Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Of friends and gifts

Last month I wrote and uploaded a post on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which I discussed her daughter Alexandra, who is a documentary filmmaker. Alexandra's latest documentary, now playing on HBO, is entitled Friends of God. In this documentary, the filmmaker visits only states that President Bush carried in 2004, so-called Red States, and interviews what is, by all accounts, a core Republican constituency, Evangelical Christians.

Among others she interviewed Ted Haggard (before his meth-driven gay sex meltdown- sounds like a song title!), Jerry Falwell, and Joel Osteen. Over on Observations & Contentions, there is a post by Michael Linton, himself an Evangelical Christian, entitled Friends of God. Linton's post is notable for him receiving Pelosi's film, which is, as all documentaries must be, somewhat limited in scope, as a gift. Nonetheless, Linton makes some very fair critiques of the film, but sees it, on the whole, not as a hack piece, which it is not. The only thing I take issue with is Linton's using the biblical story of Balaam's ass, from the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Numbers, to frame the piece, especially at the end when he makes a direct analogy between Alexandra and said ass. Now, I am willing to admit that this analogy may just be a bad pun about Alexandra being the daughter of the Democratic Speaker of the House, whose symbol, as we all know, is a donkey. It just puzzles me as to how you can you call someone a friend who has given you a gift in one breath and, then, with the very next, call her an ass. However, I have no hesitation sharing what I think is the take-away of his piece:

"Pelosi isn’t a liberal out to get us. Although from a branch of Catholicism that is incomprehensible to many of us [Evangelical Christians] (she describes herself as coming from a religious Catholic family where everyone went to Catholic school but 'we were never told gay was wrong, or abortion was wrong, or evolution was wrong'), she told the Advocate, the country’s leading L[esbian]G[ay]B[isexual]T[ransgendered] news outlet, that she has nothing but admiration and respect for Evangelicals. Although part of that admiration comes from her sense of Evangelical leaders’ ability to mobilize large numbers of people for political purposes (I think she still sees us as rather like Bolshevik cells), much of her admiration comes from her growing sense of the importance of faith in her own life.

"She and her husband had their first child in November, and, having left the Church, she’s expressed her intent to come back to it. And when asked about the 'culture wars,' Pelosi said
[to the Advocate no less], 'If I have to take a side in the culture wars, I would choose their [the Evangelicals’] side. As long as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are on the front page of the magazines, I would much rather my child be in church with Jesus than at a Britney Spears concert.'"

In Alexandra's moving back toward the Church, one can see nothing but a movement of grace!

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. No, this is not a liturgical observance. However, it does give many of us the opporunity to regain the 5 lbs we have lost since the end of Christmas. Enjoy.


  1. How wonderful that Alexandra has made her journey back home!

    Just a thought. In my reading of this very powerful and disturbing article, my sense was that the "ass(s)" who are now commanded to "turn and speak", are actually the Evangelical leaders themselves.

  2. ..and it seemed to me this is what the author himself was calling for?

  3. I agree. On th whole, I think Linton's piece is a very thoughtful, not to mention correct, response to Alexandra's film. Framing his response in terms of Balaam's ass would've worked better had he made the connection you see more explicit. As I hope I made clear, I think it was more verbal clumsiness on Linton's part than an intentional insult.