Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Facing the Giants

Last night I stood in the presence of giants. On a well-worn field in Denver’s aptly-named Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the niece of the late, great civil rights leader took the stage and delivered an oration worthy of critical acclaim, of which she will likely receive very little. You see, while Dr. Alveda King shares in her uncle’s proud legacy of civil rights agitation, she’s taken an unpopular stance on the civil rights issue of our day, and she has paid for it with her reputation.

A far lesser cost, to be sure, than the price her uncle paid for his dissent, but costly nonetheless, so that on the eve of the 3-ring circus that is the Democratic National Convention, convening just a few miles south of our al fresco gathering, Dr. King was speaking from a makeshift stage on a borrowed sound system to a crowd numbering in the hundreds rather than the thousands, while the likes of Teddy Kennedy and the deplorable Ward Churchill of CU Boulder enjoyed the adulation and cultic worship of the crowds downtown.

Dr. King was joined by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. , and recently-installed auxiliary bishop James Connelly , in addition to various and sundry local and national leaders in the pro-life movement. The order of the day (or night, as it were) was our peaceful assembly and prayerful procession around the perimeter of a newly-operational Planned Parenthood mega-clinic planted smack dab in the middle of a lower middle class ethnic neighborhood in one of Denver’s most diverse suburbs. Coincidence? I think not. Neither does Dr. King, it seems. She spoke eloquently and candidly about her own testimony, beginning with her fortuitous arrival in spite of her mother’s initial desire to abort. She shared with us the pain of two abortions in her own past. And she shook her fist against the foundational genocidal evil constructed by the architects of death, those auspicious leaders of the pro-choice movement, the likes of Margaret Sanger.

Sanger, Dr. King explained, was privately and unabashedly racist, convinced that the curtailing of the Negro population was the sure recipe for social stability. Of course, her cohorts recognized this as political and ideological suicide, and so her private journals and statements were carefully and craftily buried under mountains of propaganda and meaningless political gestures. Planned Parenthood issued honorary awards to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, recognizing them for their courageous work toward equality in human rights. Meanwhile, the organization began a silent and effective war bent on undermining and destroying the black family unit, one “unwanted pregnancy” at a time. Unwanted indeed, but by Sanger, first and foremost.

The nerve, the sheer audacity of this soulless political and financial behemoth planting its sordid roots deep in the soil of a community already blighted by poverty and crumbling family units… it’s abhorrent. And all the while, a few miles across town, a nation turns its eager eyes towards the brightly-lit stage from which America’s most ardently pro-choice presidential candidate in history will announce his acceptance of the Democratic nomination in a few days. His skin and Dr. King’s are similarly shaded, both are human persons, proud of their respective heritages…but that’s about where the similarities end.

Because for all the posturing, all the empty words and promises of hope and change being issued forth by the Obama campaign, there’s no hope for change when death is the order of the day. Innocent death is never a viable solution to a nation’s social woes. The Archbishop and the good Dr. King were both pretty clear on this point. When a society resorts to violence against its most defenseless members, that society can no longer claim civility as a virtue, or indeed even as an attribute. And as we marched in the shadow of that bright and shiny factory of death last night, candles lit and voices quietly united in prayer, I couldn’t help but notice how different the view was from the rear of the building to the front.

From the rear, the clinic threw a stark outline against the midsummer night sky, a hulking edifice of brick and mortar, dotted with austere chimney stacks (for what?) and ensconced behind a ten-foot barbed wire fence surrounding the perimeter. As we rounded the block to the front of the building, I was startled to see a resemblance more properly likened to a middle school or a community center. There were windows and decorative alcoves sculpted into the brick, with a brightly lit sign and an elegantly designed courtyard marking the front entry. The barbed wire was still present, to be sure, to keep out whack jobs like me, but the effect was unsettlingly attractive. So much so that I’m sure Cyndi Lauper will be delighted to perform her signature ballad there in the lobby tomorrow afternoon. That’s right, the new death center will be throwing wide its brand-new doors to the morbidly appropriate tune of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” performed by the 80’s diva herself.

Sick, but strangely appropriate, all things considered. Girls do just want to have fun. And guys too, but without the “consequences” of an unwanted life. And we the people just want this tiresome issue to go away, so we can focus on more important things like national defense and the environment and rising energy costs… we don’t want to talk about “life issues,” let’s just agree to disagree and make a bipartisan effort to cross the aisle and start dialoguing with those who don’t think as we do.

Nice thought, that. But what happens when there is no one left to disagree with? What’s the point of discussion in the absence of millions of voices, robbed of their God-given right to contribute to the history of humanity? What do we have left to discuss but the fundamental right to life, the right to draw air into one’s lungs and to step onto the world stage to fulfill the unique mission for which one was created. What then?


  1. I was sent to your blog by Karen Stitt (I mean, Cruess) - nice set up and you have talent (not to mention some courage)! We have seen and spoken with Alveda King and your comments about her are right on the mark. She is definitely rowing against the tide.

    Unfortunately, I have to do a bit of "bubble bursting." You mention in your "about me" section, that Dave Matthews is some of your favorite music. On the music aspect I have to agree, however, did you know that they promote Planned Parenthood? Check it out on their own website:


    Your blog entry is very poignant and rightfully stresses the evil of PP. Too bad Dave Matthews is blind to it. A moratorium on Dave Matthews music? Difficult - yes - but for those who have a public presence and voice like you - it could be a source of conversion for many. Just a thought...

    God bless you and your work.

  2. I just read your "Living Out Loud" entry (July 2) and it struck me how Dave Matthews Band sits (uncomfortably) in the same category as Levis, Ben & Jerry's, etc. In your own words, "what kind of sacrifice are you willing to make?" I have MANY "pro-life" friends who refuse to stop buying Ben & Jerry's or promoting/giving (blood) money to DMB because it's inconvenient for them. However, I must admit that being consistent in this ethic is very difficult because of the culture of self-gratification which has embedded itself in me over the years.

  3. You're killing me, Padre. You're one of Fr. Brian's friends from seminary, aren't you? I think I've heard Karen talk about you before, thanks for reading!

    I have to admit, reading your comment yesterday was like a punch in the gut. The second comment, from today, was additionally traumatizing and basically confirmed a suspicion that has been growing since this past summer.

    In fact, the couple whom I reference in "Living Out Loud" are two of my best friends, and our friendship has been cemented over that great summer tradition of - you guessed it - tailgating the Dave Matthews show. This past summer, as we packed up our grill and coolers to head home, we did so with the uncomfortable knowledge that maybe -just maybe- we didn't belong here anymore, and that we might not be back the next year.

    Your comments deserve a blog entry of their own, so give me a couple of hours, and I'll get back to you.

  4. Just a quick aside - thanks for the (huge) compliment, but, although I consider Fr. Bryan a good friend, I am of the non-priest type. My wife, Colleen, and I are the Respect Life Directors for our diocese, among other things.

    I'm glad you take this in the spirit that was intended. Peace & blessings...


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