Question from a reader:
I recently read about Anne Lamott's stand on abortion and her antagonism towards pro-lifers. How do you respond to this Christian writer being adamantly pro-choice?
Barbara Nicolosi's blog regarding Anne Lamott and her stand on abortion, March 15, 2005:
I went to hear the very good writer Anne Lamott read from her new book tonight. Packed into the Beverly Hills Duttons with a few hundred other folks, I spent the night milling between the shelves, listening to Anne's wonderful turns of phrase, and marveling at the relationship between having a really screwed up life and being a great writer. (I used to think sin was necessary to making a great writer. But, then, a good woman I met in Ohio straightened me out, saying, "It isn't sin that makes someone deep, but rather suffering. It's just that the worst kind of suffering is that which has the added burden of remorse.")
The coolest thing about Lamott is how much she loves Jesus. He's perpetually just a thought or two from her frontal lobe, and so keeps slipping into every anecdote, as the other half of the inner dialogue Lamott lives in.
I thought, as I leaned into the foreign language book shelf, "There aren't a lot of writers I would stand around a bookstore listening to for a couple hours." It gets more impressive when I add that I couldn't even see Lamott from my vantage points at the outskirts of the crowd.
Still, I wonder if Lamott's work will last. Her writing is so reliant on pop-culture references and on having some kind of understanding of the historical anomalies that all come together in her prose: the baby-boomer's clawing through the last half of the 20th century, flailing around protesting everything, going on marches, doing drugs and having lots of unmarried sex. I would like to think that in a few decades, people won't "get" Lamott, because we'll be past the groundless search for meaning that propels Lamott's musing and ranting.
But, regardless, her writing is wonderful. Fabulous eye for detail combined with self-effacing vulnerability.
That's why it almost physically hurt me, when this woman—my sister in Christ—and someone whose craft I absolutely admire—started raging against "right-to-lifers" and ridiculing "rightwing Christians." She animatedly detailed her hatred for the President at nauseating length, noting that she spent weeks after the election choked with such antipathy, that it almost drove her to a kind of madness. But she really seemed to enjoy the madness. When she gave herself over to her disdain of religious conservatives, Lamott morphed from being a compassionate and attractive disciple, to being a cliched, bitter paradox. It made me very sad, because unfairness and ridicule are awkward on her.
Lamott is great now, but she will be fabulous as soon as she gets honest about abortion. She aborted one or two of her kids in her pre-Jesus years, and she keeps obsessing over it, mainly trying to convince herself that she did the right thing—"I had to do it! Pro-lifers only care for fetuses and not for starving poor unloved children who would be born without abortion!" Her self-defense here fuels her gnashing of teeth political diatribes. If she lives long enough to confront the fact that abortion is evil, the BIG ONE, in her hit parade of personal mistakes, Lamott could be a great saint.
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
Barbara Nicolosi said about Anne Lamott:"She aborted one or two of her kids in her pre-Jesus years, and she keeps obsessing over it, mainly trying to convince herself that she did the right thing - 'I had to do it! Pro-lifers only care for fetuses and not for starving poor unloved children who would be born without abortion!'"
I have long observed that many Christians who wish to be known as progressive and tolerant, are fond of repeating whatever popular culture, especially the intelligentsia, says about other Christians (often without examining that little matter of whether or not it is actually TRUE). We love to distance ourselves from Christians who are unpopular. But we don't always understand what we are doing in the process. (Likely, to be honest, we would also have distanced ourselves from people like John the Baptist and Paul and, yes, Jesus.)
Satan, who Jesus said was the liar and murderer from the beginning (in abortion as in the holocaust, he lies to cover his murders), does not just slander Christ. The devil is also called "the accuser of the brethren." That is, he slanders Christ's followers. It is true that professing Christians have done many detestable and shameful and embarrassing things.
However, it is also true that many Christians have been highly critical of other Christians for doing "shameful" things that they have not actually done, things which the world misrepresents and caricatures and which gullible Christians believe are really true of their brothers and sisters when they are not. Ironically, then, the "brethren" end up aiding Satan in his strategy of "accusing the brethren." This, in my opinion, is what Anne Lamott is doing on the abortion issue.
Any of us who have opened our homes and hearts to post-abortive women, and who have spent long hours trying to console women who have had abortions, including trying to talk them out of suicide, are beginning to lose patience with the constant accusations that pro-lifers are mean and they don't care about women or children. (By the way, it is hard to imagine being any meaner than Anne Lamott was in what she said about pro-lifers.) I don't expect the world to understand. But I could hope for something better from fellow Christians.
I am not bitter about this. But I have experienced it for over 20 years. I saw it first hand when sued by abortion clinics, and having fellow Christians, including pastors, publicly state that we were doing things (including yelling at women, pulling their hair, swearing at them, etc.) which I would NEVER under any circumstances do, and which if I ever saw anyone else do would immediately oppose in the name of Christ. But our fellow Christians simply believed—and then repeated—the caricatures and lies of the same "liberal media" they criticized to their people. The damage done by the Christians was to me far worse than that of the secular media.
Recently I received a letter from a Christian telling me I am setting a bad example and being a poor testimony by choosing to make minimum wage to keep abortion clinics from garnishing my wages. (No matter that if I wrote them a check they would use that money to further their cause of killing children.) I don't lose sleep over these accusations anymore, though I did 15 years ago. Still, one would hope that Christians, even if not fully understanding, would at least manage to refrain from public criticism of their brothers and sisters except in matters which they have thoroughly investigated to find out what the truth really is.
It is a supreme irony that well-paid abortion doctors driving their brand new BMWs are the heroes of the prochoice movement. As are the Planned Parenthood employees who encourage women to kill their children (i.e. get an abortion), but then are not there for them after they do. (Do you know who IS there for them? Pro-lifers—those people Anne Lamott detests. We're the ones who love and console these women, and try to help them put their lives back together.)
What post-abortion counseling does Planned Parenthood or NARAL or NOW offer? Planned Parenthood will gladly take a woman's money to kill her child, but they will not give them free ultrasounds to show them what their child actually looks like, and they will not help them find forgiveness after an abortion. No, that is left to those "hate-mongering" pro-lifers who always, by the way, do what they do for FREE.
And then, "pro-choice" advocates assume the moral high ground, castigating those trying to help women however they can not to make the worst choice of their lives, a choice they will pay for deeply, and also helping them find healing after making those choices.
If this sounds close to home, it is. Our dear friend Diane, who 24 years ago we took into our home as a 17 year old, had two abortions which still haunt her. Nanci and I cried with her about them, even recently. While living with us, she gave birth to another child she placed for adoption in a Christian home. We had the joy of seeing her come to Christ during that year. She's now 41 and has not only been through post-abortion healing classes, but is now leading such a class in the Oregon women's state prison, reaching women with the love of Christ. In other words, Diane is now one of those outspoken pro-lifers Anne Lamott treats with such disdain.
Here are some things from my book Why ProLife? in response to the Anne Lamott accusations against pro-lifers that are so common not only in the world, but among Christians:
My wife and I became involved in pro-life work out of concern for women who'd been devastated by abortion. In 1981 we opened our home to a pregnant teenage girl. I served on the board of one of the first pregnancy centers on the west coast, offering help to pregnant women who were needy, confused, and desperate. Our objective was to help women in every way possible. And the best way to help these women was to provide them alternatives to abortion.
As time went on, I became involved in pro-life education, political action, and peaceful nonviolent intervention outside abortion clinics. Some pro-life ministries focus more on saving unborn children, some more on helping pregnant women. I found both kinds to be vitally necessary and completely compatible.
The Movement You May Not Know
Countless myths have been attached to the pro-life movement. One example is the often-repeated statement, "Pro-lifers don't really care about pregnant women, or about children once they're born." A television reporter, with cameras rolling, approached me at a pro-life event and asked for my response to that accusation. I said, "Well, my wife and I opened our home to a pregnant girl and paid her expenses while she lived with us. We supported her when she decided to give up the child for adoption. And, since you asked, we give a substantial amount of our income to help poor women and children."
Then I introduced her to a pastor friend standing next to me who, with his wife, had adopted nineteen children, a number of them with Down syndrome and other special needs. The reporter signaled the cameraman to stop filming. I asked if she wanted to interview my friend. She shook her head and moved on.
The fact is this: thousands of pro-life organizations around the country and throughout the world provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, support groups, childcare classes, financial management education, babysitting, diapers, children's clothes, and housing. Add to these tens of thousands of churches donating time, money, food, house repairs, and every other kind of help to needy pregnant women, single mothers, and low income families. Countless pro-lifers adopt children, open their homes, and volunteer to help children after they're born. In fact, together these efforts comprise the single largest grassroots volunteer movement in history.
While those who offer abortions charge women for them, those who offer abortion alternatives give their assistance freely, lovingly, and almost entirely behind the scenes. Contrary to some caricatures, these people are not just pro-birth—they are pro-life. They care about a child and her mother, and are there to help both mother and child not only before birth, but after.