CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Values, Sacrifice and Priorities

Mar 30, 2008

What a culture prioritises tells us a lot about its moral and spiritual condition. And what it doesn’t prioritise also tells us quite a bit. It seems that as we move further and further away from the Judeo-Christian foundations upon which the West was built, we move ever more to values and priorities that are questionable at best.

Indeed, it can be argued that along with the increased secularisation in the West there has been an increase in hedonism, selfishness and indifference to the social good. But to compensate for this, there may also be an increase in what can be called feel-good activism. This involves token gestures at social activism which cost the activists really almost nothing.

Last night’s Earth Hour would be a good case in point. It involved Westerners making a symbolic gesture that achieved almost nothing in terms of reducing carbon footprints, but did a lot to assuage guilt feelings of energy-guzzling Westerners.

They may have felt good about themselves in turning off the lights, but the deep-down selfishness was as untouched as were the carbon levels. Indeed, many would have watched the whole thing on their energy-consuming plasma TVs, never once noticing the irony in all this.

But giving oneself to various causes is one way in which guilt-ridden Westerners can seek to atone for their materialistic and essentially self-centred lifestyles. It allows them to feel good while making really no sacrifices at all. Indeed, it is a lot easier to write a cheque for some starving soul in Africa than it is to go around to the next door neighbour and provide actual help to meet their very real material needs.

Many of the causes people give themselves over to may be good causes indeed, and their intentions may be genuine. But again, what is prioritised, or is not prioritised, always concerns me. Two headlines in today’s Sunday Herald Sun nicely demonstrate what I am talking about here.

The first read, “How could anyone do this?” with the subheading, “The pictures below will revolt and horrify you”. The other headline, a few pages later, read, “Right to life ‘under threat’” The two headlines taken together almost gave me a glimmer of hope for a split second: “Wow, the anti-abortion message is finally making it into the newspapers” I hoped. But of course it was no such thing. The first headline had to do with the killing of baby seals; the second with global warming.

The first was a story of Canadian seals being clubbed to death, complete with three large pictures. The concern was the horrible death these poor seals faced. And obviously the subeditors wanted to make an emotional impression on the reader.

This was not just news reporting, in other words, but advocacy. They wanted to change the way readers thought and felt about a particular issue. Now clubbing innocent baby seals does indeed seem cruel, and it is right to be concerned about their treatment.

Yet what about unborn babies? They are as innocent and helpless as the seals are. Yet I wait in vain for newspapers to run pictures of the horrible ways they are killed in their own mothers’ wombs. Whether cut to pieces, or burned to death with saline solutions, it is a ghastly and barbaric practice.

So when will newspapers run these headlines about abortion: “How could anyone do this?” with the subheading, “The pictures below will revolt and horrify you”? I think a lot of people would change their minds about being pro-abortion if they actually knew what took place during such baby killing. But the media is intent on censoring that information, leaving us in the dark.

The other story talked about the right to life being under threat. Sounds like a good description of abortion to me. But no, it was about climate change, with the UN declaring that it is now a human rights issue. The UN said that climate change affects us all, especially the poor, and should thus be seen as a human rights issue.

I certainly have no problem with cultivating concern for the environment, and taking reasonable steps to keep it healthy. But I must ask the question, isn’t abortion a human rights issue? Isn’t the taking of innocent human life the most fundamental human rights issue of all? After all, one has to be born first, before one can even begin to worry about polluted air or global warming. To deny someone the right to life, while going on about climate change, seems to me to be another case of values being turned upside down.

But making noises about climate change is an easy thing to do, and it makes no real impact on our lifestyles. We can keep on living our greedy, selfish lifestyles, and once a year turn off a few lights. This costs us nothing, and it makes no demands on our lifestyles.

But saying no to abortion of course is genuinely costly. It means, among other things, taking responsibility for our sexuality, and not making unborn babies the scapegoats for our irresponsible lifestyles. It means saying no to reckless sex, and admitting that procreation is somehow intimately tied up with intercourse.

But that would cramp too many people’s style. Easier to abort the unborn baby than to practice sexual restraint. But such are the times that we live in.

So by all means, do something about the environment and baby seals. Such concerns are better than nothing, I suppose. But it would be nice if we took as seriously some equally, if not more, pressing issues, including the right of the unborn to live. And it would be nice to see the media getting on board for such worthy causes as well. But somehow I don’t think it will be happening any time soon.

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12 Responses to On Values, Sacrifice and Priorities

  • Excellent article, I applaud your logical and persuasive linkage of these issues. In the last half century the slaughter of unborn children is the damming and telling evidence of our society’s abandonment of a fundamental Christian heritage. There is even an ad on TV that plays on a false moral equivalence, a girl seems to be talking of the abortion of her child then slips into the background as a ‘pregnant’ wombat walks out of the shadows. We are to ‘save’ the animal.

    There is so much of this dangerous fuzzy thinking calling evil good and good evil.The false corporate racist shame we are now offically imputed with the ‘stolen’ generations and our Nations inclusion in the dictionary of genocide.

    B. Hussein O. using a private comment of his grandmothers fear of an aggressive black drunk accosting her while she waited for a bus (details in his book glorifying his Kenyan polygamist father who abandoned him before he was 2) with the public ravings of a deranged black liberation ‘preacher’ of hate that he has sat under for 20 years. His grandmothers comment as a ‘typical white woman’ was presented as the moral equivalent of the evil black racist Rev. Wright.

    Bill you are so right that if people saw pictures of these aborted human beings in all the graphic and horrific detail they just might stop to think. But then again the heart of man is desperately wicked and it is so obvious that only the Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty God incarnate can save us from ourselves and our sin.

    Thank you for your fine work. May God continue to richly bless you

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • I would bet the house that if newspapers started publishing pictures of the abortion process that there would an uproar. The pictures would surely be denounced as too graphic and disturbing and there would doubtless be calls for such a newspaper to make a formal apology to its readers for the offense caused.

    Funny – I had actually thought that was what journalism was … the bringing of the cold, hard truth to its readership on a broad range of issues. But then, it comes back to the Almighty Dollar – if it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make the editing table.

    On the subject of Earth Hour and the jumping on the be-green wagon, the company I work for (an energy company, no less) advertised quite widely the fact that it is participating in Earth Hour and encouraged all it’s employees to share in the green-brand by doing likewise at home. My company also prides itself on offering carbon offsetting to its customers for their energy consumption. There are dollars in being a ‘green-initiative’ company – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Green alternatives need to turn a dollar in this day and age if they are ever to get a sound footing.

    Unfortunately though, Be-Green is the new god of our age. And to pickup the theme of your article, Bill, the Be-Green worshippers are selfishly concerned about the environment and in the extreme view they count humans as very expendable (if not insignificant altogether). One of the saddest examples of this I heard was a fellow arguing with me that we should not provide aid to 3rd world countries and in fact should just let them die out; the premise being: less humans on the planet equals better quality of life the remainder (ie. Me).

    Mathew Hamilton

  • It may not have cost the Gaia worshipers anything to participate in the trendy tokenism of ‘earth hour’, but their obsession with global warming alarmism will soon be costing us plenty. Just wait until Rudd’s national carbon trading scheme gets under way in about 2010. I wonder how many will change their minds about the alleged urgency of climate change once their electricity and other carbon based energy bills start to double?

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Ewan,
    I wouldn’t worry too much about what might happen in 2010 in regard to global warming. The evidence will be so clear by then as to global cooling (around the mean, that is) that the whole foolish nonsense will have died away.
    In fact, let me make a prediction: this winter in our hemisphere will be unusually cold, just like the northern hemisphere winter just past has been. There has been reported snow storm at very low latitudes: southern China, the desert and southern states of the U.S., southern Europe, India and so on. And yet we heard the relentless rhetoric about how the Arctic ice sheet was receding, when in fact it has been advancing – reports are now frequent of a solid ice sheet from well below Greenland all across the northern Atlantic.
    And the ice cover over Antarctica is also at record extent, because of a generally colder Southern Ocean. That, I believe will translate into a very cold winter here in Australia (and elsewhere).
    Oh, and in case you’ve heard of the warming of the Antarctic, as per the reports in The Age last Thursday, check out this site:
    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f1f2f75f-802a-23ad-4701-a92b4ebbccbf&Issue_id=
    Overwhelming evidence eventually sinks in, even to hardened leftists, but certainly to any with a modicum of that commodity now in short supply everywhere these days, viz. rationality!
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • It would be good if Murray Adamthwaite were right. But he has too much faith in the rationality of the Anointed. But the whole point of the crusades of the Anointed is that evidence doesn’t matter.

    1. If the world cools (even if it is really due to natural cycles), the Anointed will claim it’s due to their policies already adopted. Therefore we should keep them, or extend them because they are so good.

    2. If the world warms despite humanity’s best efforts so far (because natural temperature changes dwarf those caused by human), then need to do more of the same.

    We’ve seen this with the putsch for fornication sex education in schools. The rate of teen pregnancies was already decreasing when the Anointed declared there was a crisis requiring new policies.

    1. If there were a decrease, then it couldn’t have been just a continuation of the existing trend, but proof that their policies were right.

    2. When we actually see an explosion of teen pregancies and that teens now make up 25% of the 19 million new “victims” annually, the Anointed don’t see it as proof that the kids are practising what they are being taught. No, it’s proof that we need even more of the same, starting younger!

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • It’s truly a mad, mad,mad world out there!

    This article shows, I think, what James was referring to in James 2:15-16 Interfaith Committee on Homelessness camp out

    While sleeping in your car is kinda rough, wouldn’t it have been better to go downtown and feed and clothe the homeless and maybe let THEM sleep in your car on a cold night? Granted, I haven’t thought to do the latter, but I have been able and blessed to do the others with our young people at church.

    Steve Foltz

  • Jonathan,
    Point taken, but I was speaking tongue-in-cheek. I well know how facts and evidence, not to speak of cast-iron logic, is completely lost on the leftist elite, who substitute strident harangues and bellicose ranting for reasoned discussion, having had several discussions with them (or attempts at such).
    I was directing my remarks more at those who still have at least a modicum of rationality about them, and also posing the question, “What if there is an exceptionally cold winter here this year? What will then be the explanation?” The media won’t be able to avoid reporting it, and they will hardly be able to claim ‘anecdotal evidence’, since such weather will have come from the Antarctic, just as the northern hemisphere’s came from the Arctic, both of which are supposed to be warming drastically (according to the alarmist left). Moreover, the same sort of ‘anecdotal evidence’ is constantly appealed to in favour of the ‘global warming’ chimera. So they can’t have it both ways, although I well know that they valiantly try.
    I suspect that the hard-core left will suffer a massive ‘credibility problem’. That is my prediction.
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • I enjoyed this post immensely. You mentioned near the end of your post that:

    “But saying no to abortion of course is genuinely costly. It means, among other things, taking responsibility for our sexuality, and not making unborn babies the scapegoats for our irresponsible lifestyles. It means saying no to reckless sex, and admitting that procreation is somehow intimately tied up with intercourse. But that would cramp too many people’s style. Easier to abort the unborn baby than to practice sexual restraint. But such are the times that we live in.”

    Well put. In fact, I would add that it would seem easier to abort an unborn baby and get on with living your life until you find that you’ve developed breast cancer; one of the deadly consequences that the Left refuses to talk about. Not to mention how many abortions cause infertility later on.

    I’ve often wondered why so many women these days have breast cancer. Some have even tried to frighten me into getting checked for it. I even used to think that there was something in the food and water that caused it, but after doing a little research, I now see the true reason. It has very little to do with weight, heredity or environmental pollution and a lot to do with abortion. The Left is dominated by feminists and you would think that if they don’t care about murdering unborn children that they would at least care about the health of women. I suppose either one is too much to ask. I think that the Left certainly does have a credibility problem, at least among thoughtful folks.

    Victoria Demona

  • Ted Turner: Global warming could lead to cannibalism:
    Billionaire environmentalist says world has too many people

    By MIKE MORRIS
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    04/03/08

    30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow,” Turner said during a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose that aired Tuesday.

    “Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals,” said Turner, 69. “Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable.”

    One way to combat global warming, Turner said, is to stabilize the population.

    “We’re too many people; that’s why we have global warming,” he said. “Too many people are using too much stuff.”

    Turner suggested that “on a voluntary basis, everybody in the world’s got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it.”

    He also called the thugs attacking American troops in Iraq “patriots”. How can foreign terrorists be patriotic in someone else’s country, the moron.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks for another good article Bill – and the same goes for your other recent offerings.

    Perhaps I’m too pessimistic about the issue, but I immediately expected the headlines Bill mentioned to refer to whales, dolphins, or orangutans. I was wrong on that account at least – this time it’s seals. I guess baby seals are cute, fuzzy, innocent, and pose no threat to the lifestyle of the average Western citizen. On the other hand, unborn babies are unseen, unheard, and often committed that horrible crime of inconveniencing an adult.

    Of course, I don’t like cruelty towards animals at all, but I dislike the slaughter of human infants far more. And not only must unborn children die, but also suffer at length beforehand. Imagine the outrage if baby seals, whales, or dolphins were killed via any of the following methods because they happened to inconvenience someone: burned in a saline solution for two hours; dissected for ten minutes; had their skull pierced and their brains sucked out. The media would have a field day reporting on these poor creatures. (I’m normally an unemotional person, in fact some call me cold, but I still feel ill at the thought of defenceless, unborn children undergoing these grisly forms of execution.)

    ‘Global warming’ seems to be superseded by ‘climate change’, a far less risky catch-phrase. A very cold winter would, of course, be a change from the norm, a ‘climate change’. Doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold – as long as it is a bit different to last year, ‘climate change’ is a ‘fact’!

    I’m all for being good stewards of natural resources and preserving God’s creation whenever possible, so I’d by no means dismiss climate change if I saw good evidence for. But propaganda and earth-worship don’t appeal to me. The worst thing is that people are beginning to kill themselves and/or their unborn children because they want to ‘save the planet’ from the supposed ‘population crisis’. It’s a modern form of human sacrifice, only the environment/planet/nature is not explicitly called a god. (See, e.g., this article on the ‘Church of Euthanasia’.)

    As Bill points out in his article, moral priorities in the West are truly out of whack.

    Samuel Sparks

  • I think the company I work for (a large financial institution) was the personification of the token effort bandwagon (which corporations love to join as it costs them nothing). All the building lights were turned off but none of the thousands of PCs were touched. Much like the veritable tomb that Jesus uses as an example – it looked good on the outside but inside it was rotten. It had zero impact as the power was being burned internally just like the hour before and the hour after.

    Of course they also advertised widely as well. In protest I turned every electrical appliance I had on for that one hour.

    Michael Mifsud

  • Wow, a very provocative article Bill!

    Annette Nestor

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