Shock and Awe

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Shock and Awe.

Yesterday I read about a new book by Reverend Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. It's called Seeing Gray in a World of Black of White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics.

Seeing Gray is a centrist book. It's about finding a middle ground on contentious issues that allow all parties in a debate to be heard and meaningful compromises to be had. He comments on homosexuality, ethics, inter-religious relations, politics, evolution and other controversial topics.

The Shock and Awe part comes from Reverend Hamilton's stance on abortion. Although he's an evangelical megachurch pastor in Kansas, he believes abortions should be available, legal and rare, and it turns out that about 1/3 of white evangelical Christians agree with him. He believes that both pro-choice and pro-life advocates can agree on certain initiatives and issues that don't compromise their values. Initiatives like reducing the number of abortions and providing adequate information and access to birth control. And addressing the idea that the longer a pregnancy progresses, the more morally problematic an abortion becomes.

Reverend Hamilton describes himself as "pro-life with a heavy heart." I like that. And I like the idea that while the core issue of abortion will never be resolved (when does sentient life "begin"), both sides of the argument can reach a middle ground in good conscience without all the screeching and recrimination.

I guess that makes me "pro-choice with a heavy heart." I can live with that.

8 comments:

Nathan said...

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I've heard about this guy before. If I'm not mistaken, he founded his church out of disgust over the Evangelical Movement coming to be synonymous with the GOP and he thought they should be known more for their 'good works'. If it's the same guy, I'm still impressed.

Actually, I hope I'm wrong and he's not the same guy. Wouldn't it be great if there are two Pastors of Evangelical MegaChurches who don't have their heads lodged in their asses?

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, that would be great.

But I'm not holding my breath.

I do find it encouraging, though, that when young evangelicals are asked who their role model is, many of them say "Bono."

I can totally live with that. Walking the walk.

Michelle K said...

That's totally awesome! (end Bill & Ted voice)

I am extremely conflicted over the subject of abortion, and for a while my position has been, "I just don't know."

But I think he hits the nail on the head (and what bugs me the most) with his stance on birth control. I really despise the entire "every sperm is sacred" stance that many take.

I mean, that's all good and fucking well that you believe that, but how can wasting sperm even be the tiniest bit equitable with an abortion? Isn't the smartest stance to keep 'em from getting pregnant and THEN discuss the morality of sex?

Idiots.

I think what upsets me most about the subject is thinking about a friend from college. She got pregnant, but the true problem was she was in a bi-racial relationship that her parents had already flat out told her was completely unacceptable.

So she got an abortion.

Some of our friends took her, as my views on abortion were well known. But after our friends brought her back, she ended up coming to my room because she felt dreadful about what she felt she had to do, and didn't think anyone else would understand why she was upset.

Now don't get me wrong, I was glad I was able to hold her and be there for her, and even more glad she knew me well enough to know I didn't judge her for what she had done. But isn't there something seriously wrong in that she felt her pro-abortion friends wouldn't understand why she was so distraught?

And that's the biggest problem I have with this divide.

Many of those caught in the middle don't seem to be understood by either side, which makes their ordeal even more traumatic.

Janiece Murphy said...

Michelle, I think it's fair to say that most people feel conflicted about the issue of abortion.

That certainly doesn't include the people who are fanatical in their beliefs, i.e., unwilling to compromise.

I self-identify as pro-choice, for a wide variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean I don't have conflicting feelings about the subject. It certainly doesn't mean I don't understand how a woman could make a decision to have an abortion and yet have emotional issues surrounding that decision.

I think the problem with the debate up until now is that the fanatics have monopolized the discussion, even though the majority sit in the conflicted middle.

I'm glad that Reverend Hamilton has put the conflicted middle back into the conversation. Because the fanatics (on either side) certainly don't speak for me.

Jeri said...

Michelle, I too had a similar situation with a friend in college - twice, two different friends. Not only were they devastated emotionally, but also physically pretty sick from the D&C.

Janiece, it's encouraging that there are religious leaders out there who acknowledge shades of grey and the human element to it all.

I recently read Jimmy Carter's Our Endangered Values, where he eloquently speaks in favor of separation of church and state, as well as a more liberal, service-based theology. Great book.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jeri, IMO Jimmy Carter is an amazing human being, and the best ex-president we've ever had.

Jodi said...

I would encourage everyone to read Adam Hamilton's chapter on abortion - I think he’s even posted that chapter on his blog at www.adamhamilton.cor.org. It really points out the complexities of the issue.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, Jodi.

I really appreciate that Reverend Hamilton has taken the time address the fact that abortion is a complex issue.

So refreshing after all the screeching (on both sides).