This article originally appeared in the War on Christmas Issue.
I am writing this editorial in the library of Saint Thomas More Chapel, the “stomping grounds” of Catholics at Yale so to speak. Being here, it is hard to remember that Christianity is under constant attack, because this place fucking rocks. It is almost as big as my family’s second home and nearly half as nice. Their kitchen is stocked with various flavors of Deep River chips, an assortment of teas, and countless cookies, all of which I assume have been pre-transubstantiated by a minister into the body and blood of Christ. The center even has a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Pope which is almost better than the real Pope because you can kiss this one on the mouth instead of just the ring.
But Saint Thomas More isn’t just a place for students to hang out and get baptized if they want, chaplain Father Robert Beloin tells me. In fact, impromptu adult baptisms constitute just forty percent of his work at the center. Beloin spends most of his time on campus outreach, trying to convince students that virginity is better than fucking. In its array of free services and events, Saint Thomas More is essentially a Planned Parenthood for Catholics. Yet when I ask Father Beloin whether he has considered trademarking the slogan “Saint Thomas More: It’s Like Planned Parenthood, But Even Better,” he informs me that there is actually a deep rift between the Catholic Church and Planned Parenthood, dating back to the organization’s inception in 1916 when it controversially coined its New York headquarters “The Vatican of Abortions.” Beloin proceeds to tell me a Catholic parable about a pregnant woman who went to an “inn” (read, Planned Parenthood center) in search of a “room to deliver her child” (read, late-term abortion) on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, the “inn” was already so full of people getting abortions and then immediately regretting it that she was turned away, leading her to give birth to her child in a barn. The twist? That pregnant woman was Mary Christ. The even bigger twist? Her nearly aborted child went on to become a little someone called Jesus Christ. Shivers run down my spine as I realize the implications of this story. Had Mary aborted Jesus, neither of them would have received any frankincense or myrrh from the wise men. It is a sobering tale which reminds us that abortions do not come without a cost, namely, the cost of frankincense and myrrh.
Father Beloin then takes me to the “abortion” section of Saint Thomas More’s library. The name is a misnomer, I soon realize, as no abortions are performed in this section, or any other section of the library, for that matter. In fact, Father Beloin informs me that the entire chapel is an “abortion-free zone,” even the bathrooms. The “abortion” section of the library simply houses books which condemn abortion, including a short read entitled Abortion: The Silent Holocaust.
“Oh, I get it. This is a joke,” I say, holding up the book. “This is just one of those silly, edgy Record jokes.”
“No no no,” he replies. “This is an actual book in the Saint Thomas More library. It is in the abortion section, which is an actual section in our library, and its call number is HQ767.P695.”
“Oh, ok.” I say. “Thanks!”
I am a little bit skeptical of Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, but not for the reasons you’d expect: I am skeptical of it because it refers to abortions as “The Silent Holocaust.” However, the back cover assures me that in the book, “John Powell addresses a highly emotional issue with words of love and peace, not anger. He believes that each of us has an important message to deliver, a song to sing, a unique act of love to warm the world.” Obviously, this is a huge relief, as I did not realize that the book was just Powell’s unique act of love. Still, I am weary of his credentials, even though by age thirty he “had accumulated so many academic degrees [he] felt like ‘Father Fahrenheit’” (Powell 16). After all, even Powell acknowledges that while fifteen years of Jesuit training are of course a necessary step towards being informed about the trials of pregnancy and childbirth, as a man, he was still missing one crucial experience, namely, that of watching a woman undergo these trials from a safe distance. So to round out his seminary education, Powell attended the birth of a baby boy in Akron, Ohio, a revelatory experience he recounts in the chapter, “From Akron to Dachau.” Unfortunately, as a true God-fearing Catholic, I have never looked at a pregnant woman, let alone witnessed the miracle of childbirth, leaving me without a frame of reference to say whether Powell’s account is accurate.
Though the title of the book is jarring, in Powell’s defense, he waited until 1981 to publish it, by which point the Holocaust was all but a distant memory. Even so, it seems questionable for one religious group on our campus to house a book so clearly dismissive of another’s genocide. I wonder if Saint Thomas More sees it this way, and if they do, how they reconcile their implicit endorsement of such an antagonistic text with the beatific vision of Christian love Powell himself promotes. As the back cover explains, “For Powell…Love does not ask, ‘Are you handicapped?…Will you be a financial burden?” referring of course to the infamous first two questions of the New York Times’ “36 Questions That Lead To Love.” “Love says only, ‘You are one of our human family, and we love you.”
Merry Christmas, from my human family to yours.
Editor in Chief