May 10, 2019
Mornings w Carmen 5-10-2019 hour 1: Jean Vanier’s death, Heartbeat bills, and Run the Mile You’re In
Jean Vanier has died. Jean Vanier created a wildly inefficient model of compassion that’s instructive for us today. More than 50 years ago, shocked by the despair and loneliness he found at a psychiatric hospital outside Paris, he not only made the cause of the intellectually disabled HIS cause, he bought a house and lived in it with two adults who had severe intellectual disabilities. Why? Because, in Vanier’s words, “they needed a friend.”
This one man’s highly personalized model of compassion inspired others. Today 10,000 people live together in more than 150 L’Arche group homes around the world. As you can imagine, it is transforming not only the life of those whose intellectual disabilities ordinarily leave them isolated or institutionalized, it also transforms the assistants, those without intellectual disabilities who commit at least a year to living in a L’Arche community. And although L’Arche is not expressly Christian, it is both informed by Vanier’s Christian faith and it certainly expresses the pro-life Christian ethic that every life is precious – for all of life.
And as Jean Vanier’s life here ended on May 7, we feel some confidence that we are echoing the Lord when we say, “well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well done.”
So, when does life end? While there may be many answers to this question, one answer is clear among all others. Life ends when the human heart stops beating. So, if life ends when the heart stops beating, might we ask and answer another question about the start of life?
You can see where this conversation is headed if you’re reading the headlines about heartbeat bills across the country. But taking a step back why does the question of life matter? What compels us to recognize the humanity of a person with intellectual disabilities or a person as a person who does not measure up to our idea of a life worth living? How we answer the questions at the end and beginning of life affects how we answer questions throughout life. And those answers are influenced by our worldview. The person operating out of a purely secular or naturalistic worldview – a worldview that denies God and therefore Creation and therefore the Imago Dei invested in every human being – sees life and those of us who are alive, differently than those who take God into account. When we’re having conversations about life and death and topics like abortion, we are having conversations about worldview. We’re having conversations about how we see the world – from an exclusively worldly or natural point of view or from the point of view that takes God’s perspective into account and tries to see things – and people and life and death – from an eternal, Gospel perspective.
If you’re listening to the cultural conversation today about abortion you have heard a linguistic pivot that is worth discussing. Remember when the conversation was about viability? That’s because viability – or the ability of a child to live outside of the womb – was very near full term. Now we not only babies surviving and thriving very premature deliveries – at as little as 20 weeks of pregnancy. In response you see laws shifting to make abortion illegal at earlier and earliers stages of pregnancy. But then someone asked the right question: when does LIFE actually begin and why aren’t we passing legislation that limits abortion to sometime before that? And while Christians contend that life begins at conception, the beating of a human heart at about 6 weeks is a clear, unmistakable, undeniable, irrefutable, observable reality.
Listen for a moment to your heart.
Listen for a moment to my heart.
Listen now to the heartbeat of a baby being knit together in his mother’s womb.
When you stop that beating heart you have taken the life of that human being. That’s the conversation pro-life advocates are now pressing in state legislatures and they’re winning and that’s bringing out the truth in the opposition.
That conversation up next first with Matthew Hawkins.
Second, Carmen talks with Ryan Hall about his book, Run the Mile Your’e In