Good Morning!   

Is the Dobbs case before the Supreme Court different than previous arguments that promised to protect every life under law? 

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd,” observed Albert Einstein. “The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” 

Because of the bravery and courage of pro-life legislators in Mississippi, many feel confident tomorrow’s hearing before the High Court may take us to a long-awaited and desired destination: 

  1. This Abortion Case ‘Feels Different’ 

From the Wall Street Journal:  

The Pennsylvania law before the court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) took the approach of restricting a woman’s right. It contained informed-consent as well as spousal and parental consent provisions. The justices upheld the restrictions, apart from the spousal consent provision, as not constituting an “undue burden” on the abortion right. But they reaffirmed that right—a blow to those of us who were anticipating an outright reversal of Roe three years after Webster. 

Unlike the law at issue in Casey, the Mississippi law in Dobbs focuses on protecting unborn children from abortion. It outlaws abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation, with exceptions for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities. The law specifically identifies the state’s “interest in protecting the life of the unborn.” 

It notes that between the fifth and sixth weeks following conception, the unborn child’s “heart begins beating.” In approximately the eighth week the child “begins to move about in the womb.” At nine weeks, “all basic physiological functions are present” along with teeth, eyes and genitals. At 10 weeks, “vital organs begin to function.” At the 11th week, the “diaphragm is developing” and the child begins moving “freely in the womb.” By the 12th week, the unborn child “can open and close his or her fingers, starts to make sucking motions, and senses stimulation from the world outside the womb,” having “taken on ‘the human form’ in all relevant aspects.” 

The law’s clear focus is on protecting unborn children from abortion. But if abortion is the only context in which a state attempts to protect unborn children, it weakens the argument that protecting a right to life is the state’s actual motive. Fortunately, that isn’t the case in Mississippi. 

Mississippi’s Criminal Code contains a preamble, similar to the law the court upheld in Webster, stating that “the term ‘human being’ includes an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth and the term ‘unborn child’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” It makes seriously injuring or taking an unborn child’s life a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison—unless done at the mother’s request. 

The court has declined plenty of cases that offered the opportunity to review Roe and Casey. The justices might have been waiting for the right case—one that unequivocally focused on the child. We don’t know how the court will rule. But as in 1989, this time feels different. 

  1. Mississippi Governor Defends 15-Week Abortion Ban Ahead of Consequential Supreme Court Case

From The Daily Citizen

On Wednesday, December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in what could be one the most important cases in decades for the right of states to protect preborn life. 

The case centers around Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act (HB 1510), which was signed into law by then Governor Phil Bryant in 2018. The law bans all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergency and severe fetal abnormalities. 

Pro-abortion campaigners frequently try to paint commonsense, pro-life pieces of legislation like HB 1510 as radical and out of the mainstream. 

But in reality, it is the United States’ permissible abortion laws that are truly radical. 

As noted by the Mississippi legislature in the Gestational Age Act, “The United States is one of only seven nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation.” 

“Fully 75% of all nations do not permit abortion after 12 weeks gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother,” the Mississippi legislature wrote. 

On Sunday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” with show host Chuck Todd to defend the law. 

  1. We Need a Nation of Josephs to Rise from the Ruins of Roe

From National Review

Over the past few weeks, Pope Francis has been pointing to Saint Joseph as a model. It’s the way he’s wrapping up a year with an emphasis on the foster father of Jesus. To have an adoptive father in the news who is good — just — is no small thing at a time when we have some 440,000 children stuck in the foster-care system. It’s also timely with the Mississippi abortion case about to be heard at the Supreme Court. We talk about women when it comes to abortion, as we obviously should, because she is the one who is physically pregnant, tied to the unborn baby within her like no one else on earth. But what about the man? What are his responsibilities? What should we expect of him? What should he be living up to? Saint Joseph helps as a model of guardian who protects mother and child.   

There’s a rallying cry letter to men: Into the Breach, by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, of Phoenix. He explains it as “a clarion call and clear charge.” He writes: “Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real.” 

He points to Joseph in emphasizing that fatherhood does nothing short of changing history. In the Gospel according to Matthew, he notes that where “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,” there were (42) fathers who lead up to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus. He quotes John Paul II about the essential nature of fatherhood: 

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God (cf. Eph 3:15), a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability. 

4.   The changing face of social breakdown 

From AEI: 

The challenges to America’s social order now seem less like exorbitant human desires driving people’s lives out of control and more like an absence of energy and drive leaving people languishing and enervated. These are very different kinds of social problems that call for different sorts of responses. We can all perceive the shift from one toward the other in this century, but our cultural and political thinking has been slow to catch up.   

A fuller understanding of flourishing would see it as achievable not by a proper sequencing of solitary choices but by a proper layering of embedded commitments to others—to parents and siblings and teachers, to coworkers and colleagues and mentors, to a beloved wife or husband and to the children you have together, to neighbors and friends, to God and to county. A life lived embedded within such relationships of obligation is the answer to all the unrequited yearnings knocking around our society now and driving everybody crazy.  

Such a vision of a life well lived in loving commitment to others stands a better chance of showing people both what they have to gain by coming off the sidelines and what they have to lose by recklessness. The pathologies of passivity and of unruliness are both pernicious deviations from this more virtuous path through life, so that combatting both ought to involve helping people see that such a path might be open to them if they will act to seize it. This is now a pressing task for family, faith, and culture.  

And for social policy, broadly understood, a recognition of the changing face of social breakdown ought to mean looking for ways to help people find and follow this better path. Policymakers have to translate the elevated language of virtue into a more mundane parlance of incentives, benefits, supports, protections, and prohibitions. They need to find ways to secure the space in which families and communities do their work; to reinforce rather than counteract their efforts to instill core virtues in the rising generation; to sustain the stability they need while also rewarding the willingness to risk and to venture; to put parents first when prioritizing constituencies; and to organize our country’s life around its highest ideals.  

Describing these broad aims does not resolve the disputes that naturally arise around their pursuit. Politics exists to facilitate those disputes. But if we argue about how to address contemporary social breakdown in light of this fuller idea of social order, we might at least have a clearer sense of what we should work, fight, and hope for—and of what our country needs.  

  1. Judicial vacancies open door for Biden to offset Trump’s legacy in court system

From The Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden ‘s administration announced its 10th round of judicial nominees last week in an aim to fill vacancies left by a pair of retiring judges from the 2nd and 6th Courts of Appeals, continuing a fast-paced trend of nominations to offset the judicial legacy left by his predecessor. 

Across the federal court system, a total of 78 vacancies are available for the president to fill as of Nov. 24. The president, along with the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, has already nominated 64 individuals to federal judgeships, with nine confirmations of circuit judges and 19 district judges. 

Political pundits see this as Biden’s chance to nudge the courts to the left, while the White House has described the president’s latest nominations as a continuation of the “promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity.”   

The president’s record-setting pace of confirmations effectively serves as a direct rebuff to former President Donald Trump and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to move the federal judiciary to the right. Trump notably confirmed more than 230 federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices that built the present 6-3 conservative majority on the bench. 

An apparent urgency to fill judicial vacancies at a rapid pace is due largely to the Democrats’ slim hold on the even 50-50 Senate chamber with the vice presidential tiebreaker, as midterm elections are now less than a year out. Republican lawmakers have touted the 2022 midterm elections as a chance to gain back the House and potentially the Senate, giving Biden only a short window to confirm judges uncontested should the opposing party win back the majority in either chamber. 

  1. DC Public Schools Chancellor Recommended Families ‘Decolonize’ Thanksgiving, Talk ‘Genocide’

From The Daily Citizen

When President George Washington issued the first national proclamation declaring a national Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in 1789, the idea behind it was to ask Americans to recognize and acknowledge “with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” 

Over 230 years later, the Chancellor of Schools for the District of Columbia took the occasion of Thanksgiving to write to parents and suggest that they “decolonize” the holiday, including beginning your big family meal with a “land acknowledgement.” 

If you don’t know what any of that means, welcome to 2021 and the era of wokeness-as-civil-religion.  

  1. Judge halts Biden vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states

From The Hill

A federal court on Monday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health workers at hospitals that receive federal funding. 

The ruling by a Missouri-based federal judge applies to health care employees in the 10 states that sued to block the administration’s Nov. 5 rule. Those states are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. 

RELATED: Supreme Court refuses to block vaccine mandate for Massachusetts hospital workers (From CNS): 

Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday afternoon refused to grant relief to workers at a Boston-based hospital in the latest challenge to Covid-19 vaccine mandates to come across the high court’s shadow docket. Without referring the case to his colleagues on the court, Breyer denied the request for an emergency injunction with no explanation for his ruling or call for a response from the hospital.  

  1. Greece requiring negative COVID-19 tests, proof of vaccination to attend church services

From The Christian Post:   

The government of Greece has recently enacted measures aimed at requiring churchgoers to present proof that they do not have the coronavirus to attend worship following an uptick in COVID-19 infections in the European country. 

Greece announced on Nov. 18 that churchgoers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, proof of vaccination or proof of a previous infection to attend worship, according to the European news outlet Euractive. The rule took effect on Sunday. 

  1. The Gospel Coalition 2021 Book Awards 

From the Gospel Coalition: 

Every year, Christian publishers produce thousands of helpful resources. We can get any of them within 48 hours for minimal expense at the click or swipe of a button. But owning a giant stack of books still leaves us with the question, “What should we read?” 

Brett McCracken, The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World (Crossway) 

Andrew Wilson, God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World (Zondervan) 

Bobby Jamieson, The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring (Crossway) 

Douglas Moo, A Theology of Paul and His Letters: The Gift of the New Realm in Christ (Zondervan Academic) 

Gavin Ortlund, Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn’t: The Beauty of Christian Theism (Baker Academic) 

Rebecca McLaughlin, The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims (TGC) 

Daniel BareBlack Fundamentalists: Conservative Christianity and Racial Identity in the Segregation Era (New York University Press) 

Andrew T. Walker, Liberty for All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age (Brazos Press) 

  1. What Advent teaches us about wonder

From NCR

After the cymbal clang of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the Doorbuster Days following Thanksgiving, the church calendar offers us the quiet, reflective season of Advent. In the midst of all that commercial noise, Advent tiptoes into our lives like a low hum on the wind, calling us to deeper listening and greater wonder. 

I once had the opportunity to spend much of Advent at a Benedictine monastery. It struck me how much wonder is a part of the season’s Scripture readings. So many miraculous happenings. All those surprise pregnancies. Mary receives a startling visit from an angel. Her cousin, Elizabeth, conceives a son in her old age. Manoah’s wife, whose name isn’t given in the Book of Judges and was thought to be barren, also ends up expecting a child. 

You have Joseph receiving divine directions in a dream. And of course, there are those stargazing travelers from the East who decide to follow a strange star that scientists today might identify as a supernova. 

It’s tempting — in fact all too easy — to think of these events as things that happen only in Bible stories, or only to people in a distant, more magical past. The truth is, we live in a world awash in wonder. There are everyday miracles right in front of us.