I don’t know much about Michael Kinsley, but I probably should. His opinion column (published in such outlets as Politico and the LA Times and titled “Don’t Let ‘Miracles’ Trump Science”) gives me a very poor first impression of him.
Kinsley’s beef with the news that Pope John Paul II is to be beatified is that a) only one person has been certified to have been miraculously cured through his intercession and b) that the Catholic Church is “one of the main impediments” to finding cures through embryo-destructive stem-cell research (ESCR).
Where to begin? How about with the fact that ESCR has, to date, not a single cure to its credit? And that adult stem-cell research and therapies have dozens, and that list of cures is growing steadily.
Next, who seriously thinks that the Catholic Church is “stopping” ESCR?! Embryo-destructive research is happening everywhere in the developed world, and thanks to our current administration, our tax dollars are now paying for it. Blaming the Church for a lack of ESCR cures is like blaming your football team’s 0-16 record on the maintenance guy. The Church isn’t even on the field.
Why does the Church not condone embryonic stem-cell research? Obviously, because it always results in the death of a tiny, unique human being, and also because it instrumentalizes human beings, turning them into “raw materials” for scientific consumption. A horrible practice which is beneath the dignity of a civilized society.
I doubt Kinsley could express any of the above reasons, because I’d bet he’s never really troubled himself to understand the Church’s teaching. Instead, Michael chooses to welcome the news that a religious sister has been cured of her disease, and that a holy man revered by well-nigh a billion people… by complaining! By blaming the suffering and deaths of millions of people on the very institution that Pope John Paul II spent his life defending, even while the pope was afflicted by the same disease Kinsley blames the Church for not helping to cure!
The mind boggles unless we remember this truth: those who shut themselves off to the truth proclaimed by the Church impoverish themselves. Kinsley is obviously blinded to the irony of his chosen method of attack. And where so many people see good, he can only see the evil of his own warped perspective.
Here’s the really depressing part. This is how Kinsley’s biography reads:
Michael Kinsley is a columnist for POLITICO. The founder of Slate, Kinsley also has served as editor of The New Republic, editor-in-chief of Harper’s, editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times and as a columnist for The Atlantic. He has written regular columns for Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the Readers Digest, the Daily Beast, Conde Nast Traveler, and other publications. For six years he was co-host of the CNN program “Crossfire,” appearing five nights a week opposite Pat Buchanan, John Sununu and Robert Novak. He also was William F. Buckley’s regular interlocutor on Firing Line and moderator of the Firing Line debates on PBS.
That’s quite a resume. And yet, in all his years, and with all his experiences, he’s never managed to acquire even a basic understanding of the Catholic Church or what it teaches. And when presented with scientific facts and ethical arguments which are at the very least worthy of reflection and consideration, Kinsley takes the easy way out and blames these problems and disagreements on a holy man, an institution and a faith he does not comprehend.
Talk about a wasted career. Talk about someone who needs a miracle.
UPDATE: As a refresher, read Nine Reasons Pope John Paul II mattered.