Planned Inhumanities: From Roe to Obergefell


Source: The Public Discourse

By Robert Oscar Lopez

Consider the intellectual consequences of the foundational belief that humanity can be “planned.” Such a belief means that humans can be edited and arranged; it makes children into objects rather than subjects.

I am, perhaps, an outlier on the current Planned Parenthood scandal. I am not shocked that high-ranking officials in an organization by that name would be caught on video speaking callously about the harvesting of fetal organs. The fact that money is exchanged, and the question of whether this constitutes a “market,” do not particularly matter to me. Well-educated people believe that “planned parenthood” can lead to a socially just world. That hubris is the main horror from which all these other abhorrent things descend.

The Monstrous Idea of “Planning”: From Roe to Obergefell

It is the “planned” part of the organization’s title that needs to be urgently criticized. What kind of society is so lacking in humanity that it thinks “parenthood”—a phenomenon responsible for, well, the perpetuation of everything social about us—can be regimented, organized, scheduled, commoditized, bought, sold, and programmed by people? And in particular, by the people running this soulless association? Stop for a moment and consider the intellectual consequences of this foundational belief that humanity can be “planned.” Such a belief means that humans can be edited and arranged, by contract if necessary. To be editable, people, particularly children, must become objects rather than subjects.

Once they become objects, children can be treated as dehumanized products in multiple ways, all bad. They can be disposed of, like integrated waste, when they are not convenient or not proceeding according to plan. Just as we recycle cans of Diet Coke and milk cartons, we can try to limit the wastefulness of our garbage by recycling the broken-down parts of people: their livers, hearts, lungs, and brains. All of this is management of objects, which costs money, so who is to say that there shouldn’t be some remuneration? Why not reimburse the people who are stuck with this waste for the cost of transporting and recycling it? Why not pay them a salary and make the salary attractive so that qualified professionals are indeed willing to take on such a ghoulish task?

The flip side of the disposable child, of course, is the child as a desired commodity. Since people can be thrown out when they are not convenient, they can also be manufactured and maintained through industrialized processes, when the natural process of lovemaking is not convenient. And alas, this leads us straight to the sublimities of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Kennedy’s opinion emphasized the constitutional right of gay couples not to be lonely. According to Kennedy, the Fourteenth Amendment assures that gay couples should be given marriage licenses lest they call out to the universe and find nobody to answer back to their emotional needs with love.

Obergefell brings Roe v. Wade to its climax because it completes the transformation of children into objects. For children will be forced to love gay adults who are not their parents. To Kennedy, gay adults have a right not to feel lonely, which includes the right to start families. In fact, he states that they have a right to “custody” and “birth certificates” (i.e., birth certificates falsified to include two same-sex parents and erase biological parents of the opposite sex). To satisfy the human right to dignity and to thwart the civil injustice of “loneliness,” children must be produced and provided to people who want them, whether or not those people conceived the child by making love.

Children not only can, but must be manufactured. The transfers of custody must generate orphans and abandoned children, paying gamete donors and surrogates to abandon and orphan their offspring, so that this new product—the loving and obedient human being—can be delivered to paying customers.

You can’t be against Roe but for Obergefell. It all goes together. The small but crucial part of the electorate—largely made up of younger Americans—who oppose abortion but support gay marriage are perilously deluded. The objectification of children through one means will lead inexorably to the objectification of children through another means. The “child as waste product” and “child as product for sale” are the same child: the dehumanized and “planned” child suited to make paying customers happy.

Killing Humanities-Based Education Opened the Door to Inhumanity

The wine-sipping doctor of Planned Parenthood didn’t come out of nowhere. This individual was dealing with people who claimed to be doing research with the fetal tissues. She was educated by a system that framed her brutal trade as not only acceptable, but just and fruitful.

Dr. Nucatola is the inevitable offspring of a society that has no way to discuss humanity, no real lens into the history of past atrocities, no true connection to all the arts and letters left by millennia of writers about what makes us human and why humanity is precious. She is the indispensable sentinel of the society and the educational system that gave us the twin disasters of abortion and gay marriage.

The shocking videos released about Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue trafficking give us a precious glimpse into our own society’s spiritual crisis. This crisis links abortion to gay marriage, third-party reproduction, and genetic engineering (originally designed for straight consumers and now increasingly fitted to the needs of gay couples). It is also connected to corruption in higher education. The importance of the academy is clear to the leftists who dominate and exploit it, but its influence is dangerously underestimated by conservatives, who often muse about its decline with harmless, detached indignation. In truth, like two other industrial crises starting with “H”—healthcare circa 2009 and housing circa 2006—the rotten foundation of our higher education system is about to crumble.

Republicans such as Scott Walker tap into conservatives’ frustrations with higher education and offer solutions like scaling back tenure and blocking the advancement of faculty bargaining units. While Walker is more humane than the vile monsters who run most of the arts and sciences these days, he is nonetheless feeding the very problem that fuels conservative frustration. Emphasizing the practicality of trade-based education at the expense of supposedly wasteful humanities programs, the Walker approach just reinforces the notion that older generations only need to teach younger ones about things that make money and satisfy consumers. This is precisely the unreflective attitude that gave us abortion and gay marriage.

On a brutally pragmatic level, stripping faculty of protections such as tenure and collective bargaining will not lead to the rooting out of junior Nucatolas. It will rather allow the liberals who dominate universities to gang up on the few conservatives who might stand for the sanctity of life. This danger is especially strong in fields such as literature, philosophy, and history, where the left is particularly emboldened to discredit the right, and where subjective evaluation criteria give them ample opportunity to do so.

Conservatives must do the difficult and tiresome work of taking back the humanities. In 1987, Allan Bloom foresaw an impending doom for the humanities before multiple forces, mostly coming from the political left, which seemed ready to take away their potential use in examining what it means to be human. As I explained in an essay for Humanum Review, Bloom was on to something. Yet even he did not foretell the vast spiritual devastation awaiting the United States and the diabolical role played by “researchers” and “experts.” The neoliberals’ domination of the humanities, which Bloom forecast as a dying “Atlantis,” has reached levels he never imagined.

Yet this does not mean that we should give up on the humanities. If you are outraged about Planned Parenthood and Obergefell, there is a battlefield where you can fight for humanity. It is time to take back higher education. Don’t give up on it when your fighting spirit is most needed.

Robert Oscar Lopez is author of Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients from Wheatley to Whitman and editor of Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family Equality.


  1. M. Stankovich says

    This is a man who has totally disregarded the warning found on every stepladder, “Do not step on the top step,” and attempting to absorb his “argument” all the while knowing he was about to crash into a heap of twisted logic was unnerving, but crash he does. It seems to me the joy of “round-trip travel” is to begin in St. Louis, and in the end, returning to St. Louis satisfied, a better person for the journey. This leaves you at the gate in Hoboken, searching for your luggage, and then having to endure your wife telling you “I told you, you get what you paid for.”

    I posted a comment a few threads back on the fact that it is impossible to vaccinate your children in the United States against the diseases of childhood – which are mandatory by law in the state of California – with a vaccine not derived from a cell line derived from an aborted fetus. There was one comment. I posted the same comment to another Orthodox site that mirrored the contents of this site, rabid with commentaries of the atrocities of Planned Parenthood. Two responses. My conclusion: Prof. Lopez, you are the one who is deluded! Yeah, people are “outraged” by the excerpted videos of Planned Parenthood doling out body parts of aborted children, but when they hear the “full story” of the business of medical research: “You know, that “breakthrough” cardiac surgery that allowed to us to operate on your grandson’s heart halfway through the pregnancy and save his life, which you referred to as a “miracle?”; or “That clinical trial medication we injected into your husband several hours after he began suffering a debilitating stroke from he which he probably would never have survived, let alone ever expected to recover from?”; or “That genetic-specific enriched antibiotic we introduced into your son, transported through a virus as the only means to carry it through the blood-brain barrier to treat his meningitis?” Would Prof. Lopez be surprised to discover that most people do not care that these life-saving discoveries were somehow tied to products derived from an aborted fetus? And in fact, they feel entitled and even demand access to these treatments for themselves and their loved ones? And further, the only solution to this moral morass is to stop the market for products derived from any aborted fetus worldwide in the entire medical system? Take back the humanities? CRASH! This moron topples from the top step of the ladder. Pity, even Obergefell could not break his fall.

    Like it or not, this is the dirty business of “miracles” in medical research. Planned Parenthood is a broker of donated human “materials” for clinical research, and they stand with many such brokers. I’m wagering you never heard the pitiful story of a poor Black woman who died of cancer in the 1950’s, who cells earned the biotechnology industry billions in revenue, yet shared nothing with her family: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, on the NY Times Bestseller List for most of 2014. I honestly don’t don’t believe Allan Bloom would have kept such company as Lopez.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      Your point is what Stankovich? That aborted baby tissue has been used in medical research? It’s been used in the cosmetics industry too. Anyone who follows this closely already knows it.

      Or is your point that in the pressure of particular medical emergencies people grasp at anything to try and save their loved one? We know that too and anyone with any hospital experience has seen it often enough.

      Or is your point that people don’t really care about the marketing of aborted baby parts? Clearly they do although it remains to be seen whether the outrage has staying power. If not, the dehumanization has seeped into the culture enough that the trajectory into barbarism is unstoppable. This is what Wesley Smith believes will happen.

      Henrietta Lacks dealt with liver cells Amazon tells me, not the cells of aborted children.

      What is your point exactly?

    • M. Stankovich says

      Again you emphasize the fundamental difference in how we were taught and the way we think. My “point” is the same as I always make here: Who will preach to Nineveh?

      And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown… So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them… Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not. (Job 3:1, 5, 9-10)

      I honestly do not believe that you have the faith that we will be saved by the Word of the Lord, by the Teachings of Holy Fathers, and the Holy Tradition alone; that they are insufficient and that we must necessarily pursue cultural, political, historical, and sociological “theorists” – as I attempted to respond to Dove Weed but you have censored in “moderation” – for which there is absolutely no demonstrable evidence of efficacy outside of a book or an historical context that you conjecture has any theoretical significance outside of its context whatsoever. But this you are willing to believe. And yet you dismiss the greatest theologians and fathers of our generation – Florovsky, Schmemann, Meyendorff, Pomazansky, – as “myopic” and “constrained as visitors to Bangkok in the 1930’s,” when they were, in fact, responsible for leading us back to the very foundations of the Scriptural & Patristic mind of the Church. And you push the limits of foolishness by proffering this article by Lopez. Defend the humanities in the hands of the of the liberals? I say and thanks to God, if he is any example of “conservatives” in the academy. He would be laughed out of Philosophy 101 in any Jesuit university in this country attempting to employ logic such as he does. Madonna Mia!

      “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who would kill the prophets!” (Lk. 13:34) My point is very simple: “outrage” is the new pacifier and opiate, convincing people they have “participated” and done something significant about the great moral issues of our time when they have done nothing. Everyone’s two minutes of fame in the media now begins with the words, “I am outraged.” And you stoke the flames of indifference with household trash. You provide grandiose distraction. Do you feel better morally that Henrietta Lack’s cell line was basically stolen without her consent (that was my point) and made billions of dollars for criminals? I have reported that I had a familial form of colon cancer; could I will you my colon, so that when you need to raise some money for a friend, you can just sell a few feet to the ghouls of research rather than solicit? You are killing the prophets by distraction. The prophets should be calling for the people of God to repent, but you would like them to be outraged, to battle at the intersection of culture. You would call them to social theory and political strategy. But you are very wrong. “But rather seek first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be given to you.” (Lk. 12:31) What is so hard to understand about that?

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        I really have no idea what you are talking about. Myopic? Henrietta Lack’s cell line? Bangkok in the 1930’s? This is all over the place. Where have I criticized Florovsky or anyone else you mentioned?

        • M. Stankovich says

          You would accuse you me of “delusion,” perhaps?

          You reference Fr. Florovsky as an authority, but Fr. Florovsky was writing to specific historical and cultural questions (the place of Orthodoxy in a non-Orthodox culture for example), relevant in his day but not so much anymore… I think the same is true of Fr. Schememann’s work… All this is to say that recourse to Fr. Florovsky, Schmemann and the other great luminaries of the Paris exile also demands of your listener that he enters the spirit of the culture as it existed when they wrote…

          Did I write this foolishness, or did you? Read your own ridiculous posts in that thread, then return here to my redux: “You are killing the prophets by distraction. The prophets should be calling for the people of God to repent, but you would like them to be outraged, to battle at the intersection of culture. You would call them to social theory and political strategy. But you are very wrong. “But rather seek first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be given to you.” (Lk. 12:31) What is so hard to understand about that?” I am neither “all over the place,” nor am I “confused.” If you are having cognitive difficulties, contact me privately.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

            No, not delusion. What I wrote was that I have never criticized them. The quote you offer is not a criticism. The exhortation I drew was that as they engaged the culture of their time, so must we. As a result it does not qualify your conclusion that follows it.

            That’s as far as I am going with this sub-thread, BTW. I am closing it down.

  2. No surprise really. Liberty with lack of limitations is what this and all other similar topics are about.
    See — Two Nations Under Mammon
    and Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family
    “It is altogether risible that Galston, or anyone, thinks there is any significant difference between Republicans and Democrats in this regard.”
    “But instead we debate whether government or corporations are to blame, while our betters increase their take and enjoy the show.”
    “So we continue down a road that will give rise to two nations, the winners wringing their hands all the way to the bank, the losers narcotized on a steady diet of cheap and deforming delights.”
    Typical American “progress” at its “best”.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Probably not two nations. Probably a fracturing of the nation into geographic blocks. If not that then a division might be between urban and rural, perhaps.

      A point of clarification however. The term “conservative” in the essay in not synonymous with “Republican.”

      Besides, history is seldom predictable.

      • Patrick J. Deneen in “Two Nations Under Mammon” at the American Conservative is writing about the transformation of the USA from a Republic of Republicans to a Banana Republic of aristocrats and serfs that is essentially Two Nations, one gated with private armies (aka security guards) and the other a no man’s land everywhere else outside the gates.

        His remarks are realistic. With money equal to power, there’s no need to run and hide. It’s unrealistic to think that the aristocracy is going to move away from its capital and infrastructure just because white demographics decline in a particular geographic location. The Texas oil barons for one would never do that.

        Dividing the country geographically isn’t realistic. It was already tried over 150 years ago and is known as the Civil War or the War Between the States depending on where someone stands ideologically. Whether Blue and Gray states or Red and Blue states, there’s not any difference. The decision for Federal rule by minority has been made and Jeffersonian/Jacksonian Republicanism by the popular majority has been outmaneuvered and defeated. We are living in the aftermath that has been escalating, become more prominent and evident since the Civil War, and especially since the Gilded Age, so there should be no surprises there since we’ve had over 150 years to wake up to that fact.

        The term “conservative” is culturally synonymous with Republican as in member of the GOP as that is how the term is consistently publicly used and understood. As such, you are right, it is a misnomer because the Republican party is a descendent of aristocratic Federalists and not democratic Jeffersonian or Jacksonian Republicans.

        There is a distinction that should definitely be made between economic conservatism and social conservatism. Christians typically fancy themselves social conservatives but usually align themselves with economic Neo-Liberalism which thrives on social liberalism (aka moral licentiousness) because such sells product and increases consolidation of capital.

        Severing the relationship between “conservative” and the Republican political party will be a major form of political progress. As Deneen points out, voting conservative against the government is the same as voting liberal against corporations, because the government is the corporations and the corporations are the government. Both political parties know that and merely give lip service to “ideals” in order to hoodwink a constituency so they can continue to blather on about freedom, democracy, etc. and not look like the oligarchy the US is. Only fools believe their propaganda. “National security” is just euphemism for economic imperialism, and the USA no longer has any “moral high ground” to point the finger at others over, and may never have had or only for a brief period before the Civil War.

        Will Rogers said “Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.”

        And there’s a possible political strategy. Keep denying power to both parties by voting against whichever party has the most power until that catches on and gives a chance to a 3rd party victory.

        History may not be completely predictable, but it does repeat itself.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

          The analysis is important but overall this is what I run up against: All the categories make sense in Christian culture. This is to say that almost all prescriptive scenarios are, to my mind anyway, almost too tenuous to trust because they presume a cultural and moral grounding that disappears by the day. The Paleos over at the American Conservative for example offer compelling critiques but is it enough?

          Granted, we can’t sit back and do nothing but what will stop a descent into totalitarianism, even a soft one (at least softer than Soviet Russia)? Or will we just become increasingly stupefied by porn and pot that we won’t even notice when it comes to pass?

          Totalitarianism seems to be the only plausible trajectory in a culture shaped by Christianity but emptied of Christ. It’s either that or Muslim subjugation.

          Related but not part of this discussion is how the nation deals with Planned Parenthood after the release of the videos. Will America respond in any meaningful and lasting way? I’m not so sure. If not, count the dehumanization completed. The Progressive revolt against hierarchy and culture is accomplished. Then the former categories make no difference because the only way the chains that bind the soul and thus culture can be broken is through spiritual exhaustion, which as the Soviet Union showed us takes at least a generation and only after much suffering.

          • Historical/contemporary analysis like in “Two Nations” is important because it helps clarify terms and improve communication. All categories don’t “make sense” because there’s no way to know what the categories mean when they’re used in different ways to mean vastly different things. For instance, today “Progressive” is just another right wing code word for “leftist”, “socialist”, “enemy of God”.

            There were no “Progressives” in the 18th century only Tories loyal to the British King and Federalist revolutionaries, so America was not founded on a Progressive “revolt against hierarchy”. Following the Revolution, there was a struggle against the Federalists by Jeffersonians for a more popular majority form of government, for a Republic that did not repeat enslavement to a monarchy and aristocracy like that of Britain and Europe. The Federalists were politically aristocratic and argued and politicked for a plutocratic republic not a democratic one. They were more concerned with economy than society, for “divine right” (for themselves) rather than humanitarian rights for others. Eventually they won as evident today, but that history plays directly into socio-cultural decline that we’re experiencing.

            The whole human rights issue today is merely a bone thrown to the masses, a pretense of democracy that keeps the oligarchs in power and out of the crosshairs of the people. It’s money economy that really matters, and human rights are secondary at best. The oligarchy doesn’t care if society is debauched as long as rule can be maintained. Technology (mass media, modern weaponry and surveillance) has already decided that matter. If Kent State were to happen today, there would be the same uproar, news coverage for a few weeks/months, and then all would subside and be forgotten like any other controversy such as the Savings & Loan “crisis”, Iraq “War”, massive financial institution failures, white collar crime in general, Ferguson MO, theater shootings, etc.

            Since you say we can’t sit back and do nothing, then what “conservatives” today need to realize is that their political arguments reek of Federalist monarchic/aristocratic politics, because aristocracy is the nature of “conservatism”. When a “christian” veneer is given to such argumentation, it does NOT entice any non-christian over to such “christian” way of thinking. I even hear some Orthodox Christian “conservatives” actually saying outright they prefer monarchy to democracy, and all I can think is what God told the Israelites when they cried out for the same. Having never lived under a strict monarchy, none of us today have any idea how oppressive that can be, so it’s just stupid to entertain such idea. The grass is always greener… A monarchy typically comes with an aristocracy, so what’s the point when we already have one of those? Is the point to throw off all cloak of democracy so that our economic aristocrats can rule outright and do even more under the guise of “government” of whatever they want unrestricted by opinion of the masses? Having not lived through the Gilded Age, none of us today knows what that’s like either. “Conservatives” seem to think they’ll end up on the comfy, cozy ruling side of the rich when such is very unlikely.

            So I would think the point of this “institute” would be to find or develop, with God’s help and God willing, some sort of plan of Orthodox Christian response to this cultural economic social quandry. A positive first step would be decoupling Orthodox Christianity from synchronicity with any idea of “conservatism”. There is no need to refer to Orthodoxy as “conservative”. That’s just another confusion of terms meant to conflate Orthdoxy with right wing politics. Orthodoxy is “Christian” and “traditional” not “conservative”. If Orthodoxy is indeed “conservative”, aristocratic, then I may be looking to have myself excommunicated.

            Secondly, I would begin by tracing the radical American idea of “I’ve gotta be me” which is at the heart of what you call “progressive” degeneration of American culture. That idea has its roots in Emerson/Unitarianism and Thoreau/Transcendentalism, the idea of individual conscience free from civilization and all other human entanglement -of American Adam, innocent human being in raw nature starting over in a new world of seeming limitless possibilities, the sky’s the limit.

            That idea of individual conscience is actually what you call “Progressive revolt against hierarchy and culture”, but it’s nothing more and nothing less than demonic delusion. It’s not a communist conspiracy, intolerance (toward Christianity) conspiracy, or any other but a demonic conspiracy.

            It’s “modernism” not “progressivism” that is behind cultural degradation. The “Progressives” were people who politically opposed abuses of the American people by the economic, aristocratic oligarchy. Conflating “Progressive” with “leftist”, “socialist”, etc. is just another right wing propaganda ploy meant to discredit any opposition to the economic-aristocratic oligarchy.

            The term Progressive should not be conflated with the “New Left” of the 1960s who twisted the focus of the Democratic party toward all mannner of minority “rights”. That propaganda can in turn be traced directly to the Koch Bros grandfather who was a newspaper owner and shill for the Railroads, from the grandfather to the father who was an industrial capitalist who did work in Russia, then got ticked off when his infrastructure was nationalized, and returned to the US to help found the John Birch Society.

            In the past, “christians” and “conservatives” have been looking to lay blame in all the wrong places instead of at the real root of the cause of what is called “progressivism” today — Calvinism, aka Christian apostasy/heresy.

            Calvinism evolved into Unitarianism which evolved into Transcendentalism because Americans found themselves in extremely blessed “positive” circumstances wherein the negativity of Calvinism became too burdensome for them. From an Orthodox Christian perspective, that “negativity” of Calvinism can be seen as it’s legalistic, forensic understanding of atonement and focus on the Hebraic “morality”, on the Old Testament at the expense of New Testament mercy and Gospel.

            The influence of Hinduism on this American idea of individual conscience is evident in the eventual evolution of that idea into “new age” spirituality. Emerson actually had translations of Hindu sacred texts brought over from British India. The idea of “freedom of conscience” gave way from Anglicanism/Presbyterianism/Puritanism to Deism, then to Unitarianism, and finally to Transcendentalism wherein all vestiges of Chrisitianity were discarded.

            It’s only in understanding how and why America became secular that any form of Orthodox Christian evangelism can be formulated.

            By your own admission, you seem to be saying there is currently no clear way of response to such secular culture. It seems that response would best consist in equipping the saints for spiritual warfare and addressing American culture in a way that is distinctly Orthodox so there is no conflation and confusion with American “christianity”.

            To equip the saints, I would think continual encouragement toward prayer, liturgy and sacraments is of first order. After that, a catechism would be in order that systematically and succinctly addressed all the issues of the modern cultural crisis in a rational way. This institute might prove useful in flushing out any rationalistic objections to Orthodox tradition, but only if it has a more focused goal in mind than simply that, or than with merely “all the news of the day” that’s guaranteed to raise blood pressure.

            • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

              Dove Weed,

              There is too much to comment on in your essay but two points stand out:

              It’s only in understanding how and why America became secular that any form of Orthodox Christian evangelism can be formulated.

              Yes, I see it the same way. This is also the reason we read — history, cultural analysis, literature and so forth. The synthesis of ideas is important but synthesizing the correct ideas is even more important and one of the goals of this forum and why I allow comments.

              In the past, “christians” and “conservatives” have been looking to lay blame in all the wrong places instead of at the real root of the cause of what is called “progressivism” today — Calvinism, aka Christian apostasy/heresy.

              Yes, although I frame it, and perhaps see it, a bit differently. I think that as long as the memory of a Christian moral/social consensus remained, the approach was to address these question primarily as political, that is, in the public square. That has changed in the last decade or two as it has become increasingly clear that the cultural collapse is deeper than many of us (including me) realized.

              I still think however that the public square is important, very important in fact but the message has to more sharply focused.

              Secondly, the Calvinist takeover of culture (the Luther – Zwingli debates represent a historical turning point, IMO) represents the desacramentalization of culture and that period has to be thoroughly understood in order to make sense of our own. I see Calvin as the godfather (lower case ‘g’ intentional) of modern secularism, where secularism is defined as the loss of the sense of the sacred. I also see secularism as a layover from one historical epoch to the next although this trip takes a century or two to complete. Our culture, in other words, is in great flux.

              I am not sure if the problems you raised about language, while compelling, are easily resolved. Culture has inverted but the language and categories remain the same although filled with new content. We can call Orthodox “traditional” rather than “conservative” for example, but the next step is always to explain what “traditional” actually means. For that we have to reach into the common vocabulary and we are back where we started.

              • “…synthesizing the correct ideas…”
                So what are the correct ideas? Conservative political ideas?
                That’s what seems to have mostly ciruculated on this site in the past, though it seems to be less overt now, but that may simply mean it’s covert rather than repented and changed.
                I would the think correct ideas would be truth of the historical record as opposed to the twisted, plethora of propaganda that circulates throughout time, and especially today.

                “…as long as the memory of a Christian moral/social consensus remained, the approach was to address these question primarily as political…”
                IMO that is/was a big mistake for Orthodox Christians because Orthodoxy frames “morality” much differently than Calvinism which as you acknowledge is the primary lay of the spiritual land in America. The difference between Luther and the Reformed is that Luther did NOT put morality first as Calvin/Zwingli did. Luther said that was putting the cart (morality) before the horse (God’s grace). In that sense Luther was Orthodox and the Reformed unorthodox. Emphasis on “morality” first (or exclusively) is Hebraic/Old Testament rather than New Testament. Like Judaism and Roman Catholicism it is a form of works righteousness rather than Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, a striving for theocratic lording over others rather than a means of bringing sinners to repentance and their Lord of their own free will.
                Parading around with Calvinists in social protest, and lobbying alongside typical American “moral majority” conflates Orthodoxy with evangelical Reformed Prostestantism, thereby nullifying any possibility for Orthodox evangelism in America, for the uniqueness of Orthodox theology to shine as the Pearl of Great Price.
                So the question really is what’s the goal of this Institute and the Orthdox who gather here? Is the goal to evangelize America or take control of the US government in order to legally force “morality” on sinners? Legal morality is legalistic. It does not and never has had the power to change the human heart. Is it the fear of suffering that motivates out of some Old Testament mindset afraid that God will judge the US as he did Sodom and Gommorah, and we Orthodox Christians will have to suffer alongside those sinners? So somehow if we make them behave, then God will bless us and we can live happily ever after in our middle class standard of living and not have to change.

                “…the public square is important, very important in fact but the message has to more sharply focused.”
                Focused on what? Abortion and homosexuality? Where are your posts that search for focus?

                “…the Calvinist takeover of culture…”
                If the Luther-Zwingli debates represent a historical turning point in the desacramentalization of culture, and that period has to be thoroughly understood, then where is your discussion of that?
                I suggest you start a documents section that you revise over time as need be, a section that focuses on each major point.
                What in essence you are saying is that the Reformed rejection of the sacraments (mysteries), their non-sacramentalization is the beginning point of western secularism.
                As one Orthodox writer put it, denying the sacraments is the same as denying the humanity of Christ. IOW Reformed Protestantism is the same old heresy of Docetism recycled in more recent times. Interesting how we always come back to the same old heresies. America uniquely gave us Unitarians, Transcendentalists, and then Millerites, Adventists, Pentecostals, Christian Scientists, Mormans and Jehovah Witnesses.
                Perhaps a documents section should discuss the modern day equivalents of all the old heresies that the Church debunked in the Ecumenical Councils.

                “…not sure if the problems you raised about language, while compelling, are easily resolved.”
                If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. While laborious, whatever is written or said must first start with definition of terms as Socrates insisted. The new content you mention basically makes for “loaded words”, which should be avoided, hence “traditional” rather than “conservative”.
                I think as an Orthodox priest you know very well what “traditional” means – holding to the faith of the fathers, to the Ecumenical Councils, etc. “Conservative” is a political term that means supporter of status quo, which is never defined. Ultimately the status quo was originally monarchy and aristocracy. Traditional becomes “conservative” when secular politics enter the realm of the Church and blind the clergy and laity to true Church teaching. That blindness results from some hidden desire of the heart that hasn’t been repented.
                A documents section could contain a glossary of terms with definitions and discussions of the varying meanings of word useage, loaded words, how to avoid them, etc. For instance “sin” is a loaded word in modern western secular culture. The uniqueness of Orthdox Christian cosmology enables the Church to instead approach the culture with its need for union/communion with God. This could be a good and useful starting point for figuring out how to approach today’s culture in a uniquely Orthdox Christian way so that the failings of deviations from the Faith are apparant and Orthodoxy isn’t lumped into the same pidgeonhole of American “christianity”.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  The argument might make some sense if the culture were Calvinist. It isn’t and has never been, not to the extent you portray it anyway. My points about Calvinism as the ground of secularism hold true, but it no longer holds that the culture is predominantly Calvinist. Even that characterization needs some qualification since ameliorating factors came into play (Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” is very helpful here).

                  In any case, I think your conclusion that any clarification of morality in the public square constitutes a kind of theocratic longing is short-sighted. America has no cultural magisterium so moral questions invariably end up in the public square. That’s where they are discussed and sometimes fought.

                  Further, your argument that the explication of sound (Christian) morality de-facto conflates with “conservative political ideas” would extend farther than this site. The Bishops themselves would have to recant their criticisms of abortion, homosexual marriage, and other issues by this definition.

                  Parading around with Calvinists in social protest, and lobbying alongside typical American “moral majority” conflates Orthodoxy with evangelical Reformed Prostestantism, thereby nullifying any possibility for Orthodox evangelism in America, for the uniqueness of Orthodox theology to shine as the Pearl of Great Price.

                  No it doesn’t. I can see by this statement you have assimilated the false characterizations of the dominant media. You have to realize that the self-appointed gate-keepers of popular culture are often the last to change. Don’t let them intimidate you. (Besides, very few participants in the Washington, DC rally were Calvinists in the way you use the term.)

                  Case in point: With the most recent revelations about what really happens behind the closed doors of Planned Parenthood (Planned Parenthood Clinic Cut Through Dead Baby’s Face to Get His Intact Brain), who has been telling the truth all these years?

                  Where were was your voice during the debates?

                  Ever read the Church Fathers on abortion? Should we have kept the exhortations hidden because would be construed as conservative?

                  • James Bradshaw says

                    “You have to realize that the self-appointed gate-keepers of popular culture are often the last to change.”

                    I think you overestimate (or misunderstand) the “popular” support for legal abortion. With a few exceptions, it is only tolerated (particularly after the earliest stages), not viewed as a moral good in itself.

                    By failing to distinguish between a day-old fertilized egg and a six-month-old developed fetus, pro-life advocates have been partially responsible for the perception that they are unwilling to compromise and have thus made it more difficult to impose greater legal restrictions. The “life begins at conception” position is difficult for most to embrace. To most, it’s a clump of cells. A child with a face, heart and lungs? That’s a different story, even if it’s within the womb. That’s why you’re seeing these Planned Parenthood stories on media outlets besides Fox and CBN.

                    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                      Kind of like thinking that if a man’s skin is not white, he is not worthy of life, or more accurately the life he possesses is granted solely through the benevolence of another man.

                      Those silly abolitionists! They don’t realize that the Three Fifth’s Compromise could put an end to all the unpleasantness!

                    • James Bradshaw says

                      Fr Jacobse writes: “Kind of like thinking that if a man’s skin is not white, he is not worthy of life”

                      That’s not a very good analogy.

                      I’ve heard of families holding funerals for their unborn after a miscarriage that occurred after several months of development. Have you heard of one who held a funeral for an embryo that died within a couple weeks of conception?

                      It’s not the same.

                      Still, as I said, I’m not a supporter and wouldn’t shed a tear were it to be outlawed entirely.

                    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                      No, because most women don’t know they are pregnant a few weeks conception and thus often are not aware a spontaneous abortion even took place. For the same reason forcible abortions never happen a couple weeks of conception either. They happen when the knowledge is certain that a baby is forming.

                      Abortion is always a choice and the abortionist is the slave master. He’s the one who does the killing. The power of life and death is in his hands. He has already decided that some unborn are not worthy of life long before he picks up the suction tube. He would not be an abortionist otherwise.

                  • Trying to discuss with you is a waste of time because you have no grasp of American history, where America/Americans came from and how they got to where they are today, just as you had no idea for years about how to approach young people with the Gospel.
                    American culture grew out of Puritanism which is Calvinism.
                    Calvinism may not strictly express itself today, but it is at the root of American culture.
                    American “culture” views all “christianity” as “Catholic”/”Protestant” UNLESS there is effort made at distinction.
                    Since “conservatives” of both these religious camps in America have teamed up for over 3 decades in culture “war” (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), the “culture” views both camps as being the same. Having never heard of Eastern Orthodoxy, the “culture” for the most part conflates it with the chiliastic/imperialism of such western “christianity”, especially when the “Orthodox” march in lockstep in culture “war”.
                    American culture no longer cares about “christianity” as historically practiced/expressed in America.
                    America is where the Puritan Calvinists came to throw off European “complexity”, authority of church (Rome) and state, and that theme has colored the whole of American history.
                    What we have today is the logical outgrowth of that process that never found the ground for its existence in the Truth of Orthodoxy.
                    By your own admission on Ancient Faith radio, you only recently woke up to the fact that preaching morality at young people was a waste of time.
                    Well what took you so long? That’s all that western “christianity” can do and has been doing because it doesn’t have the COSMOLOGY of the Eastern Church.
                    You are fatally fetally fixated on abortion because you “think” it’s the litmus test of human value and Christian anthropology.
                    Your presumption is wrong so you’re barking up the wrong tree and the “culture” will only continue to ignore you.
                    Christian anthropology doesn’t exist apart from its COSMOLOGY.
                    Those who understand the implications of that COSMOLOGY realize that there is so much more to Christianity, that addressing abortion and homosexuality in order for modern people to see their need for God is not what will lead people to God.
                    Only a fool would preach morality at people who have inherited the “rugged individualism” of the American frontier, who today live by “different strokes for different folks”, I’ll do things “my way”, I’m OK you’re OK, I can do what I want as long as I “don’t hurt anyone else”, etc. etc. etc.
                    It is that American mentality of individualism, competitiveness instead of cooperation, putting others first, that is at the heart of America’s social ills.
                    America failed to develop a secular ethic when it cast off “christianity” beginning with Deism/Unitarianism of the 19th century. America is now and has been for a long time about worshipping the mammon god all dressed up in Jesus drag, and scientific “truth”, especially regarding the all hallowed “economy”.
                    Your boogaboo, “progress”, first made it’s appearance in “science” (technology). It was only natural that such notion of “progress” would spread into other areas of society as well, but you ignore that “liberalism” in economics and humanities go hand in hand and are not independent of one another. Economic progress has been and continues to create great upheavals in society, so it’s no wonder that “progressive” ideas spill over outside of economics and also cause such upheaval.
                    You would do better to repent of foolishness, pray, and do your job of properly instructing young people and not merely preaching morality at them. Then they will know how to defend their faith out in the world, and there is no better evangelism than that. The greatest deterrent to church growth is young people who leave the faith.
                    Young people like all people are rational beings created in the image and likeness of God. They need to know the rational ramifications of all the “philosophy”, nonsensical “ideas” that have poured out of W. Europe for centuries, and how those “ideas” subtly surface today to lead people astray. For instance, that reality is subjective means whatever I “think” about something is my “truth”. They also need to know the ramifications of all the heresies rebutted in the Ecumenical councils, and where those heresies are alive today. For instance, Montanism and Pentecostalism, one of the homegrown American heresies. Then they will know how to defend their faith in the world.
                    Rx: enroll in American Studies. Do your homework. Stop wasting time on foolish paradigms, and start accurately analysing the problem. Stop wasting time on narratives like “liberalism” is the boogeyman, communism, etc., such ilk is out to get us.
                    “We” are our own worst enemies as long as we continue such foolishness.
                    Start doing what’s needed to have access to the wisdom of God so you act the way He would.

                    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                      Well, I guess you would call this a full broadside. How about reframing your essay so we can get an idea of what you actually do instead of what you don’t like?

                    • No reply button for your comment.
                      I engage in American Studies to better analyze American culture, to “think like a fox in order to catch a fox”. I’m also trying to point you in the direction of developing point by point thought process that shows the fallacies of the main thoughts in modern american culture, that you could develop as the primary documents for your site, and then discuss those points, revise, make them stronger, instead of just blogging randomly about anything and everything “in the news”.
                      See — Two Nations Under Mammon
                      Do you want to collaborate on Orthodox Christian outreach that calls American culture to repentence?
                      Or do you just want to “have it your [ineffective] way”?
                      Is being a servant of God who brings others to Christ your goal?
                      Or wasting time on self importance?
                      Have you considered that “fun morality” was identified the 1950s as having already been operative before that in replacing “christian” morality of American culture?
                      See – All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture”
                      The Pursuit of Happiness

                    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                      Dove, why not start your own site? That way you could provide your own resources.

                    • Fr., Are you blocking me? Why are there missing reply buttons to many comments?
                      I also really don’t understand your reactions.
                      Are you really so thin skinned that you can’t think critically, and only want accolades for whatever you come up with on your own? And then expect those who differ from you to go “start their own site”. Great! then there can be all kinds of conflicting information that will only serve to repeal rather than attract others to Orthodoxy.
                      You call your site an “institute”, but there is no simple, evident train of thought that establishes your goals and the objectives by which to attain them. There is only a hodge podge of “in the news” with your self appointed as judge, jury, and executioner.
                      You don’t seem to realize that in the modern world of narcissistic self-reference, self-made truth, you have no authority, and refuse to approach the problem you want to address with thoughtful analysis.
                      See Modern Culture . Click on “+” sign to expand transcript of audio. Especially note reference to Daniel Bell (author of Cultural Contradiction of Capitalism).
                      The degree to which you accurately define the problem of modern culture will determine whether you hit or miss your mark. And only Orthodox Christian Cosmology (which of necessity includes anthropology) can accurately address the modern issues of man AND nature (Creation). Man is not divinely instructed to “control” nature, but to have dominion over it as the Lord Jesus Christ has, as evident in how “the winds and waves obeyed him.” Human technology is a false paradigm for “controlling” nature in the absence of repentance, humility and obedience to God, and pursuit of the true meaning of life – to attain to union/communion with God. Modern “economics” is all about applied “science”, technology and high “finance” (usury) for the purpose of human aquisitiveness by which lording over others as well as all creation is achieved. Abortion is all wrapped up in such nonsense. Myopically making abortion the bell weather of human value is missing the mark.
                      Also see –
                      I leave you to your own devices.
                      No more pearls before swine.

                • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

                  No, I’m not blocking you. Threaded comments only go ten levels deep. After that the reply buttons disappear and you have to hit the last button that appears.

                  You are here to pick a fight Dove Weed. I’m not interested in a fight with you. You haven’t even told me who you are.

                  That’s why I suggested starting your own site and putting your “pearls” there. No one is stopping you and you still have the freedom to do that.

                  I’ll take you up on your offer to close the discussion.

  3. Thomas Barker says

    Dr. Nucatola is the inevitable offspring of a society that has no way to discuss humanity, no real lens into the history of past atrocities, no true connection to all the arts and letters left by millennia of writers about what makes us human and why humanity is precious.

    The only true basis for discussing humanity is the recognition that we are created in the image of God. The atrocities that we are seeing, in particular the killing of unborn children, are the end result of the loss of this basic tenet. The brutality of our brave new world is in direct proportion to society’s separation from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, revealed through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  4. James Bradshaw says

    “You can’t be against Roe but for Obergefell.”

    This is patently false. That one can enter into a civil marriage contract has zero bearing on their capacity or ability to bear children, nor does it say anything about whether one will make a good parent or a wicked one. It certainly says nothing about one’s stance on abortion (which is completely unrelated).

    Besides, most of the children adopted by gay couples were already abandoned by their heterosexual parents. Most will not seek to “manufacture” one.

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