A Dictatorship of Sentimentalism

In my column over at First Things, today, I recall Ann Rice “quitting Christianity” just about a year ago, and ponder why that might have happened:

At the time Rice was writing, we were well into the summer of Tea Party unrest preceding the 2010 elections, and mainstream media were disseminating the usual mean Christian caricatures spouted in any election year. In 2010 patently false claims that Christians hate gays, women, and science had been given new force by the Proposition 8 drama in California and the identification of prominent Christians as Tea Party supporters.

Some were quick to dismiss Rice’s resignation as the result of a “re-version,” the nearly inevitable outcome of her long formation as a secular humanist. After all, in Called Out…, Rice expressed surprise that it might be thought radical “for a deeply orthodox Catholic to hope for the eventual ordination of women, of for a Catholic to believe that our gay Christian brothers and sisters would soon be accepted into the fold . . . but these did prove to be radical suggestions.”

Others wondered if Rice was simply falling victim to a shoddy catechesis that had failed to fully articulate the carefully nuanced, generous and supernaturally grounded reasoning behind the Church’s counter-cultural positions.

Certainly, both of those explanations are possible, and even likely. It is also likely, because caricatures and stereotypes are distortions often founded upon realities, that Rice had encountered the sorts of Christians who seek constantly to confront and correct others, forgetting that the key to the Christian life begins with confronting and “fixing” the self—a job for grace, if ever there was one—and found them off-putting in the extreme.

But I suspect the largest part of Rice’s boisterous resignation has to do with the dictatorship of sentimentalism…

You can read the rest, here

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