A return to a subjects old and a testing of subjects new. Let me know if the latter our of interest as future post topics.
To start this edition I am drawing attention to a subject to which I am likely to return—the story out of England that raised again the idea that ending the life of newborns is just as acceptable as ending the lives via abortion. The twist is that this is not a pro-life position, but one that acknowledges what prolifers have said all along, with every scientific argument on their side: prenatal life is human life. A segment of those who support legal abortion now agree; but the argument turns on the personhood rather than on humanity of the fetus/child. The critical issue to which we absolutely must give attention here is that personhood cannot be scientifically but only philosophically established. And the nature of the reigning philosophy can take us in a number of directions, some of which are reminiscent of a certain twentieth century movement in Germany or another in Russia. Stay tuned.
Since I’ve made reference to the presidential campaign in previous stray thoughts, I’ll simply observe here that there isn’t a lot of reason to get excited about the Republican candidates. I am trying, however, to make sense of Mrs. Romney’s comment early in the week that she doesn’t think of herself as rich. Now that is certainly a statement over which Democratic strategists are salivating. But the context of the statement was one in which she continued by saying that her riches were in her family, relationships, and other non-material goods. I wonder whether that will do. On one hand we would certainly agree that these goods and values are a better measure of anyone’s possession of the good things in life; on the other, does not the possession of so much monetary wealth as the family undeniably holds come with a responsibility of recognizing and acknowledging the privileged status it provides? Whatever its source, wealth does give tremendous advantage in terms of whether one’s voice is heard and one’s overall interests are protected. These privileges can be borne well or poorly. But pretending they do not matter is darn close to arrogance.
It seems apologizing is becoming one of the necessary practices of life. Fair enough; it should be practiced as often as it is called for in one’s personal life as an expression of both one’s humility and of the other person’s humanity. I’m not so sure, however, about public apologies being demanded for offenses real and imagined, most of which had nothing to do with the intent or knowledge of the alleged perpetrator. Sometimes it is asked for by groups one might not even be aware of, whose symbols and beliefs are therefore unknowable. Or we are asked to apologize for something done generations ago by people to whom we have only the faintest connection to. That seems meaningless. It’s not that there is nothing to do about those things which have resulted in injury and injustice; when these things come to our attention we should seek to correct them for the people now living, lament the difficulties brought upon previous generations, and work for the redemption of what is now redeemable. I raise this because of the increasingly divided and divisive culture we now live in, according to which self-definition is the prize. When self-definition turns on the identifying of “the other” there will always be new things to apologize for when we find ourselves in the role of that other.
Just when it was seemed safe to allow the Jerry Sandusky case to be just that, and not a story about his former boss, the governor of the commonwealth renews the charge that the now-deceased boss in question should have done more to pursue the case. Let’s get this straight: a man who was not a material witness to a crime, had only incomplete, second-hand knowledge of an incident which, according to what he was told, might or might not have been criminal behavior, directed the witness to go to the authorities with his information—this man is said by the attorney general, whose office had knowledge of the allegations and responsibility for prosecuting the same, to not have done enough to pursue the case. So if Joe Paterno had done what might have been construed as interfering with an on-going investigation, then maybe Tom Corbitt would have done what was already his job. Okay, got it. What is totally incomprehensible is why Corbitt feels the need to raise this yet again. The tributes to Paterno and his character, care, and investment in the lives of people appeared yet again in “The Penn Stater”, the alumni association publication. Coincidence? Probably not. One thing is certain. When Corbitt leaves this earth there will not be the kind of remembrances and outpouring of love and respect from thousands of lives as we continue to witness for the former coach. Yeah, this last thought is given in some measure of anger.
I’ll have to work on that.
Something more positive to close. I attended a session of the state high school wrestling championships this week, in support of a friend whose son was competing. When I met this boy a few years ago as interim pastor of his congregation he was a somewhat skinny kid, not terribly imposing or vocal. Now in the state championships, with the body one would expect of a competitor in this arena; but also with a desire to continue his education toward ministry. That’s good stuff. And even better is the investment made by his family in shaping and directing him; by caring coaches and mentors along the way; and by the almost countless number of people who volunteer or receive minimal remuneration for their time and efforts to make such events possible. We need these things and these people. Oh, you might want to remind the governor of this.