Blood Upon Us: Ireland, Holy Week, and 300,000 Pieces of Silver | Ethika Politika

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Source: Blood Upon Us: Ireland, Holy Week, and 300,000 Pieces of Silver | Ethika Politika

This came across my news-feed from a good friend’s page, with this selection quoted:

“In May of this year, Irish voters will again go to the polls to decide upon the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution. The amendment recognizes that an unborn infant has the right to live, and it effectively renders abortion, which was already illegal in all thirty-two counties, unconstitutional in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment, which was approved by a two-to-one vote in the plebiscite of 1983, is almost certain to be repealed. Legislation to liberalize abortion will follow quickly.

“We will hear the whole thing described as a leap forward for gender equality and women’s reproductive health, and so on and so forth. The repeal, the ensuing legislation, and the resulting brutal termination of the lives of Irish children in the womb will be put down to a long-overdue decline of the influence of the Catholic Church in Irish society. In short, it will be seen as a mark of the progress we have made out of the bondage of religion and into the freedom of, well, who knows what.

“In fact, the real progress we have made is from a society in which sacrifice and self-disregard were esteemed as virtue to a society in which the easy way out, always the short road to Hell, is held up as a ‘personal choice.’ It is, in short, the progress from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. It would seem that, for now at least, the children of this world are wiser than the children of the light.”

Or at least, think they are. Here is the text of the amendment in question:

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

One might reasonably ask, what sort of person thinks this is a heinous and unacceptable assault on the rights of women?

I have, in general, been reticent about commenting on the issue of abortion. It is, to say the least, a controversial and emotionally-fraught issue, and one must pick the hills on which one chooses to fight and, perhaps, die (metaphorically speaking, one hopes – unlike the victims of abortion). But this move, to amend the Constitution of Ireland, hit home to me.

I spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland, in 1990. It was at that time still emphatically a Catholic – and a Christian – country, although more contemporary and “politically correct” views were already beginning to creep in. At the time, if I had any opinion on abortion at all, it was that (in the words of President Bill Clinton), it should be “safe, legal — and rare.” That is to say, legal in order to keep it safe, and viewed as a last resort for the most tragic of cases.

I still believe that, in principle. The problem, as I have come to realize in the years since, is that in practice, being safe and legal, it is far from rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, which tracks abortions, in the U.S. in 2014 “652,639 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2014 was 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.”

That figure is dismayingly high, and cannot be explained, I believe, as accounting for only the most tragic and extreme of circumstances. It is difficult to escape the conclusion, in other words, that for far too many people, abortion is being used as a form of birth-control, after the fact. In fact, the very slogans used imply as much.

Abortion proponents have gotten more canny, in the U.S., in recent years, as overall support for abortion has begun to slip. Rather than the older and far more in-your-face demands for “abortion on demand without apology,” they now use the kinder, gentler, more compassion-inducing “my body, my choice.” But the reality is that a fetus is not – just! – part of a woman’s body, some lump of tissue like a pancreas or a benign tumor. Her body is her own, unquestionably: but the unborn is something more.

She hosts it, of course! She carries it within her, for nine months; she nourishes it, via her umbilical cord. Until able to survive outside the womb, the unborn can only exist within the mother. These are not immaterial or incidental considerations.

But from the time it begins to form, indeed from conception, the fetus is a distinct, individual organism, with distinct, individual DNA, a distinct, individual genetic blueprint: formed from a combination of the genes of both the mother and the father, but different from either.

This is not right-wing opinion, neither is it religious doctrine; this is scientific fact (it is interesting how enthusiastically so many folks on the left trumpet science… right up until it conflicts with one of their fondly-held ideological views).

“My body, my choice” is a lie, or at best it is a half-truth, used to defend what is, in most cases, a choice of convenience. I am sorry, I know that is probably a hard thing to hear, for many people. It is not easy for me to write. But it is the truth.

Therapeutic abortion – abortion undertaken for reasons of medical necessity, in which the termination of the pregnancy is an unfortunate result, but not the intended reason, for the procedure – is one thing. But I am not here talking about therapeutic abortion, I am talking about elective abortion: abortion undertaken for the specific and sole purpose of ending the pregnancy.

That sort of abortion is certainly useful if one’s goal is population control. And it is certainly useful if one desires not to be encumbered with an unwanted pregnancy, either because one made an unwise choice, or because one’s birth control method of choice failed.

But it is not only fatal to the aborted fetus – a unique individual, and one we who are Christians cannot assume is lacking a soul, although we do not know the details of when or how God grants that – but it has been shown to have negative psycho-emotional effects on the mother, and – perhaps most controversially – has negative effects on society as well.

Between six and seven hundred thousand abortions per year cannot, in my view, help but contribute to the numbing of America, when it comes to the sanctity of life. That, in turn, leads to all sorts of unintended – and deeply negative – consequences, almost certainly including a mentality in which the mass murder of innocents becomes thinkable.

After all, if the termination of 652,639 pregnancies each year – 1,788 each and every day – is not the mass murder of innocents, it is hard to imagine what is! And it happens under the imprimatur of the legal and medical establishment.

What sort of message is that sending, out into the larger culture? What message is that sending to our young people, who are also dealing with many other demoralizing and dehumanizing messages? Not a good one, I’ll warrant.

Am I saying there is a direct, causal relationship between the two – that abortion leads directly to school shootings? Well, no… not exactly. Not directly. But indirectly? Absolutely. How could it not? Something, or someone, is inconvenient to you? Bothers you? Upsets you? Get rid of it! Kill it! Throw it away. That’s the message, unintended or no.

There are many other factors involved, too, of course. Abortion is just one factor among many. But it’s a mistake not to think that it IS a factor, in my opinion – and a fairly major one at that – in the overall loss of America’s moral bearings.

652,639 abortions is nearly 18 times the number killed in traffic fatalities annually in the U.S. (37,461 in 2016), a staggering 49 times the number killed by gun violence (13,286 in 2015) – though that number attracts the most attention – and even 2.6 times the horrific number killed by medical malpractice (estimated at around 250,000 annually).

Can this possibly not be having an effect on the psyche and morals of a nation? It’s hard to imagine how it could not. And now Ireland is poised to join the club. Sad.

 


 

For further details on the duplicity of this effort, see “Medical myths about Eighth Amendment must be challenged: Campaign of fear and misinformation has been deployed to tarnish reputation of Irish medicine.”

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Why is Europe losing the will to breed? | The Irish Times

Despite Europe’s wonderful heritage, the continent is losing faith in itself, and birth rates have collapsed

Source: Why is Europe losing the will to breed? | The Irish Times

Sobering statistics and commentary from the Irish Times. But at least the fact that a piece like this is published at all gives hope that the mainstream is starting to wake up to the magnitude of the crisis!

What greater sign could there be that our civilisation is dying than the fact that the majority of Europeans have insufficient zest in life to replace themselves? Civilisation can struggle on even in difficult circumstances, but it can hardly survive without people…

European civilisation has given the world many cherished values, freedoms and institutions, including the classical legacy of Greece and Rome; the rule of law; separation of church and state; modern science; individual freedom; a fabulous heritage of music, painting, sculpture and architecture; and more.

But despite this wonderful heritage, Europe is losing faith in itself, and birth rates have collapsed…

Some people comfort themselves with the thought that Europe can overcome its demographic problems through the large-scale absorption of immigrants. This is a naive attitude. When birth rates fall to about 1.5, even large scale immigration will not hold the population steady over time. Also, European values are not universal and there is no necessary reason to expect that other civilisations will adopt these values simply because they come to Europe to partake of the technical and commercial fruits of western civilisation.

Apart from the social pressures that depress birth rates, our civilisation is also under internal assault from postmodern intellectual elites and their acolytes in the mass media, who enthusiastically embrace moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism and political correctness and attack our values and weaken our will. We must repulse these attacks, regain our confidence and boost birth rates back up to replacement rates.

Studies have shown that people who have little hope for the future choose not to reproduce. Unfortunately, that results in a shrinking population which, in turn, reduces prospects for the future – a vicious feedback loop that will continue unless or until something happens to jar Europe (and the European diaspora, because the problem is not limited to Europe itself) out of its downward spiral.

I hope that the appearance of an article such as this one in a mainstream Irish publication is an indication that the pendulum is starting to swing back, however tentatively!

Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461 | For All the Saints

Source: Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461 | For All the Saints

Despite the “pop-culture” association of St. Patrick’s Day with leprechauns and green beer, this is actually the feast-day of a very impressive and influential saint of the early Church: Saint Patrick (Patricius) was a Briton who became the missionary to and evangelist (and ultimately, Bishop) of Ireland, which in turn ultimately led to the amazing flowering of faith and culture which was early Christian Ireland – and the salvation of the Classical inheritance of Western Europe, during and following the period often known (somewhat incorrectly and misleadingly) as the “Dark Ages.”

The Strength of St. Patrick – Crisis Magazine

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“To learn of the many missionaries and martyrs of the Church who have gone abroad throughout hostile nations is to be moved by the hardships unceasingly endured, and the intensity of heroic virtue constantly displayed, to accomplish the work of God. Even so, I cannot help but esteem the labors of St. Patrick as among the greatest of those who have traveled far and wide for the discipleship of Christ.”

Source: The Strength of St. Patrick – Crisis Magazine

“On this day, we look to find the strength of St. Patrick in ourselves—that is, in our bishops and priests, in our religious and laity—to articulate the challenge of faith in the midst of difficult, even impossible, odds. In this age of ours, who would dare to go before senators and judges, declaring in the likeness of the saint: “Some put their trust in nations and some in avarice for every earthly thing; but we in the Lord our God”? Whether berated with the din of laughter, or caught in the clamor of scorn, it is our special task to give to the world this expression of the serenity and hope of Christian fortitude: a power that is never irrational, never violent, but also never afraid. And if it is thought by some to have diminished, or even gone wholly out of the Church, I stridently assert that in some persons its example remains unbroken…

“Although it is undoubtedly true that each and every one of the Church’s saints display a faith and virtue which is for all the ages of the world, I would especially believe that St. Patrick—though he lived some sixteen centuries past—is truly a saint for our times.”

Ireland and national identity – Reply to the Irish ambassador | MelaniePhillips.com

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“Pondering the complexities that occur when national aspirations and identities come into conflict with each other, I wrote of Irish nationalism that ‘the claim to unite Ireland is tenuous since Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State only in 1922. Britain, by contrast, is an authentic unitary nation.'” – Melanie Phillips

Source: My reply to the Irish ambassador | MelaniePhillips.com

An interesting take on a challenging issue, in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day! There are few who would dispute that Ireland has always (at least since the beginning of recorded history) had a unique, distinctive, and self-conscious culture and self-identity. Indeed, Ms Phillips notes that she understands and appreciates “the strong attachment felt by the people of Ireland to their country. Nothing I wrote was intended to denigrate that, nor to diminish Irish history, culture or traditions. I was instead looking at what lies behind specific claims of nationalism and national identity.”

And as a student of history, especially medieval history, who spent a semester studying ancient and medieval Irish history and archaeology in Ireland itself (University College, Galway), I must affirm that Ms Phillips’ assertion that, prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion(s) of c. 1169-71 and subsequent dominance of Ireland by England, Ireland was “divided between chieftains and petty kingdoms,” and that “although historical records are inconclusive and there is much mythology around this subject, it was never ruled by a single king as one self-consciously unified polity” is, in fact, historically and factually accurate.

There was, it is true, a “High King” through much of this period, but the office was nominal and much in dispute. Indeed, the Anglo-Normans were invited into Ireland to help in one of the wars for power and territory between rival Irish factions, and the Irish “national epic,” the Táin Bó Cúailnge (the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”), was entirely about a semi-mythical conflict between two of the Irish kingdoms, Ulster and Connacht. So the veracity of her statement is difficult, if not impossible, to challenge.

The problem is that once one starts down this road, one can easily find oneself on a slippery slope. Germany, for example, was prior to the creation of the Deutsche Kaiserreich in 1871 a loose confederation of of 26 constituent territories, including four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five or six duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Yet I doubt that too many people would attempt to assert that Germany’s claim to national identity was “tenuous”!

I shall not attempt to pass judgment on this issue, just highlight it as an example of the challenges of navigating between various claims to national, cultural, and ethnic identity, self-determination, and self-expression – issues which seem likely to increase rather than decrease in prominence, in the years ahead. As a historian, and not only of medieval history, I am all too acutely aware of the way in which the pendulum swings back and forth between periods of greater unification and centralization, and of greater fragmentation and emphasis on local self-expression and distinctiveness.

I suspect that we are near or at the top of the swing, with respect to greater central power and authority, and are beginning to see the shift toward local and national (perhaps even regional) expression, as opposed to internationalism and globalism. But there are powerful forces in play on the side of centralization, both governmental and corporate, and the process does not seem likely to be simple, tidy, or without conflict!

As the old saying goes, we are living in “interesting times”!