One of the reasons why many of us engage in social media is the fact that human beings like to share their opinions with others; we enjoy debating and arguing, whether down at the local watering hole, over the back fence, in the supermarket parking lot, or in our legislatures. Yet debate alone does not solve practical problems related to someone making the kind of fundamental change which a philosophical or religious conversion may bring. To use a somewhat more basic turn of phrase, we need to applaud and follow the example of those who put their money where their mouth is, particularly when they identify a practical need that might not seem obvious at first.
These were my thoughts last evening watching Jon Marc Grodi interview Pro-Life activist Abby Johnson on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” program. Jon Marc was substitute hosting – great job, guy – for his Dad on the show, as Abby described her journey from being the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, to becoming a well-known Pro-Life advocate. Abby details her harrowing story about the realities of the corporate abortion industry, and what happens when you try to escape its tentacles, in her best-selling book, “Unplanned”.
I had heard Abby speak previously, both in person and on television, and knew many of the details of her story. However what particularly struck me about last evening’s conversation was the example both she and Jon Marc provided about how to “walk the walk” with their respective organizations. There are practical and often very difficult implications to making fundamental changes in one’s moral, philosophical, and religious views.
Abby Johnson for example is not someone who simply walked away from the culture of death, as laudable a decision as that was. In fact the method she has chosen of walking away is to keep on walking the walk and getting others to walk with her, through her organization And Then There Were None, which seeks to help abortion workers who want to get out of that industry. As Abby pointed out on the program last evening, while a number of Americans may say they are Pro-Abortion [N.B. I do not use the term “Pro-Choice”, since the child has no choice in the matter], having Planned Parenthood on your resume is considered a huge negative by many potential employers, and many abortion workers who want to leave are browbeaten into staying. So far, the outreach program has helped nearly 100 people to leave the abortion mills, by providing emotional and spiritual support, access to legal counsel, and even financial assistance.
Similarly, though obviously on a different topic altogether, there is the question of what to do with the religious convert who swims the Tiber but just so happens to be a minister in another faith or denomination. “The Journey Home” is a show produced by The Coming Home Network, an organization founded by Jon Marc’s father Marcus Grodi to aid and encourage converts coming into the Catholic Church. While it helps all kinds of people with many types of resources, it is particularly well-placed on a practical level for those who are going to be leaving religious ministry in order to become Catholic. How will a religious minister support himself and his family, once he is no longer receiving a salary for leading a congregation? The Coming Home Network attempts to help support those seeking to answer this question.
Both of these organizations are terrific examples of thinking about the needs of others, and realizing that if someone is going to make a fundamental change in their way of life, there will be practical, often difficult and painful, implications arising from that choice. These two groups fill a gap not being met by anyone else, because they understand that human beings are not completely intellectual or spiritual creatures; people have real, temporal needs that need to be addressed. That perceptiveness is something which more of us ought to try to take as an example, whether by coming up with ways to provide such support ourselves, or by attaching ourselves to those who already do, and offering them our own assistance. This is how a culture of life, in all its iterations, can be built up in our society, as we all walk together to try to be better brethren to one another.