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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Anne Lamott Publicly Confesses to Murder

One of the Emergent Church’s Darlings
Anne Lamott belongs to the elite. She writes novels that people who are in psychotherapy read while they’re in their analyst’s waiting room (Hard Laughter, Rosie, All New People, Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird); she has published two books ostensibly dealing with faith—any resemblance between what she writes and what the Bible says is purely coincidental (Traveling Mercies; Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)—, and the apostate Christianity Today describes her as “Jesusy.” Cute. The word “Jesusy” applied to someone like Anne Lamott makes you wonder where CT is getting its journalists.
In addition, Lamott is a darling among those know as Emergent Church leaders.[1] Keep in mind that Rob Bell has no clue what the Bible says about homosexuality, believes that Jesus died on the cross for everybody, everywhere,[2] took everybody’s sins upon himself,[3] yet also contends that hell is full of forgiven people; full of people God loves, and for whom Jesus died.[4] Brilliant. Just makes you want to go out and attach yourself to such a mental giant’s congregation, doesn’t it?
Ms. Lamott certainly got my attention recently with the opening sentence of her Op-Ed piece on www.latimes.com: “The man I killed did not want to die, but he no longer felt he had much of a choice.” Now please keep in mind that even though Ms. Lamott has a live-in boyfriend—but it’s okay because he’s a sensitive artist—and has possibly the foulest mouth in Marin County California she considers herself to be a Christian and others in the ECM tribe also consider her to be one.
Given what she will disclose in the course of the op-ed, her opening salvo was highly incorrect. She did not kill the man; she murdered him. Apparently she is not aware of the biblical difference. Euphemistically, our culture of death prefers the gentler, softer, kinder phrase “assisted suicide.” Nothing moral going on here.
Well, to say the least, I was intrigued by Ms. Lamott’s confession and am—quite frankly—shocked that the police have not arrested her by this time. As flaky as Ms. Lamott normally is, she outdid herself in this op-ed piece. Allow me to walk you through it. Her friend’s dilemma was that “He had gone from being tall and strapping, full of appetites and a brilliant manner of speech, to a skeleton, weak and full of messy needs.” Anyone who has been a pastor long enough has dealt with cancer patients in every phase of the illness. I really don’t need Anne Lamott to tell me about it. By the way, I have known “skeletons, weak and full of messy needs” to be highly spiritual people. I often found after leaving their bedside that they ministered to me far more than I ministered to them.
In other words, though, the man had lost the ability to do the things he liked best: to cook, overeat, hike, and travel. Moreover, he had “always been passionately literary.” I think I understand, but truly you could substitute anything for “always been passionately literary” but that would hardly make the man a candidate to have a hair-brain like Anne Lamott perform euthanasia on you. Crassly, someone might say, “Bubba was always passionate about the WWF” and he couldn’t watch it anymore, so he wanted to die.
Of course you and I know that the value of human life is entirely dependent upon whether you’re passionately literary or a redneck. The woman is clueless. At any rate, her friend was diagnosed with cancer at age 60. As sad as that is, it might be an opportunity to begin—albeit later in life—to ponder metaphysical and epistemological truth that actually outweighs being passionately literary. It seems that Dickens has limited spiritual application—especially in the face of cancer.
What seemed to bother Mel the most was not merely that his body was deserting him, but his mind, ideas, and self were exiting the building as well. As a staunch Christian, which is the way Lamott describes herself, it seemed like she might have come with some biblical counsel about Mel’s soul as well, but that is asking far too much. That is so…well, to be so unliterary to one of Christianity’s cultured despisers. Lamott informs us that Mel opted to live out his days “on his own terms,” which can definitely have eternal drawbacks. Ever the optimist, Lamott “believed that God would be close to us all no matter how things shook down, even though Mel was not a believer.” Obviously, she’s been listening to Rob Bell’s sermons.
Besides, Lamott is convinced from years of theological study that if you have a body (and who among us doesn’t?), “you are entitled to the full range of feelings. It comes with the package.” It? I was waiting for something on man being created in the image of God, but that was surely far beyond the pale of reasonable expectation.
Then one day over lunch Ms. Lamott—the liberal Presbyterian answer to Sister Teresa—“told him that if he ever experienced too much pain or diminishment, I would try to help him die on his own terms, if he wanted.” If there were ever a case of both Ms. Lamott and Mel playing God, this was it. I’ve been around the block a few times—twenty-five years as a non-believer—so I truly do not consider myself naïve, but is it just me or was there an open door for Ms. Lamott to present the gospel to Mel at this point in the conversation?
The upshot of their luncheon meeting was that Sister Anne (a.k.a. Dr. Death) offered to “help” Mel if he ever needed her. Once again, Mel opened the door for Ms. Lamott to present the gospel. He asked her what she thought death was like, which is reasonable coming from a man who is acutely aware of impending death. He can hear the hoof beats of the horses of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She could have, I suppose, said something of a “fundamentalistic” Christian mindset about God and death, Jesus and death, or the Holy Spirit and death, but she opted instead for this: she informed him that she didn’t have a clue—who would have guessed?—but she had heard “an Eastern mystic say that it was like slipping out of a pair of shoes that had never fit very well.” That’s comforting and oh so helpful.
From there the conversation devolved into this: “Then we moved on to what we were reading, and how our kids were. I knew for a fact, though, that Mel believed in assisted suicide. We had discussed a story in the paper once, about a local man who gave his wife an overdose, and then sealed her upper body in a plastic trash bag with duct tape. Then he had done this to himself, and they died holding hands. What love!” Isn’t it amazing how a Glad trash bag and some duct tape can add to death with dignity? The Eastern mystics must have something profound to say about trash bags and duct tape.
Even old atheist Mel was a little taken aback, however, that as a Christian, Lamott “so staunchly agreed with him about assisted suicide.” Yes, one might ask that question. Lamott is quick with an answer however: “I believed that life was a kind of Earth school, so even though assisted suicide meant you were getting out early, before the term ended, you were going to be leaving anyway, so who said it wasn’t OK to take an incomplete in the course?” You probably missed that text of Old Testament or New Testament wisdom literature that made this profound Christian point: Life is a kind of Earth school—2 Hesitations 14:6. This truly qualifies as the Profound Thought of the Day. Ms. Lamott doesn’t seem to realize that to a sovereign God no one leaves “before the term ends.” When God calls them to whichever eternal destiny awaits them, it comes as no surprise to him. He does tell us, however, that he is God and it is not man’s place to decide to take his own life.
Well, long story short, several months later Mel and his wife, Joanne, call Sister Teresa. Mel had decided to take her up on her offer. Her Christian response was: “Oh my God (cute. Don’t you just love it when staunch Christians take the Lord’s name in vain like that? It’s so endearing.), I thought—I had just been being nice. I couldn’t take someone’s life. I’m not at all that sort of girl.” It is nice to know that Ms. Lamott has scruples about some things. Shacking up and having a completely filthy mouth are one thing, but “taking someone’s life” is quite another. Once again, Ms. Lamott regales us with her penchant for euphemism. What she’s talking about, folks, is not taking someone’s life like a prison warden would “take the life” of a convicted murdered. In the warden’s case he is simply killing, putting to death, or taking the life of a convicted criminal. What Ms. Lamott is describing is actually murder. We need to keep that in mind. Best of motive and intentions aside, she has zero biblical warrant for what she’s describing.
Even though she is not the kind of girl who would actually take another’s life—according to her offer—she had done her homework. When her own father was dying from cancer, she communicated with the happy crowd over at her friendly neighborhood Hemlock Society. Those kind-hearted, well-intention dragons informed her precisely how many Seconal® pills it took to kill a big person. Nope. How many pills it took to murder a big person. They even went so far as to describe how to feed the victim (Lamott and the Hemlock Happies call the victim the “sick person”) toast and tea so that they won’t throw up the pills. Nothing worse than messy emesis to ruin a perfectly good murder.
Nice girl Anne accedes to their request. There’s a bump in the road though. How could they acquire the requisite number of Seconal® pills to do the job? Ready for the next euphemism? “Through wily and underground ways, I came up with a prescription that would cover enough pills for a lethal dose.” (Emphases mine.) This “op-ed” gets more sordid and macabre as we go along! Not only is Lamott admitting publicly that he engaged in assisted suicide/murder, but also that she got the prescription illegally. She calls it wily and underground.
Have you tried recently to buy more than two bottles of NyQuil®? Last winter everyone in my family except for me came down with a case of the most pernicious flu on the planet. It was so bad that I found my wife lying face down on the bathroom floor with our German Shepherd, Hosanna, licking her ears. She was trying to get to the toilet but just gave up halfway and decided to die on the tile floor. She didn’t move but let Hosanna lick away. Actually, that’s not true, but everyone was really sick. Being the only one ambulatory in the house my wife threatened to write me out of the will if I didn’t rush down to SavOn and buy a case of NyQuil®. You cannot do it. Since we have three children still at home I thought a personalized bottle for everyone would be a nice touch. The cashier informed me that two was the limit. Physicians know the doses of medication and almost always refuse to prescribe anything over the lethal dose for fear a patient would “OD” on the drug. Can you say malpractice? I leave it up to you to decide what the words “wily” and “underground” mean in the context of his op-ed piece.
I’ll leave out the part about the events of the last evening leading up to Mel’s murder by Ms. Lamott and her musings about coming across a dying cat in a field—it’s all of a piece, isn’t it?—and cut to the chase. At Mel’s bidding Lamott confesses to going into the kitchen, crushing the pills with a mortar and pestle, and then stirring them into applesauce in a tiny Asian bowl. A tiny Asian bowl? Lamott is getting ready to murder her friend Mel, but being the literary, nice-girl butterfly nut case that she is, she simply has to mention that the murder weapon was a tiny Asian bowl. Excuse me, but who really cares? It’s like saying that you were wearing Gucci high heels while you pumped your friend full of hollow-point bullets from your elegantly appointed .357 magnum Smith & Wesson! Anyway, tiny Asian bowl.
She also admits to feeding the concoction to him and recounts that he actually grimaced as she did, “like a child swallowing medicine.” What a lovely turn of a phrase! As Mel approached death’s door and a very real encounter with his Creator he left the little group huddled around the tiny Asian bowl full of death with this profound thought: Every person owes God a death and everyone should be as lucky as he. Lamott, who simply cannot leave off being the quintessential literature snob, added that he was paraphrasing Shakespeare. That was a nice touch for the unwashed masses.
Before he died Mel informed Lamott that he had left her a present: a framed 8-by-10 photograph of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps a more appropriate gift would have been an autographed photograph of Dr. Jack Kevorkian and an orange jump suit while she awaited trial for murder. Of course, given the muddleheaded thinking in our society today, there will be those who will applaud her efforts. How loving; how caring; how humane.
In glaring juxtaposition to the drivel that Lamott spewed out, I received an email this morning (6.28) written by an acquaintance who has also been diagnosed with cancer. The difference is that he is a strong believer. The letter was, to put the matter mildly, very moving, but was written from the heart of a man of God. He explains that while on a plane trip out East for treatment he read a book entitled, An Unexpected Journey. Then he went on to say words to this effect: When you are facing something serious you reflect back upon your life. But in reading this book it reminded me that it is not what I have done that is of significance because our best works are as nothing when it comes to what Christ has done for us. It is by faith in Him and resting in His righteousness that we can look forward to eternal life. The author said, “Faith alone looks to Christ alone and Christ alone justifies those who have faith alone.”
He closed his letter with these words: “As we close, let me share with you a few verses from Psalm 73. ‘Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever....But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.’”Lamott’s op-ed and this man’s letter are worlds apart. One claims to be a Christian and the other truly is. The ECM tribe can have Lamott and her ilk. I used to think of her babblings as fodder for satire. Now I think of her as a wretched woman who performed premeditated murder on a fellow human being If I had to chose the one I’d want with me in time of trouble, the choice would be a very easy one.
[1] For example, Rob Bell cites her as one of his favorite authors (Velvet Elvis, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], p. 54.
[2] Ibid., 145.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid., 146.

16 Comments:

Blogger Kyrie66 said...

Beautifully put, Dr. Gleason. Beautifully put. Thank you.

6:47 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Killing is serious. Who would trust this ditz to do it right?

Your friend's quote from Psalm 73 -- that's one of my favorite psalms. "The psalm begins with the assertion that God is good, a belief won only after long struggle with what is observed in the world." So saith the Ref. Study Bible notes.

"When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart.
"I was brutish and ignorant, I was like a beast before you.
"Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
"You hold my right hand.
"You guide me with your councel, and afterward you will receive me to glory."

6:50 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Wow, that woman is truly evil. God is separating the wheat from the chaff, and the true remnant Christians will separate from this evil that is masking (not too well in Lamott's case) as good. It grieves my heart, but God is good and He is in control and His true people will be set apart from all of this.

I will make sure everyone I know reads this. She should be put in jail. Man, this makes me angry...

10:17 PM  
Blogger fool4jesus said...

What I am the most amazed at is not that she can claim to be a Christian - after all, I believe Shirley MacLean would describe herself as a Christian in some sense, and Scientologists claim that their faith is "compatible with Christianity" (their words) - but that even the Emergent crowd would fall for this woman. I know most of them don't have any Biblical discernment to speak of, but this is a bit beyond the pale.

They'd probably say: look at her, willing to explore the deep problems of life, when all these so-called Christians are sitting smug in their churches and never interacting with the world. Besides, who are we to say that somebody who claims to be a Christian is not? And what is a Christian anyway?

Sometimes the set of questions a person asks gives you the answers about where they're coming from.

6:41 AM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Ron,

I sit here aghast after reading this, and I thought I already knew enough about Lamott to last a lifetime. I wonder what the reaction will be within the Emergent tribe as a whole when this gets wider distribution. Perhaps the whole movement needs to set up shop in Holland where they can smoke weed and euthanize each other with abandon.

It's a sad day in Christendom when stuff like this can be put out there under the "Christian" name and no one objects.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

Lamott's murder of a human is extremely serious. But it is nowhere near as serious as her flawed theology(lies - in the Greek) because it is clear that we are supposed to give the greater consideration to the afterlife as our Lord taught. So we don't fear Anne Lamont who can kill the body, we fear the One who will one day divide the sheep and the goats(emmergent church - in the Greek).

7:42 AM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Well, it was a matter of time. I linked to this article over at my blog, and someone has already chimed in calling us Pharisees.

I responded accordingly. :)

7:32 AM  
Blogger ableknife said...

came across your blog while searching for more info on rob bell. although i can't say that i agree with all of your thoughts, i appreciate your insights. although you may not be interested, you may want to check out a book called Jesus in the Margins by Rick McKinley. blessings on your journey~

5:48 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
You are truly sad and you get sadder by the day. I truly hope and pray that you are MUCH different in your congregation, because if you aren't, you really ought to step down until you get your theology--including what constitutes Calvinism--straight.
No one is arguing whether or not God is all-powerful to redeem Lamott and McLaren. BTW, it's an interesting point that you raise that both Lamott and McLaren NEED to be saved even though they claim to be Christians. Nice touch. Thanks.
Calvin, Calvinism, Calvin College, Calvin Seminary would never tolerate an unrepentant murderer, which is what Lamott is.
Take a sabbatical, buy some good books--I'd suggest Bavinck's "Reformed Dogmatics"--and get your theology straight.
Rattlesnake 6

12:11 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Randy,

That is a rather typical response from both you and fellow Emergents. You lob your point, charge, accusation, bomb or whatever you call it, then announce . . . "I'm not willing to go down your path on either of these points." Sort of reminds me of the old playground game when someone would say "tag, you're it" and then step immediately out of bounds so they couldn't be touched. Rather cowardly, isn't it?

If you don't have the stomach to take Ron on in debate, then don't post childish "nyah nyah" things like this. It serves no purpose other than to make you look silly.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Why does it have to be any of my friends? I have listened to you and a number of ECM supporters in addition to reading, first hand, the material from McLaren, et al. If that is any indication of theological debate you guys are in very deep weeds.
Rattlesnake 6

6:29 PM  
Blogger John Watson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:32 PM  
Blogger John Watson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:33 PM  
Blogger John Watson said...

Hey Pastor Ron,
I saw how you killed that dog with your fancy Citadel Training. Boy you are such a good Christian. It is so hypocritical of you to preach Psalms and have to kill a dog instead of kick it or hit with your fancy Citadel Training. You are are fake and a phony and I would love to meet you face to face. You even wore your poser Citadel t-shirt during your news interview. What a great example of a Christian and you actually teach Christianity?

4:37 PM  

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