Friday, July 19, 2013

The sun will rise, the tide will come in, and Mark Shea will explode

It's that time of the year again for one of Catholic apologist Mark Shea's quarterly red faced, spittle flecked, vein popping, neck bulging tirades about what awful, awful people those dirty Traditionalists are. His latest emotional eruption was prompted by the creation of this website: Faithful Answers. For Mark, the creation of this website constitutes a radical assault upon the lives, fortunes, and sacred honor of his friends at Catholic Answers:

As the internet continues to facilitate the fractaling of the Catholic Church, what happens over time is that smaller and smaller enclaves of specialized groups find more and more petty things to get upset about and declare other Catholics “not really Catholic”.
So, for instance, witness the fate of poor Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, and all the good people at Catholic Answers, who have striven with might and main to faithfully defend and bear witness to the Faith for 20 odd years. As their reward for countless hours of tireless service, what do they get? A kick in the teeth. 
My four loyal readers know that I can be slow on the uptake and often skim over important details when I'm pounding these keys in the heat of the moment, but what the hell? A kick in the teeth? Mark baldly asserts that the founder of Faithful Answers, Chad Arneson, founded his website because he's filled with a Satanic superiority complex, believing himself to be more pure and faithful than his brothers and sisters in Christ. What is Mark's evidence for Chad's interior state? Apparently this:
I know many of my readers have probably availed themselves of Catholic Answers – either through their many heavily promoted EWTN programs or their website – on a number of occasions. I never really have. There have been a few times I’ve gone their in search of information on some topic related to the Faith, but almost every time I came away disappointed. Their forums I found to be dens of modernist disinformation, but even the “main” website was never particularly edifying to me.
What slander! What calumny! This anonymous writer whom Mark has never met found Catholic Answers to be not particularly edifying! It's a bit baffling to me that a long time blogger like Mark Shea would get so offended by a description of a website's discussion forum. I am not in any way responsible for what other people may say in the comments. It should be painfully obvious that comments by other people do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the host. If I say, "Mark Shea's comment boxes are filled with crazies," that does not say anything about Mark's output as a blogger or about his character, but apparently he disagrees (for the record, I don't believe his comboxes are filled with crazies). The CA forums may very well be dens of Modernist disinformation, but that doesn't say anything about the character or personal orthodoxy of Jimmy Akin or Karl Keating. But in true Shea fashion, he takes a random comment and expands it into a colorful sermon on how that one comment is representative of how terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad some people are:
What’s ironic is how deeply Protestant this sort of Truly True Purely Pure stuff is. Instead of the Catholic model, which sees other apostolates as different expressions of the Catholic Faith and which work together to build up the body of Christ, Arneson’s group of angry Traditionalists treats CA (and EWTN, and, frankly, almost every Catholic in the world) as rivals and enemies and, thereby, re-enacts the worst of Protestant fissiparousness. They are, of course, aided and abetted by such sites asAngelqueen and Pewsitter, who likewise regard almost the entirety of the Catholic Church’s members as enemies of the Faith except for themselves and a few like-minded Catholics. Indeed, it’s a problem that tends to plague that subculture of Catholics whose gravest concern is kicking out other Catholics deemed to be impure.
The only one who's coming off as angry in this exchange is Shea. I've never met any Catholic, Traditionalist or no, whose "gravest concern was kicking out other Catholics deemed to be impure," nor did I find any evidence of such an attitude on the Faithful Answers website. I think many Catholics are woefully ignorant of the faith and live like pagans, but I don't want them kicked out. I want them to live, learn, and love their faith.
So while Pewsitter and Angelqueen and Faithful Answers may have concluded that me and my ilk (that is, 99% of the Church) are a blight and a plague on the Purely Pure Church and need to be purged, I think them members of the Body of Christ who are, to be sure, massively wrong on a number of things, but still my brothers and sisters in Christ. They may kick me and folks like Catholics Answers out. But I’m not kicking out Angelqueen, Pewsitters and Faithful Answers and similar self-appointed inquisitors. I’m not even kicking Nancy Pelosi out. That’s her bishop’s job, not mine.
Here Mark plays the hero, manfully fighting the good fight against the forces of darkness who want to kick poor innocent souls like him out of the Church while implying that he himself is a much better Catholic than his imagined opponents because he's not like them one bit, no sir. Which makes this next section a bit confusing for a dummy like me:
 So with unerring instinct for making exactly the wrong choices in defending Pure Truly True Catholic Faith, not from actual enemies of the Faith, but from other faithful Catholics, Faithful Answers manages to bring on board as their superstar quarterback none other than “Dr.” Robert Sungenis...
After an impassioned tirade about how it's wrong, wrong, wrong to want to kick people out of the Church, Mark plays the "guilt by association" card due to the presence of his long time nemesis Robert Sungenis. For the record, anti-Semitism is bad. But two and two still make four even if an anti-Semite says so. Mark doesn't want to kick out a supporter of abortion and homosexual "marriage" like Nancy Pelosi, but a few ethnic slurs from Sungenis makes him worthy of being cast into the outer darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Makes sense to me.
“Faithful Answers” is a manifestation of the ongoing devolution of reactionary Catholicism into a sort of auto-immune disease at work in the body of Christ. Ironically, the ranks of this subculture are often filled by converts longing for an imaginary Golden Age, not by Catholics who actually have a living memory of life before the Council. 
I'm a convert and I've never yearned for a Golden Age. Just a faithful one. Ours ain't it compared to sixty years ago, or six hundred years ago. I don't want to live in the past; I just want there to be a little more continuity with it. It's a bit rich for a convert like Shea to lecture other converts after a long jeremiad against believing in Truly True Purely Pure Catholicism.
Memo to all Protestant converts attempting to remake the Church in your image and likeness: you cannot build a life on protest. The Church is enormously resistent to the attempt to make it into your final Protestant sect and will not comply with your demand to use it as a tool for telling off your last sect and saying, “Ha! I’ve outgrown you!” The Church seems to be stubbornly and divinely instituted to be, in this world, a collection of screwups, oddballs, factory rejects, wimps, failures and slackers. 
Well, I never formally belonged to any Protestant sect before being received as a Catholic, so I don't have anyone to tell that I've outgrown them. The Church surely is a collection of losers (most especially me) but losers who are supposed to be pursuing holiness. I've been rough on Shea but I'm a long time reader of his. His writings were of help to me when I was contemplating joining the Church eight years ago. He's got a good heart. But I stand by what I said about him last year: once in a while he gets a bug up his ass over some competing personality in Catholic media and he will scream and yell and rant and rave about how OUTRAGEOUS they are...

And when they themselves or people who agree with them try to answer Mark, he calls them whiners and self-pitying fools. "What a terrible animal this is! When attacked, it defends!" Chill out Mark. Damn.


  1. Thank you for this. You are much appreciated-from New York city. You are extending great charity by speaking straightforwardly. God love you.

  2. Kevin,
    Bob Sugenesis is a nut, but people who keep saying water is wet and get constantly told otherwise eventually go nuts.
    Mark can go all spittle flecked and further convince Trads who've gone off the rails that they're right, and that the whole world is against them. Especially putatively Catholic conservatives, or he can admit that Trads have something of a point, and liberal Jews are generally deleterious to society. No doubt hatred of Jews is stupid and sinful, but to equate dislike of Jewish liberalism as anti Semitism foolish.

    1. I thought this old article from the Los Angeles Times had the best take on the phenomenon in Hollywood:

      [Producer] Artie chews out [writer] Phil after his repeated homophobic jokes prompt a gay assistant (Scott Thompson) to hit the show with a sexual harassment lawsuit. “You know who runs this town?” Artie growls at Phil.

      “The Jews?” Phil says.

      “No,” Artie retorts. “The gay Jews.”

      I don't recall Mark ever writing about Nancy Pelosi or other pro-abort politicians with as much passion as he writes about Sungenis (I'd be happy to be proven wrong.) Holocaust denial is stupid and probably sinful, but public support of abortion and homosexual "marriage" is objectively much worse.

      I've found out the hard way there are just some issues on which Mark will never bend, and if you call him out on it you'll only get insulted for your trouble. It's not the best personality trait for someone who puts himself out there as a Catholic apologist. I'm sure I'm a worse man than Mark in many ways but then I'm just some guy who likes learning and writing about Catholicism.

  3. Faithful Answers' response is here:

  4. I heard it as a joke in a Robin Williams stand up routine. But the overall point of "It's the Gay Jews" is very apt. Pointing out that the people of overwhelming influence in Hollywood, the Chattering classes, the Financial markets scams and Politics are implacably hostile to the Gospel shouldn't be ground for being called an anti Semite.
    When somebody at SSPX (can't remember who) said "our enemies, the Jews and the Modernists" everybody had a fit of the vapours. He was however, right.

  5. Actually Arneson set the record straight here:

    Thanks for writing in the interest of truth!