In the opening line of her new book, “Non-negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture,” Sheila Liaugminas writes, “We the people are losing our ability to think clearly or reason well.”
One could call this statement needlessly controversial but for one fact — it’s true. We see this in normal conversation, in politics, and even in higher education.
Liaugminas minces no words. She goes after the issues of life with the fury of the Archangel Michael, applying her obviously significant intellectual prowess to the problem the same way many Catholic academicians do. The difference is that Liaugminas is right, “it’s NOT negotiable, life begins at conception.”
Absolute law is something that many people have a hard time with, especially those who have succumbed to the insidious nature of relativism. I think we should simplify the life argument: point to the human life cycle and say, “you interrupt it anywhere and it is intrinsically evil.” Nothing else.
This is how Liaugminas sees the problem and her argument against abortion and euthanasia is so powerful, so thorough, so breathtaking that I had to set the book down and calm myself.
Non-negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Author: Sheila Liaugminas
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Length: 158 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1586177942
Order from: Amazon.com
[/quote_box_left]My first recommendation, if any of you are considering reading this book — and you all should — is take a look at the Catechism, read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, see a priest, and put on the armor of God because Liaugminas does not believe in flanking maneuvers; it’s smash-mouth moral football and I can almost guarantee that your conscience will get hurt, especially if we ALL fall short of the glory of God.
She describes the case of Abby Johnson, a promising young Planned Parenthood executive who sat behind a desk and touted the whole menu of women’s health issues. One day, she was called in to hold the ultrasound wand in an actual abortion so that the doctor could do his thing. What she saw was a fully formed unborn human infant fighting for his life. I had heard this story but there was a paragraph of Abby Johnson describing, in her own words, what happened. I could not read that paragraph, so officially this review is on the rest of the book.
Liaugminas turns toward euthanasia – same category, life – and details, in vivid reality, the case of Terry Shiavo. Most of us recall that case, the heinous arguments brought forth by her husband’s legal team, that she was brain-dead and therefore unworthy of life, and the sordid result – the withholding of normal life-sustaining things like food and water. Liaugminas quoted Princeton Professor Robert George who best summed up the problem:
“What we must avoid, always and everywhere, is yielding to the temptation to regard some human lives, or the lives of human beings in certain conditions, as lebensunwerten Lebens, lives unworthy of life. Since the life of every human being has inherent worth and dignity, there is no valid category of lebensunwerten Lebens. Any society that supposes that there is such a category has deeply compromised itself.”
We might want to distance ourselves from this compromise but we can’t. Each one of us is responsible to the other for the choices we make in voting and in silence.
Liaugminas briefly discusses embryonic stem cell research and cloning using the argument simply that if each one of us has our dignity from our creation in the image of God, and life begins at conception, then the kind of genetic manipulation used in these processes is intrinsically evil.
Marriage, the big question today, is dealt with by Liaugminas in her typical no-holds-barred style: “The family is the foundation of society.” She argues that the state has an inherent interest in marriage as well, that is, to produce future citizens of the state, future taxpayers. It does not take a rocket scientist, as the old saying goes, to know that this fundamental unit of society is only possible in the context of procreation.
If you like romantic novels, don’t read this book. If you like science fiction or travelogues, this is not the book for you. But if you want to know the right from the wrong in an ever-changing world, this book will do it.