Monday, August 20, 2012

Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, Meet St. Augustine of Hippo

Following his August 7 victory in the primary for Senate, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin told supporters:
First, I want to give thanks to God our Creator who has blessed this campaign, heard your prayers, and answered them with victory.  Through the months, we have seen frequent instances of His blessing and are reminded that with Him all things are possible!
Questioning the "legitimacy" of many reported rapes in an interview with KTVI in St. Louis on August 19, Congressman Akin said: was his understanding from doctors that it’s rare for someone to become pregnant from rape. He said, “[If it's a legitimate rape,] the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” [Note:The KTVI website report edited out the beginning of Mr. Akin's quote--the "legitimate rape" part] 
Meanwhile, over in science a study published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates in excess 30,000 pregnancies per year resulting from sexual assaults in the U.S.

Somehow, Congressman Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Sigh...

Early in the 5th century, Augustine wrote:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. 
— St. Augustine, the Literal Meaning of Genesis. vol. 1, Ancient Christian Writers, vol. 41. Translated and annotated by John Hammond Taylor, S.J. New York: Paulist Press, 1982, chapter 19.39
Would that Mr. Akin were a lone weird voice. But he's one in a chorus singing from the same hymnal. It drives me a little crazy that people's opinions about Jesus may be more influenced by folks like Mr. Akin than by the biblical narratives themselves. I hope voters have the collective wisdom to withhold seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate from the likes of Mr. Akin. And I certainly don't want such people in the White House.


renee altson said...

thanks for this, jim. i am an example of someone who got pregnant as a result of rape. and to think that some people really question the possibility devastates my heart. not just for me, for them- that they believe so strongly such lies.

i ache deeply,deeply inside.

Jim Hancock said...

You're welcome Renee. I'm sorry for the violence against you, and so grateful for your remarkable courage.