We here at The Revealer are celebrating some pretty important anniversaries at the minute. For one, we’re now TEN YEARS OLD. You read that right. The Revealer first crawled toward the light in the dim, dark days of 2003. While SARS was busy hogging all the attention,* a modest religion blog was quietly establishing itself in the friendly confines of 726 Broadway. It’s a testament to said blog’s ingenuity and staying power that we went from this to this and still stood strong. Too bad California’s budget couldn’t do the same.
But enough about us! There’s an even more important anniversary to commemorate – the passing of Roe v. Wade 40 years ago this month. What’s more, it turns out it’s being commemorated all over the interwebs.
At Religion and Politics, Marie Griffith interviews Notre Dame Law and Theology scholar Cathleen Kaveny about the lasting impact of the decision and, perhaps more importantly, the sites and methods she recommends for opening up neutral spaces for conversation about abortion. I’d like to point to one of Kaveny’s responses:
I think that E.J. Dionne had a really good comment…a few years ago. Basically, he was saying that most of the volume on these hot-button issues are taken up by (say) 10 percent of the population clearly on the one side and 10 percent clearly on the other. In my view, opposing activists tend to feed off each other and leave no room for honest, nuanced, and even anguished conversations that we need to have. He was saying that the culture wars run through most people—because they have very ambivalent feelings about these issues. I’d like to reclaim the public space for the discussions we need to have. In a sad way, the activists on both sides feed off each others’ energy and they almost honor each other more than the people who are raising questions on each side because they validate each others’ view that this is a clear issue with a clear resolution, even in a pluralistic society.
Similarly, Reality Check discusses how to talk about “womens’ reproductive rights in southern, religious settings like Mississippi. One of their hints: avoid the “a word” altogether.
We at The Revealer certainly agree that getting along is great – both for the personal disposition and a liberal sense of decency-borne-of-consensus. For all of these platitudes, however, the 40th anniversary of Roe is also marked by some political trends that throw this “it can’t be black and white – it’s got to be gray!” attitude into sharp relief.
Take this story from Jezebel: the legal representatives of St. Thomas Moore Hospital in Colorado have taken the stance during a current lawsuit that two third-trimester twins aren’t technically people. This is, of course, from an organization that has repeatedly argued against emergency contraception, even in cases of rape. (Yes, we acknowledge that The Vatican or even the USCCB aren’t held to the practical ethics of hospitals, but you hear us, right?)
On top of that, the state of New Mexico’s legislature is currently hearing a bill that would make post-rape abortion felonious on the grounds that it represents “tampering with evidence.” HuffPo has the details.
Also, io9 commemorated the big 4-0 in their own way, with this map of the US highlighting regional access to abortions. The Revealer’s wise editor noticed that this map seems to correlate pretty substantially with the route taken by the Keystone XL pipeline. We don’t all see eye-to-eye, but maybe we all smell nose-to-nose? To me, this smells like oil, genetically modified corn and structural, systemic disenfranchisement.
Which brings us back to Kaveny’s statements (and Reality Check’s, too). In a way, the legal and social realities seem to only confirm what’s being said – turns out reality is a murky gray, as well. But we would like to see such conversations acknowledge the fact that, whether it is the “bodies of the unborn” or the corporeally-subjugated which are cause for concern, arguments for finding common ground and couching the whole debate in friendlier terms read like so many platitudes when bodies are actually bleeding and dying in the very present.
But wait, I’m sure you good readers are thinking, I thought this was a birthday party? You only turn 10 once! Why so morose!? Right you are! AND HOW CAN YOU HAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY WITHOUT ANY FRIENDS!?
Like the aforementioned wise editor, Ann Neuman, whose piece in Guernica Magazine, “The Longest Hunger Strike,” is absolutely worth checking out, especially if you want to be invited to our next birthday party.
Then there’s our friend Kiera Feldman’s piece on American Jews moving to the West Bank over on Vice. Even the user comments are worth perusing: “What is it about New Jersey that makes people want to flee to internationally disputed lands overseas where an entire population will hate them?”
And then there’s one-time Revealer employee Abby Olheiser’s piece for the Columbia Journalism Review, “Why do evangelicals talk to journalists?”
And don’t miss our good friend Omri Elisha at The Immanent Frame about Marcia Palley’s recent essay on “the new evangelicals,” “What Has Been Will Be Again.”
Scott Korb, our first books editor, has a new book of his own out. Light without Fire is about the first year of the first American Muslim College. Go buy two copies here. And give one away as a birthday gift, or something.
Or you can return to our roots by reading this review of Lawrence Wright’s new book on Scientology, “Going Clear,” by our founder, Jeff Sharlet. We’ll sign off until next time with this irresistible clip:
Before Scientology, there was Aleister Crowley, the English “magician” revered by generations of would-be wizards. When Hubbard and a friend tried to breed an Antichrist according to Crowley’s teachings, even Crowley rolled his eyes: “I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these goats.” Of course, Hubbard – “Source,” just “Source,” no “the,” of Scientology – didn’t really want Crowley’s approval. According to the Church of Scientology, he was undercover for “naval intelligence” on a mission that “broke up black magic in America.” Phew!
Nathan Schradle is a graduate student in the Religious Studies Program at New York University.
*I don’t mean to make light of a serious illness, but, for the record, SARS killed 750 WORLDWIDE (specifically, in 25 separate countries) during its much-publicized run in 2003. Meanwhile, Six people have died in Oklahoma alone from the flu in the last week. The moral of the story here (at least I think) is always fear the unknown. Also, “Unknown Epidemic!” is way more fascinating than “New disease perhaps as deadly as the common flu!”