2016 West Coast Walk for Life

West Coast Walk for Life 2016
Looking down Market Street. Most of the crowd is behind us in this picture. 
  • Vast crowd again this year. Estimates run about 60,000, which seems about right, but it is hard to guess when you’re in the middle of it. That would be the largest ever.
  • Lots of young people, including our kids: our middle son with a contingent from Thomas Aquinas College, and our 11-year-old. Our younger daughter made the DC March for Life with students from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. My eldest daughter has done the D.C. March for Life in the past; our oldest did the West Coast Walk while he was with us. In general, this is a movement of the young.
  • More counter-protesters this year, it seemed to me. I almost feel sorry for them, in a way: for the most part, the Walk consisted of thousands of healthy and happy people of all ages and of all races, and many, many cultures all walking peacefully down the street; the protesters looked and sounded like desperate nut cases. Of course there were exceptions, but I can’t believe anybody would get a much different impression if they just looked. Plus, pro-abortion ‘arguments’ are getting more shrill and insane by the minute. Something is coming to a head.
  • The city is beginning to mess with the Walk. A few years ago, they made sure some banners offensive to the walkers were flying on lampposts along the route; this year I heard rumor that they were being difficult about the permits for the buses (many people bus in). They also changed the route, although that was almost certainly coincidence – they are doing a lot of construction down by the Ferry Building, and so routed us around it. But it didn’t seem like they went to any trouble to make sure it was OK – the route took us a couple blocks south of Market, then just sort of petered out instead of being clear all the way to the Bay, which is what it has been in the past. Who knows, but it’s always been clear that they don’t like us much.
  • The Cathedral is at its best when hosting a big Mass.
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, San Francisco, looking up. 

When praying with thousands of people at a Mass with a couple dozen priests and 6 bishops and beautiful choirs, you can forget that you’re in a giant concrete box that looks all the world like an enormous washing machine agitator. It was lovely. Archbishop Cordeleone is a huge blessing for us.

  • The music was also lovely for the most part – organ, choirs, cantor, bell choir, with a nice mix of music, including a little chant and even a bit of polyphony – the Agnus Dei from Lotti’s Missa Brevis: (this is just a recording off YouTube, not from today’s Mass)
  • One nit to pick – please don’t imagine this in any way made the Walk measurably less awesome. Unfortunately, they almost ruined the ride at Mass (musically speaking only – sacraments work by working) with an inexplicably execrable closing hymn:

For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord,
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.

All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow brief life’s span.

You, Creator God, have written
your great name on humankind;
for our growing in your likeness
bring the life of Christ to mind;
that by our response and service
earth its destiny may find.

This bit of dizzying doggerel was penned back in 1968 (‘natch) by a Fred Kaan (Kaaaaan! I yell reflexively) a Dutch Congregational Minister (of course) who, as a Congregational minister, must dis the very idea of dogma and offer a vision of justice that gives people equal shares of the earth’s bounty.

These ideas present some logical problems. Sometimes, one must choose between justice and equality, as sometime what each is due isn’t the same for everybody. For example, if I get a piano, does that mean everybody, whether they want a piano or not, gets one? Oh no, I can hear the ghost of ol’ Freddy protest, I didn’t mean *that*. Well, how about writing what you did mean, then? I suppose the earth’s bounty includes apples, say, but not Apples? Kale, but not cars? Or do we not mean to make that distinction, either? Either way, people could get the idea from such sloppy writing that, if anyone has anything I don’t have that I want, I’m being treated unjustly – that’s an idea unlikely to promote all that peace and harmony we’re singing about in those other lines.

And let’s not even get into how, if a teaching truly is dogmatic (He spoke with authority, and not like the scribes, after all) then it can’t obscure God’s plan – dogma, insofar as it is dogma, is more properly said to *be* God’s plan, at least insofar as we can understand it. But hey, a Congregationalist believes that each congregation manages its own business, such as saying, if they so choose, what they believe. So, let’s not bicker about ‘o killed ‘o – this is a happy occasion!

In any event, any one who wants it can have my share of kale, and I’ll take any avocados anybody doesn’t want. Just to be clear, just in case.

Of course, there are mostly pleasant thoughts in this hymn – it’s not all mindless heresy. it just seems as if we could do better. Ya know?

  • I continue to dread doing this each year – I am not a protester by nature, even for a peaceful and mostly quiet protest. It has always worked out OK, but I dread them just the same. I would be ashamed not to attend, though.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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