Sunday, September 14, 2008


Feminist Camille Paglia Right, Then Wrong

Every practicing Catholic has a favorite lost sheep that they pray for. For political types it might be Ted Kennedy or even Rudy Giuliani, for those more into pop culture, Madonna is always a popular choice (I recall hearing that Fr. John Corapi has prayed for Madonna), but as for myself - attracted to ideas and intellects - I find myself praying for Catholic-raised, writer and feminist icon Camille Paglia.

God gives each member of the mystical body of Christ a gift to be used for the benefit of the Church and God appears to have given Ms. Paglia a great gift of intellect, courage and a strong sensitivity to the nuances of the culture she lives in. The power of reason, as well, is strong in Ms. Paglia's writings and analysis, making her a person that both atheist and Christian intellectuals interested in the "culture wars" should read and consider well. In the end, however, what seems missing is perhaps an ethical or moral adhesive to close the gaps in Ms. Paglia's word-view; in the end, it appears what's missing is the grace of Christ's church and the ethical wisdom that 2,000 years of dealing with humanity brings to an institution.

A recent article on the website entitled "Fresh Blood for the Vampire" is a powerful example of her acute understanding of presidential politics and the underlying cultural factors that are at play. Yet it is with the issue of abortion, where some hope for Ms. Paglia's return to the Church exists.

Ms. Paglia states: "Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue."

She goes on to state: "But the pro-life position, whether or not it is based on religious orthodoxy, is more ethically highly evolved than my own tenet of unconstrained access to abortion on demand."

It's worth noting that for a feminist moving in the academic and political circles she does, these are a courageous set of assertions. There is almost an evangelical strength to such statements - opinions that even orthodox Christians are sometimes afraid to admit in mixed company for fear of "offending people." Perhaps it is the remnants of Ms. Paglia's Catholic childhood in up-state New York, or the lingering grace of her baptism into Christ, but Ms. Paglia is clear on the reality of abortion.

What's far more puzzling is that, despite her admission that abortion is murder, she believes that women have the right to choice murder for the infants in their womb. Perhaps this odd "tolerance" of murder is related to her atheism. One thinks of Dostoevsky's famous statement, "If God is not, then all things are permitted." Perhaps if there is no divine justice, then it simply doesn't matter. People choice, things happen, but there are no eternal consequences.

Ms. Paglia is right to understand that Gov. Palin's pro-life stance is one of the main reasons that liberals and many feminists have attacked her. Ms. Paglia is also right to point on that feminists have no consistency in their outlook. "Bill Clinton's support for abortion rights," she writes, "gave him a free pass among leading feminists for his serial exploitation of women -- an abusive pattern that would scream misogyny to any neutral observer."

Ms. Paglia nailed much of what's happening among the left in American with her observation: "Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion."

I urge Catholics to pray that Ms. Paglia receives the grace to return to the Catholic Church where she can use her intelligence, writing ability and public profile to speak about Jesus Christ and the culture of life to those who may not have heard a sophisticated, intellectual presentation of such beliefs before.

Click here to read Ms. Paglia's article in


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