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Apostles and educators. Last post before Mother’s Day

by | May 8, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

More than once (actually , many times) I have shared how my mother unintentionally planted in my young mind a profound reverence for life. (I grew up long before Roe v. Wade so abortion  was not an issue.)

My own mom, rest her soul, delivered my youngest brother when she was 40. My dad, an over-the-road truck driver, was gone, and I drove mom to the hospital. To this day the experience remains as vivid as if it happened yesterday. While she was delivering James, I was in the kitchen cafeteria working on a paper for a writing class my freshman year in college.

(I once shared how my dad’s response to my teenage cousin’s unplanned pregnancy also shaped in the most profound way how I view our responsibility to mothers and their unborn children. Next month, around Father’s Day, I will elaborate, for what I learned I can only pray I’ve modeled for my own children.)

Perhaps because in a real sense my mother was my first teacher whose influence profoundly shaped me, as I started to write this post about her, I thought of a book I read many years ago. Bear with me for a couple of paragraphs, and I trust you see the relevance.

Early in her book, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, Kathleen Norris talks about a time when she was at a college presenting a portion of the book. At the very end of the discussion period a woman politely challenged her. She insisted  she couldn’t understand how Norris could “get so much comfort from a religion” whose language, she charged, “does so much harm.”

Prior to her own pilgrimage back to her spiritual home, Norris had been outside the Christian faith community for so long it was easy for her to understand the woman’s “evident bafflement.” Norris tells us she took a breath and offered a marvelous defense of her faith.

“I was so startled by the words that had coming flying out of my mouth,” Norris writes. “[A]s so often happens when I’m put on the spot, I had said things I hadn’t realized were true until I’d said them” [emphasis added].

Norris tells us that the woman’s response was to “nod her head vigorously as if to ward off any more undeniable but incomprehensible things I might say.” As I pulled Norris’ book off the shelf and re-read that passage, it occurred to me that it tells us something very important about our mission.

 It has often been my experience that people who are looking to evade their own consciences often try to turn the table on pro-lifers. They impute all kinds of bizarre motivations to us. Not infrequently they accuse us of doing grievous harm by talking about such things as the “sanctity of unborn life” or even the mutual interdependence of mother and unborn child.

Part of the reason they adopt a defensive posture is because what we are saying is, literally, “incomprehensible” to them. At some level they sense that what we are saying is “undeniable,” but they need our help to bring this intuition to light. 

It is like what we read in the book of Acts where Philip is led to a desert road where he meets an Ethiopian official who is in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah. 

“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” the Ethiopian responds, “unless someone explains it to me?” Which is exactly what Philip proceeds to do.

In a real sense you and I are both a kind of apostle and educators. We share what are self-evident truths. But to the untutored ear, lacking an education in the beauty of unborn life and the privilege of protecting that life even when—especially when—life is hard, these truths are  deniable and incomprehensible.

Unclogging intellectual arteries is among the most important tasks we undertake in rebuilding a culture of life. Once a man or woman is able to think more clearly, to really “see” the unborn as their brother or sister, the head and the heart can work in unison. 

At that juncture, they are able to see things which previously they were blind to and speak words that had heretofore escaped them for lack of an inclusive vocabulary. In our own small way, we have made an invaluable contribution that will last a lifetime.

And to quote William James, “The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

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