Saturday, December 17, 2005


The NYT Book Review diagnoses Knucklesucka Noonan:

The result is a valentine sent to a man she knew mainly from watching television, written in the idiom of spiritual gush. Typical are these lines about her efforts to get inside St. Patrick's Cathedral during his 1995 trip to the United States: "This time I really wanted to see him, wanted to rest my eyes on him; I wanted to feel the constriction in my chest when he went by." In short, "John Paul the Great" is as much about Peggy Noonan as it is about the pope - which is probably why her name is in larger print than his on the cover, and in the place where book titles normally appear.


Noonan devotes a meandering chapter to some of John Paul's "beliefs," and another to his social teachings. But nowhere do we read from this Republican pundit that John Paul opposed both the gulf war of the first Bush administration and the invasion of Iraq initiated by the second. A more glaring omission, especially for a woman, is the absence of any discussion of birth control. She has her chance: she extols at length John Paul's "theology of the body," a highly romantic and unrealistic view of human sexuality that he expounded in a series of pastoral conferences. But she seems unaware that these papal discourses were specifically devised to strengthen the widely rejected teaching of Pope Paul VI, who insisted in his encyclical of 1968, "Humanae Vitae," that every act of intercourse must be "open to the transmission of life." Her silence on the subject in so personal a book leaves the reader wondering just how well she understands - and accepts - the teachings of her spiritual father.

Oblivious and willfully ignorant. That's our Peg.

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