Ruth Ann Dailey


Ruth Ann Dailey, seen here slouching in hopes that the picture will not reveal that even union wages at the Post-Gazette do not provide enough scrilla to buy sleeves, is a P-G columnist. She is also, apparently, “a gospel pianist by birth,” which is very impressive to me, as I did not know that newborns could play the piano.

Ms. Dailey (the Post-Gazette uses the honor titles, so I am trying it out when referring to their writers) has made some claims in the past that I cannot agree with, such as that Rick Santorum was trying to save America from “barbarism”. Today, however, she topped herself:

The last time I made such a public decision and attempted to explain my thinking, there was, in fact, rational thinking involved. It was a movie, “The Da Vinci Code,” that I declined to waste my money on, and I wasn’t just put off by photos of Tom Hanks’ mullet.

There were big ideas at stake then, too — the reliability of ancient “reporting,” the decision of this reporter to function only as an informed reader and the difference between historical fiction and a lie. (If a “historian” wrote a romantic thriller set in a concentration camp and claimed the camps were just high-security prisons that held no more than a few thousand people, none of them Jews, which part would be historical fiction and which part a lie?)

This isn’t exactly rational thinking: for instance, no one would ever accuse Dan Brown of being an “historian”. The amazing thing to me, here, is the implication that someone who disagrees on a minor point of Biblical “history” is equivalent to a holocaust denier. Dan Brown isn’t even someone who had the good sense to look rationally at Christianity and dump the entire “historical” flim-flam framework over the side: he just wrote a book imagining a slightly different version of it.

The Christians went after him like terriers after a rat. First Things, a magazine of Catholic Theology I used to be subscribed to, was packed with ads for books to debunk the Da Vinci Code, a novel. Why? Bolsheviks hate Mensheviks far more than they do Monarchists: authoritarians like Josef Stalin and Ruth Ann Dailey have far more hate in their bellies for those who they think should agree with them than those who they know have always opposed and will always oppose them (which would make me Winston Churchill in this analogy, except that I don’t take enough baths).

Then again, maybe I should be worried. According to her biography on the P-G website, Ms. Dailey lives in a “100 year-old shoe polish factory” on the North Side, which I assume is probably big enough to to accommodate breaking on the wheel (are her three children home-schooled? If so, this might be a fun inquisitorial project for the whole family — one of them already won an award for inquisitiveness).

I promise right now that, faced with physical violence, I will be happy to renounce whatever, and agree that your two thousand year old street preacher died, either causing the ground to shake and the dead to walk or not, depending which book you are reading, and then rose from the dead, which really shouldn’t be all that surprising, since Lazarus et multa corpora sanctorum qui dormierant surrexerunt et exeuntes de monumentis post resurrectionem eius venerunt in sanctam civitatem et apparuerunt multis. After all, I am not worried about my immortal soul, or even the meat I leave behind. Ms. Dailey has my back on that front too:

“Bodies” uses corpses of unverifiable provenance whose former occupants signed no documents of permission before their deaths. Science Center staffer Elaine Catz felt strongly enough about this — and whether such exhibits even belong in a civilized society — that she resigned.

Another popular international exhibit, “Body Worlds,” does provide such documentation, but it began at the other extreme — death as pseudo-artistic spectacle. Each corpse is signed and provocatively posed by the scientist who invented plastination.

… … …

Is a change of context alone enough to turn exploitation and entertainment into edification? Does the exhibit’s value depend on the seriousness of the viewer’s intentions? Does a viewer’s quest for information change pornography into a legitimate form of sex education?

Maybe there are some things that should never be casually viewed. Maybe there are some things that we the living shouldn’t make money from. That’s the direction my mind’s leaning, but my stomach decided a long time ago.

Ruth Ann Dailey: she will rescue you from the idea that Jesus got married (homeless street preacher, notorious vandal, wanted criminal: what a catch!) and the possible use of your body after you are done.

1 Comment so far

  1. Tim Parenti (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    Oh, how I’m amused by your random Wikipedia links…



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