Friday, January 28, 2005

Katha Pollitt versus Jim Wallis

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/24/opinion/main668896.shtml
http://religiousliberal.blogspot.com/2005/01/wesley-blog-highlights-column-by-katha.html
Kudos to http://religiousliberal.blogspot.com/ for pointing to the Katha Pollitt column. I've read the column a few times now to try to formulate a reasoned response (Jack Shafer of Slate with his little technorati secret totally recommends this approach) and maybe defend Wallis a little.
The first thing I'd say to Katha is look at the Wesley blog http://www.wesleyblog.com/wesleyblog/2005/01/cbs_news_websit.html and the mess that Wallis has to take from his so-called friends (and I'd bet it can be a lot worse than this post). We all need to take a breath and get over all the hurt feelings and suspicions of the pious on one hand and the honest secular humanists on the other. Y'all ever hear of some concepts like community, dialogue, trust, and relationships. I thought they were secular and sacred both, but maybe that's just me.
If you scroll down and read some of my other posts, you can see that I would certainly like to change some of our rhetoric on abortion. I think it is painfully inconsistent philosophically with our other important positions. How can we argue for community (as we should) on living wages and the environment and worker safety and education and wealth distribution and everything else when we turn around and argue dogmatically for absolute individual rights for abortion? I think that the community should have some say - balanced thoughtfully and respectfully against a woman's right to protect her personal integrity, moral autonomy, and self determination. But hey the point is not abortion. It's about an inclusive progressive community that ought to welcome evangelicals like Jim Wallis, mainline protestants like me, and I think a great number of insightful Catholics and orthodox believers. There's a long and inspiring history of social gospel and its ability to smooth some of the cruel edges of libertine capitalism. We might not ever beat the corporate sociopaths and the false prophets that in my eyes turn the church into their whore, but we can affect how these powerful people treat the innocent and powerless. I'll even further confess that I'm a sincere Calvinist so I imagine that we cannot succeed - only God can truly heal the broken world. But success is not important to me - perseverance is. We are more likely to persevere with an inclusive community talking to each other humbly and faithfully about our differences. I'm sorry Mr. Wallis and Ms. Pollitt if some of my fleas get on both of you. But that's just life.