Wednesday, 31 January 2007

A new vocabulary

I wonder if anyone could help me here. I'm looking to produce some new Pro-Life literature; leaflets, flyers and posters to be used in street witnessing, prayer vigils, and leaflet display racks. At present much of the stuff we use is out-dated and is seen by many as negative and oppressive. We have all probably seen posters with pictures of aborted foetuses, and slogans which make those who have had abortions feel like criminals.

In fact, I think that we need a new vocabulary and images for pro-life literature in order that the message for Life not be rejected but received and welcomed. The message for pro-life should express the Gospel in some way; an invitation to think and act in a better way. A message which does not appall nor condemn, but which expresses the call to love and the possibility of mercy. Nor does the pro-life message need to appear as a Catholic issue, but rather something which appeals to the hearts of all men and women, especially fathers and mothers. Do you know of any organisation, profession or its website which is producing material - images, messages, slogans, etc - which you would recommend as a source for potential Pro-life literature. Even better, you may have produced some material yourself - in either case, I would be glad to hear from you.


Kacy said...

I'm in the pro-life organization at my univeristy. We hang up fliers every other week with "abortion facts" on them to show some of the physical and psychological complications of abortion. We get a lot of our information here:

Unfortunately some students like to tear down our signs and such.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Thanks for this Kacy. I've had a look at the site. I liked the Testimonies section, but this site is obviously trying to help women cope with post-abortion consquences and it's articles may be helpful to many. There was nothing there that immediately struck me as a powerful statement of life.

Mhari said...

Feminists for Life

It's not pre-abortion counselling, more general campaigning, but I think it's probably what you're talking about.

They have great downloadable adverts here

skeeton said...

Fr. Richard,
Like you, I think there needs to be fundamental refocusing of the pro-life message. People tend to view pro-lifers as only concerned with saving babies, but obviously, those of us who care deeply about the issue know that there is more involved than just that noble cause.

To me, the pro-life message needs to be refocused around the person of Jesus and how our culture's embrace of abortion is a fundamental rejection of him. Some huge proportion of our culture claims to be Christian - I've heard it reported as high as 90%. Yet many are apathetic and complacent in their faith. They need to be called by the Church to rediscover and rekindle their faith, and I think simple stripped down message is the way to do it. Certainly the images of aborted fetuses, while powerful, are not the answer. That tatic, I fear, only serves to make pro-lifers appear to be fanatical.

For a stripped down message, I propose something like the following: In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." This is a statement pregnant with all sorts of powerful messages, but yet it is simple and understandable for the average person. Juxtaposing a very simple, yet powerful statement by Jesus - a direct quote from the Gospel of John, no less - with a call to embrace life could make for a powerful poster, bumpersticker or billboard.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life..." Be open to life.

I just an idea.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Dear Skeeton,
I like what you say because you say that we should confront the culture of death directly with the Culture of Life, rather than merely reveal the explicit nature of the culture of death (which much of the pro-life material presently does). It is precisely "light" which the Pro-life movement needs to show. This is taking a great step forward - one which you have helped me to see clearly.
St John - pray for us.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

I've had another thought about this. We should not use the secular media as the model for Pro-life literature, since the secular media merely acts as a mirror of society. It only shows us as we are and offers no genuine criticism nor means to resolution. The Pro-life project must think in a differnt way. In fact, we need a new model: that of a genuinely Catholic media - one which is more than a mirror; one based on objective truth but which seeks to offer solutions to human issues. (The secular media does not do this.) In fact, we're looking at building a new media - one which reponds to human issues in a formative way. Formation not information.

skeeton said...

Fr. Richard,
Thanks for your positive feedback on my suggested refocusing of the message. When I was tinkering with how to exactly craft a succint, stripped down, simple message, I had an image in my head. It was a painting of Jesus that had been done by a 12-year-old child prodigy named Akiane Kramarik. (You can view a CNN profile of her at YouTube: She painted a picture of Jesus looking straight ahead at the viewer, and I think it's haunting. Coupling an image like that with my suggested message might make for a mighty powerful reminder of just who it is that we are rejecting when we embrace the culture of death.

Just another thought...

Fr Richard Aladics said...

I agree with Skeeton that Akiane's image of Christ with His words "I am the way the truth and the life." would be great if made into large posters - billboard sized. We would need permission from Akiane.

John Paul said...

I think that the image of the Child Jesus in the arms of Mary is powerful and beautiful with the words from the Old testament "Come back to me" I think its Isaiah. I agree in many ways father, but I do think sometimes people need to see the reality and the harsh facts though. Also sometimes of the image of Jesus on the cross saying "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" is one that made me wake up!

bernadette said...

Picture of Our Lady of Guadelupe and the words:

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." JER. 1:5

slogans can then follow a similar vein: He knows every hair on his head/This little heart could go on beating for a hundred years. And his mother doesn't yet know she is even pregnant.(pics of a developing baby)

Appealing to the wonder of creation etc. A lot of my students are often unaware of the developmental stages of an unborn baby, so taking a specific stage and pointing out 3 amazing facts is a positive way of awakening conscience about abortion.

Get some T-shirts made saying "I was once a 24 week old foetus"

Good luck.