Barbara Nicolosi, executive director of Act One, writing for her excellent blogsite, Church of the Masses, tells of going to see Anne Lamott talk about her new book at a Beverly Hills bookshop last night. Nicolosi, while realistic about the long-term prospects of Lamott’s writing—whether it will hold up in forty or fifty years—is not nearly critical enough of Lamott before telling us this:
That’s why it almost physically hurt me, when this woman—my sister in Christ—and someone whose craft I absolutely admire—started raging against “right-to-lifers” and ridiculing “rightwing Christians.” She animatedly detailed her hatred for the President at nauseating length, noting that she spent weeks after the election choked with such antipathy, that it almost drove her to a kind of madness. But she really seemed to enjoy the madness. When she gave herself over to her disdain of religious conservatives, Lamott morphed from being a compassionate and attractive disciple, to being a cliched, bitter paradox. It made me very sad, because unfairness and ridicule are awkward on her.
Lamott is great now, but she will be fabulous as soon as she gets honest about abortion. She aborted one or two of her kids in her pre-Jesus years, and she keeps obsessing over it, mainly trying to convince herself that she did the right thing—“I had to do it! Pro-lifers only care for fetuses and not for starving poor unloved children who would be born without abortion!” Her self-defense here fuels her gnashing of teeth political diatribes. If she lives long enough to confront the fact that abortion is evil, the BIG ONE, in her hit parade of personal mistakes, Lamott could be a great saint.
My objection is not a politcal one, at all. There is no sense putting anyone forward as a writer whom we ought to listen to or learn from (“The coolest thing about Lamott is how much she loves Jesus”), who takes as violent a posture toward children as does this woman, no matter how excellent her powers of description or wonderful her turns of phrase. She seems not to know the same Christ as the one speaking in Matthew 25:35-46. Some political conservatives also seem not to know the Christ of Matthew 25, but can we, God help us, name someone our “sister in Christ” who so misunderstands her purported Lord?