Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice No Longer Christian!

Well, she's still a Christian insofar as she still believes in and follows Christ, but apparently she wants out of Catholicism and out of... well, hard to say. "Christianity" altogether, it seems, insofar as Christianity is typically associated with specific teachings (On homosexuality, on abortion, and in Catholicism, on contraception) she rejects and has always rejected.

I have mixed reactions to the announcement. Honestly, I still admire her for making a major switch on a fundamental belief and remaining committed to that switch even if she clearly has some problems with the specific (and in my opinion, important) teachings of the Catholic church. I find her move of "I am not a Christian, but I still believe in God and Christ and I worship Christ" to be kind of needlessly dramatic and superficially confusing. But hey, some people are dramatic.

Of course, I'm against the particular things she came out as "for", so I have only limited sympathy on those fronts. I wonder if she was under the impression that it was just a (short, no less) matter of time until the Church started to approve of some abortion, or gay marriages, or... etc, etc. I've heard before that, for all the problems with the church, the liberal advocates within it haven't fared well at all. A couple of decades ago, I suppose a pressing question the "liberal" wing of the Church had was "When will Hans Kung's teachings become the teaching of the church?" Not if, but when. Now the most pressing question for that wing is "How come next to no one knows or cares who Hans Kung is?"

So, it's not really a "good riddance" moment for me. She seems sincere in her faith, and honestly torn about these questions - as opposed to seeming like a primarily political person who had little concern for God but wanted to work against an organization she didn't like from within. So what can I do but pray for her, hope for the best, and take it as a lesson that traditionalists need to approach these questions not only with sturdiness but a voice that can reach people who may have emotional disagreements.


The Phantom Blogger said...

I actually say this coming.

There was a story a couple of months back at First Things and the Whats Wrong with the World blog. It was about Catholic teaching.

I'II give you a quick overview quoting from Michael Liccione's article:

"For approving an abortion at an Arizona hospital late last year, Sr. Margaret McBride has incurred excommunication latae sententiae—meaning that her actions have caused her to excommunicate herself. Or so, at least, her bishop, Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, has announced. And the bishop’s announcement has ignited something of a firestorm among Catholic commentators.

The moral principle of Double Effect plays a role here. Catholic teaching condemns only “direct abortion”: abortion in which the death of the child is either directly willed in itself or directly willed as a means to some specific end. The Church does not condemn “indirect abortion”: abortion that is a foreseen but unintended side effect of a medical procedure designed to preserve the mother’s life, which is not wrong, at least not merely as such. (The most common example is an ectopic pregnancy, in which the Fallopian Tube must be removed to save the mother’s life, but the resulting death of the child is not directly willed.)

And that, apparently, was the defense McBride offered to Bishop Olmstead. He rejected it, apparently believing that the abortion was direct and thus immoral. And under Church law, all who procure or otherwise “formally cooperate” in direct abortion excommunicates themselves.

But the question is whether he is indeed right, and that is not clear even to some orthodox Catholics. The mother-to-be had pulmonary hypertension, a condition putting her at high risk of the life-threatening eclampsia that giving birth can cause in women with chronic high blood pressure. And so, one could argue, the purpose of the abortion was not the death of the child (either as an end or as a means) but merely the removal of the child from the womb to save the mother’s life—an indirect abortion, in other words, and thus justified."

Anne Rice said in the comment setion in the First things article.

"Thank you for weighing in with a well reasoned reflection on this very painful case. But I do think you are right that many Catholics cannot follow these complex arguments. What we are left with is something deeply troubling. I've been posting about this case on my Facebook page and in another forum, and there are Catholics there asserting without doubt that they feel this woman should have been forced to die with her unborn child. I find this chilling. Also the Bishop seems to imply the very same thing, that the woman should have died with the unborn child. This case raises many questions about Catholic hospitals in America. I'm frankly deeply discouraged by the whole issue. But again, I thank you. I thank you for examining this so carefully."

I could see her disagreement and annoyance with Catholic teaching within this comment and guessed that this would be inevitable.

Crude said...

The Olmstead case bothers me, in part because I think Liccione (whose thoughts and writings I tend to enjoy very much) botched his discussion of it.

I also reject Anne Rice's implying - and I find this sadly typical - that a Catholic who disagrees with her about this is a Catholic who "cannot follow these complex arguments". Apparently, not so complex that Anne can't (inaccurately) sum up the position of those who disagree with her in one sentence, and suggest what she thinks should have been done in one sentence as well. This reminds me of the "dialogue" schtick, where liberal Catholics always plea for "dialogue" with the Church - so long as the dialogue in question basically amounts to forcing traditionalists to negotiate on their principles, not liberals negotiating on theirs.

Anne Rice describes herself as pro-choice. To my knowledge, she's not taking this position simply because she thinks abortion should be acceptable in those particular situations where even orthodox catholics can supposedly be in favor of it (The ectopic pregnancy example), and she happens to think the McBride case technically qualified. It seems more that she wants abortion to be licit in far, far broader cases, and saw how seriously the Church takes even cases like McBride's as a sign that, no, it won't be changing anytime soon.

(Not that you implied otherwise on any of this, by the way. Just taking this opportunity to expand on the subject more.)

I really have to get to a pro-life march.