Willie Parker: “Christian” reproductive “justice advocate” and abortion provider, apostle for self-deception.

This post is not primarily about abortion, but rather about how a compassionate and intelligent human being can be so self-deceived that his compassion can provide cover for acts of evil, while believing he is really doing good. Even more, this is about the human mechanisms of self deception. How many of these do you fall into? Willie Parker’s quotes are taken from an interview he gave to a magazine called Jezebel (how appropriate is that!). There is so much to tackle here that I will intersperse my comments in italics with his quotes.

“It was not lost on me, an African-American man from Birmingham, Alabama, descended from slaves, that new legislation aimed at telling women what they might and might not do with their own physical bodies looked a whole lot like men owning women’s bodies,” he writes in his memoir. Parker then “decided to exercise Christian compassion not by proxy but with my own capable hands.” One of the foundations of self deception is personalization of non equivalent situations. He is saying that legislation removing government funding for women to kill their babies is the same as enslaving women, which is really an extension of the slavery his ancestors experienced. There is so much wrong with that argument I would need pages to deal with it all, so I will address only the most glaring error in the next paragraph.

Notice the next mechanism of deception, false framing. He is saying the issue is what a woman “can do with her own physical body”, but the truth is that once a woman is pregnant, the changes start occurring in her body make it clear there is also another body involved. Which body is initiating those hormonal changes, the mother’s or the baby’s? Since the presence of a baby is responsible for the hormonal changes, true framing is to acknowledge that the decision to abort the baby is not just about her but about another life. To those who insist there is only the mother’s life involved, I ask you “can one body have two different blood types, be male and female simultaneously, have two unique sets of fingerprints?”

Countering those who invoke Christianity and God as their principle argument against abortion, he writes, “A pregnancy that intimates a baby is not more sacred than abortion. To Parker, what’s sacred‚ what’s most Godlike, is a woman’s agency—“the part that makes a choice.” The third mechanism of deception, and probably the most common (most people do it automatically), is nominalization, turning a verb or adverb into a noun. It is a corruption of language that allows us to avoid responsibility for an action. The nominalizations here are “abortion” and “pregnancy.” Neither is a noun, yet they are used as if they were. The correct terms are aborting and becoming pregnant. Saying “I am going to abort my fetus” carries far more responsibility than saying “I am getting an abortion.” The latter is like getting groceries.

Even worse is his saying “what’s sacred is a woman’s agency”, which is exactly the same argument the serpent in the Garden of Eden used to get Eve to eat of the fruit that God forbade. “You will be like God…”  Far be it from me to say who really is a Christian, but he is literally saying it’s good to be Godlike. Nope, God is not self deceived and we are not God, period!!! His next set of quotes is more of the same.

“If you fancy that that fetus has rights, and you call that fetus a person and a baby, I don’t agree with that from a scientific or even from a religious standpoint.” Okay then, if that “fetus” was left alone to grow, what would it become? An aarkvark? A grown up ‘product of conception?’ You don’t agree that it would become a human being? I thought you were a doctor, but thank you for showing how deeply self-deception cuts.

“But we can debate about whether or not a fetus is a person. But there’s no question that a woman is a person. And so the question is: At what point is a woman not a person? At what point does a woman lose her right to be self-governing and to have bodily integrity? Does pregnancy trump the rights of a woman to be entitled to decisions about her health and her body? Here is another example of false framing: Saying that the federal government not funding aborting is akin to declaring women non-persons. He also says, accurately, that the word ‘abortion’ is not mentioned in the Bible. While that’s true, it is also deceptive, because the Bible does explicitly say that God formed us well before we were ever born. Psalm 139, verse 13, says,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Clearly, leaving out the word abortion does not tacitly condone that act.

He goes on to say, “It’s interesting that you would frame abortion as black genocide and allege that you care about the birth of babies while at the same time cutting off all of the vital aid that would be necessary to raise a black baby.”  Here he is contradicting his own reality. He was one  of those “black babies“, who supposedly couldn’t be raised without ‘vital aid’, whatever that was, yet this is how he describes his own history: “A colored boy from Birmingham,” Alabama, as his 1962, pre-Civil Rights Act birth certificate described him, Parker grew up in abject poverty, fourth of six children, raised by a fierce single mother. Against all of the obstacles his country stacked against poor, African-American boys and young men, he became a doctor. Parker progressively expanded the horizon of his dreams and ambitions. First, he aimed to get any education at all. Then he made it to college, summer school at Harvard, and eventually onto med school.

“I’m pro-life and I’m pro-abortion. But pro-abortion doesn’t mean the promotion of abortion. The relationship that I have with abortion is the same relationship that a cardiothoracic surgeon has with heart transplants. Cardiothoracic surgeons don’t promote heart transplants, but they want to make sure that somebody with cardiac disease can get a heart transplant if they need one. I feel the same way about women having access to abortion. Abortion’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s a biological reality. And I’m in favor of making sure that women have access to the things they need to thrive and to be healthy.” Is he really saying that women need to be allowed to kill their babies (while in the womb) in order to thrive and be healthy? What about the false equivalence between heart surgery and aborting?

Here is an example of how his self-deception gives cover to enemies of truth, some excerpts of a review of his book on Quartz: Parker’s book provides a tight moral and religious case in favor of choice. It has the potential to speak to an audience far beyond those who are pro-choice. As a doctor and as an advocate (Parker chairs Physicians for Reproductive Health), Parker debunks the myths around abortion with scientific precision and moral clarity, stripping away political interests, social prejudice and religious misconceptions to show it exactly for what it is, a medical procedure that offers women control over their own bodies. His self-deception debunks the myths? It provides a tight moral case for choice? It does neither, but rather gives cover to the same invalid arguments traditionally used to justify aborting babies. Euphemisms are another element of deception. Choice is a euphemism for you know what. So was the “final solution.” When the truth is really ugly, euphemisms are invented to make the reality more palatable. I will leave it to Dr. Parker to condemn himself as his words reveal what he really stands for:

For Parker, the moral and religious arguments against abortion are misguided at best: “The will of God,” he says, “manifests itself in human’s free will. That extends to the freedom to choose whether or not to take part in the reproductive process, a divine freedom accorded to women as it is to men, regardless of their biologies.”

Those who accuse Christianity of hypocrisy…

I love this quote from Zig Ziglar: “If a hypocrite is standing in the way of your relationship with God….the hypocrite is closer to God than you are.” Think about it positionally. But let’s face it, while it’s perfectly okay to be skeptical of the claims of Christianity (after all, a healthy skepticism can lead to investigation, and that’s good), the hypocrisy excuse isn’t about skepticism or unbelief. If hypocrisy on the part of some of the adherents to a particular belief were the reason not to believe, you couldn’t believe in anything.

Do you believe in evolution? Are there no hypocrites in that camp? Do you believe in patriotism? Are there no hypocritical patriots? How about whatever religion you claim, or atheism? Do you know any hypocrites therein? I don’t believe I have ever heard someone reject a belief system because some of the believers are hypocrites….other than in the case of Christianity.

So why apply the hypocrites excuse to Christianity when you believe all kinds of things on faith without worrying about hypocrites who espouse those beliefs? Speaking of believing things on faith, do you believe that subatomic particles–protons, neutrons, electrons–are the basic building blocks of the material world? Why? Has anyone actually seen an electron? The answer is……no. Their existence is based on the behavior of larger, visible particles. (In fact, much of science is the same thing–inferences and constructs rather than visible proof.) Research that question for yourself, then you can try to ridicule my belief (today being Easter Sunday-resurrection day) on faith that Christ rose from the dead. There were a lot more eyewitnesses to that event than have ever seen an electron! But I digress.

What is the real reason behind the hypocrisy excuse? It’s the weakest dodge there is. What would happen if you accepted the claim of Jesus Christ on your heart? The issue is what you would have to give up. Human beings in their natural state cling to their lusts. Anything that threatens the satisfaction of those lusts is the enemy. That’s certainly no problem for atheists or evolutionists, or postmodern pseudo religions. Embracing Christ means, or it should, that pleasing Him rather than self becomes the focus of life.

This is where the hypocrisy excuse comes in. Christians often fail to tame their lusts, and many do put on a false piety to try to cover up their struggles. We might be redeemed but we still fall into temptation, but when we fall we can repent and come closer to God. The cycle of temptation, falling, repentance and restoration is not hypocrisy. It is being human. Hypocrites are those who pretend they are above that cycle, but no one hated hypocrites more than Christ himself.

“I really want to understand myself….or do I?”

Years ago, when I was in training to become a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we did a “self-knowledge” exercise, the implications of which were so frightening that all the students, with two exceptions (one of which was yours truly), ran for emotional cover rather than finish it. Instead of going deeper into the exercise they strayed into small talk, as if by tacit agreement.

What was so frightening to this group of explorers of the mind?The exercise was this: “Imagine an action you could physically do, but under ordinary circumstances would not want to do. Under what set of circumstances would you do it?” Every one got that far. “Under this new set of circumstances, what is something you could physically do but would not want to do?” I can’t speak to what others were thinking, but I could clearly see where this was leading. Each set of circumstances would be more extreme, more painful and coercive. Finally, I would be confronted with something I would not be willing to do under any circumstances. Or worse than that, I would realize that I was capable of doing anything that relieved the pressure.

It was this latter revelation that, in my opinion, my fellow classmates were loath to face. What if there is nothing so bad or wrong that I wouldn’t do it to save myself, or a loved one, pain or injury or death? What is my final stand? Do I even have one, or am I really a slave to expediency?

My exercise went like this: I could spit in my mother’s face, but I wouldn’t. If someone held a gun to her head and demanded that I spit in her face, I would do it. If that gun were still at her head in the next iteration of the exercise, what would I be unwilling to do? How about killing an innocent person? Would I do that to avoid my mother being shot in the head? I said I would not be willing to kill an innocent person even to save my own mother.

Now that I am married with three adult children, it becomes an even more difficult choice. What if the gun was on my wife or daughters? Would I be willing to kill an innocent person to save one of them? This kind of moral dilemma is only a dilemma if you have no comprehensive theology. What do I mean? I believe that my wife and daughters are sealed for salvation by Christ, and when they die will be with Him in heaven. That would be true regardless of how they died. If I killed an innocent person to give them more time before death, my action would show that I either don’t believe the previous sentences, or place my emotions above my moral code and belief in the goodness of God.

Without that theology, I would have no basis beyond my emotions to base such a decision on. This kind of dilemma is very popular as a plot line in movies and tv shows about terrorism or criminals. It’s been used recently on Homeland, 24 Legacy, Blacklist Redemption, Taken and more, and in all those cases the protagonist or hero opted to save their loved one. Since that was tv, they all managed to both save their loved ones and foil the bad guys. In real life, what would you do? Do you really know? Do you really want to know? Maybe not.

Why straight and narrow is a good thing…

….unless you are driving on a mountain road, in which case it might be better to take the curves. Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate. For the way is wide and the path is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13.

“The way is wide and the path is easy that leads to destruction.” Jesus could have been speaking about many things, though in this case he was referring to salvation, but the words apply to any difficult decision. This is a recurring theme with me, but one that cannot be overemphasized. We human beings know this, but in our infinite capacity to rationalize the easy way, we seem to find perfectly logical reasons for putting off the hard decisions and actions, and doing what feels good and “natural.”

How do you rationalize it? What arguments allow you to reject good counsel? Let’s imagine that you are taking this post personally and want to argue with me that some decisions you recently made were just fine, even though they were shortcuts. From my experience, the rationalizations tend to follow a pattern. Do any of the following sound familiar?

1. “You don’t understand, it’s different for me.”

2. “Just one more time, then l will stop.”

3. “Who are you to judge me?”

4. “What’s the big deal? Everyone does it.”

5. “If I didn’t do it, someone else would have.”

6. “If I didn’t really need this, I wouldn’t have taken it.”

7. “I don’t have the time to do it right.”

I am also subject to rationalizing. We all are to some extent, because at the time we are doing it, our rationale seems logical. Knowing this, I discovered a pretty effective way to get beyond the expediency.  Before I was shipped off to Vietnam, I did a lot of reading about crimes of expediency committed in anger or fear by some of our troops there. So I asked myself, “what might I be tempted to do over there that I couldn’t live with if I return home?” The most likely would be the taking revenge on civilians for the deaths of my buddies.

So I made a list of what I would not do, even if ordered to or tempted to. This list represented the uncrossable line. I was exposed to most of the temptations I expected. But when anger or fear kicked in I was able to live out my commitment to stay on the narrow path, because I had laid it out ahead of time, giving me enough distance from the expedient and the emotional to stay on the right side of the uncrossable line.

Lest you think this is about me bragging (giving you a great excuse to ignore the counsel), it isn’t. It’s about the strategy: Doing the right things requires a prior commitment, a path you have thought about and committed to, so that when temptation comes, you know where your line is. Perhaps this is why I have never experienced PTSD symptoms from Vietnam–I was able to avoid doing what I couldn’t have lived with.

A plea on behalf of the hearing impaired.

In 1970, while in Quan Loi, Vietnam, I experienced a great miracle which both preserved my life and stole my future. Quan Loi was a forward firebase for American army artillery, a base carved out of a jungle of rubber trees by massive B52 bombing. Inside the perimeter of the base, many rubber trees still stood. It was beside one that the miracle occurred. The Vietcong would fire off mortars and occasionally, huge rockets at our base, then fade into the jungle or down into their tunnels while we were climbing out of bunkers or pulling our dead and wounded out of the rubble.

On this day, I was outside when a rocket exploded beside me–literally. These rockets were so large I could actually feel a pressure wave before it hit. Before I could articulate the thought “holy shit, something’s coming”, I felt what I could only describe as a giant hand pushing me to the ground, and then covering me, as the rocket hit and obliterated a rubber tree near me. The sound was muffled by whatever was covering me, but it was still incredibly loud. When I came to my senses, all that was left of the rubber tree was a smoking crater. My body was completely protected from the explosion and the shrapnel from the rocket and the tree.

I couldn’t process what had happened, but about 17 years later, when I read the Book of Daniel, and it described how an angel of the Lord protected Daniel from lions Daniel 6:24, and protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnacebook of Daniel , I finally understood. This did happen to me. But while my body was protected, I didn’t realize that my future was in some ways stolen. My hearing was permanently damaged, but the gradual deterioration was so subtle and insidious that my first conscious realization of hearing loss wasn’t until 15 years later. I was in a friend’s kitchen and my back was turned. She came and faced me and asked, “why are you ignoring me? I just asked you a question. You ignore questions a lot.” I really didn’t even hear the question, nor did I ever consciously ignore other questions. In that moment, the incident in Quan Loi came back to me, and the thought “I wonder how long I haven’t been hearing people.”

That is the insidious nature of hearing loss. How many people in your own life same suffering from the same malady? Here are some signs that someone you know is suffering from hearing loss–and might not even know it:

  1. When in a group he seems distracted or inattentive, and doesn’t participate much. If the cause is being unable to hear, he isn’t participating because he’s afraid to say or ask something inappropriate.
  2. An obvious sign is ignoring a question or answering the wrong question, especially when you aren’t face to face, or frequently asking you to repeat questions.
  3. Nodding of the head as if agreeing, but actually pretending to understand and follow what others are saying.
  4. Getting defensive or dismissive when the issue of hearing is brought up. For reasons I don’t understand, wearing hearing aids feels like advertising a disability and carries a stigma of being old, while wearing glasses bears none of that embarrassment, and is even a fashion statement.
  5. Withdrawing from relationships and avoidance of group situations, because of the fear of miscommunication.

I tend to be explicit about my disability with people I meet. Others are very reticent. But all of us hearing-impaired would appreciate your willingness to ask what accommodations you can make (like speaking louder or enunciating more clearly). Thanks for reading.

The Jack Reacher mind: Why you need it.

In chapter five of the Jack Reacher novel Tripwire by Lee Child, there is a scene, unforgettable to me, that sums up a mindset that is inconceivable to most people. It could be called primitive, if you wanted to dismiss it, but it truly bears seriously thinking about in this age of terrorism that can strike anyone, anywhere. But even more, it bears adopting if you ….(I’ll discuss its application later) “There was a portion of his brain, developed all out of proportion, like a grotesquely over-trained muscle, which made it seem to him entirely reasonable that he should step out of a door in a quiet New York suburban town and glance down at two men he had last seen two thousand miles away in the Keys crouching and swinging nine-millimeter pistols up in his direction. No shock, no surprise, no gasping freezing fear or panic. No pausing, no hesitation, no inhibitions. Just instant reaction to a purely mechanical problem laid out in front of him like a geometric diagram involving time and space and angles and hard bullets and soft flesh.”

I have been in a number of situations which demanded immediate action, and while none of them were quite as dramatic as the one Reacher faced, I swung into action without thought, while simultaneously observing others frozen, either asking the futile question “why is this happening?”, or the even more disengaged question “what’s happening?” There were a number of those in Vietnam, but the one I remember most easily was a camping/field trip in grad school in 1973. Our leader and teacher had tripped over a tree root and was in terrible pain. Every time I looked his way he was grimacing and massaging his leg. I also observed my fellow grad students, who seemed to be unaware of his discomfort. No one looked his way. I was thinking “something bad is about to happen.” Moments later he collapsed, unconscious. I remember thinking “his heart stopped.” I had no logical basis for thinking that. Yet I immediately, without any conscious decision as to what I should do, ran over to him and began chest compressions. All the others sat where they were, either dumbfounded, or yelling useless commands (“someone call a doctor”), or asking the futile questions I posed in the previous paragraph. After only three compressions, he suddenly sat up, looked around in confusion and asked about what happened. I told him and asked how he was feeling. Strangely, his pain was gone and he didn’t even remember tripping over the root. It was as if the loss of consciousness “reset” his body and mind. I expected a recurrence of the pain but it didn’t happen.

All my adult life it’s been action first, then questions and analysis, like an after-action report. Lee Child explains Jack Reacher’s behavior as a life spent moving on constantly, in a military family, with no expectation of stability. In his case there was no big surprise that a couple of thugs he had last seen in Key West, Florida suddenly showed up in upstate New York. In my case I have always been wired differently, even though my life was pretty conventional  in most respects. I don’t understand why I am wired this way, but who really cares? What matters is that you can learn to be more like this.

If you are asking “why should I?”, let me point out some possible reasons, but first the symptoms of “inadequate attention.” 1. Do you get flustered by ordinary situations, such as missing your turn and then for a moment not knowing what to do about it? 2. Do you dislike having to learn new things because you get confused? 3. Do you lose your way a lot while driving, and sometimes find yourself going the wrong way to somewhere you have been regularly? 4. Do you get in minor accidents that are the result of being unobservant? 5. Are you frequently unable to find things, even when looking right at them, because their location doesn’t match the expectation of where you thought they would be?

Now at this moment you could be indulging in an unconstructive kind of objection, like “who do you think you are, Mr. Perfect?” or “I exhibit some of those symptoms but so what, it doesn’t mean anything.” To the first I say “I have lots of faults and exhibit some of those symptoms–though rarely–and I am aware when I do” and to the second I say “unfortunately, it does mean a lot. One of the consequences of inattentiveness is being unaware of the patterns of your behavior.” Why you need to start building a “Jack Reacher mind” is to become more effective as well as more aware of your surroundings and how you decide things. It starts by interrupting the patterns that breed inattention:

1. Stop saying “It doesn’t make any sense” when you don’t understand the reasons behind something. Become aware of what you are really saying, which is “I don’t understand it.” Find solutions or alternate ways to deal, save the understanding for later (or never, since no one cares whether you get it or not, and your complaint is usually a way to delay having to act).

2. If your first inclination when you have to decide about something is to ask “why…?”, ask instead “what are the options here?” Asking “why” is one of the most futile questions, since most of the time the person you are asking doesn’t have the answer and yields to the pressure of the question by speculating. Also, if you would rather ask someone to give you the answer to a problem rather than trying to work it out yourself (with asking as a last resort), you are not developing your “thinking muscles.”

3. When you can’t find something, if your first theory is “someone took it” then you are the problem. Almost always, you misplaced the item, then formed a picture of where you thought it should be, and when it wasn’t there you looked a lot of other places and at some point you were looking right at it but didn’t see it because it didn’t match your picture! Adopt a different theory: You misplaced it!

4. If you get lost a lot or find yourself driving the wrong way when you have been to the place many times, start studying street maps! You have the ability to visualize the route to your destination, but you can’t accurately visualize what you haven’t seen. If you don’t study maps you have no picture of where you are relative to where you are going. If you find yourself objecting to that idea, get over it. You are just finding excuses for not doing the work. Here’s the most important thing about getting lost: When people who get lost make a wrong turn, their interpretation of each wrong turn is that they are getting more lost. That is the wrong interpretation. Each wrong turn really means that is one less mistake you can make before finding the place. Every wrong turn is one turn closer to your destination, presupposing you can remember the wrong turns. If you can’t, studying street maps develops the visual memory skills to remember your wrong turns. Don’t agree? Stay lost!

By now you should have noticed the pattern in how to develop “Jack Reacher mind”. The main lesson is…..(I will give you a minute to read through and find the pattern).



The main lesson is that you have to accept the correct interpretation of your actions: 1. Saying “it doesn’t make sense” is not accurate. You don’t understand it, but that has nothing to do with sense. Striving for understanding (a futile illusion most of the time) is inferior to effective action. 2. Asking “why” all the time puts off decisions. 3. You misplace things, others rarely move your stuff. 4. Every mistake is one less to make before the solution, NOT evidence of getting farther away!!!! Whether it is Edison developing the lightbulb (or anyone inventing anything) or reaching your destination, this is true.

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you spend a lot of time staring at your smartphone–like twitter, snapchat, and the myriad other distractions, and excessive text messaging–don’t expect to develop attentiveness. The opposite will happen. The phone may be “smart” but the more time you spend on it rather than reading or writing or thinking, you are just getting dumber and more inattentive.


The perfect world DOES EXIST, at least for a week.

I just got back from the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.  Imagine blind, amputees, and traumatic brain injury survivors skiing and doing all kinds of “adaptive” winter sports. You can watch a video on the events here. wsc  Just scroll down the page to the video.

But these triumphs over adversity and limitations, while inspiring, are not what made it a perfect world. Imagine a world where all the superficial surface appearances (that hold no clue to the character of the person) like skin color or physical disability, yield to the desire to love and serve others. I saw a black woman feeding a white man who was blind and having difficulty feeding himself. As I approached my table, I saw her come over with her tray, set it down and ask him if she could feed him. This kind of thing was repeated over and over. White folks leading Black folks who were blind and vice versa, those who could walk on their own carrying the trays of those who struggled with walking. Every race in the United States seemed to be represented, most of the participants were complete strangers to each other, there were wheelchairs aplenty, service dogs and emotional support animals, many vets struggled to walk, to eat, but there was more help than anyone needed and no one had to ask! What I witnessed was everyone caught up in the spirit of love and service to each other.

THIS is the perfect world on earth: Love and service without quid pro quo. Heaven will be like this, but without the disabilities. Revelation 21:3-4. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”’ Believe it!