Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Shaping the Political Will: Abortion

 
23 Jan 1995, Washington, DC, USA — Young Pro-Life Supporters at March for Life Rally — Image by © Mark Peterson/CORBIS

I stumbled across the home of the Teen Wire Drama Club but sheer providence. The Teen Wire Drama Clubs are sponsored by Planned Parenthood to put on skits and shows about the joys of abortion, the glories of protected pre-marital sex and to promote all the good that Planned Parenthood does in the world.

I felt like I found buried treasure. I had been a Christian for a little over a year and became very active in my local pro-life movement. I became Republican when I was eight but I had only become pro-life when I was 15. I went to school and in the government class, and two female teachers had given us the abortion argument with both barrels. Their main line of argument was that it was a woman’s body and a woman need to control her own body and it was not the government’s business to tell a woman what to do with it. Their argument was a libertarian argument: that government was bad, and I thought the government was bad. I was sure I needed to be pro-choice. My pro-choice phase lasted about five hours. Once both my parents were home they began talking about the news and I volunteered that I was pro-choice now. My Dad put down his paper in shock. My mother’s jaw dropped and she asked me in a pained, anxious voice, “Brian come here for a little while we need to talk with you.”

About an hour later I was in moral shock that I had ever considered being pro-choice and I was crazy with anger that my teachers tricked me. At school the next day they nearly had to remove me from class I was so angry. I was pro-life but I did very little with it or about it, besides voting Republican, until I was 26 and a brand new Christian. I was full of zeal, excitement and power and I had a cause no; a Crusade to wage! I was meant to stop abortion.

I joined my local pro-life group, populated by a bunch of retired Catholics, an amazing Nun who though sick and mostly crippled, just rippled with the power of the Holy Spirit and a righteous fire for the unborn. The only other Protestant in the group was a very overworked Presbyterian Pastor, a very good man. When I joined them, a fiery, radical Protestant anxious to take the fight against abortion, they were all enthusiastic. After getting my feet wet in the group I began making plans and like I said I had discovered the meeting place of the Teen Wired Drama Club. I began calling friends and members of my church’s local Youth group and made a plan. One day when the drama club gathered we would show up with our placards and our signs and protest them and let them know there would be no more lies.

I knew the area around the club very well and I knew exactly where we should wait. Many of my crew were late in coming to the protest and so we waited until the Drama club had finished practice, and we would be ready when they came out. The club came out chatting away, totally unaware what was waiting for them. Five young women, two young men and an old hippie looking fellow soon exited and faced our group. Our posters went up picturing destroyed babies, ripped from the wombs, our pro-life signs were there as well and our chant, “NO MORE LIES!” Bellowed from our throats. There were eight of them and about 20 of us and we obviously scared them. We were perfectly legal, the older Catholics were veteran protestors and had schooled me in how to do a legal protest. The Old Hippie cursed us like a veteran sailor on an angry bender. Several of the girls in the club cried and the two boys admirably moved toward us but I stood directly in front of them and they were just unsure what to do. They all eventually got into their cars and drove away with our shouts ringing in their ears.

Man, I was pumped! It was thrilling to confront the enemy and show them that advocating for the killing of children came with a price. In my new convert zeal, it was crystal clear to me that the only reason anyone supported abortion was the fact that too many of us were too afraid to confront them with the evil of abortion. Once confronted surely they all would quickly repent and change their minds about killing babies. We made this Drama club move their meeting place the very next day, a center of our protest movement was getting their productions canceled and attacking their funding. I was one happy man when I saw on the Teen Wired website the Club in my county was no longer active.

Stepping back, I can see now what I did. I organized a mob and we intimated and terrified some young people that held wrong opinions. I thought of myself as brave at the time and there is some truth to that I suppose, I was taking risks, but to be so proud of scaring a group of mostly young women, with 20 people behind me? I would soon learn that no matter how much zeal you have, someone else has more, and that zeal will carry them to a very dark place.

It was during a new protest I was organizing with students that would take place in the area schools that I met him. I was using a network of youth groups to recruit high school pro-lifers to have a Day of Silence in their schools. Since thirty million members of their generation would never have a voice, they would go for a day without talking. We had t-shirts, special training, and everything. I put more than a few youth pastors in a tough spot: I had gained a reputation around the community already for being a zealot and the youth pastors were concerned about hurting their relationships with the schools they ministered in; they did not want me to address their youth groups directly. They were also afraid of getting tagged as soft on abortion, so they compromised and gave me a real gift: they would allow me to talk to students after youth group. So here I was a Christian too edgy for youth group but fighting for a worthy cause, the young people came to me in droves.

We Need to Kill the Doctors

Two young men approached me: Kevin (not his real name) was 21 and Yates (need I say…) was 19 years old. They were friends and had come to a few pro-life meetings, but we had not spoken before. They talked to the Nun that led us and the Pastor in the group as well, and now they came to me. Kevin was convinced that we needed to take more extreme actions and he needed my help. He argued the older Catholics and the Nun were old and afraid now, or so Kevin thought. The Pastor was weak. But me? Wel,l Kevin thought I was a fighter. My position to not compromise, no backing down after my recent activity Kevin was sure I was up for doing something really big. What was his plan? His plan was straight forward: let’s kill the abortion doctors until all doctors everywhere are afraid to perform abortions. No need to change the law or protest or convince; and it wasn’t even murder in his mind, we were just defending the lives of innocent children.

Kevin wasn’t kidding: he had prepared, he knew the doctors that served the local clinic and had firearms. He and Yates would practice shooting quite a bit, and even used pictures of the doctors in question. Yates was just along for the ride and he was hoping to see Kevin do something crazy, but didn’t have the guts to do anything himself.

Not knowing what else to do, I told Kevin to sit down with me and the Bible and walk through the issue together, and determine through the Scriptures if killing the abortion doctors was the right thing to do. If we found it was, I would help him, but if the Scriptures told us that it was not right to kill the doctors, he had to drop his plan. For the first time since I met him, Kevin looked relieved and agreed to my proposal. He said he was a Christian and had no church at the time but had come from a fairly fundamentalist Baptist church background.

I have rarely known fear as I knew it then. I was a new Christian and not mature in my faith at all. I did not know the origins of my own theology and had not yet read the Bible from cover to cover, But I was about to embark on Bible Study and effort at moral reasoning where lives likely hanged in the balance. I ran to find advice and the sweet, sweet Catholics helped me and gave me advice about how protesting in love and persuasion was better than violence and offered to show me writing of some very smart Priests about why we must protest abortion with love and not violence. This gave me a thread to pursue but neither Kevin nor I were Catholic and popery, and so, even lovely and wise popery could not help me. The Pastor helped me the most but I don’t think he understood the burning zeal that Kevin or I felt for stopping abortion. He seemed to start out with the idea that Kevin’s plan was obviously wrong, and so we did not have to take it too seriously.

That was not going to cut it for me. I wasn’t even sure that Kevin was wrong maybe I was being the coward and refusing to see that only extreme actions could save children from death? Maybe I was just too afraid to do what it took to save lives and I was looking for a reason to justify my cowardice? The Pastor gave me a very important key: “Ask Kevin this why does he want to kill the doctors, for vengeance, for justice or to save the lives of the innocent babies?” If I didn’t know the answer to that question my study with him would go nowhere. Everyone agreed if I could not convince Kevin to change his plans I needed to alert the police. But I wasn’t yet sure Kevin was wrong; did I need to turn myself in too?

The Debate

I could write about his debate for pages and pages but I won’t bore you with the details. Here is what it boiled down to: I used the key the Pastor gave me. I said we have to determine why it would be right to kill to save the unborn: Vengeance, justice or to save the lives of the unborn? We determined we were not authorized to bring justice to the abortionists; so that was out. Vengeance was something the Lord had reserved for himself, and so that was unavailable to us. Saving innocent babies that looked very promising; to save an innocent human being seemed like a good reason to kill.

Kevin agreed we could only kill if it would save the life of a child. Then we looked at all the complicating factors, like the fact that the babies were trapped inside of women that wanted to kill them. I made some utilitarian arguments about how killing a couple of abortion doctors would not stop abortion, nor would necessarily save any babies since the mothers could get abortions elsewhere. Kevin rightly rejected those arguments as insufficient: we had not tried his plan so we didn’t know if it would not work or not. It did no good guessing. I turned again to Bible and pointed out that killing could avenge previously aborted babies, killing could be a form of justice, but the Bible explicitly said that Kevin and I had no right in this case to be the avenger or the arbiter of justice. I then proposed that our real problem was the brokenness in a woman’s heart that could move her to kill her own child.

The Bible has a lot to say on Changing Hearts

Once I got to the problem of the hearts of women who wanted to kill their own babies, I was on much firmer ground. The Bible has a lot of information on how to change hearts and minds and none of it involves gunplay. I had been staying up late at night reading everything I could find on the subject of violence, protest, and just war. My work suffered, and my long-suffering boss actually heard this excuse, “I am so sorry I was just absorbed by this article on Augustine and Just War Theory and didn’t realize what time it was…” I had not read the entire Bible from cover to cover before meeting Kevin but during this time I read the New Testament books four times and read nearly the whole Old Testament once. I was losing sleep, but Kevin had always seemed kind of cool about the debate. He confessed later he was sure he was convincing me to take up violence and I was just afraid to admit it.

As the debate turned to the broken hearts of women, Kevin was very agitated and even angry about our talks. He hated the example of Jesus and how he sought to change the minds of those that hated him. I think we actually talked about Peter defending Jesus during his arrest for close to eight hours on one Saturday. Kevin walked out on me twice and then finally one night he called me over and we prayed together, he repented and by his own admission was Born Again. No longer would he look for violent solutions, he would instead follow Christ.

How We Shape the Political Will in the Real World

In the real world this is how the political will is shaped. Real people meeting one-on-one or in small groups and working out what they are going to do and how they are going to act on vitally important issues. No matter what side of the political aisle you’re on there are people around contemplating violence and other extreme actions. People do it all the time.

We all sometimes allow ourselves to mock the people who write ideas and put out books. As Napoleon asked in slightly different ways about the Classical liberals and the Pope “What armies do they have?” What armies indeed?

Still, while it seems useless to sit down and write very deep articles about Just War Theory I can say thank you for all the serious thinkers who bothered to write them because without them a young man may have destroyed his life and others along with it. The ideas that are out there and opinions that are expressed are fuel that fan the flames of belief in people. You want to know why the pro-life movement did not become violent or a real domestic terrorist threat? It was because people cared to write about why we should not be violent, theologians, philosophers and thinkers hammered it out in Human Events, newsletters, National Review, websites and articles and books of all kinds. It was because people translated Saint Augustine and Francis of Assisi and John Calvin. I won the debate with Kevin because I cared not only for the end we sought but about the means of achieving our end.

If you want to shape the political will for the better read about ideas, take the good ones, know your theology and think deeply about your beliefs; and when the time comes and lives hang in the balance you too can make your argument and save people from terrible, terrible tragedy.

Whether we care about it or not, the political will of our nation is being shaped all around us. We can either be the ones that shape it or leave the shaping to others; but whatever our choice, we and our children will live with the consequences.

There are 32 comments.

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  1. Gary Robbins Reagan

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • #1
    • August 15, 2018, at 2:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Boss Mongo Member

    Outstanding. Thank you.

    • #2
    • August 15, 2018, at 3:04 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito Contributor

    Brian Wolf: That was not going to cut it for me. I wasn’t even sure that Kevin was wrong maybe I was being the coward and refusing to see that only extreme actions could save the children from death? Maybe I was just too afraid to do what it took to save lives and I was looking for a reason to justify my cowardice? The Pastor did give me a very important key though he said, “Ask Kevin this why does he want to kill the doctors, for vengeance, for justice or to save the lives of the innocent babies?” If I didn’t know the answer to that question my study with Kevin would go nowhere. Everyone agreed if I could not convince Kevin to change his plans I needed to alert the police. But I wasn’t yet sure Kevin was wrong did I need to turn myself in too?

    Fascinating. I bet if you were a more mature Christian at that point you wouldn’t have stood a chance of convincing Kevin. So many of us are so convinced of the rightness of our arguments that we forget the links between first principles and resulting beliefs. Killing abortion doctors is wrong because… because of course killing abortion doctors is wrong.

    • #3
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Clavius Thatcher

    A great story with a great message. Thank you.

    • #4
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Hank Rhody, Probably Mad (View Comment):
    Fascinating. I bet if you were a more mature Christian at that point you wouldn’t have stood a chance of convincing Kevin. So many of us are so convinced of the rightness of our arguments that we forget the links between first principles and resulting beliefs. Killing abortion doctors is wrong because… because of course killing abortion doctors is wrong.

    Yes this taught me a lot about first principles. I am pretty sure that Kevin could sense that I was not sure he was wrong and that is why he agreed to walk through the decision with me. I am also proud that Kevin knew that a decision of this magnitude deserved to be thought through. He told me during our talk that what was holding him back was the bad character of his friend Yates, he was pretty Yates encouraged him for kicks, and that he needed some kind of blessing. He needed to be sure. 

    As we sought out the first principles together he came to realized that he had made several deep errors in his world view and he did not want to let it go. But by the Grace of God he did.

    • #5
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:33 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member

    I am marking this for later and will get back with real reactions when I have time. Thanks for the post. 

    • #6
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. JoelB Member

    Very insightful. This post needs to go main feed ASAP

    • #7
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Very insightful. This post needs to go main feed ASAP

    I find your comment very insightful as well and I fully endorse it…

    • #8
    • August 15, 2018, at 4:49 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    So many interesting tales in your past. And you can tell them, too.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series based on August’s theme of Will. If you have a tale to tell about any aspect of will, or even a guy named Will, we still have several openings for later in the month. Our Schedule and Sign-Up Sheet is waiting for you, and operators are standing by.

    • #9
    • August 15, 2018, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Saint Augustine Member

    Brian Wolf:

    Still, while it seems useless to sit down and write very deep articles about Just War Theory I can say thank you for all the serious thinkers who bothered to write them because without them a young man may have destroyed his life and others along with it. The ideas that are out there and opinions that are expressed are fuel that fan the flames of belief in people. You want to know why the pro-life movement did not become violent or a real domestic terrorist threat? It was because people cared to write about why we should not be violent, theologians, philosophers and thinkers hammered it out in Human Events, newsletters, National Review, websites and articles and books of all kinds. It was because people translated Saint Augustine and Francis of Assisi and John Calvin. I won the debate with Kevin because I cared not only for the end we sought but about the means of achieving our end.

    If you want to shape the political will for the better read about ideas, take the good ones, know your theology and think deeply about your beliefs; and when the time comes and lives hang in the balance you too can make your argument and save people from terrible, terrible tragedy.

    So, so true.

    Such a good post!

    • #10
    • August 15, 2018, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Juliana Member

    In the real world this is how the political will is shaped. Real people meeting one-on-one or in small groups and working out what they are going to do and how they are going to act on vitally important issues. No matter what side of the political aisle you’re on there are people around contemplating violence and other extreme actions. People do it all the time.

     

    I agree that for people who have determined their cause will not be violent (pro-life, Tea party, etc) there may be some debates among members who need to be persuaded to stay the course. What I fear is the protest movement that pretends to be non-violent, but does not have the debates, and allows its members or fellow travelers in the mob to take over with no repercussions.

    As far as changing hearts, it cannot be done in a vacuum. You can’t just say, don’t do this. One must be given a reason to change their mind (such as seeing your baby with the ultrasound), or an alternative (drop your newborn at a hospital, no questions asked, or uncomplicated adoption procedures), and support throughout the pregnancy (non-judgmental pro-life centers with material resources and encouragement).

    • #11
    • August 15, 2018, at 11:18 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Juliana (View Comment):

    What I fear is the protest movement that pretends to be non-violent, but does not have the debates, and allows its members or fellow travelers in the mob to take over with no repercussions.

    As far as changing hearts, it cannot be done in a vacuum.

    Yes, you are right. It is vital that we connect our ends and our means to our first principles. People must do the work of figuring out why they want something and the right way to get it. When of the scary things about the Left is the willingness of their leaders and thought makers, thinkers and writers to ignore their principles, disdain the means and proclaim themselves only concerned with the practical matter of winning their political battles right now.

    That is the reason that the Left always has great difficulty dealing with the New Left or the Socialists. That difference is why the Pro-life movement did not radicalize and finally it is the danger now on the Right where winning in the moment is so prized and the ideas and the right process for winning is right now so despised. If the road you are walking down is divorced from its past and its source it is a dangerous road, for you and your fellow travelers.

    • #12
    • August 16, 2018, at 4:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Brian Wolf: So here I was a Christian too edgy for youth group but fighting for a worthy cause, the young people came to me in droves.

    Brian Wolf: Once I got to the problem of the hearts of women who wanted to kill their own babies, I was on much firmer ground. The Bible has a lot of information on how to change hearts and minds and none of it involves gunplay.

    Well done. Engaging, funny.

    I can’t wait to share it with my kids.

    • #13
    • August 16, 2018, at 7:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Jim Beck Member

    Evening Brian,

    Do you think the pro choice movement was developed in our culture in the 50’s – 70’s because of heart to heart discussions, or rational analysis and review of basic principles? I don’t. The question which I would like to have greater understanding is, how do changes in group beliefs occur? I think many times culture is influenced through emotions and little else, from our desire to be seen in a good light/popular, to how our expectations change our reactions.

    • #14
    • August 16, 2018, at 5:01 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Saint Augustine Member

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    The question which I would like to have greater understanding is, how do changes in group beliefs occur?

    Universities would seem to have something to do with it.

    • #15
    • August 16, 2018, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Interesting story.

    I can identify with Kevin. During middle school I realized all of the kids of the people in church were no different from the kids who had nothing to do with church, and I got the sense I was the only one who cared. Jesus seemed incredibly weak. The popular image of Him as a pathetic excuse for a leader and a doormat filled my vision. Christianity seemed like bending over and begging to be raped. My father, my childhood hero, seemed weak compared to my stepmother. I was not given any active heroic ideal.

    What was not weak was violence. Violence solves everything, if you use enough of it. So I began to revere violence & destruction. I had never seen much violence on TV, so I sought it out, and it was incredibly satisfying. I would not be a submissive loser, I would strike back. I understand the mindset that motivates people to shoot up schools or join ISIS. Being a servant of destruction gives awesome power to those who feel weak – social power is nothing compared to violence.

    The problem was that I had heard only part of the bible story, the sanitized portion. Jesus said he came to bring a sword, and people should sell their cloak and buy a sword. “They cry Peace, Peace when there is no peace.” – that verse resonated with me. God was not a pantywaist who liked being beaten. God was terrifying and dangerous, but a Hero, a Savior, the captain going down with the ship, the guy holding the line to save his men. He was, is, and always will be the absolute Ruler of the universe, the most Powerful Force in the cosmos.

    And when I prayed to Jesus to save my soul one day in June 1999, I felt that Power. Unmistakable. Unquestionable. Invincible. I was in the Throne Room of the Universe, and violence knelt before the Almighty King.

    • #16
    • August 16, 2018, at 5:12 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  17. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Evening Brian,

    Do you think the pro choice movement was developed in our culture in the 50’s – 70’s because of heart to heart discussions, or rational analysis and review of basic principles? I don’t. The question which I would like to have greater understanding is, how do changes in group beliefs occur? I think many times culture is influenced through emotions and little else, from our desire to be seen in a good light/popular, to how our expectations change our reactions.

    No I think the pro-choice movement developed because of our lack of heart to heart discussions, rational analysis and review of basic principles. If more people had been armed with the ideas and been willing to engage on the issue emotional upheavals can be modified, limited and even reversed. 

    The point of my little essay is that Kevin was already modified and radicalized by his emotional response to abortion. He seemed willing to kill people. If I had only emotion to confront Kevin with I think we likely would have went out to try and kill someone.

    Also my little is story of how I became Pro-life I think illustrates the point as well. My public school teachers wrapped me up in my own notions of liberty, individualism, and less government. My emotional reaction to their appeal was to embrace the Pro-Choice program as a basic freedom of all women.

    My parents stopped me in my tracks and pointed out that the baby had a body too. No one was controlling the woman but saying the woman was not allowed to kill her own child. Government was saying that a small helpless child deserved no protection from the law. When I reviewed the facts in the light of reason, morality and justice, things I only did because my parents demanded that I do that. I became Pro-life and never had to looked back.

    If we bother to fight the battle of ideas and develop reasons we can beat emotion.

    Imagine are emotional selves as a roiling, tumultuous sea. Ideas, first principles, even theology and philosophy are like giant sea walls. They can’t ever cancel the sea out but they can shape the water, they can direct the water to less harmful places and they can contain the water. Sure the sea may boil up in a giant storm and overwhelm the wall but the wall is still there and the sea will recede and once again be contained.

    • #17
    • August 16, 2018, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Interesting story.

    I can identify with Kevin. During middle school I realized all of the kids of the people in church were no different from the kids who had nothing to do with church, and I got the sense I was the only one who cared. Jesus seemed incredibly weak. The popular image of Him as a pathetic excuse for a leader and a doormat filled my vision. Christianity seemed like bending over and begging to be raped. My father, my childhood hero, seemed weak compared to my stepmother. I was not given any active heroic ideal.

    What was not weak was violence. Violence solves everything, if you use enough of it. So I began to revere violence & destruction. I had never seen much violence on TV, so I sought it out, and it was incredibly satisfying. I would not be a submissive loser, I would strike back. I understand the mindset that motivates people to shoot up schools or join ISIS. Being a servant of destruction gives awesome power to those who feel weak – social power is nothing compared to violence.

    The problem was that I had heard only part of the bible story, the sanitized portion. Jesus said he came to bring a sword, and people should sell their cloak and buy a sword. “They cry Peace, Peace when there is no peace.” – that verse resonated with me. God was not a pantywaist who liked being beaten. God was terrifying and dangerous, but a Hero, a Savior, the captain going down with the ship, the guy holding the line to save his men. He was, is, and always will be the absolute Ruler of the universe, the most Powerful Force in the cosmos.

    And when I prayed to Jesus to save my soul one day in June 1999, I felt that Power. Unmistakable. Unquestionable. Invincible. I was in the Throne Room of the Universe, and violence knelt before the Almighty King.

    Amen brother, I was saved in Feb of 1999 quite a year that was. 

    • #18
    • August 16, 2018, at 5:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Polyphemus Inactive

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I was in the Throne Room of the Universe, and violence knelt before the Almighty King

    Very well said. 

    It reminds me of the verse in that hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” that mentions “Cherubim and Seraphim bowing down before Thee…” It struck me one time that this is describing beings who are themselves awesome in power and might. Beings one could easily imagine themselves instilling fear and reverence should they be encountered by a human. And yet they fall prostrate before the throne of the Almighty.

    • #19
    • August 17, 2018, at 12:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Brian Wolf: As the debate turned to the broken hearts of women, Kevin was very agitated and even angry about our talks. He hated the example of Jesus and how he sought to change the minds of those that hated him. I think we actually talked about Peter defending Jesus during his arrest for close to eight hours on one Saturday.

    I am so happy that many of you have found this story useful and interesting. Something has been bothering me a little bit though and I won’t to set the record straight here. Because I am telling about a real event as story and in essay the messy realities of the entire story and its conclusion have to shortened and tightened up. But these conversations were real.

    So like in the quote above the last really combative meeting we had where I think Kevin really gave up his plans was on a Saturday and we did talk about the meaning of Peter defending Jesus and the reaction Jesus had to Peter’s defense and what that meant.

    However we also had long digressions on the superiority of Babylon 5 to Star Trek, for instance, a lot of other pop culture references and we gave each other a lot of crap about our respective favorite football teams.

    The story makes it seem like that we just sat down with some fine wine and smoked cigarettes constantly sharing deep thoughts. We did keep coming back around to the main points but we always had long tangents in our talks. There I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me….

    • #20
    • August 17, 2018, at 3:41 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Polyphemus (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I was in the Throne Room of the Universe, and violence knelt before the Almighty King

    Very well said.

    It reminds me of the verse in that hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” that mentions “Cherubim and Seraphim bowing down before Thee…” It struck me one time that this is describing beings who are themselves awesome in power and might. Beings one could easily imagine themselves instilling fear and reverence should they be encountered by a human. And yet they fall prostrate before the throne of the Almighty.

    David was a mighty warrior-king, one who commanded the armies of Israel and had his own unit of elite soldiers – his mighty men. He was also generally a servant of God. He was terrified of an angel hanging around, to point of refusing God’s command to go toward a temple. Angels generally say “Do not be afraid” when they arrive for a reason.

    Yet they are as nothing compared to God.

    I sometimes think we neglect the concept of just what “Almighty” entails. God knows the life and death of every star in the universe. By his Word existence began – before that there was no reality. He is the wellspring of all laws of logic and mathematics, much less the laws of this universe. God is completely beyond time, seeing all history as if it was one moment.

    • #21
    • August 17, 2018, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  22. Saint Augustine Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I sometimes think we neglect the concept of just what “Almighty” entails. God knows the life and death of every star in the universe. By his Word existence began – before that there was no reality. He is the wellspring of all laws of logic and mathematics, much less the laws of this universe. God is completely beyond time, seeing all history as if it was one moment.

    Before that there was no other reality.

    I like the “wellspring of all laws of logic” formulation, as well as the implication of all other laws, including moral.

    That solves the Euthyphro question. Does G-d command what is right because it’s right, or is it right because G-d commands it? Well, yes.

    But what if G-d had commanded us to eat babies and torture kittens? He couldn’t; the laws of morality are rooted in his own good, loving nature. He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    • #22
    • August 17, 2018, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    Uh, one @rightangles is enough.

    • #23
    • August 17, 2018, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Saint Augustine Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll address the knee-jerk argument “Oh, you think G-d can’t do certain things; therefore he isn’t omnipotent!”

    Anselm is right: The ability to do wrong or to contradict oneself would be a weakness, not a strength. Like the ability to die or to suffer. Omnipotence actually entails that there are some things G-d cannot do.

    • #24
    • August 17, 2018, at 5:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Boss Mongo Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    Uh, one @rightangles is enough.

    Amen, brother.

     

    • #25
    • August 17, 2018, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. RightAngles Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    Uh, one @rightangles is enough.

    Amen, brother.

     

    Thanks a lot you guys

    • #26
    • August 17, 2018, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Arahant Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Thanks a lot you guys

    I was just hoping it would cause you to photoshop four pictures of yourself inside a circle, but maybe you’re not up to the challenge. 😈

    • #27
    • August 17, 2018, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. RightAngles Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    Thanks a lot you guys

    I was just hoping it would cause you to photoshop four pictures of yourself inside a circle, but maybe you’re not up to the challenge. 😈

    Oh now you’ve gone and done it. haha just kidding, I’m pretty sure there have been quite enough pictures of me already.

    • #28
    • August 17, 2018, at 6:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    He could no more command evil than a circle could have four right angles.

    Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll address the knee-jerk argument “Oh, you think G-d can’t do certain things; therefore he isn’t omnipotent!”

    Anselm is right: The ability to do wrong or to contradict oneself would be a weakness, not a strength. Like the ability to die or to suffer. Omnipotence actually entails that there are some things G-d cannot do.

    I have always said that certain things are not possible by definition. You cannot have more that a continuum infinity. That is literally the largest possible concept – it contains an infinite number of infinities. There is no difference between how many numbers between 0 and 1 and how many numbers between – Graham’s number and +Graham’s number. If God possesses that level of power, it is not possible for anything to be more powerful. The silly line about making a rock too heavy for God to lift falls apart for this reason 

    Also, I believe God could make a square circle. With a sufficiently distorted geometric surface, I believe it would be possible to have something that could qualify as both a square and a circle. God could operate in any number of mathematical dimensions. The more I understand science and mathematics, the more amazing God is revealed to be.

    • #29
    • August 17, 2018, at 11:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Saint Augustine Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Also, I believe God could make a square circle. With a sufficiently distorted geometric surface, I believe it would be possible to have something that could qualify as both a square and a circle.

    Oh, interesting! You might be right. A square circle, but as a logical possibility, not a contradiction in terms.

    • #30
    • August 18, 2018, at 12:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes

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