Burning off the dross

August 18, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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BioSLED – essential pro-life position

This is the best rational argument against abortion in it’s most basic form.

As a culture, we uphold the just, moral principle that innocent human beings ought not be intentionally killed. (“ought” is legal for “any, at all, under all circumstances”.)

So —

1. It is morally wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being;
2. Elective abortion* intentionally kills an innocent human being;
3. Therefore: elective abortion is morally wrong.

*performed for any reason other than saving the life of the mother.

Scales of Justice

There’s only one question in the abortion debate:
What is “it”?

Few argue it’s okay to kill innocent human beings. Most agree something is killed, and virtually all agree some sort of human flesh and blood is destroyed.

So what is destroyed during an abortion? Is that an innocent human being? If it is an innocent human being, and we agree with the 1st premise, then one cannot reasonably uphold abortion as a right.

Reasoning: Every abortion-choice person depends on others identifying them as a innocent, immeasurably valuable, living human being, and respecting their inherent right to life. Rejection of the 1st premise leaves only subjugation of the weakest by the strongest.

When advocating life, we need to identify the unborn as human beings by showing they share a universal biological human nature with the abortion-choicer, then affirm the moral principle by explaining why it’s always applicable despite human physical variations. In effect upholding the moral principle of non-discrimination.

There’s one, easy to remember acronym that summarizes the technique we use to advocate life:

BioSLED – the best argument against abortion-choice.

Remember, the objective is not to win the argument, but to win-over the other person.

This argument is based on the work of Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason, Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life and the SLED acronym came from Stephen Schwartz who wrote The Moral Question of Abortion.

August 18, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Embryology Texts

Ever need access to human embryology textbooks with accurate scientific, medical facts?

Some are available from Amazon as paperbacks for very reasonable prices, but if you want the definitive text, be prepared to shell out $445 for the O’Rahilly and Mueller.

These texts are invaluable when you use BioSLED to defend life. They provide the “Bio” – logical scientific portion of the argument.

August 17, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Marriage – celebration or debate?

Yesterday, a spectacular day weatherwise, my family attended a wonderful Christian celebration of marriage, held on the Diocese of Providence grounds overlooking beautiful Narragansett Bay. Hundreds of wonderfully diverse families attended (est. 500-600 people) and the highlight of the day was a renewal of vows, with a specific Catholic renewal ceremony, followed by another ceremony for other Christian denominations.

Renewal of vows
Renewal of vows

Outside the gate of the Aldrich Mansion were protestors who were looking for attention. So where do you think every major media reporter focused? That’s right – the protestors.

One could talk about the many positive reasons to celebrate marriage and families, particularly nowadays when divorce rates are high, marriage rates decreasing and out of wedlock births are rampant (more than 40% in some areas).

No – all major stories were about marriage “equality”. In other words, the focus wasn’t really about those married families attending, but mostly about the ones outside the gate. You can tell from the news headlines:

So was this all just political theater?

The event was put on by National Organization for Marriage – Rhode Island, which is politically opposed to same-sex marriage efforts. With Rhode Island as the only New England state that does not legally recognize same-sex unions, this event declares a political message. However, it seems to me that drawing attention to heterosexual marriage and expecting the media to be friendly to the cornerstone of our culture is downright suicidal.

So the coverage was political, but the young, progressive news reporters all missed (showed disdain for?) the real major story – our families. Instead, most irresponsibly conveyed shallow, incendiary stories, with quotes like this one from the Associated Press:

“We’re not going to let them have events that exclude LGBT people,“ said Brian Chidester of the Providence Equality Action Committee, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I’m sure Mr. Chidester has more substantial material, but given that at least one TV station actually lead their video with a photo of one same-sex couple renewing their vows outside a restricted area, it’s apparent LGBT’s were not excluded from the event, and as far as I know, the couple wasn’t harassed for being there.

Still, my question for Mr. Chidester, and those who think like him: Why do people need your approval to hold events that might exclude LGBT people? This particular event was heavily Christian in nature throughout the celebration. Shall we lay aside our moral, religious convictions as you demand?

Who, then, is advocating controlling the choices, beliefs and activities of others? Isn’t this the very charge which you accuse us of holding?

The sole basis for your committee’s approval is gender orientation. Do you grasp the full role marriage plays in our culture?

Should the majority heterosexual population define marriage around the idea of marriage as a binding of affection between partners?

Do you fail to see that legal recognition of marriage is not about recognizing partnerships of affection, but encouraging promising, procreative partnerships which tremendously impact the public and are essential to us all?

Here’s the ideal of Christian marriage upon which Western civilization was primarily built :

Childbearing is a natural process requiring the successive overlapping of morally pure environments from one generation to another. The union of one virgin chaste man and one virgin chaste woman is the ideal for childbearing. To avoid harmful diseases mothers and fathers must remain morally pure and physically virgin until married, then, for the success of subsequent generations, they must remain morally pure until physical death.

Joined at the altar, those chaste virgin couples demonstrate with their very lives, through a whole-hearted commitment to their posterity, that they hold society’s successful natural long term propagation in the highest esteem. Society approves of this serious, on-going commitment by calling pure marriage between one chaste man and one chaste woman greatly unique, beneficial and thus ‘very good’. This is the core of the marriage covenant, showing approval of this union to everyone to ensure the ‘life’ of society. The chaste couple is esteemed as a model to follow. As it naturally stems from our two sexes for procreation, the marriage relationship cannot be arbitrarily redefined, because no other model provides this unique, natural family.

With marriage, society rewards the overwhelming sacrifice on the part of the chaste heterosexual couple who prepared for childbearing and childrearing with unique rights and benefits. At the same time, and with the same ideal relationship, society shames individuals who do not enter into the pure marriage covenant which holds the potential for producing new generations. Valid exceptions to this shame are made, but they must always be due to mercy or great personal sacrifice, which maintains social moral integrity.

The consummation of the marriage covenant promises, but doesn’t always produce, society’s greatest joy – children, and society awards more benefits to the growing family. like a cell dividing, with every new generation, society grows.

Society’s concern regarding marriage then, is to secure it for this public effect. So the state, while not hampering the affections of individuals, must always guard against an immorality that would substitute non-ideal models of marriage that fail to produce or even promise, the continuity of society.

- from “The Kids are Watching”

And that’s the real story that was missed.

It’s about something unimaginably greater than our unions – it’s about something so pure and wonderful, so natural, and yet beyond any affection we might show to the other. It’s something only God, in His divine grace, bestows.

It’s about a certain transcendent commitment – a covenant: a promise of life.

During the Catholic vow renewal, my wife and I noticed 2 small children scurrying about their parents legs as the couple looked deeply into each other’s eyes, with occasional glances down, followed by short bursts of laughter, and angelic, divine beaming faces shining up at them.

The pure joy that comes from two becoming one flesh.

We weren’t debating anything.

We came to declare in a single unified voice, that promise of Life: To our pro-created families, to the generations who would look back upon their ancestors and say – they loved each other by their marriage commitment, and in so doing, they loved us, unconditionally.

August 14, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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The Immeasurable Value of Each Human Life

Without a doubt, the current healthcare reform effort is about controlling expanding medical costs. Also, without any doubt, measures in the House version of a bill (H.R. 3200 section 1233) address end of life consultations. As liberal commentators Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post point out, the only reason why such language would be included would be about controlling costs. See here and here.

This has ignited a firestorm of controversy with almost everyone jumping into the fray, from Sarah Palin’s “death panels” to President Obama’s wandering sophistry on the issue. Section 1233 is definitely controversial, and apparently those behind the language have no problem with either voluntary or involuntary euthanasia.

Immeasurable value

In the larger scope of things, there are two critical issues to be aware of:

1. The baby boomers have moved into retirement, with the initial boomers starting to approach the years where critical health care will be required. Some claim roughly 70% of total US healthcare costs are consumed by those in our population in their final years of life. (Never mind that particular expense shows up as income for someone else, such as medical jobs, services and product sales.)

2. The current Democratic leadership backs abortion 100%, due to it’s core constituencies demands and the lobbying of the abortion industry. For all practical purposes what’s being proposed is not just healthcare for the elderly, but also FOCA – the Freedom of Choice Act, to eliminate our youngest. (In their eyes, abortion costs less than birth, is far more repeatable, profitable, manageable and cost efficient.) And we know where Barack Obama stands on these matters.

So here we are.

From the Democratic perspective “controlling costs” can be done at either end – the elderly can be euthanized, and the unborn can be aborted. In either case, the option to kill is much less expensive than providing humane treatment.

It’s time for the pro-life cause to demand a national discussion on the immeasurable value of each human life.

Because the boomers are scared to death that the seeds they sowed about the expendability of human life, (evidenced with almost 50 million human beings being aborted) will be paid back with compassionate killing.

There is no better time to discuss this than right now, when America’s focus is on this issue.

And “controlling costs” is nothing more than a face-saving euphemism for controlling lives.

July 12, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Abortion Language – rights and responsibilities

By way of (Prolifer)ation’s on Jill Stanek’s blog, Big Blue Wave touched on how Reuters works to govern the abortion debate via their Handbook on Journalism:


Unless quoting someone, refer to aborted foetuses rather than unborn babies. Describe those campaigning for a woman’s right to have an abortion as abortion rights campaigners and those campaigning against abortion rights as anti-abortion campaigners. Terms such as pro-choice, pro-life and pro-abortion are open to dispute and should be avoided.

Neutral? Accurate? Or divisive? Christ makes an interesting statement in Matthew 12:30 when he confronted the Pharisees:

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Language is not neutral. Those at Reuters chose their language, as we all do. One cannot refer to one group as advocating rights without referring to those diametrically opposed to that position. And “anti” is almost always considered a negative. Absent such distinction, there is no news.

Two sides to love

Still, both sides trumpet rights, including Suzanne of Big Blue Wave, who describes pro-life efforts as advocating “fetal rights”.

Yet, framing the debate solely upon rights misses a very important point. In her comments at Jill’s, Christina Dunigan of RealChoice raises what is so often overlooked by both sides: parental responsibilities. We tend to think of rights as a passive, positive, valuable property, inherent in our being, while we consider responsibilities as negative onerous duties demanded by someone else.

Notice in Mt 12:30 the two parts of Jesus’ statement. Within the passage, the Pharisees right to be guardians of the faith requires them to uphold the faith by gathering more disciples, not dividing the house. One cannot receive the benefits of rights without being accountable for the responsibilities inherent in those rights. People forget that the Declaration of Independence is truly about securing the rights of all, by being responsible to each other. Like assets and liabilities, you cannot have rights without responsibilities.

But what responsibility does a news organization have regarding language? Reuters is far from neutral. Their highest priority regarding abortion is to immediately depersonalize it by using the word fetus – Latin for “offspring” – a child. Notice it’s past-tense, so their first focus is the aborted remains of a child. When viewing a photo of such remains, how would one naturally describe it using sixth grade language? If you weren’t told the age – would you really use the word “fetus” to describe a recognizably shredded baby? So the motive is deliberate depersonalization of a human being.

Owning language is not about self-identification. It’s being accountable to each other, in all aspects of our lives, including sexual outcomes. Human rights begins with a responsibility to all our children in the womb.

Now Reuters is nothing but a piece of paper in some government filing cabinet, a faceless, impersonal corporate entity. Would the human beings working for Reuters seriously object to being depersonalized? Or have they done so already by resorting to propaganda language on such an important issue instead of speaking plainly?

Always bring it back to what it means to be fully human, and never forget the responsibilities that come with the rights. No amount of depersonalization will ever change the human nature of the unborn child. And for those at Reuters, if you can’t own up to a responsible use of language in discussing this issue – then you have no right to call yourself the press.

July 9, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Trial by Fire

“What welled up in that dread moment?”

Fear. Burning like a core deep within, like a fire blazing.

“The deceiver wants you to think that is real. Yes, in an instant it consumes you, but you were calling out my name.”

Then I remembered your promises my Lord, to ask for anything in your name and it will be given.
And I knew the good and righteous life that this soul you’ve tied me to – should live.

His very life a gift from God.

You showed me a glimpse of the plans you had in store and

without touching,
without seeing,
without knowing, I let go.

It was yours Lord, totally and completely.

There was nothing for me to control.

There was no reason to fear at all.

For you are the Sovereign Lord
who truly reigns over us all.

In that instant, like a transition
from dark to light, the world changed.

Not the greater world.

Not those outside the experience,
but those of great faith inside.

Your Great Spirit Lord came rushing in,

It filled us Lord,
It filled our lungs,
It filled our hearts.

There was a peace, a tranquility.

The wind blew out the fire.

Then I heard cries of joy, the fear was gone.

Our lungs filled to sing your praises:
Blessed be the Lord God Almighty
By the grace and mercy of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ

In whose name we prayed, – and it was answered.

July 8, 2009
by Chris Arsenault

What’s Missing?

Last night, while searching through a “sister to sister” directory created by our church’s women’s ministry, I noticed that not one man’s name was mentioned. All the married women had anonymous spouses. Their children’s names were listed, but not the husbands.

When I mentioned that to my wife, Donna, she wrote it off to the editor keeping the focus on the “sister to sister” relationship. That quick explanation struck me as being wrong, not because it might be true, but that such behavior isn’t apparent cause for concern, even within a fairly conservative church that upholds traditional marriage of the unity of one man and one woman.

Call it a feminine blind spot.
What are you thinking?

So this morning’s news reveals British scientists are creating sperm cells from human embryos so they can treat infertility.

In another article, related to the Mark Sanford affair, Gallup finds that the most morally objectionable behavior in the United States is “married men and women having an affair”.

So we have a case of husbands ignored by women within a church, the male physiological function being replaced by scientists using the human offspring of other males, and the most reprehensible behavior is marital infidelity, while divorce is more morally acceptable than wearing fur coats.

Most women can’t see the problem. My own wife doesn’t see it, despite long discussions on the topic.

Again, from today’s news: even when a female author gets most things right – she still doesn’t see the problem.

Can you see it?

And to be fair – many men can’t see the problem either.

July 4, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Independence Day 2009

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Long may it wave.

“…we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Barbara Curtis of MommyLife brought this to my attention:

The Americans Who Risked Everything by Rush Limbaugh’s dad.

Try reading through it aloud during today’s celebrations without getting choked up or shedding a tear.

God Bless America – and those who love her so.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

July 3, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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Congressman Langevin’s “Fertilized Eggs”

I believe the way we view life, as in “…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” profoundly shapes our worldview decision making. And it really comes down to only 2 possible views – either human life is expendable, or it is sacred, worthy of self-sacrifice. Our country was founded on the latter, but it is fast moving towards complete human expendability.

Photo from

On Thursday, July 2nd, a meeting was held in the old Foster Town House, the oldest continuously operated public meeting house in the country. It was a great, even historic, example of how this country debates important issues. Congressman Langevin, being home in RI during the July 4th recess, wanted to hear from his constituents. Well, he got an earful.

I was called via robo-caller by the congressman to attend the meeting, and expected several hundred people to show. But short notice, and virtually no advertising made for a very small, but highly charged group of about 30 people. After the Congressman gave a brief overview of his recent efforts, the fireworks flew. (I regret not bringing my camera!)

Cap and trade (energy), the stimulus bills, exorbitant government spending, transparency and health care topped the issues. Everyone who desired got a chance to question the Congressman and air their grievances. Those present learned his primary concern was getting universal health care reform passed this year.

Photo from

Accidently shot in the back at a firing range as a teen, Jim Langevin is paralyzed from the waist down. To a great extent, this experience has shaped his perceptions, colors his language and drives his ambitions. And while I applaud the many legislative successes he has made for the handicapped, I’m concerned about his ideas for the future, particularly health care and the moral implications of government oversight of each person’s life.

Our meeting eventually ventured into the public funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (HESCR). The congressman considers himself pro-life, often voting against abortion, but given his injury, he expressed his own idea of what it means to be pro-life.

zygote from

He suggested that excess embryos from IVF (in-vitro fertilization) procedures were only going to be discarded as medical waste. His take is, unless the “fertilized egg is implanted” it’s not going to be a child. To use these “fertilized eggs” for research that might prove beneficial to others is to be greatly “pro-life”, and he cited Sen. Orrin Hatch as a role model who held similar views.

Setting aside the Utah Senator, who is not my representative, I was perturbed by the congressman’s repeated references to “fertilized eggs” and the idea that embryos are not already children. Using the wrong term masks the moral implications of what is actually done, which is utilitarian destruction of human beings.

After the meeting, while I was speaking with one of his local aids, the congressman came over and we had a brief private conversation on this issue. Here’s what I conveyed:

“You keep referring to human embryos as fertilized eggs, but they are not eggs. Do you know how long they are fertilized eggs?” “No” “Once fertilization starts, they are fertilized eggs for about twelve hours. Let me illustrate this. Say you have an ice-cube, which represents the egg, and you put it into a glass, which is the womb, or the IVF “petri-dish”, and you fertilize it – add sperm or in the case of our ice-cube, add heat. When the ice cube melts, you no longer have an ice-cube, you have water. The same is true of the human egg, it’s gone after the completion of amphimixis – you now have a zygotic human being. But to take it one step further, imagine that the water started filling the glass on it’s own. That’s what human life does – grows on it’s own in the proper environment. So we really shouldn’t refer to human embryos as fertilized eggs.”

We continued the conversation on the topic of ESCR, but Rep. Langevin continued to refer to fertilized eggs, even after I showed him I was educated on the topic. I asked him if it was okay to have a utilitarian view of human life – to use other’s body parts without their permission, and he struggled with that briefly, but was saved by his assistant who declared it was time to go.

During our discussion I asked if he was familiar with Robert P. George – he wasn’t. It’s now a goal of mine to hand Jim Langevin a personalized copy of this book.

If scientific accuracy does not inform our moral decisions at the highest level of government, then I have little confidence decisons made will be in the best interests of the country. Debate is about drilling down until the solid truth is found, and building upon that.

The Congressman has some research to do about what it means to be fully human.

June 30, 2009
by Chris Arsenault
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What I’ve been up to

It’s been a while since I’ve actually wrote a blog post (as a blog post). I’d call it writer’s bloq, except that’s not really true – I’ve been writing and commenting over at Jill Stanek’s blog with some old friends.

Of course, I’ve also been following the impact technology has had on both getting the message out and suppressing it, as we recently saw in Iran. Apparently, the regime in Iraq waited until they identified the organizers using deep packet inspection, then sent goons in the middle of the night to take them away.

I started a post on the wayward South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, but the more I learned of what was going on, the more I realized there’s a little more info that’s needed for perspective.

I’ve been digging into technical stuff, exploring a collection of Internet apps, and helping Jill Stanek change over to a new design.

And with this particular post – I’m checking to see how scheduled posts work in WordPress. The Moveable Type update at Jill’s broke that feature, and while an easy fix, it poured a pile of error messages into the email server, which then kept serving them up. Ah, technology.