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Another week, another video exposing the horrors of abortion. This video features an interview with a medical technician who used to collect the babies’ organs for StemExpress. StemExpress is one of Planned Parenthood’s partners in the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood performs the abortion, and the StemExpress technician digs through the remains for intact samples.

In the video she tells how the clinic she worked with attempted to make sure she received good samples. She claims that they did this because they knew they would get paid more.

The end of the video is particularly gruesome. The actor involved in the sting and the abortionist look at a dismembered baby and discuss how much monetary compensation the clinic should expect.

I think there are two main lessons to take away from this video.

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I have an essay at Reformation21 on how abortion advocates talk about their cause.

In 1946, George Orwell wrote “Politics and the English Language,” an essay in which he complains that people had begun to speak and write without clarity. Laziness is sometimes the culprit, but too often people use pretentious diction and meaningless words to intentionally hide the truth. Orwell wrote, “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.” The same seems true in our time as well.

People try to shape political reality with their words, and nowhere is this more true than our debates about abortion–er, excuse me, reproductive rights. The two camps self-identify with “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life.” No one wants to be seen as being anti-anything. Political language becomes a kind of legerdemain which pretends at conjuring reality through illusion and misdirection.

A week ago the political battle over words erupted again. A group called The Center for Medical Progress released a video provocatively entitled “Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts.” Pro-life outrage began trending on social media almost immediately, but the rebuttals were not long in coming.

You can read the rest of it here.

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Lots of us had our doubts about Ant-Man. He’s a decidedly second-tier character with complicated origins, and Marvel seemed to have some difficulty filling the director’s chair. Was Ant-Man going to give Marvel Studios its first flop? It turns out that Marvel managed to pull off another score with Ant-Man.

Sure, the movie has its faults. The writers contradict their own supposed science a few times, and the plot recycles too many elements from Iron Man (2008). Even so, Paul Rudd’s amusing depiction of Scott Lang carries this movie that gently mocks the super-hero clichés we’ve come to expect in this kind of film.

If you’re tired of super-hero blockbusters, you might still want to give Ant-Man a chance since Ant-Man is really a heist movie. Try forgetting that Ant-Man was originally a comic book character, and instead enjoy this movie for what it truly is, a movie about a likeable rogue who needs to steal something.

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My last two blog posts have been about my difficulty in finding anything worthwhile to read. I had been in search of a contemporary novel suitable for light summertime reading, but my choices had disappointed me. Last week, however, was a change of pace.

In the name of doing research for our next family read, I finished up The Chronicles of Prydain.

I stumbled across these five children’s books by Lloyd Alexander as I wandered the stacks of our public library with the kids. I vaguely recalled seeing them around my elementary school thirty years ago, and I vaguely recalled Disney’s adaptation of the second book, The Black Cauldron. However, I don’t think I ever actually read them. The first book was decent enough, but the second was crazy good, and after reading it I was hooked.

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Last week I wrote about how my summer-reading theme seemed to be “disappointing science fiction,” and I claimed that I was giving up on the genre. Unfortunately, I still seem to be stuck in my theme.

Someone recommended that I read Vicious, so I gave it a try. Vicious isn’t technically science fiction, but it’s probably close enough that I should have been wary. It definitely was disappointing.

This book is a superhero novel (which henceforth shall be a genre dead to me along with science fiction). Two college roommates discover how to give people superpowers, so naturally they begin with themselves. Unfortunately neither of them turns out to be a hero. One of the roommates goes to jail for ten years plotting revenge on his old friend. The other spends those ten years trying to kill as many superpowered people as he can in order to protect the world.

Some people have called the book a cross between the Count of Monte Cristo and the X-men. I’m like, “Uh. No.”

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I usually spend part of the summer catching up on contemporary fiction, and often my summer reading ends up falling into some sort of theme. This summer I fell into a science-fiction hole, but I think I’m going to climb back out.

When World Magazine announced that Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things was its fiction book of the year, I decided to give it a try. Here’s some of what they had to say about it.

These days, in books from secular publishers, we expect to see pastors depicted as hypocrites and missionaries as agents of exploitation. That’s what we’d expect from Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (Hogarth), which has as its protagonist a pastor called to be a missionary to the strange creatures of a planet galaxies away from his wife. Does he (a) steal precious minerals, (b) molest the females, (c) create a bizarre cult with himself as God, or (d) all of the above?

The answer is (e) none of the above.

The premise intrigued me, but unfortunately the answer “(e) none of the above” proved too true. Not a whole lot happens in the book’s 500 pages.

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I’m reading through Augustine of Hippo’s The Trinityand I came across a great passage on Christ’s sacrifice.

What priest then could there be as just and holy as the only Son of God, who was not one who needed to purge his own sins by sacrifice, whether original sin or ones added in the course of human life? And what could be so suitably taken from men to be offered for them as human flesh? And what could be so apt for this immolation as mortal flesh? And what could be so pure for purging the faults of mortal men as flesh born in a virgin’s womb without any infection of earthly lust? And what could be so acceptably offered and received as the body of our priest which has been made into the flesh of our sacrifice?

These rhetorical questions lead the reader in a helpful direction, but the next part strikes me as a particularly beautiful and illuminating piece of theological writing.

Now there are four things to be considered in every sacrifice: whom it is offered to, whom it is offered by, what it is that is offered, and whom it is offered for. And this one true mediator, in reconciling us to God by his sacrifice of peace would remain one with him to whom he offered it, and make one in himself those for whom he offered it, and be himself who offered it one and the same as what he offered.

Great stuff. The sacrifice is made to God by God, and the sacrifice is God so that sinners could become united with God. The atonement is all about what God has done.