Twice in recent days Mark at Minute Particulars has posted on the need for nuance. And I preface this with an apology to him if anything I say seems overly strong or harsh.
An excerpt from a recent post:
There is an understandable backlash at attempts to nuance situations that seem so utterly obvious. And, as I mentioned in the below post on partial-birth abortion, I know this backlash firsthand since I really don't see how anyone could find the doctor's words anything other than repulsive. What could possibly be nuanced here? What requires discussion? But I think such a reaction is simplistic and ultimately morally detrimental. Unless you think someone capable of this is the devil incarnate, there ought to be a way to express our moral concerns carefully and intelligently. Any hope of passing laws that will be upheld requires this; and, more to the point, any hope of converting hearts will fail without it.
And I don't have any real trouble with his point. My difficulty comes with the timing of nuancing. When we nuance someone to death we have created a far greater injustice than we can hope to rectify by our nuancing.
Nuancing has been horrendously abused by many post Vatican II reformers to support whatever the spin of the moment might happen to be. That in no way detracts from its importance; however, it does add a certain aura to the term and to the deed. Too many of us have been burned by "nuances" that have reinterpreted Church tradition and law out of existence. The Anglican Church is currently riven with nuance that basically is gutting Christian theology. Nuance has quite a disreputable patina.
Now, take this term that already has a certain weight and apply it to a situation which in itself is really not a case for a rocket scientist and the appearance you get is someone trying to justify the unjustifiable. Because I feel that I know Mark relatively well from his writing, I feel comfortable with the fact that this is not what he is trying to do. On the other hand, all of these arguments come back to us, and we find people saying, "Well Mr. Schaivo is her husband, and don't we believe in the sacramental nature of marriage." Our nuanced argument has just turned good Catholics who are fighting desperately to save a life into those who would overturn Catholic doctrine and sacraments.
The time to nuance our discussion is when Ms. Schaivo has been delivered from the army of Satan massed against her. We need to carefully consider all of the points that are under discussion, we need to thoroughly understand Church teaching and doctrine. But what we need more than anything else right now is straightforward, clear action, based on the circumstances here and now and not on hypotheticals and nuances that could result in a person's death