A pro-life journey: “you know what changed my mind?…”

Originally published on Leaven for the Loaf.

This is why I don’t want anything to do with bloody-baby pictures outside abortion facilities or on billboards or anywhere else.

Consider these two tweets from @LetiAdams:

I wish I could get it across to ppl just how much “abortion kills a baby” didn’t work to get me to understand the truth about abortion.

You know what changed my mind? Grace. Plus encountering Christians who didn’t shout at me about how wrong I was about everything.

Thank you, Leticia. Your tweets hit me where I need to be hit.

I was always squeamish about demonstrations showing the dead bodies left behind by abortion. The “ewwww” factor was overwhelming.

Then a few years ago I read Abby Johnson’s Unplanned, and her more recent The Walls are TalkingI met my near neighbor Catherine Adair. Together, they burst my bubble. Troublemakers, the pair of them.

Catherine has said, “The worst thing we can do [when meeting abortion workers] is be confrontational, antagonistic. I think the best thing we can do is smile, say hello – just be that peaceful, kind, loving presence they need.” This from a former worker at an abortion facility, who knows what a sidewalk looks like in the hands of people being antagonistic.

Surprise: it wasn’t the truth in bloody pictures that changed her heart, or Abby’s. It was the truth in relationships.  Patience, love, grace, and time were relevant, urgently so.

I need those reminders. Anyone who’s heard me testify at the State House (as has been my custom for the better part of 30 years, God help me) knows that patience is not my strong suit. Dang, some of those political types are dense. No names, please.

And yet…”You know what changed my mind? Grace.”

How did I pick one that out of this morning’s torrent of mostly-forgettable tweets? No matter. Twitter’s existence has been justified for another day. Carry on.

Open Book, October 2016

The first Wednesday of each month brings #OpenBook, a blog linkup co-hosted by My Scribbler’s Heart and CatholicMom.com with a roundup of what participating bloggers have been reading lately. 

Theodore Rex was as good as its early chapters promised. I’m impatiently waiting for a copy of Colonel Roosevelt, volume three of this Theodore Roosevelt biography written by Edmund Morris.

I’m fortunate to live only a few minutes away from the offices of Sophia Institute Press, with its extensive catalog of Catholic books. One of their titles recently caught my eye: Christianity, Democracy, and the American Ideal – a particularly timely topic. I’ll be reading it through most of this month, resolutely ignoring as many political-campaign phone calls as possible. (Are voters in every state assaulted with so many calls? New Hampshire only has four electoral votes. Lord have mercy on the bigger swing states.) The book is a selection of writings by Jacques Maritain, edited by James P. Kelly III, exploring the theme of how Christianity and responsible citizenship go together. This is a welcome subject to me, in the age of personally-opposed-but.

Stark Decency deserves greater fame. New Hampshire readers like me can find it in any local bookstore or library shelf, while the rest of you must trust to online sources. Allen V. Koop’s book about a World War II prison camp in New Hampshire reveals a bit of American history little-known outside my Granite State. In 1944, German POWs were sent to the small upstate town of Stark to cut pulpwood for a local paper mill that faced wartime production demands.In an unlikely place and an unlikely situation, friendships developed between some prisoners and guards, and later between prisoners and townspeople. Koop sets out the story in just over 120 pages, ending with an account of a 1986 reunion at which five former POWs returned to Stark for a celebration of friendship and peace. “Camp Stark did more for people and peace than for pulpwood,” he notes. I love the book’s calm and undramatic style, which suits the story.

While motoring in the north country on New Hampshire highway 110, I once came across the state’s historical marker describing the camp. I’m glad the marker is there, and I’m glad Allen V. Koop wrote the story of what’s behind it.

stark-pow-camp

Marker in Stark, New Hampshire. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

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