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I am so glad to see George Lakoff's ideas getting wider recognition. I first heard of him from Allen Brill over a year ago--before "The Right Christians" became "The Village Gate", and long before he invited me to blog there.

Matt Zemek, another Village Gate blogger, used Lakoff's ideas to frame the different political perspectives within the Catholic church.


Go to Catholic news outlets such as the National Catholic Reporter( Go to Catholic peace groups such as Pax Christi USA ( Go to Catholic reform groups such as Call To Action ( and Voice of the Faithful( Here you'll see the Nurturant Parent view at work in Catholic journalism, peace organizing, Church lay movements, and clerical reform movements.

Nurturant Parent Catholics, when in the political arena, generally choose to emphasize social advocacy and a seamless garment ethos instead of an intense and excessive one-issue focus on abortion. Eliminating poverty, improving workplace provisions for women, and softening draconian welfare policies are ways in which Nurturant Parent Catholics try to work politically. Nurturant Parent Catholics reason that, by improving a larger, integrated set of social problems while manifesting direct love, care and concern for the troubled women they advocate for, society can make abortion obsolete instead of illegal.

This approach--rendering Roe irrelevant instead of trying to overturn it in the courts--is seen by Nurturant Parent progressive Catholics as the way to bring the whole of society in step with Catholic values--winning the hearts of the troubled women on the frontline of the abortion issue, but also improving social policy on a wide range of interconnected issues. It would seem to do much more good than waging a legal fight whose only value is ideological, and is not tied to improving the economic conditions of young pregnant women.

Originally posted to Renee in Ohio on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Catholics (none)
    Renee, I hope that you keep posting here.  I have noticed you around a bit more during the last few days.  Please keep it up?

    I really like the remarks you made above and some of the material from the links.

    I think that religion in America, generally, is going through one of its periodic crises.  I know that we've been through this sort of thing before, with various Awakenings and Revivals over the last couple of centuries, but that does not make the changes in the way Americans think about religion any less troubling.

    It seems like the general trend in societies is for them to become more secular as they become more prosperous.  At some point, there is a reaction against secularity when it threatens to uproot the established power bases that religion represents.

    In my mind, this is probably a bit of what is going on right now.  On one hand, "People Who Do Not Attend Church" is (one of?) the largest and fastest growing religions in the country.  On the other hand, Fundamentalist Protestants are becoming an increasingly entrenched, fanatical and destructive element of society.

    This leaves moderate and liberal religious folks with little place to go, except to stand lonely on the mountain and try to be a beacon of light.

    As far as Catholicism is concerned, the media tends to portray the Catholic Church through metaphors that are appropriate for describing Protestant faiths, but not appropriate for describing the Roman one.  The media has lost the language required to talk about religions that are not centered around television, that don't take place in suburban, Southern mega-churches, that don't talk about JAYSUS ...  Because of this, concepts like the "seamless garment" never enter public discourse.

    I consider myself to be like most American Catholics.  The supernatural side of the religion does not speak to me, for example.  Although I laud the idea of the "seamless garment" as one that is intellectually defendable for liberal Catholics, I personally do not accept the teachings of Rome in terms of sexuality, reproduction and family life.  Although I am not a big fan of abortion or divorce, I don't believe that attempting to govern this type of thing by law does much to remedy the underlying causes for unwanted pregnancy and failed marriages.

    So, in this sense, the "seamless garment" does not even "do it" for me ...

    What I do worry about is Catholicism being misappropriated by evil social forces and used to do things that explicitly go against its moral code.  Someone wrote a while back that, to him, Jesus was the "King of Peace."  Yet these days, we see George Bush attempting to appeal to Catholics using images of a merciless, cruel and judgmental Christ who is obsessed with abortion and knows nothing of forgiveness and love.

    I'm just rambling now, but thanks for posting and I hope that you do so again.

    Give to the Daily KOS 8!

    by Aaron Gillies on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:49:30 AM PDT

  •  I'm glad to see (none)
    that someone is thinking in these terms - to make abortion obsolete seems to me to be the most sensible way to go.    Preventing unwanted pregnancies, supporting women when accidents happen and caring for new mothers should be the goal rather than shouting and screaming and displaying pictures of foetuses.  


    •  Making abortion obsolete? (1.00)
      Why, oh why do Republicans love to come here?

      Go back to your bible.

      •  Are you serious? (none)
        I don't think it's unreasonable at all.   I'm not a republican either - heck, I'm not even an American.  

        I don't see why it's strange to look at preventing pregnancies rather than debating when life begins.  

      •  What are you talking about? (4.00)
        Making abortion obsolete is an unattainable goal, but one that is definitely worth working toward.

        Improving sex education, access to birth control, increasing opportunities for poor women and their families—are these not worth our time and effort?

      •  Knee-Jerk Reaction Misses Everything In Sight (none)
        If you let your knee-jerk reactions blind you, you will miss all the most important opportunities to forge new alliances. And this is a sure recipe for political failure.  So, please consider the following.

        I don't know anyone in favor of abortion. It's not like ice cream.  It's like an appendectomy.  You get one because you have to, not because you want one.  So why in the world shouldn't we want to make it obsolete?

        It's abortion/reproductive rights that people favor--not abortion itself.  Abortion is favored only in comparison, not as an end in itself.

        In fact, you've got it totally backwards.  It's the relgious right that continually insists that "pro-choice" = "pro-abortion", and invents all these fantasies about people wanting abortions for all sorts of wild reasons (women because they hate men, Jewish doctors because they hate Christians or Blacks, doctors because it makes them wealthy, etc.), as opposed to the simple truth that they are wanted only relative to the other options.

        Bottom line: the more control women have over their reproductive lives--the more knowledge, the more freedom, the more options to prevent unwanted pregnancy--the less need there will be for abortion. So why shouldn't we want them to have all the knowledge, all the freedom, all the options they need to make abortion obsolete?

        Sure, this may be a long way off. It may never happen.  But it is not an anti-feminist goal simply because it can be manipulated in an anti-feminist fashion.

        Clinton himself used the phrase of making abortion "safe, legal, and rare." That's not quite good enough for me, since he wasn't committed to making it available to all who need it.  But it's good in the sense that it removes the dichotomous frame that the right desperately insists on.  Don't let them control the debate--especially inside your own head.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:46:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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