We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog series as much as we have! In case you missed our earlier posts, check out the book recommendations from some of Canada’s Pro-Life leaders in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!
Now, in our final installment, we have one more recommendation + a number of ‘honourable mentions’.
Faye Sonier, Executive Director & General Legal Counsel of Canadian Physicians for Life
“My pick is a work of fiction: Fatherless by Brian J. Gail. The entire Fatherless trilogy is well worth your time. I’m not Catholic, but I deeply appreciate what Gail did in this pro-life and Catholic series – he educates and he entertains, and he does both with excellence. Over the course of the series, readers follow Gail’s characters as they experience their faith and convictions being met by an increasingly hostile culture. Some grow from the e xperience, others fall. Following t heir journey provides plenty of opportunity for reflection. Readers also learn much more than they’d ever expect about birth control, abortion, reproductive and genetic technologies, and ethics.”
The ‘Honourable Mentions’
We asked each of the leaders to share with us two recommendations, in case someone else had also listed the same book. The ‘runner-up’ book recommendations were so great that we decided we needed to share them too. So, without further ado, here are the runner-up book recommendations from Canada’s pro-life leaders!
Mike Schouten, Director of WeNeedALaw.ca
Common Ground Without Compromise, by Stephen Wagner (Stand to Reason, 2008).
“A short book that explores twenty-five questions on creating an effective dialogue on abortion with pro-choice advocates. A must read for anyone wishing to engage in the public discourse. Wagner explores various methods of focusing conversation on what we already have in common rather than on what sets us apart.”
Anastasia Pearse, NCLN Western Campus Coordinator, incoming Executive Director
“This beautiful kids story shows the timeless love and care we need to have for our family members at all stages of life.”
Maaike Rosendal, Campus Outreach Director of CCBR
Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets from the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
“As pro-life ambassadors we must be able to persuasively explain and defend our position. This can be difficult and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be! Learn from those who have given some of the best TED talks, not because they were born as great communicators, but (as the author explains) because they learned and used the same simple, powerful techniques. “Talk like TED” is incredibly useful as it gives you the tools to engage in an effective manner, whether on stage or not. This is crucial when we speak on behalf of the pre-born; the more skilled we become, fewer babies die!”
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Do You Call This A Life? by Gerbert van Loenen
“This is not a “pro-life” book but van Loenen effectively writes about the history and the development of euthanasia in the Netherlands and he focusses on the abuses and expansion of the Netherlands law.”
Jonathon Van Maren, Communications Director for CCBR
Amazing Grace, by Eric Metaxas
“For those who need hope for the pro-life movement, this biography of William Wilberforce is a must-read. Metaxas highlights two things beautifully: Why abolishing the slave trade was next to impossible, and how they did it.”
Rebecca Richmond, Outgoing Executive Director for NCLN
The Making of Pro-Life Activists: How Social Movement Mobilization Works, by Ziad Munson
“Munson’s research on the Pro-Life Movement in the U.S. sheds light on how social mobilization works. Other researchers have explained the Pro-Life Movement by saying that pro-lifers tend to be religious, conservative, of a particular class, etc., but Munson wants to explain why some people of that background become activists and why others – even if they share the same pro-life beliefs – never become activists.
A lot of the information is also contained in a paper he wrote specifically on mobilizing on campus, which you can access through his website . “
Andre Schutten, General Legal Counsel & Ontario Director for ARPA Canada
Pro-Life 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Case Persuasively, by Scott Klusendorf.
“This 70 page booklet shaped my basic pro-life apologetic. In an age of 30-second sound bites and arguments made with 140 characters or less, this book helps you cut through the distractions and get to the heart of the issue quickly and effectively. Logical, easily memorized, and extremely helpful.”
We hope you enjoyed this series! When you read one of these books, let us know! We’d love to hear what you think.
Summer is here and with it comes a great opportunity to make a difference here and now, as well as to set yourself up for successful
1) Connect with NCLN.
This is a great time to:
- Talk to your Campus Coordinator about your hopes for next year, so we can help you set and plan to meet your goals.
- Get NCLN’s help in starting up a new club on campus.
- Have NCLN Skype into your meeting or a Google hangout with your club members.
- Remember: Applications for the NCLN Symposium open at the end of June. Talk to NCLN for template fundraising letters and your travel options!
2) Get involved now.
- Take part in NCLN’s Summer Semester activities.
- Join in community pro-life activities (postcarding, Choice Chain, and events run by your local pro-life society! Use the summer as an opportunity to reach out to these local groups and explore what they have to offer!).
Run a clipboarding event with your friends (it’s easy and – almost – free!) with friends.
- Give an appeal at your church or have a bake-sale with friends to fundraise money for your club this fall (money to help you attend the NCLN Symposium? hint hint. Applications open at the end of June.).
Being involved now will:
- Give you more experience in outreach, giving you more confidence and expertise to bring back to your campus in the fall.
- Help keep pro-life activism as a regular part of your life.The summer shouldn’t change whether or not we’re active as pro-lifers, just where and with whom and how we’re active. Pro-life should be a lifestyle.
3) Connect with your club
Stay in touch over the summer. Start a private FB group for your club members and post updates on the Pro-Life movement, as well as updates about your life, jobs, stories about sharing the pro-life message. Keeping up to date with your club members now will help you work better as a team in the fall!
If you’re in the same geographical area, plan a meeting and social soon for your club members! Debrief from the past year, if you haven’t already, and share hopes and goals for the next year. Plan some ways to be active this summer (see number 2).
Plan a minimum of one meeting/month this summer to help you get the ball rolling for the fall. Even if you don’t live in the same city, you can still connect via Skype or Google Hangouts!
4) Expand your knowledge base.
CCBR’s Pro-Life Classroom has must-read/watch resources, broken down into bite-sized pieces. And consider adding a few books to your summer reading list to help you grow as a leader and as a pro-lifer.
Some of our favourites?
- The Case for Life, by Scott Klussendorf
- The Unaborted Socrates, by Peter Kreeft
See a whole list of favourite books by Canada’s Pro-Life leaders here.
Following these 4 tips will get you on a great head start for September!
Welcome to part 2 of our series on the top book recommendations from Canada’s Pro-Life Leaders! In part 1, we heard from Jonathon Van Maren (CCBR), Anastasia Pearse (NCLN), Alex Schadenberg (EPC), Andrea Mrozek (IMFC), and André Schutten (ARPA). Click here to read part 1 (and stay tuned for part 3 next week!).
Politics For The Greatest Good, by Clarke D. Forsythe (InterVarsity Press, 2009).
“The author is a leading policy strategist in bioethical issues and senior counsel for Americans United for Life. His book is a must read for grasping an understanding of what it means to be prudent in the public square. Forsythe explains how advances made against injustices of both past and present only occur when there is a willingness work incrementally. He proves that incrementalism is moral, uncompromising, and ultimately the only effective strategy as we seek to overturn the injustice of abortion.”
The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
“This book calls those active in doing apostolic, or ministry-based, activity to a life of deep prayer from which their action springs. It highlights the necessity of prayer being the “soul” of their work, so that they run on Divine inspiration, not human, and it highlights the dangers of doing otherwise.”
How to Win the Culture War, by Peter Kreeft
“Although not focused on abortion, this gem serves as a great reminder of all that we need to do as active pro-lifers to defeat the lies of the culture. By knowing what we’re up against and understanding that overcoming it is in our desire to be saints, you’ll be motivated and activated to do even the littlest things that will go a long way in this battle!”
Maaike Rosendal, Campus Outreach Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform
Tactics, by Greg Koukl.
“It is one thing to know the science and philosophy that the pro-life position is based on, but it’s something else to be able to explain that to others and also change their mind! That’s where Tactics comes in. It’s an easy read that provides you with practical tools which allow you (as Greg Koukl would say) to stay in the driver’s seat during everyday conversations. In fact, this book has shaped the apologetics we teach and use at CCBR, equipping all of us to become better ambassadors for the pre-born. And which pro-lifer wouldn’t want that?”
Stay tuned for part 3 next week! And if you missed part 1, click here.
Written by: Anastasia Pearse
Hopefully most of us haven’t had an occasion where we’ve needed a lifeguard to save the day – that is, to save our lives. But even without such personal experience, we know one thing to be true about lifeguards: if someone calls out in need of help, the lifeguard won’t call back to confirm his or her identity; a lifeguard won’t be checking IDs or going through a list of questions before mounting a rescue to decide if the person’s life is worth saving. Lifeguards are there to save our lives – without exception.
We also demonstrate the urgency and importance of saving lives when we clear the road for an ambulance; we know that there are lives at stake, so we indirectly assist those who are directly assisting the vulnerable – without exception. So many of our societal norms and laws are geared towards protecting the lives of the vulnerable. But unfortunately those of us in the pro-life movement know that there is a gaping exception: how society treats pre-born children.
We’ve seen the inconsistencies in the way people act when it comes to the abortion issue, and we’ve heard the many exceptions that are raised. We’ve been confronted with students who are animal rights activists, students who are involved in the blood donor club, medical students, students who volunteer at the local food bank; students who are dedicating their time to saving the lives of others but who speak out against saving those who are most vulnerable in our society – the pre-born. We’ve heard people state they are pro-life, except for the case of rape. Or if the child will have a disability. Or if they will be born into poverty. So many people pride themselves on their dedication to saving the lives of others. But they have exceptions.
As pro-lifers, we see that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving the lives of innocent human beings. We see the dignity of every human being, and so work to uphold and protect them – without exception. This does not end with the pre-born, but also extends to the lives of all who are vulnerable in our society, and to each and every person we speak to on a daily basis. By our words and actions, we need to affirm their value and worth – without exception.
But sometimes exceptions creep in when it comes to our own pro-life activism. How many times have we put conditions on when or where or how we participate in pro-life activities? We will help at the pro-life Outreach Table, except if it’s in a public space where our classmates may see us. We will attend a pro-life lecture, except if there’s a paper to complete that we’ve been procrastinating on. We will go to a club meeting, except if our friends are having a movie night that we’d prefer to go to. We act as pro-lifers, except when it does not fit into our schedules or comfort zone.
We want you to be pro-life – without exception. To help you be exceptional pro-lifer student leaders who can overcome these exceptions, we are excited to announce our 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception. The Symposium will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to defend the lives of pre-born children, in spite of the exceptions people may pose to you. It will prepare you to have productive conversations that affirm the dignity of those we speak to – even when we disagree with them. It will give you the strategies, leadership skills, and motivation you need to overcome those exceptions we place on our own pro-life outreach. So join us for an amazing, life-changing weekend! Applications open June 22nd!
As the summer moves forward, consider how you can make a commitment to being an exceptional pro-lifer. Continue to educate yourself on the pro-life position so you can show how each and every human life deserves the right to life. Challenge yourself to fully engage and give yourself to those difficult conversations so you can show those you speak with that their life has value and dignity. Make a commitment to participate fully in the activities of your pro-life club so you can work alongside your team to share the message on your campus.
We challenge you to be pro-life. Without exception.
For more information about the 2015 Symposium, click here.
When I joined NCLN’s staff team in 2010, a few pro-life leaders gave me a list of book recommendations, books that became allies as I learned more about the issues, social movement strategies, leadership and how-to-run a national not-for-profit. Many more books found their way to my office bookshelf in the years since. And so, during this transition, I began to note the various books that staff would find helpful – and maybe book that students would find helpful too. That led to a thought, “I wonder what other Canadian pro-life leaders’ top book recommendations would be?” And so I asked. The result is a series of posts on their top book recommendations (because otherwise this would be a really long post!.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be posting their top recommendations on the must-read books for budding pro-life leaders. We hope you enjoy!
The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian
“This book lays out in detail how our culture got to where it is with abortion, hook-up culture, pornography, and so much more. Many people often ask, “How did things get this bad?” David Kupelian answers that question decisively and brilliantly.”
Western Campus Coordinator of National Campus Life Network and soon-to-be Executive Director
The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft
“This apologetics book is written as a dialogue; its unique way of explaining the pro-life position provides a practical perspective on how we can share the truth of our position in our discussions with others.”
Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide by Alex Schadenberg
“This book is based on the data from recent studies from jurisdictions where it has become legal.”
The Hand of God by Dr. Bernard Nathanson
“I remember being really affected by Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God.” N.B. Bernard Nathanson was a former abortionist and co-founder of NARAL in the U.S. After an ultrasound-guided abortion, he became pro-life.
General Legal Counsel & Ontario Director of the Association for Reformed Political Action
The Island (film, 2005)
“This movie, quite possibly unintentionally, is one of the best arguments against embryonic stem cell research. *Spoiler alert!* The movie powerfully depicts the moral wrong in creating human life for the express purpose of medical experimentation or as a mere means to enhancing the life of other humans. The principles at play in the movie, as they apply to clones, apply equally and exactly to human embryos.”
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Written by Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director
There’s a part of me that wants to do great things.
Big things. Awesome things. Culture-changing life-saving awesome-awesome things. The kind of things that make it into the movies that stir our hearts. Whether it’s the film Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade, or even the heroic quest of Lord of the Rings, something in us is captivated by adventure, heroism, and saving the day.
Then there’s the part of me that looks at the great things, blanches, and says, “Nope. No Way. Not me.”
I suspect most of us can relate to both of these and are well-acquainted with the tension that exists between them.
I know some that don’t let the ‘no way’ part get in the way of their drive for greatness. But ‘no way’ tends to be more in control of my life, at least in terms of how I feel about my ability to do great things.
In many if not most moments, I can push away that sky-high hope for greatness and think, “I don’t want to do big things. I don’t want people to make movies about my life because I don’t want to have to do anything big enough to warrant having a movie made about my life! I don’t feel capable of big things.”
It’s a paralyzing place to be.
The good news, though, if you suffer from the same fears as I do, is that the little things are the important things. They are the critical, foundational, essential, necessary things. And they are doable – even for shrinking violets like yours truly.
Am I saying not to aim for great things? No, absolutely not. But if you want to achieve those big things, you’ll still have to start with small things.
They are the little choices we are faced with everyday: the opportunities we have to speak up to defend life, the tasks we decide to accomplish to work towards that club event or that project, the emails we write to follow-up with that student we spoke to at our clubs table, the activities we decide to attend.
Consider the movies I mentioned earlier, or really any movie where people right injustice, where they overcome the odds. There’s a moment at the end of Amazing Grace where my heart nearly bursts as we watch the members of Britain’s parliament vote to abolish the slave trade. That’s what we want. We want to watch our parliament vote to protect preborn children and their moms from abortion. We want our culture to have shifted to the point that this vote is what all Canadians want.
But the thing is, Amazing Grace depicts a 18 year struggle in…2 hours. A lot of life is simply not captured. In fact, in so many movies, you’ll often see a sort of music video in the middle. That montage of people doing all of those little, hard, boring tasks that are necessary but…not very exciting for the audience. Hence the music video format. Whether it’s about abolition or whether it’s Frodo and Sam plodding along to Mordor, it’s all the work that goes into a victory.
It’s easier to be a part of the big, rousing events, like marching in the March for Life, in a sea of people who all believe what you believe. It’s harder to make those choices for life in our everyday lives: that conversation, that project, that monthly donation, that weekly club commitment. It’s harder to put ourselves out there when we’re not part of a sea of people but when we’re among our own communities, our own families, our own friends – the places where our reputations are on the line, the places where being pro-life might cost us something.
And yet, that’s where we have the most influence.
We often get discouraged because we don’t understand how we can affect society – it seems so big, so distant, so immoveable. But when we start in our existing relationships, within our communities, amongst the people we have access to and influence with, the people who know us, the people we are in contact with, that’s when societal change starts to follow.
It’s not easy; I won’t pretend it is. But that’s what social transformation needs. That’s what leads to victory.
And that’s our challenge: to be faithful to the cause in those small sacrifices, those not-so-momentous moments, the things that might never make it into the movies of our lives. And regardless of whether we want the big things or we’re afraid of them (or somehow both!), the good news is that we all can do the little things and all of the little things make all the difference in the world.
Written by Rebecca Richmond
As long as you remember to wear sunscreen, the March for Life can be a lot of fun. At the National March we had gorgeous weather, great speakers, and a large turnout, and it all produced a contagious energy that gives you hope for the movement. Take a look at the smiling faces of the attendees and you can immediately tell that we are a people who love life, and we’re not afraid to share that with the nation and, in particular on that particular day, with our elected representatives.
But I’m sick of marching. I want to go to Ottawa every year to enjoy the tulips and have a reunion with my friends and colleagues. I enjoy the day, but the reality of why we march is sickening. The March is a protest, a public witness to politicians and to the country that there is a (taxpayer funded) human rights violation killing 100,000 Canadians every year.
I’m sick of the March because I’m sick of the injustice.
The March for Life and the dinners, EWTN TV specials and youth conferences that accompany it are only truly good in so far as they propel us back into our communities, our networks, our campuses. These one-day annual events are only truly impactful in so far as they serve as a springboard for local pro-life action that is regular, visible and engaging.
The point of a springboard is to help us reach new heights, but it only works if we choose to jump.
Tens of thousands marched at events across Canada last week, and that is good. And every year, people are impacted and inspired by the March to continue making a difference. That inspiration is a natural effect of the March. But we need to resolve to turn that inspiration into effective and regular action.
Because it’s not enough for tens of thousands to march. It’s not enough to have the largest gathering on Parliament Hill. It’s not enough until each one of the marchers become actively involved AND actively involve others.
What do I mean by actively involved? I don’t mean merely attending events. Attending pro-life events as a passive participant is insufficient; we need to be involved in the active mission of the movement.
This action could be through organizations, through campaigns, through meetings and letters to your MP, through how you’re raising your family, through how you’re speaking up in conversations with coworkers and friends – the list goes on.
This is what is going to make our movement start to move. This is what builds a cultural juggernaut that obliterates the political talking points that (repeatedly) proclaim that the abortion debate is closed and/or that this is a woman’s right.
Our social movement is addressing an injustice that does more than discriminate or oppress Canadians – abortion kills.
Do our commitments of time, energy and resources communicate to our communities that we are serious about the pro-life cause, that this is an injustice that needs to be addressed with urgency? Do we speak and act as though this issue – that of 300 pre-born children killed daily – is like any other charity…or do we treat it like the emergency it is?
If we aren’t living this way, if our pro-life commitment is largely based on one event a year, then no wonder our politicians don’t take us seriously. If we aren’t living this way, then our fellow Canadians won’t take us seriously either.
Social transformation requires us to have more than pro-life convictions, but also a pro-life lifestyle. And when tens of thousands of Canadians take up that lifestyle of active commitment, then we will hold captive the attention of politicians and, shortly thereafter, the March can become the celebration of a victory rather than the protest of an ongoing injustice.
For the sake of the lives we march for, we should all be sick of marching – but that shouldn’t discourage us. Instead, it should serve as a springboard into a lifestyle of committed action. Then, soon enough, we’ll be in Ottawa to admire the tulips rather than to protest an injustice.
If you’d like to join our mailing list to receive updates on ways you can get actively involved in reaching campuses and Canadians this summer, send us an e-mail.
Not everyone can work full-time on the front lines of the movement, but you can support this necessary work. Click here to donate to NCLN, making it possible for us to continue reaching campuses and changing Canada.