The Raving Theist

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The Gospel According to Jill

April 15, 2006 | 4 Comments

Mr. Swill accuses me of misrepresenting Jill of Feministe’s theological views in the Quote of the Day, suggesting that I twisted her meaning by selectively quoting from her post yesterday on the Bible. He interprets this as deliberate irony, and in particular, a response to Jill’s recent accusation that I had misrepresented her views on abortion. In fact, I wasn’t being ironic at all, but simply applying the canon of interpretation that Jill prefers. She intends that her posts be interpreted in the same way that she and all religious moderates interpret the Bible — in a non-literal way, so that words mean exactly the opposite of what they say.

I hadn’t realized this when I first read her abortion posts. In this one, for example, Jill seems to be expressing delight that religious pro-choicers like herself were injecting their faith into the debate. What made me think this was her actual words — she said, “[l]uckily, other faith-friendly pro-choicers are coming out on the offensive, and demonstrating that support for reproductive rights is not only not immoral, but fitting within a religious code that values justice and human rights.” She then quoted at length from New York Times description of a Planned Parenthood prayer breakfast last month, immediately followed by her declaration that “[t]he role of religious communities in securing abortion rights cannot be emphasized enough” and a description of historical religious pro-choice efforts. The post begins with her declaration that she’s a religious person, and a verse from Exodus demonstrating that “[t]he Bible doesn’t condone nor condemn abortion” — specifically quoted to refute the claims of the right-wing anti-abortion lobby to having a “monopoly of God.” From all this I foolishly concluded that she was contending that the religious views of the pro-choicers about abortion were the correct ones, and that she thought they were a valuable and necessary contribution to the public debate.

In fact, it turns out, I was just being “thick” or “willfully ignorant.” As she explained in comment 45, she “[doesn’t] think religion should factor in at all to the abortion debate.” Moreover, she wasn’t endorsing the conduct of the other faith-friendly pro-choicers who were “luckily . . . coming out on the offensive” last month and holding prayer breakfasts, but only referring to the historical religious pro-choice efforts. This is something, she said, “that would have been clear . . . had [I] read the post” — so clear that she felt it necessary to add this update on her blog post:

Allow me to clarify a minor point. I wrote about this because I thought it was interesting, not because I think that religious beliefs should at all influence legal standards. They shouldn’t. That should be obvious enough from everything I’ve ever written here.

Obvious (as many other thickheaded ignorant readers apparently found), if you don’tt read the post literally. Similarly, I grossly misinterpreted her statement that “after fetal viability” abortion should not legal — I said “after six months,” which is “not analogous” (it’s actually “approximately” six months).

Which leads us to her latest post on religion and why she “identifies” as a Christian, even though the Bible “is full of concubines and de-virginizing young girls and multiple wives and incest and gang-bangs and eating feces and chopping up babies and nakedness and hot hot sex and whatnot.” Despite all that stuff, she does “not accept the idea that religion itself creates misogyny and violence and whatever other ills we often attribute to it.” That’s just a crazy misinterpretation of the infallible governing text by “fundamentalists” who take literally exactly what it says. When properly read, as she’s pointed out before, the Bible can even be used by a gay church to boost its members self-esteem.

So the quote I attributed to Jill can only be read as suggesting that her Christianity is based on the Bible if read literally. But that’s not how religious talk is supposed to be interpreted — you have to pick and choose, cut and paste, pretend you mean one thing and say another. Do you actually believe that when Jill says she’s a “Christian,” she’s affirming a belief in the divinity of a man who died and rose from the dead to atone for our sins and give us eternal life? Do you believe when she writes a post about her religion, she’s actually talking about her religion? Of course not, as she explained here:

I consider my own beliefs to be private. I don’t think they’re any better or worse than yours, and I don’t like arguing about them in a public forum, because to me, they’re deeply personal, and between me and my God.

Or, in other words, she considers her beliefs to be a matter of public record, superior to all others, and worthy of exposition in just about every other post at Feministe. After all, if you’ve had personal contact with the omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe — to the extent you can call him “my God” — you’ve just got to share.


4 Responses to “The Gospel According to Jill”

  1. Dada Saves
    April 15th, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    Why can’t we all just get along?


  2. Kafkaesquí
    April 15th, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

    Because that’s what Christians do, Dada.

    Or DO they…

  3. Some guy
    April 15th, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

    Anyone ever notice that Jill is really hot?

  4. Some Guy
    April 16th, 2006 @ 7:35 am

    As it happens, Torah is very clear that abortion is not a murder. In Leviticus, in one of the verses that King James didn’t like and had edited out of his edition, it is written that if two men are fighting, and a woman comes between them and is struck, causing her to abort a pregnancy, that whoever struck her owes property compensation to her husband. Compare to the penalties set out for murder, right there in the same book, and you can only conclude that Torah doesn’t consider abortion to be murder.

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