Volume > Issue > Abortion & the Creed of Progress

Abortion & the Creed of Progress


By Edmund B. Miller | January-February 2012
Edmund B. Miller teaches at Spiritus Sanctus Academy, a Dominican school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is president of Guadalupe Partners, a sidewalk-counseling ministry in Detroit. He is the son of William D. Miller, R.I.P., a Contributing Editor of the NOR.

For seven years the Guadalupe Partners have been present at abortion clinics in the metro Detroit area. We do not picket; we do not preach; we do not practice organized, formal prayer. Our intention is to engage each mother or father entering the facility in conversation, a conversation that attempts to resurrect the best impulses of human nature. When a parent does reject the “choice” of abortion, we follow up, providing as much practical assistance as is possible and prudent. This assistance may last a few months; it may last a few years.

Although our success rate is comparatively high — the parents to whom we have ministered number in the hundreds and we see turnaways just about every week — the failures certainly far outnumber the successes. Most people do not stop to talk to us; many, in fact, are verbally violent. And when one considers the daily number of elective abortions, and the vast number of abortuaries, discouragement comes swiftly and heavily. Often I wonder why I should and do continue. Usually, the reasons for continuing come from the memories of the dinner table.

The dinner table was an important part of my home when I was growing up. I always had my usual place, just to the left of my father, who of course sat at the head. While there was a certain regularity in the seating, there was also flexibility because one never knew who would show up for dinner. My father had a loyal following of graduate students who were always welcome at the table. I never minded, because there was always something in the conversations that caught my interest. Not that I understood most of it, but I was sure that great stuff — other than the chicken and mashed potatoes — was being passed around the table.

The two themes most frequently discussed were community and progress. Experiencing the richness of family community while growing up along the Potts­burgh Creek, near Jacksonville, Florida, my Methodist father later came to embrace the community of the Catholic Church. Distilling it all now, what I heard at the table was that community, the fruit of love, was an attribute of God Himself; no one could hope to find the fulfillment of individuality outside the setting of community. Modern man, however, had placed his hope in progress (I can see my father’s lip curling as he spoke that word), the belief in time as the only reality, and in change as the measurement of time’s vitality. The belief in progress, and its accompanying demigods power, speed, and change, had destroyed any hope of true community.

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