19 September 2005


received an e-mail this morning from naaman (the ex-leper!), the author of the piece i was all inflamed about on friday.

i had emailed naaman with the specifics of my concerns about misrepresentation and cherry-picking; he(?) wrote back to report that he had edited the problem-post to remove my full name and noted that "In my rush to blog, I treated you as source material rather than as a real person. For that, I apologize."

he also noted, however, that my blog (as opposed to my email) did precisely the same thing. he's right, of course. what good did it do anyone for me to get all "hostile pro-lifer" on him? there remains the fact that he is pro-life, and that i experienced the initial post as hostile, but...yeah. not so useful of me, was it, especially in light of the rest of the post.

anyway, in the interests of substantive rather than ad hominem debate, i'm going to quote from my email.

"...i had only intended to make a distinction between moral prohibitions and legal prohibitions, and you seemed to suggest that i was offering some sort of argument for moral flexibility on killing. that was rather unfair, but it is true that i didn't preface any of those thoughts with my basic position, which is that (1) killing is wrong, period, and (2) life does not begin at conception. there's lots of nuance surrounding both of those issues (duh) that i won't try to defend here, but i just wanted to make it clear that i think your characterization of me was a little bit off-base.

my point was only that one might believe that life begins at conception and that every abortion is an abomination, but that one should consider the effects of legal restrictions on abortion. there is solid evidence that abortion restrictions lead to deaths of pregnant women without significantly lowering the number of abortions.

as for my identity as a cafeteria christian, perhaps you're right. but i think that any good-faith (so to speak) effort at following jesus necessitates choosing certain principles as overarching and others as less important. i believe that the idea that we should lovingly forgive, and indeed the idea that God's will might be characterized as "more love," makes exclusion and judgment much more morally suspect than loving, respectful, monogamous gay sex..."

in general, though, i think that abortion is probably not the right place to start dialogues between left and right christians. for example, one of the places that both groups fall depressingly short is on social justice and materialism. i think it would be incredibly interesting to hear about different readings of jesus' injunction that we give all we own to the poor in order to follow him. (on which, also see yesterday's post.)