Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Cruel Joke by Eureka Street editors? A critique of Amnesty International's new Abortinon policy and Ad for Bishop Spong on the same page????

This is either a really cruel joke in incredible bad taste by the editors of the Eureka Street website, or... I don't know "or" what.

There is an excellent article by Father Chris Middleton in the current edition of Eureka Street entitled "Pro-choice Amnesty means no choice for members". In it he deplores the unhappy situation in which the change of policy for Amnesty Internation from a neutral position on abortion to a "pro-choice" position leaves Catholic members no choice but to renounce membership in the organisation. In it he quotes English Catholic Bishop Michael Brown (a member of AI for 30 years) as saying:
The world needs Amnesty International. It has touched the lives of countless numbers of people across the world who have been wrongly imprisoned for their beliefs or subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Long may it do so - hopefully with the active support of Catholics worldwide. But this will be seriously threatened should Amnesty adopt a policy supporting the right to abortion. Those involved in decision-making at international level need to ponder this very carefully indeed.
BUT ON THE VERY SAME PAGE we find THIS advertisment:Readers of "Sentire Cum Ecclesia" will be familiar with the retired Bishop John Shelby Spong. He is no friend of the Catholic Church (or of orthodox Christianity full stop?), and recently on the ABC Religion Report he said:
the abortion battle is basically the last gasp of a white male attempt to control women.
So what gives, you guys at Jesuit Communications? Do you have an explanation, Fr Andrew Hamilton or Robert Hefner?

6 Comments:

At Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:52:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

Slightly OT, I had a great belly-laugh listening to the podcast of Crittenden's interview with Spong.

Wow, I never knew that the whole religious right was triggered by the 60s black civil rights movement. Which, just coincidentally, occurred around the same time as the launch of the anti-family 'Sexual Revolution' and the polity-destroying Roe vs Wade decision. But just in case you don't get the no-so-subliminal message: anyone who opposes Spong and Crittenden is a racist. Case closed.

So, the religious right is disappearing, your Grace? Anyone would think that it was Evangelicalism, rather than Spong's Episcopalianism, that is going out the door backward in numbers and influence. I don't think so, though they may well be about to throw off their dysfunctional alliance with the Republican Party. Spong is a classic case of what a Freudian would call 'transference'.

Once again, Crittenden's reputation as a serious interviewer takes a bullet for the cause, as he gives us yet another soft, misleading interview with a 'liberal Christian'.

 
At Tuesday, May 29, 2007 7:33:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, I must say that the choice of Spong as a serious commentator on the late Jerry Falwell struck me as a strange inspiration. Although it appears the two men were geographical neighbours and almost perfect contemporaries, they were to all effects and purposes complete strangers--not only to each other but to their respective world views. They might just as well have come from different universes.

But you are right, suggesting that the Civil Rights movement was what created or mobilised the religious right in the States is a bit odd. Richard John Neuhaus (by everyone's agreement no leftie) was--and still is--a committed campaigner for the civil rights movement, but by his own testimony the permutation of the this movement into a all out campaign for anything anyone wanted to claim as a human right (from the right to kill the unborn and the elderly to the right to redefine marriage and human sexual relationships) was the true turning point for him.

 
At Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:27:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Hold on a minute.

There's a difference between disagreeing with a particular view, and believing that the view should not be aired at all.

A journal of opinion like Euraka Street is not being inconsistent in affording space to commentators who offered opposing views, even if one view happens to accord with the editorial line of the journal and the other conflicts with it.

A journal of opinion which only offers opinions that the editor thinks people should agree with is (a) crashingly boring, and(b) completely irrelevant.

The Spong puffery, of course, is not an article or an opinion piece, but an advertisement. However I think the principle holds good; I see no reason why the editorial policy of Eureka Street should require it to refuse this ad. The readers of Eureka Street may well be interested to know that disucssions of this kind are taking place, and they might even be interested to take part in the discussion. Why should the editor be charged with protecting them from the knowledge that such things are sometimes talked of?

Finally, is there a principle somewhere in the moral law that, if someone holds unacceptable opinions about abortion, we should never hear, or allow anyone else to hear, what he has to say on any other subject? The ad is not all that enlightening, but it doesn't look to me as if the advertised function has a lot to do with abortion.

I come back to a point I made in another context. The Federal and State Ministers of Health are all guilty of rather more proximate co-operation with abortion than Spong has ever been. Should they too be barred from the pages of Catholic journals?

 
At Wednesday, May 30, 2007 8:48:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Dear Peregrinus,

I was waiting for you to bite!

You just don't get it, do you? I'm an archconservative crunchy neocon right-wing traditionalist fundamentalist, and John Shelby Spong is a archliberal flaky modernistic leftie heretic.

I hope you can imagine the grin on my face and my winking eye as I wrote that.

Let me spell out what I mean.

One thing that Catholics have all agreed on is that abortion is wrong. To use your words, really really wrong. We might disagree on what is appropriate pastoral action in the face of this great evil, but I have yet to meet a Catholic who will get up and say that abortion is a great thing and we should all be promoting it. Yes, I know they exist, but I haven't met one yet and don't really wish to.

The line taken by Fr Middleton is surely the one held by the vast majority of Catholics world wide, from the bishops down to the local primary school student. It is in no way controversialfor such a position to be held by a Catholic priest, and upheld by a Catholic School, and given space in a Catholic (last time I checked Jesuits were still Catholic) journal. No editorial surprises there.

BUT should a Catholic journal be promoting the speaking tour of a man whose every idea--not just SOME ideas but EVERY idea--root and branch--is diametrically opposed to the the faith and morals of the Catholic Church?

Spong's ideas on abortion are among these ideas at variance with the Church. He is publically on the record as saying that attempts to curb or abolish abortions is simply "a white male attempt to control women". Many of the people who read Eureka Street would also have listened to his interview on the Religion Report. The magazine and the program are pitched at the same audience. The point is that we KNOW what his position re abortion is.

Now, you take Fr Middleton's excellent essay, which accords perfectly not only with the magazine's editorial policy, but also with the faith and morals of the Catholic Church, the position of the Australian Bishops Conference, and (one presumes) the position of the Society of Jesus on the matter. The whole essay is about the fact that abortion is such a serious issue that no matter how good the rest of the work done by Amnesty may be, Catholics can no longer in good conscience support that organisation because of its support for abortion.

THEN into the middle of this you plonk an ad for a man whose support for abortion is even more extreme than that of Amnesty, and even better publicised, and who doesn't even have the saving grace that Amnesty does of being in harmony with the Catholic Church's faith and morals in all other respects.

Presumably by featuring the ads so prominently Eureka Street is saying "We support Spong". Well, I for one see a conflict there. You can say "freedom of the press" if you like, but I am not asking for Eureka Street to submit to censorship. I am asking them to inquire into their own conscience.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:03:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I know, I know, I’m so predictable.

Presumably by featuring the ads so prominently Eureka Street is saying "We support Spong".

Why presume this? I don’t think you’ve any basis for presuming anything of the kind. I think the most it means is “the organizers have offered us money to run this ad, the ad isn’t objectionable, we need the money, so here you go.”

Consider: The Dalai Lama’s views on abortion and pretty well everything else are fundamentally at variance with the position of the Catholic church, but I don’t think you’d react in quite the same way if Eureka Street carried an advertisement for a forum on religious issues at which he was the keynote speaker.

The difference, I think, is that Spong presents his position as an authentic expression of Christianity, whereas the Dalai Lama does not.

Irritating as this may be, is it really a reason for suppressing discussion of what Spong has to say? It seems to me the right response is to engage with, and refute, Spong’s position – either the specific beliefs he advocates, or the implication that they are Christian beliefs, or both - not to pretend that Spong’s position isn’t being advanced

Carrying an advertisement for a meeting at which Spong will speak isn’t supporting or promoting Spong’s views. The conventional analysis is that the advertisers support the publication – they do, after all, pay for the ads – rather than the other way around. But even if we grant that there is a degree of mutual support involved in the publisher-advertiser relationship, I think the most you can say is that the publisher supports the airing or discussion of Spong’s ideas, not the acceptance of those ideas, any more than, by advertising an address by the Dalai Lama, it would be advocating the adoption of Tibetan Buddhism. And discussion of ideas is what a journal of opinion is all about. So, no inconsistency there.

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:53:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

Nick subscribed to Eureka Street for years. I got so sick of it one day as I was reading the typical dissenting garbage therein, that I tossed it aside with great disdain and said something so "profound" (can't remember what... probably, "I'm sick to death of this crap!") that Nick was inspired to buy me a subscription to the St Austin Review.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home