Voice, in the Wilderness Print
By David Warren   
Saturday, 15 December 2012

The leading speaker on Canada’s pro-life circuit is getting old. One does not ask a lady’s age, but I may reveal that she has now passed Grade X in a Toronto high school. Her speech-making career began way back in Grade VII, when she entered a public school contest, and chose “abortion” for her topic. Her position was, “Against.”

While the defense of a controversial position is, indeed, the whole point of these contests, my reader will perhaps be not entirely surprised to learn that her “pro-choice” home-room teacher discouraged her from defending that one. Lia Mills persisted, however, and her teacher was impressed with her delivery. Star material. Maybe she should be allowed that topic, just this once.

There was a further problem, however. The speech mentioned “God.” Lia was told it went over the boundary: take that bit out. She listened politely.

Next day, she told her teacher she had thought the matter through carefully, and no, she couldn’t possibly take God out of it. She patiently explained the logic of her speech. I can’t speak for the USA, but up here in Canada a 12-year-old explaining logical relations up to a theological level is fairly rare. The average public school teacher might be unprepared for it.

And so, God stayed in.

At the school level, the speech was well received, at least by the audience. One of the judges had walked out before it started. The others told Lia she was disqualified. But they had trouble articulating why, and after considerable further banter among themselves, reversed their decision and declared her to be the obvious winner of the contest.

By this point, Lia had her teacher foursquare behind her. They went on to the regionals. More trouble and fuss everywhere; but to make the long story short, the video on YouTube soon had a million hits, and was being translated from language to language. Lia herself had graduated to receiving hate mail and death threats. She had scored that big.

Her own mother is on record saying she does not know what got into the child. She came from a home that is Christian, and generally pro-life, but, “it’s not like we’re out every weekend picketing.” Contacted by LifeSite News, she said that she snickered at all the YouTube comments about how Lia’s mom must have put her up to this. It was the other way round. She used the word “mystery” to describe her daughter’s behavior.

Lia did, however, drop abortion as the topic for her next speech and second YouTube sensation. She selected euthanasia, instead.


        Miss Lia Mills

For what are now years, she has been speaking on the broad range of life issues to large audiences both virtual and in the flesh. One of her biggest successes was an address to 12,000 people on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She may need security, but by now it is evident she is not the sort of person who agrees to shut up. Ever.

That she could, in fact, be highly irritating to many, I will concede. I can remember my own irritation, when one of my sons, then 12 years old, told me, “You know, dad. . .it makes more sense to think about your problem, than about how you feel about your problem.” But I got over it.

Lia has become spokeswoman for something called “Teen Defenders.” She presents herself on Twitter as: “Lover of Jesus. On fire for God. Pro-life. Survivor. Revivalist. Nation shaker. World changer. Public speaker. Dancer. Actress. Daughter. Sister.” Strong medicine to a culture weaned on fake self-deprecation.

What I found most remarkable, however, was a profile of her in a recent number of Toronto Life magazine – as nice a little island of progressive secular consumerism as one might hope to visit. When I was shown the piece, illustrated by the full-page face of very young Lia, I winced. Hooo, I thought, are they going to trash her.

But they didn’t. The whole article played it straight, presenting her as the kind of child prodigy and achiever of whom Torontonians might even, just possibly, be a little proud. The article was a small thing in the grand scheme of media impact; but one is gobsmacked from time to time.

My own first thought was, “Catherine of Siena.” Granted, my thought was over-the-top, but it occurred to me that, in the later fourteenth century, God needed someone to explain a few things to the pope. Perhaps, in the twenty-first, the pope is okay, but he needs someone to explain a few things to the people.

In particular I’ve been struck, viewing Lia’s videos, by her preternatural hold on logic. She goes right to the jugular in an intensely rational way, using whatever props come to hand. Two ice cream cones, for instance, to explain to her audience the difference between a subjective and an objective judgment; between a personal preference, and an act which defies natural law in a demonstrable way. Believe me, she didn’t learn this in school.

We may leave history to unfold as it will, but the moral of this story is already established. Where there is a will, and that will is with God, He will find a way. It really doesn’t matter that all the forces of political correctitude are arrayed against you. There are circumstances in which they collapse, in which the walls of Jericho suddenly crumble, in which the trumpet knows the right vibration. God wills us to will, in the face of an apparently insuperable enemy; through faith, to move the occasional mountain.

Wills “us,” but seldom if ever in the collective. Through my recent prattlings against the conceits of “democracy,” I have been trying to communicate this point. The God, the Christ of whom we read in the Gospels, seems to leave mob action entirely to the other side. The Vox Dei seems actually to prefer the precision of an individual voice. 
 


The maiden’s maiden speech
 
David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and, until recently, a columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: http://davidwarrenonline.com/
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

Other Articles By This Author