Pro-Life Dilema

What I want to do in my blog here is lay out some of my struggles that I’ve gone through with this issue over the years and where I have come to. I approach this issue as a struggle and ultimately with fear and trembling before the Lord and ask that, “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer” as we seek wisdom in knowing God’s heart for how we can best be pro-life in all the different facets that entails. “…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

All that to say, this is obviously such a divisive issue. For those who say it is a cut and dried issue, I encourage you to listen to what I have to say here with an open mind. Approaching another’s view with an open mind is an act of love and consideration of the other, so that is what I ask as you read this. And hopefully, even if we disagree, we can come to a better understanding of other peoples’ viewpoints and thought processes.

I am Pro-Life. I have always been and will continue to be so. I would consider myself a Pro-Life Progressive. In my younger years I was zealous for being Pro-Life to the point of collecting signatures and being active in the movement. I continued to vote toward one party for years despite being increasingly troubled morally with that decision. It finally came to a point where I saw that voting that one way failed to make a change in that issue and that it was being used more as an effective political ploy than affecting change. In fact it felt like fool’s gold as I would see more and more aspects of the party I didn’t believe in that I saw as very un-Pro-Life.

“Historically, I was a right-wing evangelical. I founded/chaired the pro-life student committee at Olivet Nazarene University. I have since renounced pro-life influences and repent of my involvement in it. It was/is hypocritical and ideologically based—not biblical. It has only to do with politicizing abortion—not the value of all lives. See: Franky Shaeffer.”

Rev. John Franklin Hay


So here are the things that lead me to change my approach in voting on the Pro-Life Issue:

  1. The number of Abortions has been on the decline since Roe v. Wade. I know this doesn’t make the decision, but it is part of something to consider as a trend in our country and brings up the question about what is causing it to decline. Which then brings up the further question that efforts to fight abortion may be better spent in the approaches that decrease abortion overall instead of fighting to illegalize it. In fact to those who are Pro-Choice, the Pro-Lifer’s claims ring hollow because often those same people who are so fervent about fighting to end abortion also fight the very efforts that help decrease abortion.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/18/us-abortion-rate-falls-lowest-level-since-roe-v-wade/
  2. This leads me right into my 2nd point: initiatives that are typically more supported by Progressives help decrease the rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, such as easier access to birth control, increase efforts for the education and support of women, sex education, women’s access to health-care, working with diverse communities, access for food and nutrition, housing, and child care to young mothers.
    https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/abortion-rates-go-down-when-countries-make-it-legal-report-n858476
    https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/projects-initiatives/communitywide.html

Found this on the web. I researched the numbers and found them to be accurate as per the CDC:

PAUL PETERSON EXAMINES THE DATA TO ANSWER:

“I’m not a theologian, but I am a mathematician. Let’s talk data. I want there to be as few abortions as possible, which is why I vote Democrat, and why I think pro-life people should, too.

Like it says in Matthew 7:20, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
So what are the fruits of the presidents for the past 40 years? Well, here are the changes in abortion over their terms…

🔴Reagan: +5.7%
🔴Bush Sr.: -0.9%
🔵Clinton: -36.9% (!)
🔴Bush Jr.: -3.7%
🔵Obama: -24.5% (!)
🔴Trump: -5.3% (extrapolated to 4 years)

DOING A BIT OF MATH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS OVERSAW AN INCREASE IN ABORTION TOTALING 158,000. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS OVERSAW A DECREASE IN ABORTIONS TOTALING 3,094,000

We’ve had two Democratic presidents, and they have absolutely blown the Republicans out of the water when it comes reducing abortion, and it’s not even remotely close. It’s ridiculously lopsided.

And this makes sense. Democrats expand access to birth control, they fund sex-ed programs, they do jobs programs. All of these things reduce unwanted pregnancies, which reduce abortions.

👉👉So, be a single-issue voter if abortion is your #1 issue and nothing else matters. But that means you should vote for Joe Biden. Republicans have shown they don’t know how to reduce abortions. Democrats have shown they can, in spades.
Vote Biden, imo”

Sources below:
https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/factsheet/fb_induced_abortion.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm

Neither party is in favor of abortion. One party just has a substantially better track record in decreasing the rate of abortions.

  1. On issue upon issue outside of the abortion issue, one party’s track record on pro-Life stances in regard to Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, recognizing Life of communities & minorities, recognizing life and living in quality-of-life issues and so on holds the higher ground. The moment I pivoted my view in voting was in the midst of our nation’s ill-fated war on terror which has claimed so many lives and wreaked so much devastation that I started to question why we were valuing pre-born lives above the lives of foreigners. Here is a sample of typically Progressives’ more Pro-Life Stances and the irony is not lost on Progressives:

 

  1. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, from a Scientific perspective, Sentience, does not begin at conception:

The cortex, the epicenter of human consciousness, starts to form by six months gestation. Neuroscientists suspect from studies that even within the womb, in the late stages of pregnancy, the fetus becomes familiar with the sound of its mother’s voice and may already be learning language.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2018/04/19/tracing-consciousness-in-the-brains-of-infants/#1d733463722f

So how can a fetus have a soul before sentience? I used to reject this argument as I saw human life as created at conception, but when you look at how God has created us via the scientific universe that God created, I don’t divorce scientific considerations from my approach to faith as I once did. And God’s foreknowledge of us is from before we even entered the womb, so God’s foreknowledge is not limited in God’s sovereignty of all things.

Historically this has been supported by Christians:

In 1968, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor, Bruce Waltke, wrote an article for Christianity Today. It seemed to reflect a common stance for Evangelical Christians at the time – that life begins at birth. Afterall, God breathed “the breath of life” into the first human. The breath of life, essential, first sign – proof of life.

https://eirenicole.com/love-your-babies-love-someone-elses-too/

My wife’s blog also mentions the racist roots of the Pro-Life movement, which should sound alarm bells for Christians.

Life doesn’t begin at conception. The individual sperm and egg are already alive – they have life. I think all would agree that as a single-cell organism, there would not be a soul there within either the egg or the sperm. I then have a hard time believing that when they bond to form a zygote of just a few cells that start to divide, that a soul is present at that point either. It’s just a few cells. On a spiritual level, we just don’t know when a human life form encounters a “soul”. I have a hard time believing that it happens 9 months later – at birth. I’ve known of children that have been born as much as 3 months premature and have survived. So it doesn’t make sense to me that the barrier of the mother’s womb or the difference of breathing oxygen from air into our lungs is the point of a soul entering the body. In searching the Internet, the stat I’ve seen the most is that 91% of all abortions are performed in the first trimester and a majority of them prior to 8 weeks. Unfortunately in politics its all or none with most issues, but I wish we could look at reversing Roe v. Wade for only abortions performed after a certain point (perhaps around 16 weeks). Some states have essentially done this – making it all but impossible to get later-stage abortions. I know this could be looked at as justification and I don’t want this to be that. But I just have a hard time believing that a zygote or a blastocyst or even an embryo is a human life with a soul. I would say this is more likely true in the next stage, the fetus.

I appreciate dialogue on this issue if respectful. This is obviously an emotional issue, but where we are at as a nation in Roe v. Wade hasn’t changed in 47 years, so it’s worth discussing with one another with mindful, respectful, consideration and empathy for the other. And also to have empathy for the the scared young woman in the midst of an unwanted pregnancy who is most likely poor and in less-than ideal social circumstances. Thank you for your time and considerations in this.

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison.

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Justice for All?


Scriptures for today from Celtic Daily Prayer: Northumbria Community:

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

Isaiah 66:12-13 For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

My heart has been troubled with everything that is going on in our nation in regards to social justice and institutional racism that has resulted in the deaths of so many of our African-American brothers and sisters. I was at the point where I was personally in emotional pain and couldn’t sleep. And I am someone who is white and privileged in many regards – so how much more emotional pain and distress are our African-American brothers and sisters in the midst of all of this?

Anyhow, because my heart has been troubled and I felt weighed down with it all, I kept thinking of the song, If You Were Mine by Fernando Ortega, because his opening line in that song is, “When my heart is troubled and I am weighed down”. So I decided to repurpose some words and did so a little clumsily – but came up with these words that I have pasted below to the tune. But it was from the heart and found myself having a difficult time getting through the song while looking at the images of these ones who have lost their lives for the crime of being black. I broke down sobbing afterwards. But I hope others can at least look at my clumsy attempt for sharing in my morning and really look at these people and put names and faces and honor these lives.

Know their names?

David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, William L. Chapman II, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Sam Dubose, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Botham Jean, Jamar Clark, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Ahmaud Arbery, Oscar Grant, Terence Crutcher, Walter Scott, Jeremy McDole

These are just a few lives – I’m sure there are several significant ones I left out. I read about each of their stories as well.

“If You Were Here”
Repurposed Fernando Ortega song (If You Were Mine) – adjusted lyrics by Howie Snyder

When my heart is troubled and I am weighed down
Then I like to think of how this lonesome world would be
If I could see your face, or hold you in my arms
If you were here, if you were here

If you had a bad day I would jump beside you
And I would fight for you with all the strength that I could find
We would fight for justice and we would walk arm in arm
If you were here, if you were here

We would sing of love on the blackest night
We would sing of God, and how His glory fills our lives
We would sing for change, ’til the morning light
If you were here, if you were here

I will sing for change, ’til the morning light
‘til it is here, ‘til it is here

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Pressure pushing down on me, pushing down on you…

Okay, I have always liked this song – it’s a brilliant song! Recently heard of this “no vocals” version and listened to it and loved this version as well! Partly because it highlights both how good the vocals are and the music is as well, as I found myself just imagining all the music in with it.

BUT, as with many of the songs I have loved over the years, I never looked closely at the lyrics. I found myself incredibly moved with this version as it helped me to listen closely to the words!  What a song for our time now, both with the quarantine and pandemic and with division and strife in our nation and with financial crises that people are facing as well. “Watching some good friends screaming, ‘Let me out!'” This preaches!  Take a listen and a read and enjoy. And let’s give love one more chance!

It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about
Watching some good friends screaming, ‘Let me out’
Pray tomorrow gets me higher, higher, high
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn
Why, why, why?
Love, love, love, love, love
Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love
Give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure
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vEveresting for Rockford Urban Ministries on Leap Day!

vEveresting Image

RUMI have decided to dedicate my ride to help bring awareness and funding to Rockford Urban Ministries who have lost significant funding this year. My goal is to raise $500 in support of their ministries. Read more about Rockford Urban Ministries and their projects here: https://rockfordurbanmin.org/about-us/

Click the Donate Button on their site to donate or Click Here: DONATE TO R.U.M.

img_4359ABOUT MY RIDE: vEveresting is a Virtual bike ride using the virtual cycling app Zwift, where I will be cycling up Alpe du Zwift over and over again until I climb the height of Mt. Everest, 29,029 Feet / 8,848 Meters. (I am planning to actually extend to 10,000 Meters so that I can join the High Rouleurs Society.)  This challenge will take place on an indoor trainer and bike in my basement. Alpe du Zwift is roughly 1,036 Meters high, so I will be climbing it 10 times. After my 5 climb trial run last month, I expect to average around 95mins per climb with a 11-12min descent, where I can get off the bike and get a break while the bike descends. I am anticipating this will take me 18 hours and I am beginning at 1AM on Leap Day, February 29, 2020!

There is actually a whole group of people who are doing this activity together. I’m not sure on the total number, but I believe it’ll be close to 2 dozen of us!

I wanted to use one of those Fundraising sites, but it would have taken a lot more work in coordination with R.U.M., so I don’t really have a way of automatically tracking. So if you donate, please let me know so I can try and track what I can. Thank you so much!

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Food Waste + Poop = Electricity

Listening to the recent NPR Short Wave Popcast on the episode for January 7, 2020 called “Food Waste + Poop = Electricity”. I loved this Podcast as it touched on a couple issues for me – concern over global warming and climate change, and the amount of food that is wasted in our country.  Not to mention, providing an added income source for struggling farmers.

A couple interesting facts from this Podcast:

  1. 30-40% of the food supply in the United States goes to waste!
  2. Folks at the USDA estimate that you could fill the Sears Tower in Chicago every year 44 times with the amount of food that goes to waste.
  3. Food waste releases methane when it rots – which is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of it’s warming impact.
  4. Up to 10% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions are linked to food waste.
  5. Massachusetts farmers are using cow manure (another huge methane releasing issue) and combining it with food waste to create energy.

My hope is that more states will enact policies and incentives to allow for this to become a standard across our country to help make a difference in global warming and providing for a use of the massive food waste in our country.

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Comparing my Performance road bike to my new Endurance road bike

A friend of mine asked me to give him my thoughts on my new Endurance Road bike compared to my Performance Road bike. I was going to put it in an email and then thought why not put it in my blog so others can read it if they’re interested.

My two bikes:

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  • 2007 Trek Madone 6.5 SSL OCLV Carbon Full Dura Ace. This, my first road bike, I bought in early 2016 on eBay for a really good deal. Original MRSP listed at over $5K. I’ve put a total of 13,220 miles on this bike in the past 40 months (combined indoor & outdoor). This has been a great bike for me and I believe I’ve ridden 8-9 Imperial Century rides with it. I also have a pretty good number of KOMs on Strava with it.

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  • 2019 Fuji Gran Fondo 1.3 – Ultegra Group-set, Disc brakes. I got a real good deal on this bike and received it about 40 days ago and have 778 total miles on it so far including 2 Century rides and several KOMs up here in farm country. (Note, not many riders up here and many of the Segments I’ve created myself!)

I’ve loved my Trek, but decided I wanted to get an Endurance (Sportive) Road Bike because I’m now over 50 and my focus is not racing and short rides, but long rides like organized Century rides (getting ready for the Triple Bypass ride in Colorado on July 13!). Because I had loved my Trek and after researching the Trek Domane and the Specialized Roubaix, I found myself favoring the Domane based on a couple of different factors. I was looking for a used carbon-frame Domane that was 2016 or newer but had a hard time finding one in my price range. Then I found this new 2019 Fuji Gran Fondo 1.3 for a great deal that was too good to pass up, especially after reading this excellent review: https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/a23610531/fuji-gran-fondo-2-1-review/

Prior to my first ride on the bike, I found myself disappointed in the fact that my Fuji was noticeably heavier than my Trek. My Madone is close to 16lbs and my Fuji I’m sure is over 19lbs. I figured that I didn’t have much chance for KOMs with it and would maybe ride my Trek for shorter workouts and KOM hunting and use my Fuji for longer rides. But since my Trek was still on the trainer for rainy days, I just started doing all my rides on my Fuji until today when I took my Trek out to compare the feel of the two bikes.

Here are my observations:

  • I feel that my Fuji might actually be faster for me than my Trek! On a Century ride a couple weeks ago, I did the fastest pace I’ve had on a Century at 18.3mph and I rode a good chunk of that solo! Previously I had been averaging around 17mph at my best on Centuries. There is also one segment that in the Fall I tried and failed several times to get the KOM on. I tried it the other day with my Fuji for the first time and midway through, I was thinking, I don’t have it today and practically gave up, but kept riding on up and after uploading the ride, was surprised to see that I had come within one second of the KOM time at 1:36 where prior my best had been 1:45! Now, all this to say – I did work out much more regularly and fervently this past winter season on Zwift than I have in the past, so there is that consideration. But I took my Trek out to attack that same segment today in comparable wind conditions and only managed 1:53 on it. And there is also the consideration that although both bike sizes are 58cm, not all bikes are the same and the Fuji just might fit me better and provide a more efficient pedal stroke and power transfer based on how it’s geometry works with my body. There is also the consideration that the wider tires might be more efficient for the not-so-smooth country roads I’m cycling on.
  • I definitely noticed a difference in the smoother ride and appreciated the endurance riding position (more upright). These elements may also be contributing to a more relaxed ride which may contribute to a more efficient ride for me as well.
  • I noticed that I like the stability and handling of the Fuji better and overall feel safer riding it.

All in all, I don’t see myself riding the Trek much and relegating it to mostly just a trainer bike and back-up. After writing all this, there are a couple other caveats to consider in my analysis besides what I mentioned above:

  1. The age difference in the two bikes is significant at 12 years apart. If I were to get a 2019 Performance bike, I’m sure I would have completely different observations with the changes (that include geometry) that a new model would provide.
  2. I’ve never had a formal, professional fitting with either bike. I have had a LBS owner (who does fittings) do some adjustments on my Trek after he observed and measured a couple things with me while on the trainer at his shop (shout out to Shosies Cyclery north of Rockford, IL). If I were to get a professional fitting with my Trek, I may have some different results.
  3. I wonder how my Trek would compare in performance if I went with newer and better wheels and maybe slightly wider tires.

I hope this information might be helpful to somebody out there. Let me know of any comments, questions or observations. Thanks for reading!  🙂

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My Wife’s Podcast!

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So excited that my wife has been able to launch her website (https://eirenicole.com) and her Podcast!  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1297539899

Try out her 10-day challenge to incorporate mindfulness into your schedule through the 10 episode podcast!  And if you listen to them, please leave a review on iTunes – that would be really helpful. But tell us what you think as well.

 

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Lead, Kindly Light

“The path ahead-one step enough for me, Lead on, lead on, kindly Light…”

 

Full lyrics of Audrey’s version below. From Wikipedia: “Lead, Kindly Light is a hymn with words written in 1833 by John Henry Newman as a poem titled ‘the Pillar of Cloud’.”

Lead, kindly Light, amidst the grey and gloom
The night is long and I am far from home
Here in the dark, I do not ask to see
The path ahead-one step enough for me
Lead on, lead on, kindly Light.

I was not ever willing to be led
I could have stayed, but I ran instead
In spite of fear, I followed my pride
My eyes could see, but my heart was blind
Lead on, lead on, kindly Light.

And in the night, when i was afraid
Your feet beside my own on the way
Each stumbling step where other men have trod
Shortens the road leading home to my God

Lead on, lead on,
My God, My God,
Lead on, lead on, kindly Light.

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Collaboration and the Art of Giving Up Credit

Good words – beautifully and poetically put. Thank you for this reminder of the “More Than” and the beautiful tapestry that is a part of who each of are. 🙂

Eirene

Candid Together van Gogh quote

“I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.” Joshua 24:13

A creative masterpiece is the result of a succession of little strokes, tiny marks, a single idea and then another. For it to hold any meaning the work depends on a variety of colors or hues or shades; the inspiration dependent on the community of the artist – all who participate in giving and receiving form. The finished work resembles nothing of its initial spark and is complete only when the artist ceases from adjusting, contouring. And even then, the creator is compelled to create – to start on another inspiration with a mark here, a brush stroke there.

The people under Joshua’s care came into a land though a succession…

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Being Still at Camp

It was an awesome week and so glad my wife got a chance to come out and surprise us with a visit. Quote from a first-time high school counselor after camp, “my body is tired and my heart is happy” which is the way I feel as well! What a great week! 🙂

Eirene

be still on a train

Thank you, John Smoke for teaching my son to be still—together.

This past week was summer camp for the children of Downers Grove First UMC. It is the fourth time Howie and my boys participated since Howie joined the staff. Going to camp that first time three years ago was a grace for our family as my sons, immediately welcomed, genuinely became and felt a part of the community.

On Thursday, I finally visited Wesley Woods camp for the day. It was a holy experience to witness not only the beauty of the campground nestled along the lake, but also be present to the movement of camp. You see, the camp is designed to enrich and train and build community, be a space outside of time and away from routines and worries, technology and expectations.

And everyone is involved: the young campers are placed in groups that cabin with and…

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