Catholic moral theology is divided between those (like these popes) who ask "How can we avoid the taking of human life if at all possible?" and those (like you) who ask, "When do we *get* to kill and how can we maximize the number of people we get to slaughter while feeling really righteous about it?" (Emphasis mine)Now to quote the younger generation, that's some pretty cold smack. Accusing me of wanting to increase human slaughter because of my vile self-righteousness? When I've time and again said I believe there are reasons to abolish the death penalty, at least now and here, and this is still said? Wow. I mean, wow. I went back to all the most hardcore fundamentalists I've met - I mean read the KJV or burn in Hell fundamentalists - but don't remember anyone being accused of that. Jerry Falwell? Bill Maher? Maybe.
I'm sure it's been done. But not by anyone that sane people would regard as credible. And yet in the Catholic modern media world sans accountability, Mark has become quite the beloved soldier of the True Faith. Flying around the world, celebrated by Church leaders and bloggers and apologists, increasing his published materials through Catholic publications. Now, why would I go back to this? Who in their right minds goes to a blog by someone who clearly has become disgusted by your presence, defends others who insult and accuse you of heinous things, and then steps in and says the same? I stopped going to radical atheist sites because of better treatment. Why continue?
Well, because. First, CAEI was my first roadway into the Church. Back when I was looking for something by Scott Hahn on the internet that I wouldn't have to purchase, I stumbled on Mark's writings. They were whimsical and direct, filled with heart and emotion, but with a solid and fair assessment of Catholic teaching as it is understood or misunderstood in today's time. Without being rude or obnoxious, Mark had a way of making a point with a wink and a nod. He was clearly conservative, but not afraid of calling conservatives out. He reserved wrath for those most heinous of assaults on basic morality. He respected and loved America, while admitting its sins. He upheld the best of Protestantism and all that Catholics could learn from their Protestant brethren. For this Protestant minister looking at Catholicism, and knowing some of what I knew at the time, that was important.
Also, because I owe Mark for assistance he offered years ago. When we were in desperate straights - one of the many times we've been in bad ways since we became Catholic - Mark rallied his readers and really came through. I don't forget favors easily.
But there are other, less obvious reasons. For one, I'd hate to think that Mark's approach is making him successful in the Church. His whole approach is like a bad trip through the worst cable news stereotypes. It's rage, inconsistency, bad arguments, judgmentalism, leftist intolerance and loathing of a growing list of people over an expanding list of reasons, all of which appear to have made him a bit of a star. But what does that say for the modern Church? What does it say about those bishops and priests and fellow bloggers who call him blessed? Do they approve? Is this what they want? Again, the Catholic Church is not efficient, if it is anything. But to reward this type of behavior. It bothers me if this is what the Church and its representatives are looking for.
Also, because I'm hoping that despite my fears, the Church really isn't selling out to the Secular Left as my suspicions say it is (see the prophet Saraman, a new power is rising in the dying West). I mean, I'm not one who denies that the Church has made some bad turns over its long history. I can't help but wonder if the same is happening today. Secular liberalism has clearly won the battle for the mind and heart of the dying West. One can't help but notice that many of the changes in the Church's teachings and approaches to doctrine mirror the post-Christian progressive over anything traditionally understood. And Mark, who sees himself as forever obedient to the Church, might well mirror this trend.
Finally, because I'm fond of Mark. Like Scrooge's nephew. I can't help but think there's still that old Mark down there somewhere. I fear for him, too. Unlike many in the Church who have dispensed with old notions of Hell and punishment, I still worry that eternal loss of salvation is a possibility. Mark comes dangerously close to things that Mark c. 2005 would have said put a person's soul into jeopardy of eternal loss. Such as the above accusation. That's a false accusation. That's a judgement of another's heart and soul. And I offered him my forgiveness, only to have my offer shoved back down my throat for daring to "attack" him (that is, call his arguments lousy, something far kinder than he's said to me and others). That is a person driving a thousand miles an hour toward a cliff. If he was a fellow colleague in ministry, we'd have staged what we used to call 'an intervention' by now.
Instead, it being the Catholic blogosphere, he is rewarded and praised. His growing liberal base loves him and encourages his wrath, anger and hatred of all except his personal friends who cling to conservatism. And Raca and Fool? That is the name of the game. Even when he apologizes for crossing the line, some of his readers chastise him and call him out for straying from the True Way. And that True Way is the way that helps them understand they are part of an ever shrinking band of Worthy Believers surrounded by an ever increasing sea of deplorable disgraces to the Gospel. And when I see that happen, I can't help but pray. And return, hoping that at some point, somehow, against all hope and increasing success, Mark might snap back the the Mark I used to know. The one who helped me in my journey across the Tiber and into Rome. Anyway, those are the reasons.