Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

Thursday, July 29, AD 2010

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

And with that announcement, Anne Rice publicly renounced her identity as a Christian on Facebook.

I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?

  • The “Anne Rice”‘s of the world — who recognize their open disagreement with traditional [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, and agree that they can no longer identify themselves as such because the moral positions they hold are fundamentally incompatible?
  • The “Nancy Pelosi”‘s of the world, who publicly repudiate various traditional moral positions of [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, yet simultaneously proclaim themselves “practicing Catholics” (up and including the reception of the Eucharist), and yet relegate their disagreements as “differences of opinion”?
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39 Responses to Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

  • Anne Rice hands down.

    She may not know a lot about Catholicism, she is at least honest in her beliefs.

    Madame Speaker on the other hand knows her faith very well and purposely and consciously goes against the teachings of God.

  • Wow. I know the sexual abuse scandal really bothered her but didn’t expect this.

    I think I would probably still prefer an Andrew Sullivan Catholic than the new Anne Rice though. Her lost of faith in the leadership combined with all the time she spends online being both urged by Maureen Dowd Catholics and attacked by Catholic Answers Catholics may have pushed her over the edge.

  • I don’t think that anyone ever accused Nancy Pelosi of being able to write, either.

  • “may have pushed her over the edge.”

    I think this loon has been over the edge for a long, long time.

    http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/08/anne-rices-mean.html

  • Liberal political commitments are more popular and easier to understand than orthodoxy.

    Interesting, though, it sounds like she still thinks of herself as a disciple of Christ? “In the name of…”

  • “…Obama, peace be upon him.”

  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Ann Rice.

  • I like how you phrased the post so as to minimize negative comments about Ms. Rice, Chris. It highlights that she is – and has been – honest and upfront about her differences with traditional Christianity. The tone of her post suggests frustration and anger; it’s not clear exactly what the source for these are (and what is ‘anti-life’ about Christianity?), but whatever her difficulties are, it would be best to treat her with kindness and charity.

  • It is a complex question. As far as ecumenical efforts go, Pope Benedict has clearly stated that disagreements should be worked out within the context of communion. Ms. Rice’s list of grievances do not strike me as good reasons for leaving communion.

    As far as Nancy Pelosi goes, a lay person disagreeing with the bishops should not a public scandal make. She is a symptom of the larger catholic culture and not its cause. Does anyone doubt that if she resigned her House seat tomorrow that someone just as bad if not worse would take her place?

  • I find the post to be a little rambling. Ok, she likes gays, feminism, and birth control. Not surprising even if it is disappointing. But then she gets kinda weird.

    “Anti-Democrat?” I mean, some would argue but I think it’s weird she thinks Catholics must be Republicans (or can’t be Dems). I mean, many pro-lifers think that (with some good reason) but why she thinks that is odd.

    “Anti-secular humanism” I don’t know what that means; I’m not sure any religion accomodates pure secular humanism. What is she talking about?

    And finally, “anti-science?” How on earth is a Catholic anti-science? That one really confuses me.

    It makes me wonder whether she ever took the time to examine the beliefs she once claimed and are now rejecting. While I think she’s right to not claim Catholicism if she disagrees with it, I wonder what would have happened if she had actually challenged herself with the teachings of the Church.

  • It’s functionally impossible to be a Democrat if you’re pro-life. Besides, being a lib these days means believing in the pseudo-religion of government anyway. It necessarily crowds out other competing beliefs. Libs have made government into their new God.

  • I am praying this is a person that had a very bad day and like a lot of us hit the submit button too soon.

    I have a hard time thinking she will really leave her Christian faith.

  • I would expect that to the extent the tone of her tweet is angry, it’s because the process into and then out of organized Christianity has been difficult for her, and when we are dealing with difficult situations we often resort to anger as a way of reaching a decision — not unlike ending a relationship, where it becomes necessary to convince oneself that the other is bad.

    There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.

  • We all know it already, but for the sake of the uninitiated who will probably find their way here to troll:

    * “I refuse to be anti-gay.”

    She refuses to defend the sanctity and true purpose of marriage and sexuality. She aligns herself with perversion.

    * “I refuse to be anti-feminist.”

    She refuses to accept that the political arguments for women’s equality, which have only ever been accepted and integrate en masse in Western Christian societies, do not automatically transpose themselves into a radicalized theology.

    * “I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.”

    Again, perversion over the true purpose of sexuality.

    * “I refuse to be anti-Democrat.”

    I can’t blame her on that one. The current make-up of the Democrat party means that only those of the most agile and subtle intelligence can reconcile their faith with allegiance to it.

    *”I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.”

    Then she had no business ever being a Catholic. It was because I refused to be a secular humanist that I could become a Catholic again.

    * “I refuse to be anti-science.”

    She refuses to read a history book or the Church’s modern interaction with the sciences and understand the complete bankruptcy of this claim.

    * “I refuse to be anti-life.”

    Secular humanism IS anti-life.

    * “In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

    No comment.

  • Yes, I changed what I said and removed the comments. I went too far, as I sometimes do, and I won’t try to rationalize it.

  • Wow, this is a real bummer because the book she wrote about her reversion to the faith, “Called Out of Darkness,” was a pretty good book and I found it kind of inspiring.

    She sounded genuine in it, and admitted she had difficulties with certain Church teachings but figured that faith was more a matter of trusting that the popes, saints, Doctors of the Church, etc. knew what they were doing, than a matter of having 100 percent perfect personal understanding and agreement with EVERY point of Church doctrine and morals.

    Now I thought that was a good way to look at it… to realize that faith does NOT mean you have to know exactly where every nut and bolt on the Barque of Peter is located, and understand how every single part operates, it means you get on the boat, and stay on it, once you have determined that it is seaworthy, will get you where you need to go (heaven) and the captain knows what he’s doing. (That’s my metaphor, not hers, just to be clear)

    Her comment about being “anti-gay” probably has more to do with the fact that her son (her only surviving child) is gay than with any conscious “alignment with perversion”.

    Also, I have a book of interviews with her that was published in the mid-1990s, not too long before she returned to the Church. In it she makes some interesting comments about how disillusioned she had become with leftist/feminist “orthodoxy” and how in many ways it was far more repressive and anti-human than even the old fashioned, pre-Vatican II Catholicism she had grown up with. So I don’t know that she’s all that big a fan of secular humanism either.

    I agree with John Henry that she needs charity and understanding more than condemnation at this point, and that we should give her credit for being honest about her convictions.

  • “There are two ways of looking at such things, but I tend to lean towards thinking it’s more honest to renounce a religion if one seriously thinks it false on major issues, rather than claiming to know it better than it does itself.”

    What is interesting is she is not just Catholicism but all Christianity

    She is not announcing she is joning the TEC or some other progressive Christian body where her views would be welcomed.

    So does she see well if Catholcism is wrong then all Christianity is wrong.

    Again I will keep her in my prayers. Something has set her off and people need to reach out to her.

    I think her reconversion was very genuine.

    Oh a side note I would say from what I can tell from the general Christian population and indeed the Catholic population they were respectful of her conversion. In fact I an think of several conservative traditional Catholic blogs right off the bat that were very gracious and Christian to her.

    Again she needs our prayers and I hope Catholics and Christians near her reach out to her

  • She had to choose between the ways of Christ and the ways of the world, and the world won. I pray that this is only one battle, and that she will come to understand that the teachings of the Church are born of love, not hate.

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  • “I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?”

    Whichever will throw herself on the mercy of God on her deathbed.

    Honesty is merely a natural virtue, yes? Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    Pelosi could be piously following the teachings of some dissenting priest or religious sister she encountered in her formative years and mistook for Catholic orthodoxy.

    For her part, Rice has a gay son, so family loyalty is possibly trumping loyalty to her faith.

    Neither should be religious ed teachers, and like the rest of us both deserve correction through competent personal contact when necessary. But why prefer the “noble pagan” to the crooked Christian?

  • It’s not like she’s doing anything groundbreaking here. Lots of people decide that the ‘real Jesus’ just happens to agree with their own stances on .. pretty much everything. Amazing coincidence.

  • “Why prefer the ‘noble pagan’ to the crooked Christian?”

    Remember the parable Christ told of the two sons whose father asked them to work in his vineyard… one said “Yes, I’ll go,” but never did, while the other said “No” but later changed his mind and went. “Which one did what the father wanted?” Christ asked.

  • Should we really prefer the honest apostate to the liar who has faith?

    That does presuppose the liar has faith. The other possibility is the liar is simply a liar and has no faith. But since she is a liar, you never can tell (though it would seem to be rather odd that a simpleton like me can understand the big points of Catholic moral teaching, but the third in line for the Presidency of the US cannot – and my teachers were no better than hers).

    That parable is a bit confusing here. It seem neither is doing the work in the vineyard at this point. Here, one says yes (Pelosi?) but does nothing (in fact, goes out of her way to ruin the vineyard), and the other (Rice) says “no” and….does nothing?

    Anyway, Rice probably just needs time alone to think things out. Pelosi needs a road to Damascus whooping, a divine 2×4 upside the head.

  • The blame falls squarely on the catechists, us included. We’ve failed to persuade her that (a) our intentions are good, and (b) our doctrines are right.

    For example, the Church isn’t anti-gay. It puts forward a holy but tough alternative to the gay lifestyle. We need to demonstrate that we’re not “anti”. Aristotle said that the first step toward persuading someone is to convince him of your good character. There’s a lot of hope for Rice because she seems to strongly believe in Christ’s good character.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Anne’s decision to disassciate with organized Christianity. So much of the modern message has become anathema to the gospel, and the Church has historically demonstrated a reluctance to discipline itself in ways that reflect the true teachings of Jesus. Did Jesus bash gays as he traveled about in the company of men. Did he rant against making love except for the express purpose of procreation? Did Jesus tell us that women are somehow different and lesser in the eyes of God.

    Could Anne have rejected Catholicism but then wrapped herself in one of the “feel good” versions that preache the virtues of accumulated wealth and evangelical superiority?

    Must you belong to a Christian church, or start yet another dissatified sect, in order to identify and align yourself with the message of Jesus?

    Jesus did not charge us to go out and build an edifice, he didn’t lay out the design for the Vatican, and he never extolled us to jihad (Crusades). He never defended religious persecution (The Inquisition). He didn’t charge us to believe the Earth was the center and only relevant corner of creation (anti-science). And he never told us to place blind faith in religious leaders (Pharisees.papists and Swaggertites).

    Jesus told us to love one another. He told us to give to the poor and the needy. He told us to trust in His message and all would be revealed by the Spirit of God.

    I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    In the end the rejection of historical Christianity is a rejection of Christ. It is rather shallow and immature to think that your personal recreation of Christianity is ‘unfiltered by…a selfish or heretical agenda.’ At best you have replaced the selfish or heretical agendas of others with one of your own creation. Chesterton wrote that joining the Church freed him from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age; your comment is childish both in this sense and in the sense that only naivete could account for your uncritical self-confidence.

  • Pinky,
    I think you are too easy on her. I happen to know for a fact that folks have tried to catechise her and reason with her on Church issues, but she is exceedingly stubborn. In particular, when Sister McBride was excommunicated Rice went ballistic. When Church teaching was meticulously explicated re the intentional taking of an innocent human life she simply ignored all reasoning that disturbed her comfortable consequentialist views. And I do mean ignore. No engagement; no effort; just blind outrage. Did I say blind?

  • And tell us, Marc, how it is that you know of the “simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught”? Did He mystically appear to you in a dream and teach you these truths? Did a book containing these truths miraculously fall out of the sky and into your possession one day?

    The Bible didn’t just write itself. To the extent we know anything about Christ and the “simple uncomplicated truths” that He taught (and, in fact, some of Christ’s teachings are ANYTHING BUT “simple” or “uncomplicated” – see, e.g., divorce, remarriage, and adultery), it is because of the work of the Church. Some people may like to pick and choose which teachings of the Church they want to follow, but they should at least admit that that is what they are doing, and not pretend that they have some special insight into the “simple uncomplicated truths” of Christ apart from what the Church has taught for 2000 years.

  • I will pray that Anne Rice sees the error of her ways, along with those who agree with her. Earlier this year I wrote an article on this site entitled; “The Coming Open Rebellion Against God.” I believe this is another step in that direction. Anne’s ego, along with those who defend her, seems to suggest that they know better than the Church. How ridiculous, Jesus Himself said to the Apostles; He who Hears You Hears Me, He who Rejects You Rejects Me (Luke 10:16.)

    We fail to remember that even before Calvary many of Jesus’ followers left Him. It started with John 6 when most of His followers rejected Jesus after His disocourse (the longest in the Bible) on the Eucharist. Judas’ biggest sin was pride, thinking he knew better than everyone. We might recall that Judas got upset with Jesus when the pentient woman poured the expensive perfume over Him. Judas thinking because he hung around in the most well to do circles, he was naturally smarter than everyone. Sadly the sin of pride remains very alluring to many, especially today. Jesus gave us the Magesterium and popes (the Teaching Authority of the Church) which is unsettling those whose sin of pride tells them, they are so smart. I hope and pray that this sin is eradicated so the likes of Anne Rice and her defenders can truly see the wisdom of God and His ways.

  • I am a baptised Catholic that utterly rejects Catholicism and both organized and disorganized Christianity. I prefer to get my doctrine unfiltered by men with a selfish or heretical agenda. I prefer the simple uncomplicated truths that Jesus taught.

    Except that your declaration is manifestly untrue. As with every person I’ve seen issue encyclicals like yours, you haven’t abandoned organized religion, you’ve simply chosen to shrink it to a membership of one–yourself. You are simply the Pope of the Church of Marc Stephens, and you thunder with even more magisterial self-assurance than the Syllabus of Errors. Yours isn’t a declaration of liberation from organized religion–it’s a proclamation of your own infallibility.

  • Both are headed to the same place.

    Ms. Rice is, at least, open and candid; and not dangerous to our country and our way of life.

  • Her most recent post: ” My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than C…hristianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”

    and personally I think she has a point. Christ is more important than Christianity in terms of an organization. We should all strive to be followers of Christ more than adherents to a system.

  • Also, we’re not to judge either Anne Rice or Nancy Pelosi or anyone else. Faith or lack therof is between that person and God.

  • Mike, yeah, I probably am going too easy on her. It was a visceral reaction. Any time the question “who’s the worst Catholic” is asked, the answer is supposed to be “me”.

  • No, we have every right to condemn public attacks on the Church.

    We’re not to judge a person’s SOUL. Their ARGUMENTS should be laid to waste with all of the terrible judgment we can muster.

  • IMAO, most writers don’t understand religion enough to talk about it sensibly. They seem to reduce everything to words. So to many of them, leaving a religion is more like throwing away old clothes or deciding you’re sick and tired of the color red. Of course, those decisions can be over dramatized with the right words as well.

  • Ms. Rice’s diatribe angers me. She reaches an immense audience from her pulpit and the opinions of many people are formed by what she preaches. Many souls were edified and brought back to the Church through her beautifully-written books about Jesus. How is she going to make reparations to the sheep that she formerly nourished with her writings about Jesus? Has the Rosary she brandished in many photographs been relegated to a bureau drawer? Had she been faithful in reciting the Rosary, it would have been a shield against the corruption she spoke about Christianity, thereby diminishing not only the Church, but Our Lord Jesus. This isn’t just about Ms. Rice’s soul. I think her diatribe was evil and self-centered and has the potential to kill the very souls that she was attempting to save. It’s just despicable.

  • Agreed Moe. She deserves rebuke, not coddling.

  • “Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some a hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

    “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable…. And he said unto them, The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”

    It seemed apropos.

George Weigel: Defend Religious Freedom

Tuesday, May 18, AD 2010

George Weigel wrote a timely article in National Review Online titled, Defending Religious Freedom in Full.

In it cites the extremist attacks in expressing our Catholic faith in the public square.

The forms of these attacks are egregious because they that attack us are also tearing apart the moral fabric of this nation.

Case in point is the Washington Post, and in my opinion they represent secular humanism, when it comes to natural law they painted those that hold to natural law as extremists:

This past October, in the heat of a political campaign, the nation’s political newspaper of record, the Washington Post, ran an editorial condemning what it termed the “extremist views” of a candidate for attorney general of Virginia who had suggested that the natural moral law was still a useful guide to public policy.

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Roman Polanski and Hollywood Defending the Indefensible

Saturday, May 15, AD 2010

Whoopi “it isn’t rape-rape” Goldberg, Woody “I married my daughter” Allen, Martin “Jesus slept with Mary Magdalene” Scorsese, Monica Bellucci, David Lynch, Michael Mann, and Tilda Swinton are just a portion of the Hollywood crowd that are clamoring for the release of Roman Polanski who is being held in Switzerland waiting extradition to the United States.

Roman Polanski is on the run from the law for his rape of a 13 year girl in 1977 when he was a young 44 years of age.

Yesterday a former Hollywood starlet, Charlotte Lewis known for costarring opposite Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child, came out in a news conference that she was raped when she was 16 years of age in Paris by Roman Polanski when he was 50 years old.

Her reasons for coming out now?

Her disgust at how Hollywood is defending Roman Polanski and minimizing his offenses.

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7 Responses to Roman Polanski and Hollywood Defending the Indefensible

  • Joe Friday says it all:

  • It’s kind of funny to see figures in Hollywood do all sorts of moral gymnastics to defend Polanski. Say what you will about the scandals in the Church, you don’t see Catholics suddenly stretching Catholic teaching in order to defend genuine abuse cases.

    I can only imagine people would defend Polanski out of a horribly misguided sense of compassion, or they too have some skeleton in their closet that makes them think “that could have been me.”

    Seriously. The guy took advantage of a minor and then evaded the rulings of U.S. courts. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to do the time and move on? I mean, if he’s such an amazing and important “artist” wouldn’t all of his buddies been waiting to work with him when he was available again? Wouldn’t they have “understood” the horrible injustice of his incarceration and worked to put together projects so Polanski could “redeem” himself?

    I imagine all this is happening because Polanski, and his friends, know that going to jail means the end of his film career. I still contend to this day that had Michael Jackson been found guilty of child molestation none of us would be playing his music today.

  • Actually, we have seen some Catholic prelates stretch or dismiss church teaching to make excuses for sex offenders. Certainly it happens among cardinals who have, until recently, been “promoted.” For every Woody Allen or Tilda Swinton, there’s Bernard Law “and Order” and Angelo “Petty Gossip” Sodano.

    That said, I think Roman Polanski is a creepy criminal and should be prosecuted. If guilty, he should go to prison. I’m happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Charlotte Lewis, Michael Douglas, and even the conservatives at AC in saying so.

  • If Polanski has two who have reported his actions then there are dozens more who have remained silent.

  • Todd,

    For once I agree with you (mostly).

    Certain prelates have done injustice to the many abused children and youth in the Church.

  • I think they should hand Polanski over to the 16th Century Brits and accuse him of being a Papist.

  • Actually, we have seen some Catholic prelates stretch or dismiss church teaching to make excuses for sex offenders.-Todd

    Got any actual examples supported by actual quotes?

    I’m most interested in your accusation that a prelate would “dismiss church teaching” – the criteria for “stretch” is potentially too subjective. Dismissal is an active act of the will. Do you really know of a statement from any of those prelates you named such as “Church teaching on this subject does not matter,” or was your accusation a rhetorical stretch?

Red vs. Blue Families

Tuesday, May 11, AD 2010

It’s fairly common for advocates of more liberal social policies to point out that “red states” tend to have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, etc than “blue states”. This is taken to suggest that, however much conservatives may go on about “family values”, it is actually more liberal social values which are best for families. Ross Douthat does a good job of addressing this mentality in his column from last Sunday, in which he takes a closer look at some of these “family values” statistics.

Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.

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20 Responses to Red vs. Blue Families

  • There are more problems with this book that I’ll outline in about a week. I have the post 3/4’s written but have to run some regressions and what not. I imagine you and your fellow travelers will largely be in agreement with me.

  • You read Douthat’s piece and came away with a completely different impression of it than I did. Of course, in my blog post on the subject, I did acknowledge that I may have been reading Douthat’s piece through my Ross-colored glasses, which probably tends to somewhat negatively distort anything written by the guy.

    I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

  • I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

    I thought it was pretty obvious from the context that he was characterizing the authors of the book as the kind of people who would make such a comment rather than taking a swipe at her himself. Judge for yourself:

    This is one of the themes of “Red Families v. Blue Families,” a provocative new book by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. The authors depict a culturally conservative “red America” that’s stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting (unrealistically) on chastity before marriage, Cahn and Carbone argue, social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often (see Palin, Bristol), leading to teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates.

    I could be wrong, but it never occurred to me to read it otherwise. He is laying out their argument in that paragraph; and the rest of the editorial is critical of that simplistic portrayal of Red America, and (implicitly) the kind of people who would cite Bristol Palin as the exemplar of backwards redstate America. Notice, the conclusion of the piece:

    By comparison, the “red family” model can look dysfunctional — an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don’t always match up with the facts of contemporary life. But it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.

    Translation: Red State America does not take abortion as an easy way out; this decision has consequences that aren’t always pretty, but it also reflects a lived moral conviction.

  • MZ,

    Sounds interesting. I’ll keep an eye out for it. (In the mean time, I’ll try to figure out if I should be flattered or perplexed at having “fellow travelers”.)

    Jay,

    Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it. But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says, Ross Douthat doesn’t fall in that camp for me.

  • Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it.

    I’m with Jay on this one – it sounded like it was Ross himself backing the authors’s thesis.

    There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken. Instead we get a subtle jab that leaves the reader perplexed as to what exactly Douthat’s personal point of view is.

  • It was pretty clear as written, Paul; certainly Darwin and most of the commenters at the New York Times picked it up quickly enough. Douthat’s point is that attitudes toward abortion – not abstinence education or an emphasis on marriage or the simple stupidity of people in Red America – account for most of the differences we see in out-of-wedlock birth, early marriage (and accompanying divorce), etc.

    The contemporary liberal narrative downplays this fact. Abortion is becoming increasingly unpopular, so liberals want to argue that increased access to contraceptives will reduce the need for abortion, and that it is cultural conservatism that, in effect, increases the abortion rate. Douthat just points out this argument doesn’t square with the facts; teen pregnancy is lower in blue states primarily because abortion is more prevalent. That’s why Darwin and Chris Burgwald flagged the article; it refutes a central part of the contemporary liberal diagnosis of red state America – the myth of social conservatism increasing the abortion rate.

  • Jay:

    I’m normally a Douthat fan, but I did think this article was weirdly written for some reason so while I noted as Darwin did that he ultimately refuted the thesis, that I didn’t feel great about him doing so. Not sure why.

  • The whole concept of the book is wrong-headed I think in its analysis of Red and Blue states. There are really very few states that fit in that category. For example I live in Blue Illinois. Outside of Chicago and some of the suburbs, most of Illinois has life conducted along the lines of a Red State by the lights of the book. The reverse is true of Red States, Texas for example, with large urban enclaves. This mixed quality of the states would have to be taken into consideration when looking at statistics regarding marriage and divorce. Additionally, I think we are at the beginning of a political era where the Red and Blue divisions may soon seem like relics as much as the divisions between the Whigs and the Jacksonian Democrats do today. The political landscape is changing rapidly, as I think Illinois will demonstrate in the fall.

  • “teen pregnancy is lower in blue states because abortion is more prevalent”

    Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates that would be lower in those states. I have seen lists of nations with the lowest teen pregnancy rates and the lowest teen birth rates side by side, and they are NOT identical, so statisticians do have a way to compile those statistics separately. (Switzerland, for example, is in the bottom five nations as far as teen birth rate, but does not have the same ranking for teen pregnancy rate.)

    If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    The only other possible cause for such a disparity would be a high rate of miscarriage or stillbirth due to poverty or poor medical care; that might be a factor in some Third World countries but probably not so much in the U.S., even in areas of extreme urban decay.

  • Also, figures in some of the red states may be considerably skewed by the impact of (illegal) immigration.

  • There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken.

    There is little indication from his writing that Ross Douthat has the background to have much critical engagement with a piece of quantitative social research, so he would be advised to tread rather carefully in commenting on that. It’s regrettably been years, but I have done this sort of work on this sort of topic and (judging from the literature I reviewed and my own analyses) you generally get ambiguous results.

    Of course, the book could be flawed in all kinds of ways that a layman could spot quite readily. Awful lot of groupthink in academe.

    But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says,

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

  • Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates

    Yeah, mistyped.

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

    Heh. A little harsh, but there’s a lot of truth there.

  • If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    While the terms are being used a bit interchangeably in the comments here, Douthat does successfully make the distinction, and the data he links to does indeed bear this out. For instance:

    Alabama has a pregnancy rate for 15-19 year olds of 73 out of every 1000 women. Connecticut has a rate of 57. For in Alabama only 20% of those pregnancies end in abortion, while in Connecticut 53% do. West Virginia has a teen pregnancy rate of 62, which is the same a Rhode Island’s rate of 62 — but in West Virginia only 17% of those pregnancies end in abortion while in Rhode Island 42% do.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about, Bristol Palin should not have been brought up at all.

  • The bigger point might be the supposed connection between morality and whether one is red or blue. As much as either side tries to convince that it is more moral than the other, neither the public examples, nor the statistics are there.

    If you wanted to analyze the big picture on abortion or divorce, you’d have to draw in economics, religion, and education, among other factors. They used to say the moral majority is neither. It’s still true.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about

    It’s not that she typifies the type of people the authors were writing about (although she does in some respects). It’s that she is a common example cited by people like the authors. Douthat is laying out the lefty worldview; and Bristol and Sarah Palin references are common. Is that unfair to Bristol? Sure. But I don’t think re-stating the blue state critique of red-state America in its own terms makes Douthat morally reprehensible.

  • Todd,

    I’m not clear that moral conservatives necessarily claim to be more moral than social progressives, they just claim that they continue to espouse morality while their opponents consider it “repressed” or “outdated”.

    Of course, the other point here is that claimed moral beliefs are certainly not the only difference between the populations of “red” and “blue” states. In this sense, although it’s an oft used distinction, trying to make these distinctions is overly broad.

    As I’m sure you’d agree “red” and “blue” (there’s a certain late-Roman quality to how attached we are to these color designations) in the sense of left-politics/right-politics can contain a whole host of contradictory groups within one label. I would imagine that you share much more in moral/cultural outlook with those in the Moral Majority (however distasteful you may find their politics) than you do with the sort of folks who write long self-examining essays about how monogamous marriage doesn’t make sense in the modern world for The Atlantic, even if you might share some of the same favorite politicians.

    Data that I have seen which is more explicitly broken down by actual stated moral beliefs does show that, while as should come as no surprise to anyone those who espouse traditional moral beliefs are far from perfect in their practice of them, people who claim to believe in traditional morality, attend some sort of religious services regularly, etc. do tend to have fewer sexual partners, “wait” longer as teenagers, etc. Whether people claim allegiance to moral norms is not irrelevent to their behavior, even though many do not life up to their own stated ideals.

  • I suspect those on the left have their own moral positions though they may deny that. Just look at the furor over such issues as immigration restrictions, global warming etc. And like those on the right, there are many on the left that do not live up to their moral positions.
    No one is the equal of their ideals. The problem is what ideals are the right ones. Then, how to implement them.

  • Thanks for the comment, Darwin. I suspect that “researchers” on this topic go after their perception of hypocrisy from the Right. In a way, all they have to do is point to select developments in Republican-leaning regions, say “gotcha!” and move on. Point proved.

    I have yet to see a serious across-the-board study that would link abortion, divorce, and other issues with geography, politics, wealth, education, race, etc.. Unfortunately, any serious sociologist who attempted one would either be too biased from the outset, given the polarization of the culture, or would get hammered from both sides of the ideological divide. For now, I think we exist in a state of ignorance when it comes to other people’s morality. And maybe it’s better that way. Heaven knows I have my hands full with my own moral temptations.

    I’m not sure I would equate this situation too much with the parable of the two sons, the one who promised to work then didn’t (conservatives) and the one who declined to give lip service, but then reconsidered and labored (liberals). But we do know there are prominent folk who do not live up to their stated guiding principles. I’m disinclined to credit that as a torpedo to the movement, even ones I disagree with.

    I know, for example, a number of homosexuals who are highly moral people. For some people on the Right, they would trip over the sex and not get any further.

    Sex is a big part of morality, in part because of our culture’s fixation on it, but it’s not the only factor.

  • I grew up in New York and raise my family in NJ, the statistics in this book challenge stereotypes of both liberals and conservatives. However, I just read Frank Luntz’s book, “What Americans Really Want…Really”. Based on polls taken in the U.S. it states that families who regularly attend church and children who are brought up conscious of God and family life are often more aware about the consequences of their decisions and how a religious family life is beneficial to children. Luntz states that children who attend church, eat dinner as a family, take family vacations etc are less likely to take drugs. He also states parents should go over their children’s homework daily. There are tips that can benefit both red and blue families. If rural America and poor areas tend to have higher teen birth rates and unstable families then the U.S. Govt should be working harder to bring quality education and jobs and rescources to these areas especially. Also, many jobs that illegals hold may be desirable to poorer and less educated Americans. Hence, the unfortunate recent bias attacks in Staten Island where people in poorer areas were hostile as illegals came to their neighborhoods and took the jobs available in a sluggish job market. Also, since contraception is so widely accepted since the 60’s the governments role in promoting (politically or financially) contraceptives doesn’t seem so vital in blue states. Teens in middle class blue states are educated and now have the access they need.

Of Tea Party Terrorists and Cognitive Dissonance

Tuesday, May 11, AD 2010

With President Obama demonizing Tea Party protesters and the recent comments of New York Mayor Bloomberg speculating that the Times Square bomber was a tea party protester, it is mind boggling how the evidence continues to stack up against their arguments of Tea Party protesters being intolerant and racists.

Especially in the light of breaking news that thieves have stolen the Mojave Desert Cross that was built to honor Americans who died in World War I.  When  just less than two weeks prior the U.S. Supreme allowed that Cross to remain on the property.

I’ll bet good money that some raving liberal removed the cross because of his or her dissatisfaction with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Yet where are the news of lynchings, swastikas painted on synagogues and burnt out black churches by Tea Party Protesters?

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2 Responses to Of Tea Party Terrorists and Cognitive Dissonance

  • Thrasybulus – ancient Greek tyrant and teacher of tyrants: “Cut down the tallest stalk in any political field.”

    Liberals are vultures.

  • Nothing frightens the corrupt criminals in the political class like the active involvement of citizens in politics.

    In their view, politics is “their” domain; our role is to show up every 2 or 4 years and cast a ballot and go home.

    Now we’re taking ownership of the political process. The tea party just unseated a Republican incumbent in the Utah primary.

    http://www.newpatriotjournal.com/Articles/Senator_Bob_Bennett_Loses_Nomination_Bid_in_GOP_Primary

    “Most of delegates, when interviewed, confirmed that they had never served as a delegate, and most had never attended the state convention or even a caucus meeting. The primary reasons cited by delegates spoken to were a concern about the increase in size of the federal government and a resulting loss of liberties.”

    The political class hears this and goes into spasms.

    And make no mistake – they are more afraid of this than they are of Al Qeda.

The Liberal Dystopia of Political Correctness

Thursday, April 29, AD 2010

In our world today we are living in what I would refer to as the Liberal Dystopia of Political Correctness.  This thing that our current Holy Father warned us about.

As secular humanism continues its march towards a Dictatorship of Relativism we innocent bystanders suffer the consequences of its fruits when prejudice is rewarded and common sense rejected.

Five years ago this month, in the Mass prior to the Conclave of 2005 A.D., then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger warned us in his homily that:

“We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

An excellent example of this dictatorship of relativism or as I would name it, liberal dystopia, is the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office anti-Catholic memo on the preparation of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain.

In this event Anjoum Noorani, another Oxford educated civil servant* of the U.K. Foreign Office, who headed the Papal Visit Team that was planning the Pope’s visit to Britain was only verbally reprimanded for his part in approving and distributing the anti-Catholic memo.

What makes this worse is that the Foreign Office advertised the requirements for the position to lead the Papal Visit Team as “Prior knowledge of the Catholic church is not necessary“.

To add some irony the advertisement also stated, “High levels of tact and diplomacy will be required.

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2 Responses to The Liberal Dystopia of Political Correctness

  • Britain has become, as one Russian news commentator put it a while back, “an Orwellian prison camp.”

    I used to dream about visiting the British Isles as a kid because I loved the Middle Ages and my heritage is there.

    Now I wouldn’t be caught dead in that trash heap, a nation of degenerates. Maybe I’ll visit Ireland before the putrid soul-rot of England and Scotland completely consumes it as well.

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