He points out that abortion is more than an individual decision; the abortion industry is a social construct that communicates a conception of man that has been a long time coming. This vision of man is the flip side of Fromm's homo consumens. Not only is modern man thought to find value by purchasing commodities (consuming man) - modern man himself is a commodity. We are valued because of our visibility, which is what gives us marketability. Hence, invisible humans, such as unborn babies, have no value whatsoever. And since the value of life is found in the marketplace, we are compelled to insure against anything that might damage the accidentals - or even the cosmetics - that now determine what man is and make man marketable. Tan explains ...
... the foetus becomes classified as an element of risk because it presents a disruption to the integrity of the autonomy of the more visible mother. Indeed, because of the imperative to consume and be consumed within late Capitalism, the invisible foetus can become vulnerable to being categorised by the mother as a risk insofar as it threatens to consume the mother, whether in terms of her financial resources, future plans or body image. In the face of the foetus' being considered such a risk, the insurational imaginary posits abortion as a form of insurance against risks to the mother's integrity.
In other words, if our culture tells you that your value as a person subsists in your "financial resources, future plans or body image," then whatever threatens any of this must be insured against - and the vacuum hose at Planned Parenthood is a great tool that protects you from this thing that attacks your very value as a person - this thing that threatens to "consume" you. It's not a question of killing an unborn baby, it's a question of maintaining your very worth as a human being - or so the economic and cultural structure of society tells us.
Because this way of thinking permeates society, the Church is faced with a challenge - and that challenge is not just to preach the pro-life message, but to offer an alternate cultural reality.
The Great Commission to ‘make disciples of all peoples’ would encompass more than achieving agreement in the minds of those disciples to a corpus of belief. It would involve training the bodies of these disciples into becoming ecclesial ‘fields’ to nourish the necessary habitus that in turn makes believable the claims of the Gospel of life.
... which is to say you can't just preach at people, you've got to create a new community that lives out what you believe, "housing within its practices a counter-logic to the logic of consumerism" as Matthew Tan states it.
And how can the Church do this? you might ask. Tan answers, through the sacraments, particularly by means of the Eucharist - for the Eucharist stands as a stark witness against the consumer society, in the following ways ...
- The Capitalist society is predicated upon "resource scarcity". The Eucharist is an expression of the plenitude of God.
- Consumer society is founded upon contract, upon buying and selling. The Eucharist is pure gift.
- Commoditized man must be visible: slick, sexy, airbrushed, bold, powerful. The Eucharist is itself a hidden treasure, humble, quiet, an expression of hidden strength appearing as weakness. (see 2 Cor. 12:10 and elsewhere)
- In modern culture, the value of man is something external to his being. In the Eucharist "the gift is not alienated from the giver": gift and giver are one. "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35)
This is what the Church is called to do. Rather than being a mere prop to a consumerist culture, a Culture of Death whose very structures and modes of thought and whose concept of being and value support abortion and other evils, the Church must become what she already is (though herself in a hidden and weak way), a "public in its own right" (as Tan calls it), whose existence challenges the social structure at large that surrounds it.