[guest post by Dana]
So I just read a little bit of nastiness from Ann Coulter. She unleashes in a scathing rebuke of Dr. Kent Brantley, the physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia as part of the post-residency program of the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse. She also points a finger at Americans who choose to leave America to do missionary work in the darkest corners of the world where suffering, despair, hopelessness and death are the daily lot. After all, America has its own needs.
She begins with a direct attack on Brantley and the price paid, literally, as a result of his decision to serve in Liberia:
Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals.
In Coulter’s world, charity is measured in dollars. Any lives Brantley may have physically saved, any comfort he may have given, any love of Christ he may have reflected toward those lost is now irrelevant and pales in comparison to… money spent. Coulter’s “god” is sadly small and limited. It doesn’t occur to her that possibly the $2 million was part of a bigger plan. Possibly it was specifically earmarked by God to be the means to get an infected Brantley back to one of America’s premier hospitals where first-world medical professionals and pioneers would have the opportunity to study and observe the disease firsthand, which in turn could play a major part in finding an effective vaccine. And as it goes, said vaccine or medicine could then circle back to West Africa. All things are indeed possible with God.
Further, would Coulter tell the people whose lives were touched by Brantley, people whose broken bodies were repaired by the doctor and people who may have come to know God as a result of his witness, that in light of the money it cost to bring him home, they weren’t worth it?
She continues with her rant, focusing on serving in America, not in some god-awful backwards hovel:
There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?
Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”
Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
Of course it doesn’t occur to Coulter that perhaps God Himself directed the path of Dr. Brantley to serve in a land far away. We are told: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Did God share the road map of Brantley’s life with Coulter? Did she know something he *should* have known?
Citing the godlessness inside in America, as well as the crime, murder, moral decline and social dismantling, Coulter points out that there is plenty to do here in our country. Who can disagree? But to justify her rightness in the matter, she makes incredible leaps:
If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.
If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.
There is so much wrong with this, but suffice it to say, she doesn’t “know” any of this. She cannot know the Hollywood power-broker would be saved. He could as easily reject Christ as the Liberian. Likewise, she cannot know that the Liberians will not experience a spiritual revival as a result of the ministry of Dr. Brantley and others. And yes, Ebola kills the body, but even the body being killed by Ebola can house a soul that is at peace and in communion with God. Further, Coulter forgets that it is God who opens the eyes of the unbeliever to see their need, not man. Who and where He chooses to deliver the message is His business.
Coulter then explains to us what weak and frightened little creatures Christians are, as evidenced by their decision to do missionary work in “disease-ridden cesspools”:
They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.
But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.
So, choosing to leave the most extraordinary country in the world and all the comforts that come with a first-world existence to go help others in a third-world place which often comes with huge built-in risk and sorrow factors, is because ooh, name calling! For the Christian in America, name calling, mockery and being maligned comes with the territory. For the Christian in other parts of the world, being killed for their faith comes with the territory. And likely they would say the risk posed is a small price to pay to show the love of Christ to those in need.
The Christians I have known who have served in faraway places are a humble lot. They choose to do what they do because they care deeply about those in need. They want to give back for having been given so much and they want to know God more fully through their service. The last thing they would ever want to hear themselves described as is “heroic”.
UPDATE: Dr. Brantley released a statement today:
“I am writing this update from my isolation room at Emory University Hospital, where the doctors and nurses are providing the very best care possible. I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for His mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease. I also want to extend my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who have been praying for my recovery as well as for Nancy and for the people of Liberia and West Africa.
“My wife Amber and I, along with our two children, did not move to Liberia for the specific purpose of fighting Ebola. We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.
“One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.
“When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.
“Now it is two weeks later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains the same – to follow God. As you continue to pray for Nancy and me, yes, please pray for our recovery. More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God’s call on our lives in these new circumstances.”
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Kevin Stafford leaves a comment with which I heartily agree:
You can disagree with Coulter if you like; in this case, I certainly do. But her books are terrific–not just a collection of bumper-sticker talking points, as is the case with so many other talking heads. They are meticulously researched, beautifully argued, and highly original arguments for conservative principles. So it’s troubling, on this blog especially, to see the vitriol with which so many of her lessers are trashing her.
Some of the commenters here have taken things far beyond the post’s honest disagreement with Coulter’s position, and have engaged in, as Kevin Stafford says, vitriol that is (in my opinion) uncalled-for. I further agree with daleyrocks’s comment:
Kevin Stafford – As a general rule I find the people most vitriolic about Coulter are those the least familiar with her work or liberals whose sacred cows she has gored.
That is true, not just of Coulter, but many people.