Do you ever wish that you could have been present during an interview between a major newspaper and a major newsmaker or popular personality? This happens to me when I read a really amazing quote and then think to myself, "OK, if the reporter didn't follow up on that by asking this question, he (or she) should be abandoned in journalism purgatory." This past week, the Baltimore Sun ran an interesting feature on novelist Anne Rice by reporter Anne-Marie O'Connor. Clearly, we are still in major publicity mode for "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt." By all means, read the story for yourself, because it has some interesting material in it.
I have been interested in the dueling themes in the press coverage of this book. Stories tend to say (a) the book's take on Christianity is amazingly orthodox, given Rice's past, and conservatives are rather pleased with it or (b) Rice has come back to Catholicism on her own terms, which blend personal faith with progressive takes on moral issues. In other words, she is a brave Catholic reformer. Some people have tried to say (a) and (b), which is tricky, but possible.
Thus, I was fascinated by this section of the Sun piece:
Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, "sex-obsessed" church leaders and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church.
"Think of how the church bells would ring and the pews would fill if women could become priests and priests could marry. It would be the great resurgence of the Catholic Church in this country," Rice said recently, seated in front of a roaring fire, in the La Jolla, Calif., mansion she moved to after she left New Orleans.
OK, so what is the very next question that the reporter could have, or even should have, asked?
Here is my clue for you. It is closely related to the question I have sent to Andrew Sullivan several times and he has never answered. It would start: "Ms. Rice, are you familiar with the statistical trends ..."