March for life.

I was able to get outside for a few minutes to grab lunch and head down to the Mall to watch the March. It looked like there were more walkers and fewer protesters than in previous years. At the same time, new data shows there are more abortions and fewer live births than in previous years. I guess there’s no need to protest when you’re strategy is working.

*****

One very pregnant woman carried this sign. For those who don’t remember, Article 1, Section 2 of our Constitution includes the “Three-Fifths Clause” under which black slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person for purposes of apportioning representatives and taxes. Some argue that the Three-Fifths Clause was a necessary compromise. It also proved to be a convenient distraction from the larger question of personhood that has yet to be resolved. The Compromise was eventually amended by the blood of 600,000 Americans 14th Amendment, which itself was amended by the blood of 50 million Americans Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.

Earlier this month I read that in New York City sixty percent {three-fifths} of all black babies were aborted in 2009 because the law does not consider them persons at all.

Maybe it’s time for a new strategy.

A table in the wilderness.

20130315-002959.jpgSo last night I dreamt there was a large wild hog in my entryway. I can’t explain why a feral pig would show up in my dream. I don’t live in Texas and until today I had never heard of hogzilla. Yet there he was, a giant hog running circles around me as I tried to coax him out the door.

Usually I forget my dreams as soon as I wake up, but this one stayed with me. I felt like the dream was significant, but didn’t really know why. So I did what I often do when I don’t understand the meaning of something – I looked it up in the concordance.

Surprisingly, there are only a handful of uses of the word swine (aka boar) in Scripture. You have the usual Hebrew prohibition on eating pork, and then there is Psalm 80:13 depicting the destruction of God’s choice vine:

The wild boar from the forest devours it, and the wild animals feed on it.

Commentators describe the wild boar as fierce and savage, just as I experienced in my dream. His nature is to dig up anything and everything edible from the ground. You do the sowing, the watering, the weeding and sometime just before the harvest the beast comes in and tears up the garden – sort of like the Midianites who devoured the Israelites’ crops, leaving “no sustenance in the land.” But the wild hog doesn’t just go after the yield; he uproots any potential for new growth.

As if that were not enough, Psalm 80 also throws in other undefined wild things just to keep things interesting. Recently a well-meaning colleague warned me of the dangers of amateur, armchair exegesis using online Bible software. Nevertheless, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and point out that the particular word translated wild animals in Psalm 80:13 is ziyz, which is used only three times in the entire Old Testament. Twice it reads “wild beasts” – as in lions, tigers and bears – and then utterly unexpectedly in Isaiah 66:11 it is translated “abundance.” Huh? It doesn’t take a professional theologian to see that one of these things is not like the others.

Now we’re not talking about mundane, run-of-the-mill abundance here. Ziyz expresses the fulfillment of being restored to the tender and extravagant heart of the Father.

How could the word for something that is literally eating your lunch on one occasion be the same word for the over-the-top provision of God on another?

And consider the paradox of Leviathan. He is portrayed as a terror-inducing, fire-breathing dragon; yet God created him to be food for His people in the wilderness.

Imagine a number line from minus one hundred to plus one hundred. God is not content for us to move from whatever negative position we once occupied only to stop at zero. The tragedy is that a lot of us are so damaged that zero looks like paradise compared to the minus sixty we came from. We lose all incentive to advance into positive territory – that promised land teeming with giants, leviathan and wild hogs. But the place that looks so treacherous and foreboding is exactly where God invites us to partake of the lavish banquet He has prepared for us. Pork chops, anyone?

Things done in secret.

20130315-001620.jpgToday Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider, was indicted on eight counts of murder – a woman and seven babies who survived their abortions only to have their spinal cords severed. The Grand Jury report details the condition of Dr. Gosnell’s clinic – cold steel tables, filthy instruments, blood stains and jars filled with tiny body parts – basically, an exam room at Dachau.

The city’s mayor of public health was concerned that the abortion industry not get a bad rap for this “unusual provider,” sayingThe way we deal with abortion is in secret and for many, it’s perceived as shameful and I’m sure many of the women felt they didn’t have other options….The message I want to get out is that reproductive health services in the city are safe. I don’t want this to change women’s views of the services.”

The problem is that in the realm of abortion clinics there is nothing that unusual about Dr. Gosnell’s practices. Sure, some facilities do a better job of sanitizing, but dismembering babies is always messy business. The raid on Dr. Gosnell’s clinic simply shed light on what happens four thousand times a day in virtually every city in America, including yours.

Abortions are not done in secret because of some social stigma, but because no one wants to account for the millions of bloodied victims – large and small – left in their wake. No one wants to account for the fragments of humanity left behind when a society exercises its “right to choose.”

It is unfathomable – and unconscionable – that we will spend over $2 trillion on federal entitlements this year, yet we still convince women they have no other recourse but to give themselves and their children over to a Dr. Gosnell.

How do you account for that?

The real dirty secret is that not all human life is counted equal. We weigh babies and other undesirables in the balance – and some are found wanting. What else can explain why we tolerate unspeakable violations of law and conscience, especially in certain neighborhoods, just so long as they remain hidden? Dr. Gosnell had numerous complaints filed against him, yet his years of “service” to a low-income community shielded him from scrutiny. And there are countless others like him.

After the Holocaust, the U.S. Army required Germans to walk through concentration camps to see the residue of the horrors that had occurred in their neighborhoods, under their noses, in secret. They protested that they did not know, but the truth was they could not not have known. They just chose not to know and therefore they did not see.

For over half a century, Americans have thought themselves morally superior to those Germans. But Germany has since been forced to acknowledge its Holocaust.

When will we own up to ours?

Poverty and glory.

“A Little Book on Poverty and Glory” may be small in size but it is overflowing with enormous ideas about how we connect with the lavish provision of God. Our inheritance in Christ is one of abundance, yet we throw up innumerable obstacles to embracing the glorious, fruitful life promised to us. This is not a book about worldly wealth, for or against. To limit richness to what we can see or touch is to completely miss the point. A prosperous believer is one whose spirit is big enough to receive all that God desires to give.

Contemporary Christianity tends to nurture the soul and neglect the spirit, leaving many lopsided believers in its wake. This book strengthens and enlarges the inner man, provoking the spirit to seek more of – and more from – God. More of His goodness and glory.

While “A Little Book of Poverty and Glory” could be read in one sitting, it is one of those rare books that is to be savored and practiced over a lifetime. Thank you Amy for writing it and I pray this profound jewel comes out of hiding.

by Amy McDonald Chapman, available here.