Katha Pollitt to the rescue

pollitKatha Pollitt shows an occasional capacity for self-mocking humor — I remember her offer, several years ago, to rename her Subject to Debate column to Subject to Everett if two philanthropists by that name would send some jack over to The Nation. (Ideological bonus: Mother Jones reported in 1996 that Edith Everett is “staunchly anti-school prayer.” Blessed be!)

Her column for the Oct. 31 issue lives up to the smile-inducing premise of its headline: “If Not Miers, Who?” The column is noteworthy for two other reasons — her tortured reference to Valley View Christian Church in Dallas as “an antichoice church” (so congregations are now pigeonholed by their beliefs about abortion rather than, say, about God?) and the most candid description I’ve ever seen Pollitt offer of her worldview:

I am not a Christian. This may not strike you as an advantage, given the nature of your base, but think about it. Right now, the Christian right is split: James Dobson says you told him something on the phone about Miers that reassured him greatly, but Gary Bauer doubts she is “a vote for our values.” At Miers’s own evangelical church, the congregation stood up and applauded; but at other churches the pews are in revolt. Honestly, who can figure these people out? They only stopped burning each other at the stake a few centuries ago. Nominating me will unify them instantly: I’m a half-Jewish half-Episcopalian atheist. When they make a fuss, just tell them God told the President to pick me. Given the other advice God’s been giving him — to invade Iraq, for example — it could even be true.

So she’s half-Episcopalian, eh? Based on my onetime coverage of the Center for Progressive Christianity, I’m confident that at least a few [PDF] Episcopal churches would offer Pollitt not just a place at the table but perhaps even put her on track to becoming a priest or — hey, aim high — a bishop. After all, shouldn’t the church’s heinous discrimination against Brights (stake-burnings included) finally be rectified?

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  • http://dogfightatbankstown.typepad.com/blog/ saint

    “I am not a Christian….I’m a half-Jewish half-Episcopalian atheist.”

    Does that mean Christian and Episcopalian are mutually exclusive? And Jewish and atheist are synonymous?

    Would it have been easier if she just said: I’m confused.

  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw Raphael

    I didn’t realise Episcopalian was a bloodline.

  • http://www.dailycontentions.com Lucas Sayre

    Douglas, your characterization of some of the Episcopal churches is more than unfair. I realize you were exaggerating to make a point, but the point seems hollow to me.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Sorry it bothered you, Lucas. I’ve been an Episcopalian all my life, and I’ve reported on my church’s theological debates since the early 1990s. Considering that my denomination treats John Shelby Spong as a Christian theologian, despite his clearly articulated hostility to historic theism, I consider my points neither unfair nor hollow.

  • Dan Crawford

    If half an Episcopalian is an atheist, I’d hate to think what a whole Episcopalian might be.

  • Stephen A.

    She sounds exactly like the Episcopalians I know up here in New Hampshire, right down to the atheism (or at least agnosticism.)

    That said, if this was a comedy routine, her act needs work.

  • http://wafflinganglican.blogspot.com The Waffling Anglican

    You certainly can be Episcopalian and a faithful Christian – I know plenty – but they certainly stopped being synonymous a long time ago. I put up with as much as I could from ECUSA, because I loved my parish, but I finally just couldn’t take it anymore. As far as “Episcopalian” being a bloodline, I think that attitude is part of what got the church into the mess it’s in today.