Friday, June 29, 2007


In Judy Thomas' Spiritual Reading class on Wednesday nights at Otter Creek, we have been reading Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually). I had finished Traveling Mercies the previous week so my mind had been filled with Lamott-isms for three full weeks.

One of the most fascinating things about reading Lamott is reading someone who's became a Christian and came to very different conclusions that I and most of the believers around me have. Specifically with regard to Life.

In her section called In Circulation, Lamott has two chapters. One is called At Death's Window concerning euthanasia and the other is called The Born concerning abortion. First, let it be said that Lamott is fairly liberal politically (ok, that's like saying water is fairly wet), and that she supports both euthanasia and abortion. In At Death's Window, she relates the story of helping an old friend of hers die before cancer ravaged his body. In The Born, she talks about how having two abortions prevented her from bringing children into the world while she was a drunk and addict and would not be able to care for them and give them the life they deserve.

And that seems like what Lamott's point is. Her point seems to be that there is a certain kind of life that God intended and for a child to enter into poverty or abuse is not life as God intended, and for the body to be ravaged by cancer or the mind to be ravaged by Alzheimer's is not how God intended.

I can sympathize on some level. Now, I have never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy or watching someone close to me waste away, so my sympathy is strictly hypothetical. Maybe more on euthanasia than abortion. It seems that with children, there is an opportunity for adoption (and perhaps Christians need to be more vocal about offering this option or more vocal about how this option has been used). It seems that with children, we look at the potential for life.

So what is life? Does it begin at birth (or even conception) and end at death? If we're followers of Jesus, then we don't believe life ends at death. It just takes a rest for a bit until the resurrection. Is life defined by how we live it? Does everyone have the potential for life, even those with debilitating diseases? What if those diseases cause excruciating mental or physical pain? How does a follower of Christ with an eternal perspective look at these questions?

I'm not sure of the answers, but particularly on euthanasia, the world seems a bit grayer than how black and white it seemed a few years back.


Justin said...

From a strictly legal standpoint, people should have the right to die if that's what they desire.

From a Christian stand point, could I help someone die if that's what they wanted? I don't know. It kinda reminds me of The Last Samurai (spoiler alert) when Tom Cruise helps Ken Wantanbee up onto his sword to stab himself. That was their custom, but he was going to die anyway, just like someone with terminal cancer, so... I don't know what I would do.

Abortion is a very sketchy subject. It seems the line there is somewhat gray as well... its an ethical dilemma when you have to choose between the mother or the child. And rape and incest are both cases where I could see allowing it.. but for convenience sake... I think its absolutely positively evil.

Plus, I'm not a big fan of Anne Lamont, mostly because I get the impression that she believes her hatred of GWB is somehow justified. Just seems like a marxist Jerry Falwell to me.

Phil said...

Lamott did "repent" of her "hatred" somewhat in G(E). She's working on forgiveness, or forgivishness as she calls it sometimes.

chris said...

I sure am lucky not to have been aborted because I'm pretty sure God meant me to be as rich as Paris Hilton. Just dumb luck I guess.

Snapshot said...

Lamott is an author that I will not read again for many reasons. The main reason is the negative, very unspiritual feelings she evoked in me. Some folks are encouraged by her. While I don't understand that, I'd never try to keep them from reading her work.

And to quote someone over at the Blogfather's site (Mike Cope) the answer to the radical religious right is not the radical religious left.

For me on the issues of death and life, I'll let God make decisions on those difficult situations. Not my job. And very grateful for that fact.

Phil said...

I can definitely understand where you're coming from, Snapshot. That's my preference too.

Thomas+ said...

Is this really the best book you all could find for a spiritual readings class. Seriously?

Lamott is a great writer, no doubt. But she is not particularly spiritually insightful. Having read two of her books, I was pleased to see someone "really grappling" with spirituality and life issues. But there are scores of books, perhaps hundreds, that do that, and that come from a place of deeper discipleship.

Just saying . . .

Phil said...

Thomas+, Judy Thomas was the one who chose the books. Here in July we're doing Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath and in August it's Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book.

Snapshot, I was pondering your question about "playing God" this weekend. Just from a hypothetical standpoint (and anyone feel free to jump in here), what is the difference of "playing God" by creating life (having children) or preserving life through extraordinary means and ending it through the two means that we were talking about?

Snapshot said...

I wouldn't do either.

Justin said...

We kill injured animals to "put them out of their misery" but we prolong misery in our own species... kinda interesting.

Thomas+ said...

We eat cows and pigs and chickens, but we don't eat other people. . . kinda interesting.

Kimberly said...

I can't say that my views of God directly align with Lamont's, but I truly enjoy her writing. I think that she has been uniquely gifted to express the heart of knowing Christ and what it looks like to work out and through issues of faith in Him.

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