a peaceable solution.


Recently the author, Shelby Foote, died. He wrote a three volume history of the Civil War. This was used for the PBS documentary by Ken Burns. Some years ago when I saw the documentary, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept thinking about how important it is to learn from this war for present-day problems.

George Washington had a dream at Valley Forge in which he saw a vision of three times of trouble for America—the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the worst to come. However, prophesy and prophetic dreams do not have to come to pass. They are a warning of what the prophetic eye sees if present circumstances do not change.

What is in the world? It is a picture of what is in each of our hearts. Inasmuch as we listen to our hearts and do our part—inasmuch as we go by The Golden Rule (or don’t go by The Golden Rule), we are responsible for the violence or the peace in this world.

Did we have to have the Civil War? Some may think we did—to free the slaves, to preserve the union. After the Civil War was supposedly over, however, the terrible conflict continued so much so that it was called the Second Civil War. Hearts were not changed—in fact, for many, hatred had multiplied and for many ex-slaves conditions were even worse. There was the so called Jim Crow legislation passed by the southern states as soon as they rejoined the union which made racial inequality laws. Lynching was common place and the outlawing of it couldn’t even get through the Senate. Dr. Martin Luther King and the freedom marches haven’t been so far in the distant past. Mississippi just recently had the trial and conviction of the man who orchestrated the death of three Civil Rights leaders.

I wish there could be a documentary about John Woolman of the Quakers. We hear much of John Brown and his bloody methods, but what about John Woolman? I talk of him often—most of the time people have never heard of him. John Woolman (1720-1772) was an example of the right way to change wrong. (Notice his dates-- over a hundred years before the Civil War.)
John Woolman was convinced that slavery was wrong and so he went from Quaker meeting to Quaker meeting preaching this message. He actually traveled on foot from New England to North Carolina. In 1758 he convinced the Philadelphia Quakers at their yearly meeting to give up slavery—imagine that! We should have a national holiday about this! Hearts were changed. These were permanent results. Would that John Woolman’s message had been taken up by others and the Civil War averted. (Later the Quakers were at the forefront of the Underground Railroad.)

We have laws against drugs. Have these paper laws solved the drug problem? We had the experiment of Prohibition. Why didn’t it work? Are the answers in war or in the changing of laws? No, the answer is in the changing of hearts. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Can we learn from the Civil War that there is another way and can we use this wisdom to resolve the abortion war? It is time for us to transcend war and violence. The Abortion War can be that challenge, giving us the opportunity to show how the key that heretofore has locked now can unlock.

In the ancient Garden of Eden story Adam and Eve were told not to eat from Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because it was a tree of death. It is still a tree of death. What does this mean? To eat from it means to make judgments solely with the mind in human understanding—to judge something as “good” or “evil” apart from The Voice within giving you the real picture. Jesus said, “Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.” Eating from this Tree is judging by appearances—which can appear exactly the opposite of the true situation. We are told also by the Master, “Except you become as little children, you cannot see the kingdom of God.” Until we discern intuitively—until we hear The Voice—about a matter, it is all right for us to say, “I don’t know. I am as a child—I cannot tell.” We cannot tell until we hear. Jesus said that he did nothing except what he saw the Father do. “As the Father sent me, so send I you.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had judges like this? The wealthy person with the lawyer making it look like he were innocent when he wasn’t would have no advantage. An innocent poor man with circumstantial evidence making him appear guilty would not be disadvantaged.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 speaks of God writing His laws on our hearts. In another place (Ezekiel 36:24-27) God says that He will “sprinkle clean water on us and give us a new heart and take the stones out and give us a heart of flesh.” There will be peace on earth when we transcend to the spiritual realm for answers of the Spirit.

After President Clinton’s Second Inaugural Address, a reporter, when asked if he thought he heard anything really quotable said, “No, I don’t think so.” However, I did:

“The greatest progress needs to be made in the human heart.”
--President William Jefferson Clinton

War has always had an adversary who hardly ever comes forward as such but does
his work in the stillness. This adversary is speech, the speech of genuine
conversation in which people understand one another and come to mutual
understanding. . .the abysses between man and man threatens ever more pitilessly
to become unbridgeable. – Martin Buber

The abortion issue is a symptom and arguing about it is rather like arguing about whether to clip a hedge or let it go free when there’s a bulldozer down the road apace that is going to mow the whole thing down. In the spirit of John Woolman let's focus on the bulldozer.


From Henry Drummond (1851-1897) beautiful book, The Greatest Thing in the World

To love abundantly is to live abundantly, and to love for ever is to live forever. Hence, eternal life is inextricably bound up with love. . .
. . .Be not deceived. The words which all of us shall one day hear sound not of theology, but of life, not of churches and saints, but of the hungry and the poor, not of creeds and doctrines but of shelter and clothing, not of Bibles and prayer books but of cups of cold water. . .
Christ did not come into the world to give man religion. . .The tendency of the religions of all time has been to care more for religion than for humanity. . .
The world in which we live is an unfinished world. It is not wise, it is not happy, it is not pure, it is not good. . Humanity is little more than raw material. Almost everything has yet to be done to it. . .The work of Creation is going on. . And this teeming universe of people in which we live has almost all its finer color and beauty yet to take. . .The fires of its passion were not yet cool; their heat had to be transformed into finer energies. . .the forces to realize them were not yet born. . .God’s way of making worlds is to make them make themselves. . .God does not grudge souls their comfort . . .Be sure that wherever religion appears small, or forbidding, or narrow, or inhuman, you are dealing not with the whole. . .not even with an arch or column—every detail is perfect—but with some cold stone removed from its place and suggesting nothing of the glorious structure from which it came. . .
This programme deals with a real world. Think of it as you read—not of the surface-world, but of the world as it is, as it sins and weeps, and curses and suffers and send up its long cry to God. Limit it, if you like, to the world around your door, but think of it—of the city and the hospital and the dungeon and the graveyard, of the sweating shops and the pawn shop and the drink shop; think of the cold, the cruelty, the fever, the famine, the ugliness, the loneliness, the pain. And then try to keep down the lump in your throat as your take up His Programme and read—

To bind up the Broken Hearted:
To proclaim Liberty to the Captives:
To comfort all that Mourn:
To Give unto them—
Beauty for Ashes,
The Oil of Joy for Mourning,
The Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness.

What an exchange—beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, liberty for chains. . .
And that is the work of the Day of Vengeance. When is that day? It is now. . .Wherever the poor are trodden upon. . .wherever the air is poison and the water foul; wherever want stares, and vice reigns, and rags rot—there the Avenger takes his stand. Whatever makes it more difficult for the drunkard to reform, for the children to be pure, for the widow to earn a wage, for any of these wheels of progress to revolve. . .with these he deals. Delay him not. He is the messenger of God. . . Though evil stalks the world, it is on the way to execution; though wrong reigns, it must end in self-combustion. . .
People repudiate religion because they think it a small and limited thing, a scheme with no large human interest to command it to this great social age. I ask you to note that there is not one burning interest of the human race which is not represented here. What are the great words according to this Programme: Take as specimens these: Liberty, Comfort, Beauty, Joy. These are the greatest words of life. . .in these enlightened days they must raise the masses by giving them noble sculptures and beautiful paintings and music and public parks. . .
It is impossible to doubt that the Decorator of the World shall not continue to serve to His later children, and in ever finer forms, the inspirations of beautiful things. Most fearlessly than he has ever done, the follower of God will use the noble spiritual leverages of Art. . .Christ might have done all this work Himself, with His own hands. But He did not. The crowning wonder of His scheme is that he entrusted to people. . .
There are versions of Christianity, it is true, which no self-respecting mind can do other than disown—versions so hard, so narrow, so unreal, so super-theological, that practical men can find in them neither outlets for their lives nor resting place for their thoughts. With these we have nothing to do. With these Christ had nothing to do—except to oppose them with every word and act of His life. It too seldom occurs to those who repudiate Christianity because of its narrowness or its unpracticalness, its sanctimoniousness or its dullness, that these were the very things which Christ strove against and unweariedly condemned. . .

Obama's choice of Rick Warren for Inaugural Invocation

The Brooklyn Bridge at Christmas time, with two of my eight grandchildren
(Anabelle, seven and Patrick, eight).

My son, Jack, is a structural engineer—designing bridges—so naturally he is interested in bridges, and especially the famous Brooklyn Bridge. He wanted his children to have the experience of walking across it. Through the years I have sent bridge postcards to him, and in so doing have thought of a different kind of bridge—bridges of understanding between people.

We can't build big bridges if we can't build small ones;
we can't have peace between nations if we can't have peace between individuals.

I'm happy about Obama's choice of Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation. I believe both to be men who wish to build bridges of understanding—they are willing to listen and consider opposing views in the path to finding solutions.
For decades our country has been caught up in the log jam issues of abortion and gay rights. Two years ago, when Rick Warren invited Barak Obama to speak at his church, some people said, "Oh, no, how could he invite Barak Obama?" Now there are those on the opposite side saying, "Oh, no, how could Barak Obama invite Rick Warren?" Because these two men are supposedly on opposite sides of these two issues—but are they?
In the process of writing this, as so often happens, the universe has brought relevant material to my attention that seems to go together like pieces of a puzzle.
Just a few days ago I heard Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, give her testimony at the West End Collegiate Church here in New York City. Her books, Left Behind, and Led by Faith, are on the New York Times best seller list.
From Publisher's Weekly:
"This searing firsthand account cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind' seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God."
Coming from babysitting my six month old grandson, Noah, I walked in late and took a seat on the back row. At once the speaker's voice arrested me—I felt God's presence. And later, as I saw her up close, I noticed how beautiful she was—her face had the quiet radiance of someone who has spent much time in prayer. Her communion with God enabled her to have victory over unforgiveness and grief.
Being reminded of the Rwandan Genocide, I realized all the more the importance of resolving our conflicts in such a way as to not tear our country apart. Could we not release unnecessary pressure for our elected leaders by praying for them and looking for the things they do that are good instead of being so quick to criticize and revel at every seeming misstatement?. In our elections, isn’t there much digging into the past rejoicing to find something against an opponent? Do we know what happened between that person and God even yesterday? Consider our prison system—are there not many wrong judgments and a lack of belief in redemption?
At the church I saw these two quotations and thought they belonged in my paper:

With malice toward none and charity toward all. . .
--Abraham Lincoln

Our diversity unites us.

In realizing our nation, our world, individually and collectively, faces challenges and perils too vast for human strength, what can we do? We must enlist the heavenly host—going beyond what we see and hear. (I love the story found in II Kings 6: 8-23 which illustrates angelic help and also gives an example of, "If your enemy hunger, feed him.") We must stop eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which is still a tree of death), jumping to judgment, but must be quiet in our spirits waiting for the discernment and wisdom from The One Who Inhabits Eternity.

Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Situations can be so different from what they appear to be. Judging "according to appearance" is judging with human understanding alone; judging "righteous judgment" is judging with the discernment that God gives which is available to everyone if they will listen. Our Father/Mother "delights in mercy" and is "plenteous in redemption"; if we would be representatives of the divine, we must let mercy, love and redemption flow through us.
As we begin this New Year with a new administration may we deal with our differences as assets to enlarge our perceptions and not as liabilities to divide us.

God bless the friendship of President-elect Barak Obama and Pastor Rick Warren. May they, with us, help to lead our country with wisdom.

In the background, at the same time I’ve been writing this, I have been listening to PBS--Wayne Dyer:

Change Your Thoughts; Change Your Life.
These are sayings he gleaned from the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching and seem to go along with what I'm writing:
Learn to die while you are alive.
Have a sacred place in your home to pray.
Shift from fear to curiosity.
Less rigidity; more openness. Move from stiffness to flexibility. Flexibility is the companion of life.
Stop chasing life—let it come to you.
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know. I'll look it up."
Heaven's way is to conquer without striving.
Hidden in all misfortunes is good fortune.
Nobility is rooted in humility.
Think small; accomplish great things. A seed becomes a tree.
A journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step.
No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.
The absurdity of having an enemy. . .
You accomplish more by trying less.
There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.
(I can think of Biblical verses that say the same thing. For example:"If you save your life, you will lose it. . . except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die. . .if you have faith as a mustard seed , ye shall say to this mountain. . .love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. . ..enter into thy closet and pray and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. . ."

The PBS program ended with a woman’s lovely voice singing, Amazing Grace. How many people have been blessed by this hymn written by John Newton who had been in the slave trade before he was converted and became a strong opponent of slavery?
All these thread are weaving together. Wayne Dyer was instrumental in getting Immaculee's book into print and on the front cover of her book is an endorsement by Rick Warren. ( I did not know this when I began the paper. ) I discovered that Nightline (July 31, 2008) had a program entitled, "Rick Warren's Long-Term Relationship with Rwanda." He has made numerous trips there, he says, "to help alleviate the suffering in a deeply wounded nation, a place where 200,000 people have HIV and 800,000 children are orphaned." Right now Charlie Rose is interviewing actors from the Holocaust movie, Defiance. I heard one of them say, "Just because horrible things have been done to you, you can't do them back."
No, as Immaculee so strongly demonstrates in her book, we must break the hatred cycle and let the Spirit of God cleanse our hearts and give us love, joy and peace.
After President Clinton's second inaugural address, I remember a news commentator saying, "There were no quotable quotes." (I suppose he meant nothing like, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.") I disagreed! I heard one wonderful, marvelous, earth transforming quote and with this I close:

The greatest progress needs to be made in the human heart.
I've attached my writing: (actually it is in the next post)
Wisdom for the Abortion War:A Peaceable Solution for Everyone Without Compromise

Time, December 6, 2006
Some time ago, Rick Warren, megapastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County and author of the mega-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, along with his wife Kay, invited Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to speak today at the second annual AIDS conference at Warren's church. Other politicians were to participate, notably Sen. Sam Brownback, a born-again Christian turned conservative Catholic who, like Obama, may have presidential ambitions. But while Brownback was to speak to his natural constituency, Obama's participation is a divisive issue for one overriding reason: he is pro-choice. . .
Obama told the Rev. Rick Warren that "we still don't abide by that basic precept of Matthew: that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.
Obama said that although he's pro-choice and supports Roe v. Wade, his goal is to reduce the number of abortions in America."On this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception ... and you are consistent, then I can't argue with you on that," he said. "What I can do is say, are there ways we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?"
He also touched on same-sex marriage. When asked to define marriage, he told Warren, "It's a union between a man and a woman.""For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. God's in the mix," he said. Obama added that he does support same-sex civil unions, saying, "I can afford those civil rights to others even if I don't have ... that view."
And Warren, responding to the controversy, said "I've got two friends here, a Republican and a Democrat, why?" Warren asked. "Because you've got to have two wings to fly."
My note: Though Rick Warren is not for gay marriage, he is for Civil Unions. My sister and her friend have been partners in a stained glass business and have lived together for 30 years raising my sister's two children. They definitely are a family—though not lesbians. Rights that married people have could be realized with Civil Unions.