September 10, 2008
All the recent hullabaloo over Gov. Palin’s son with Down syndrome, Trig, has reminded me of an excellent recent book: Worth and Welfare in the Controversy over Abortion, by Christopher Miles Coope.
Coope, a medical ethicist by practice and a philosopher of psychology and language by training, does an interesting job of evaluating the ethics of abortion (writ large, consciously bypassing so-called “hard cases”) by taking a somewhat peripatetic approach, avoiding the dogmatism that often comes from a consciously systematic metaphysics.
Coope admits that he “recently” came to the question of abortion in a serious way. In his youth he considered it some, falling into the secularist camp of Glanville Williams more than anything else. He went on to make a philosophical career without giving the matter much thought. Then:
I dare say the matter never crossed my mind until, many years later, my wife was pregnant with our fourth child. Since she was then well in her thirties she was of course offered ‘the tests.’ Well, who wants a damaged baby? I was, I remember, quite anxious that the chromosomes should carefully be counted. I just refused to consider what if. Distressing choices, I must have said to myself, should not be faced while it was still unsettled whether the question arose. In dedicating the book to the memory of the child in question, my son and good friend Nicholas, who died on the cliffs of Glen Cova while I was writing it, I cannot help but thinking back to these beginnings. I am acutely aware that had ‘the tests’ turned out differently, he might well have been killed by doctors, with my connivance, before he was born. Luck saved him - and me. How many there are who have not been lucky.
Through his recognition of the moral and emotional difficulties inherent in prenatal testing as it exists today-namely in its propensity to lead towards destruction of “damaged” babies-the rather liberal Coope decided to give us a splendid book. Likewise, it is hard to see Gov. Palin’s meteoric rise with Trig at her side and not conclude that her decision to have and to raise a child with Down syndrome has struck a public chord in some way or another. All this leads me to think there is, culturally, more under the surface on this facet of the abortion debate than meets the eye.
September 9, 2008
First, let me thank all of you who have been praying for my family and for all the families of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. I also want to thank the churches from around the country that have responded once again by sending much-needed supplies and help. Secondly, let me apologize for not keeping you updated on what has transpired over the last week in Louisiana.
This storm, while not as spectacular as Katrina, impacted more Louisianans and has done extensive damage to homes and businesses in multiple parishes. The Baton Rouge area was one of the hardest hit. Gustav caused much greater damage to Louisiana’s power infrastructure than Katrina did — over two-thirds of Louisiana was without power in the hours after Gustav. Nearly one quarter of the population remains without power, and it could be more than two weeks before power is restored to the entire state.
Being without power doesn’t sound like a big issue, but when it is so widespread it quickly creates a crisis. No electricity not only means lack of refrigeration of food, but also lack of fuel for vehicles. For those few gas stations that were able to acquire generators and pump fuel, the lines in some cases were nearly a mile long. Without power, sewage and water facilities were incapacitated, creating problems for drinking water is some parishes.
This crisis once again gave the Church the opportunity to respond to the real and pressing needs of people, an opportunity they immediately seized. I spent this past week first of all helping PRC Compassion pastors and Gene Mills, the executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, organize and coordinate the church response. A few days into the crisis, Governor Bobby Jindal asked me to assist the Commissioner of Administration, Angela Davis, in getting food to the hardest hit areas of the state.
Governor Jindal is a friend of mine with whom I worked closely during my time in the legislature when he was the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Having the opportunity to work alongside him and his staff in the last several days from sun-up to past sundown, I am greatly encouraged and impressed with his leadership and the dedication of his staff to getting essential relief to the citizens of the state and restoring critical infrastructure.
The rebuilding process is just beginning as officials keep one eye on the Gulf for more potential hurricanes this summer. Please continue to pray for the governor and his dedicated staff. As my schedule allows, I hope to continue to assist when and where needed. For now I am back in the saddle at FRC speaking to a gathering of pastors in New Hampshire and heading to New York to appear on the Lou Dobbs television show. It is only appropriate for me to thank my extremely capable staff, headed by Chuck Donovan, for holding down the fort in my absence.
September 5, 2008
I now have better access to internet. Here is the latest official information on what is happening (in short). The Governor has asked for me to assist in coordinating volunteer food relief. The need is overloading state government resources. Here is our biggest need: mobile food kitchens and food. As of last night at the joint command meeting, which I am now attending, a little under 1/2 of the state was without power. That is changing by the hour, but some areas will be 3-4 weeks before power is restored, especially in South Louisiana.
Beyond food kitchens, basic food staples that can be cooked is needed: beans, rice, meat (with refrigeration truck). Contributions can be sent to PRCCompassion.net.
September 3, 2008
The American Medical Association released a much-discussed report a few months back on the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse on brain development in children, adolescents, and college students. Those effects included a 10 percent smaller hippocampus, the memory and learning center of the brain, as well as damage to the reasoning and decision-making areas of the brain.
In the latest Mapping America, federal survey data illustrate that the first and most fundamental protections against adolescent alcohol abuse are frequent religious attendance and married parents.
September 1, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to cut short what was really shaping up to be a very productive trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota Sunday afternoon in order to return to Baton Rouge for hurricane Gustav that is scheduled to make landfall later this morning. The good news is that several members of the FRC team are still on site to participate in the many events taking place this week and I am confident that they are able to more than cover for me while I am down here taking care of the family and assisting where needed if relief efforts are required.
Before heading south I was extremely encouraged Sunday morning by Pastor Steve Goold and the folks at New Hope Church just outside of Minneapolis where I spoke at two services Sunday morning. New Hope Church is one of the hundreds of churches across the country that is partnering with FRC to make a difference in our nation.
Back to Gustav. Before taking off I checked in with Governor Jindal’s staff in Louisiana and was amazed at how things have changed since Katrina three years ago. Not a single detail has been left unaddressed by Governor Jindal’s team. Of course the Federal response has vastly improved as well. There has also been advance coordination with churches and other non-government entities involved in relief efforts to make sure they were equipped and prepared to handle evacuees and first responders.
Unprecedented preparations have been made, now we pray and just wait out the storm.