Monday, February 28, 2011

"Why I Avoid Both the Catholic Left and the Catholic Right"

I’ve had abortions. I feel deeply that abortion is wrong. I have gone on record and I will go on record again as saying I believe abortion is deeply wrong. But the reason abortion is wrong is that it’s a failure of love, and  if you're not converted by the sight of an actual child, you're certainly not going to be converted by seeing an aborted fetus; just as, if you're not converted  by Christ's person, teachings and life, you're not going to be converted by watching a fetishistically violent film of his crucifixion.

So I don’t show my sorrow by wearing a button of an aborted fetus—or actually any fetus—who by the way could not possibly have been in a position to give his or her consent to be plastered all over my chest in order to make a statement about my political/religious views.

I show my sorrow by
changing my life. I show that I care by changing my life.

Heather King, writing on her blog, Shirt of Flame.  Read the rest of this astonishing and wonderful post, of which this excerpt gives only a small taste.


BettyDuffy said...

I second. Incredible writing.

Anonymous said...

I'll second "it's a failure of love", and go on to add it's a disregard of dignity, certainly for the mother and father and child who endure it, even of the doctor who performs it. It's a robber.

I see the use of graphic images as counter-productive, as if showing a nude photo to a pornographer would change him, as if it would automatically cause him to see his subject as more than a sum of parts. In fact, I think those images further rob innocence, rather than restore goodness. And it defiles the dignity of it's victim, as it requires desensitization to not look away.

I have few original thoughts, I feel, in my late late late late 30's, but you (and Betty Duffy, who mentioned the same article today) make me feel smarter for reading you. So good.

Pentimento said...

I posted an excerpt at Vox Nova and commenters are trashing it. Sigh. I should have expected that, I suppose.

Enbrethiliel said...


I've been starting to wonder whether the "Catholic Right" and the "Catholic Left" exist anywhere other than America and at any time other than our own age.

Pentimento said...

I don't know, E. I imagine there is some version of this in Europe, too.

Enbrethiliel said...


PS--And what I meant by that is that I don't think that Heather King is trying to be "above the fray" (as some of the Vox Nova commenters are saying), but that she has recognised that the Catholic Church is supposed to save us from being merely children of our own times and countries--not give us an excuse to be even more embarrasing shibboleths.

Pentimento said...

I agree. My intention there was not to throw meat to the lions, but everything there seems to end up that way. It's a little demoralizing.

MrsDarwin said...

Read down the comment thread at Vox Nova. I don't know how you put up with it! You have a great store of patience.

Pentimento said...

I think I'm really out of my depth there. I'm sure they asked me to blog there because they SO DESPERATELY NEED more female voices. RCM is wonderful, but because of the difficulties she's been dealing with in real life lately, she's been writing much less there.

That so many people could make Heather King wrong and turn it into a dispute about who's more of a pharisee, though -- I wasn't expecting it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Okay, I went over to read the Vox Nova combox as well.

Wow. It's as if they're speaking a completely different language, isn't it?

I'm reminded of the time I witnessed a screaming fight between two people for whom English was a second language. (One was from Sweden and darn near fluent; the other from China and barely getting by.) The way they misunderstood each other without meaning to was both hilarious and kind of sad.

Pentimento said...

I hate to say it, but I'm laughing just thinking about that screaming match you witnessed, E.

Enbrethiliel said...


Another post script--because I don't think things out as I should before hitting "Publish":

I sent the link to King's post to an artist friend, saying of King, "She reminds me of Anne Rice, except that she isn't crazy. ;-) She has a very deep sense of living one's faith as a work of art--which is, I think, also what I like about you."

And it's what I like about you as well, Pentimento.

This is what I think the commenters at Vox Nova don't get. And so even when they're right, they're not right.

Mike McG... said...


I'm happy to report that I found my way to your remarkable blog through your Vox Nova posting. I suspect that your post there as well as the Heather King citation resonated with many readers...just not with the readers most accustomed to posting replies.

As with so much of blogdom, what passes for conversation at VN too often devolves into contentious, comtemptuous harrangues. The net effect is that the most shrill voices get all the play and the more centrist and/or nuanced voices get drowned out.

Why? Lots of reasons but male dominance of blogdom is certainly chief among them. Too much testosterone! That, and the privileging of content over process. It is deemed more important to set others straight than to understand the world from their perspectives.

It has become almost impossible to discuss abortion at VN so wounded are participants in the conversation. Not wounded like the women grieving abortion but wounded in the sense of having one's opinion on the topic derided.

You and Heather were assailed at VN by *both* the most aggrieved and dogmatic of the anti-abortion correspondents *and* the most aggrieved and dogmatic of the anti-anti-abortion correspondents at this site. Your authentically and comprehensively prolife voice irks both of them. Obviously you and Heather are doing something right!

Here's hoping that your irenic voice continues to be heard at VN.

Pentimento said...

Mike, McG, thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

Pentimento said...

E, I'm flattered by your words. If only you knew how sloppy and miserable I am at living my faith. If my faith were a work of art, you can be sure that it would be one that no one would ever want to hang on their wall.

Enbrethiliel said...


And if my faith were art . . .

You might have heard of the exhibit made of crumpled paper, cigarette butts and other junk that an artist put together at some museum event and that the cleaning staff "accidentally" threw out at the end of the night. I believe the curator went through the garbage and reconstructed the whole thing from photographs.

Well, okay, I'm not that bad. =P But I have been unusually awful lately, and I wonder whether like many artists, I "peaked" in my youth.

And yet . . . this is the only way I know how to live it. So there is nothing else for me.

Pentimento said...

No one peaks in their youth, E, except gymnasts and tennis players. I am so resonating with the cigarette butts, though.