Thursday, December 30, 2010

Of Commercials and Heartstrings

Watching TV last night was nearly heartbreaking. Re-runs were elsewhere, so we consigned ourselves to the near-harmlessness of the Hallmark Channel. We haven’t advanced to the age of satellite TV. We can’t reconcile ourselves to the notion of 287 channels and still nothing worthwhile to watch. We still pay for nothing more than the basic level of cable. Again, why have so many channels with little to show for it? I suppose it’s merely an indication of the fact that neither of us was raised with the TV as the first and foremost instrument in our lives. So, there we sat, watching a Hallmark Christmas movie geared to tug at our heartstrings. It was cute. Everything worked out just fine in the end.

The movie was peppered with copious commercials from the Humane Society aimed to bring even more tears to our eyes. Save the animals. Copious images of puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats were displayed with messages like, “Why was I abused?”; “Why was I abandoned?”; “Won’t someone love me?” It was certainly heart wrenching. The ads are a part of the Humane Society’s attempt to solicit funds for their campaign against animal cruelty. Yet it also includes the destruction of animals collected from the streets and euthanized at the local pound. “Is today my day to die?” was one of the questions “asked” by a sweet kitten.

Pete Singer, whose philosophical perspectives have replaced the sanctity of life with the culture of death, considers the developing human to be equal to that of the chicken. If we euthanize dogs and cats, then we ought to have no qualms about euthanizing humans. Still, Singer argues for the equal treatment of all animals, human and non-human.

So let’s play this one out in the media. I’d like to see an evening filled with ads of the sort we watched last night. Sweet little baby faces floating in amniotic fluid—it can be done now with today’s technology—superimposed with questions, “Is today my day to die?” Or kicking babies asking, “Why wasn’t I allowed to become a soccer star?” Yawning babes, “I wanted to sing, but someone stopped me!”  The baby sucking her thumb wondering, “Why didn’t anyone love me?” Or, hey! Twins questioning why their parents abandoned them to the abuse of being torn into pieces.

Years ago a Memphis TV reporter asked a young woman why she was protesting against the wearing of furs. “Oh, it’s abuse against animals. The poor things are caged up. They aren’t allowed to live freely. Then they are slaughtered.” The reporter persisted with one fatal question, “Are you also pro abortion?” “Of course,” the young woman responded. When asked how she could reconcile the two thoughts she replied, “Well, there’s no one to speak up for the animals. I make my own decisions.”

My body, my ownership. This is the face of feminism. This is how feminism is the face of original sin. Man was created to be a reflection of God in the world and to be the crown of creation. This is anathema to feminism. Feminism began when the humans God created decided to take by another means what they already had been given, the Image of God. Man now reflects the image of the deceiver, the heart turned in upon itself (incurvatus in se). Oh, what a silly thing to be concerned about! I don’t suffer from the heart incurvatus in se. It’s my neighbor who’s so arrogant! Yes, yes, It’s the fur-killers and animal abusers who have the problem, not the abortionists.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, presaging Singer, wrote, “In rejecting androcentrism (males as norms of humanity), women must also criticize all other forms of chauvinism:... making Christians the norm of humanity ... They must also criticize humanocentrism: making humans the norm and “crown” of creation in a way that diminishes other beings in the community of creation.”

The reality is the more we elevate animals to the level of humans and devalue humanity from its God-given place as the crown of creation the better we treat animals than the humans. We are simply unlikely to see an evening filled with ads tugging at our heart strings to save the baby humans—not without great protest at any rate—as was seen to save the baby animals. Animals are a First Article gift. We Christians care for them accordingly because of that. There is much in scripture to enjoin us to be kind to the furred, feathered, and finned ones, not the least of which is the fact that out Lord chose to speak through an ass and Himself was borne on one in triumph on His road to death for our sins.

Still, that does not mean that the animal is an equal to the human. When Ruether rejects Christians as the norm of humanity at the same time she rejects humans as the crown of creation, she is rejecting the first and the Last Adam. This puts her beyond the pale of Christianity itself. This makes feminism an enemy of Christianity. Of course it is, for it is the mirror image of original sin in which choice is the primary ideology. The first Adam was created as an image of the Last Adam; the Last Adam fulfilled all that the first Adam failed. The first Adam foreshadows the Last Adam. Baptism, with its Great Exchange of our sin for Christ’s righteousness, makes of Christians precisely what Ruether anthematizes: Christians are the norm of humanity. That’s what it means to be the crown of creation. That’s what baptism does.

In that string of babies running through that commercial that will never be aired but ought to be is one more superimposed tag line: “Why was I not baptized?”