“In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.” Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke, 1790

In the seventeenth century the French author Francois de La Rochefoucauld famously wrote that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. I wonder if the hypocrites who prompted the quote cared whether they were caught out. Recent events in the Rhode Island legislature indicate that the current batch of hypocrites want only to avoid a memorable line that will make the Providence Journal or WPRI in the five o’clock news and show up in their opponent’s talking points in the next election. Little heed seems to be paid to how conspicuous is their cynical hypocrisy to listeners, only matters if it will cost them votes. Hypocrisy is expected, even celebrated, if it’s sufficiently clever and the goals align with the progressive vision.

A Providence legislator, Dan McKearnan, speaking on the floor of the House said that his “deep faith” (Catholic} informed his advocacy and that he trusted women to “make holy choices.” Holy choices. The choices they would make when the legislation passed would be to kill or not to kill their offspring, to “terminate” their pregnancy, which the legislation (H5125a,) sanctioned up to the moment of birth. Forty weeks. Full term, a full four months past viability. A fetus one second, someone’s baby the next. Or someone’s tiny corpse.

In a television news debate on the bill that has passed the House and is waiting Senate action, Rabbi Sarah Mack stated that the bill was a victory for freedom and rightly favored “existing life.” Existing life. Must have cut those boring embryology courses in school. Every major embryology text marks conception as the beginning of human life.  So, science was not her strength, but did she sleep in when they covered Jeremiah 1:5? “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart.” Perhaps Rabbi Mack stayed too late at lunch playing bridge in the dining commons when her professor taught Isaiah 49:1. “The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named my name.” Or returned late from Fort Lauderdale on spring break when they reviewed the exegesis on Psalm 139:13. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” She said, and rightly so, that it was not right that religion should dictate legislation. However, when legislation first ignores science and then fails to make a moral judgment informed by a conscience formed by faith or justice or reason or protection of the most vulnerable, well, that’s a sadder tale.

“We have obligations to mankind at large, which are not in consequence of any voluntary pact. They arise from the relation of man to man, and the relation of man to God, which are not matters of choice.” Edmund Burke

The bill was named the Reproductive Privacy Act, which is a further irony in that it is concerned with not with “reproduction,” but with its lethal inhibition. The “privacy” allusion is a tip of the hat to Roe v. Wade, which cited privacy as the foundation for usurping every state’s authority and instantly negated all legislation controlling abortion. The slippery ground for a privacy foundation was created by citing the Griswold v. Connecticut contraception case. One of the most infamous passages in Supreme Court history proposed this nonsense: “The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.  Various guarantees create zones of privacy.” So, the Supreme Court decision that has spelled doom for sixty million pre-born Americans is sustained by a gauzy contrivance of emanations, penumbras and zones of privacy, suspended on a spider’s web.

A second spider’s web, upon which hangs the first, is the blind certainty that supports the progressive enterprise: the myth of human perfectionism – that progress is linear and will always move us closer towards some ideal future where human frailty and tendency towards prejudice, violence, using others for personal gain or pleasure will diminish to nothing as enlightened (and coercive) governance leads us to the promised land. Just the history in our own times, especially in the century immediately preceding this one, when various Utopian ideologies delivered the bloodiest hundred years in human history. The twentieth century alone provides the evidence that such beliefs are at best naïve, and at worst deliberate utilitarian delusions in pursuit of a totalitarian agenda.

The natural heir to that bloody century is our own. War, oppression, human trafficking are obvious and persistent horrors. Far worse is the dehumanization of a whole class of human beings, and it has wrought the highest tally, the single highest cause of death in the world and in our country last year that overwhelms the toll of any other. Disease, war, murder, terrorism, cancer, starvation, unclean waters are eclipsed in their body counts. Simply pronounce that yet-to-be-born humans are not human, and we contrive a cardboard culture that promises human fulfillment based on the lie of autonomy. We will secure economic futures built on killing our own children, feed our worst self-absorbed selves, and let it metastasize[i]. The largest single cause of death in the world in 2018 was abortion – 42 million, with over a million of those tiny victims in our own country.  Eleven million and counting rapidly year to date this year.[ii] We masquerade it as medical care, yet once exposed to the light sickens all who see it.[iii] Set up the kill and call it freedom, call it liberation, even call it virtue. “Weep not for me, (mothers of Jerusalem), weep for yourselves and for your children.”

“The Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with its eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s attention on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the Future. Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (New York: Macmillan Co.,1943), p.xv

[i] For a good article on the metastasis, see in this week’s Public Discourse, the article by Anthony Esolen: When Reason Does Not Suffice: Why Our Culture Still Accepts Abortion https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2019/04/50665/

[ii] From the Worldometers site.

[iii] From the true story of Abby Johnson, former employee of the year and director of a Texas Planned Parenthood facility. In “Unplanned” she tells her story. Here is the pivotal scene that changed her life. Watch it reflect. https://youtu.be/Z9bMwP2CLP8



Filed under Faith and Reason, Politics and government

6 responses to “Weltschmerz

  1. So glad you wrote about this atrocity in your legislature! Woe to us when we call good evil and evil good. Can you believe that some are now calling abortion a sacrament? Our society is serving different gods…that is for sure! Thank you for the post!


  2. Gabriel Parquette

    You should write a book.


  3. Greg Parquette

    I did watch the video, that was a mild example but it still hit me very hard. My stance on abortion has completely changed in my life, I was once a pro choice advocate, a woman’s body is her own private Idaho. No longer, once she makes the decision to participate in what could result in conception, she has an obligation to that child. Death should never be the option. what kind of doctor would participate in this?

    A doctor that has lost their moral compass and are driven by greed, these are the people our tax dollars support. We may never be able to eliminate abortion in America but we sure as hell do not have to litigate to support more egregious levels of murder and provide financial aid to those who commit those murders.

    I agree with Gabe, you missed a calling that is not to late to resolve, write that book will you bro?


  4. Anthony Vinson


    These questions and thoughts burned through my brain as I read your piece. I am not trying to be divisive or disrespectful, only weighing in as encouraged, and from my perspective. (Jack knows my perspective, briefly for others: politically independent, just to the left of center ideologically, openly secular, nine-year army veteran, human being.) No reply or response required or expected. If I inspire a single person to critically examine and perhaps challenge – not change or amend, simply examine and challenge, even if remaining resolute – their beliefs, I will be grateful.

    • If the God you cite in your piece exists, would not everything and anything that happens be a part of his plan?
    • If that plan requires that some lives are extinguished in the womb, or shortly thereafter, or within the first few years of life, then who are we to disrupt it?
    • If we humans are so easily able to disrupt God’s plan, then it wasn’t much of a plan, was it?
    • Or, if we humans are so easily able to disrupt God’s plan, then perhaps that’s part of the plan? It’s so confusing…
    • I find it curious that so many – not all – of those who oppose a woman’s choice are “strong second amendment supporters” and advocates of the death penalty. The taking of lives is okay, but only under circumstances they find palatable or justifiable?
    • It’s interesting that we routinely allow governments to send our young men and women off to fight against enemies real or imagined, knowing full well that their lives are forfeit.
    • It’s okay that those same soldiers routinely take the lives of innocents, both young and old, depersonalizing them with either the terms enemy combatants and collateral damage, or the use of pejorative nicknames – Charlie, Krauts, Gooks, Hadji’s, etc.
    • The doctrines of some religions result in the willful birth of HIV-infected babies in third world countries. Or perhaps that, too, is part of the plan.
    • It seems likely that Roe v Wade will be either overturned or greatly amended in the near future. When it happens, I trust those who supported its demise are prepared for the consequences.



    • Anthony,
      As always, I enjoy your musings. I know you through our interactions thoughtful and a person of good faith. Like many of the characters in the movie “Unplanned” that I mentioned, the workers at the Planned Parenthood clinic that Abby Johnson managed were portrayed to be persons of good faith, whose primary motivation was to help women in difficult circumstances, not to kill babies, even though that was the outcome. I think your beliefs are in the same vein: your empathy is with the women, and you want to do the right thing. We just disagree as to what that is. To the first four points, I’ll add the following to the discussion.
      • Relating to the scripture quotes, it was not my intention to make this a religious issue, only to point out that to a believer, especially one who is a clergy person (i.e. Rabbi), it is difficult to reconcile the tenets of the faith to the killing of innocents.
      • God doesn’t play dice and is not a puppeteer. We are given life freely and the choices we make are our own. Along with the responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
      • Is there such an animal anymore as a moral absolute? If there is, then Is the taking of innocent, defenseless and utterly dependent human life ever justified, or is it always intrinsically evil? Or are all moral decisions in a post-modern culture relative to circumstances and/or the moral viewpoint of the actor?

      On those that “oppose choice” supporting the death penalty and second amendment rights, I have three comments – the first one is general and two are personal.
      • The death penalty and second amendment rights have to do with adults and adults make choices. They are not innocent, defenseless and utterly dependent. Death penalty is not the same as killing the innocent. I can’t speak for all who subscribe to the pro-life position: they are not monolithic, they are not all religious, many atheists oppose abortion for scientific as well as moral reasoning. Some support the death penalty, many more in my experience do not. These three issues are often thrown into the same conversation, but while perhaps tangentially related, they just muddy the waters and are fundamentally different.
      • Personally, I have long opposed the death penalty and don’t own any guns. I am adamant on the death penalty as I see far more dangers in the state having life and death power over even those who have committed heinous crimes. And, of course, there have been and always will be errors. As to second amendment rights, they are overtly stated in the constitution, unlike the penumbras and zones of privacy invented out of whole cloth by activist judges.
      • As to the “oppose the woman’s choice” language, it’s one of those close the conversation, when did you stop beating your wife statements. Who can be opposed to choice? I am very pro-choice, but as I have stated often, the choices are made correctly prior to the life of an innocent third party being forfeit to those choices. I’m a real free will kind of guy.
      Anyway, much more could be said, but I am out of time for today. Thanks so much, as always, for taking the time to join the conversation, j



    Making Abortion Illegal only creates “Illegal Abortion”: Sadly, it will still happen (as it always has).

    The women that can afford it will survive the abortion, the poorer ones will the have greater chance of not surviving. Its a sad fact of the human condition.

    You claim 1 million abortions occurred in 2018.

    If the laws are changed, what will happen on day one?

    Will women have to subject themselves to weekly pregnancy testing? (administered by who..religious organizations? or the Government?).

    Who will care for these women during their pregnancy if they require it (especially around the time of delivery)…religious organizations or the Government?

    What will become of the many unwanted children? (thats the basis of abortion anyway, right?

    Who will care for the profoundly handicapped “unwanted” for their lifetime? religious organizations or the Government?.

    Will the religious organizations (or the government) be ready to handle 1 million unwanted children ( 1 million per year, right??) when the law is passed?

    Who will pay for the orphanages, the health care, the college education of these unwanted million? religious organizations or the Government?

    I’m seeing a massive increase in the size of the Government, forced to do so by “small government” advocates.

    And most folks see the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, and its stance on contraceptives.

    I see abortion as a very negative thing, and I’m all for trying to convince someone not to do it. But to change the law?

    Commenter Ms. Cullers says “Woe to us when we call good evil and evil good”….this is exactly the situation currently with the moron-in-chief: Pence-The-Idiot gleefully looks upon the Moron-In-Chief as if he is a god.

    What kind of “good” inspires so much hatred in our country?? As in “Jews Will Not Replace Us” shouting/torch carrying Neo-Nazis, openly marching?
    Anyone who has ever lived in an urban apartment know this:

    You can walk into a dark apartment, turn the lights on in the kitchen, and you will see the roaches scurrying out of the sink and away from the countertops.
    It was the darkness that drew them out….

    There is a national darkness going on, and it is drawing out deep-seated hatred that has always been there…the human roaches.

    And that darkness is cloaking itself in “good”…one of its tools: using the Pro-Life issue as a shield.

    We need some light again


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