Obi Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness, and abortion

By Dave Andrusko

Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi

Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi

Several members of my family and I went to see the mega-hit Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Those of us old enough to remember seeing the very first in the series (Episode IV: A New Hope) recall the list of “iconic” characters—including those are not in Episode VII—which is as lengthy as almost any movie you could think of.

One of those, of course, was Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi (played by the late, great Alec Guinness).

I had not read much about Guinness and did not even know that he had written an autobiography, “Blessings in Disguise.” So it was not until I read Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s “Abortion and Obi-Wan Kenobi” that I learned Guinness’ own back story.

Here’s the beginning to Fr. Longenecker’s great read:

In 1914 Agnes Cuff, a flighty and unstable young woman with few prospects and little money found herself pregnant. The father didn’t want to be involved. She was alone, shamed, poor and pregnant.

Today she would be encouraged to get herself to an abortion clinic and end the unwanted pregnancy.

Instead a little boy was born.

Fr. Longenecker gives his readers some of the fascinating background details. For example, that “Alec Guinness” were actually his first two names— the place for his last name (and the column where his father’s name would be listed) were blank.

“If abortion had been easy and legal in England in 1914,” Fr. Longenecker writes, “the world would never have experienced the witty, smart, subtle art and the quiet, steady witness of Alec Guinness….…and Star Wars would have had an enormous void.”

But, of course, Guinness’ individual story, while important, is used to illustrate a larger part. He was important, whether his birth was timely or not.

Among the 58 million lost lives just in the United States since 1973, who knows what greatness was lost? “What advances in science, medicine, technology, business, the arts and sport might there have been?” Fr. Longenecker writes.

I would just add that, of course, Fr. Longenecker is not saying that we have to make a major contribution to “justify” our existence. Our right to life is something we are endowed with–even if the legal culture sees otherwise—not something given to us or “earned” by us.

It is ours not because we achieve greatness but simply because we are members of the human family.

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