Monday, January 25, 2016

Striking a nerve for the sake of the Good

So I broke my promise and went back to visit Mark Shea's Facebook page.  I know, I know.  I said I wouldn't. What am I, some glutton for punishment?  I didn't comment on anything. I just went to look.  I wanted to see if Mark was continuing with the very problematic practice of having 'Isn't Bernie Sander's the cutest thing?' posts on his very Catholic Facebook page.  The whole thing, and my banishment, came from that. 

When CAEI went offline, I decided to take a look at Mark's Facebook Page.  I don't typically do Facebook that much, and I had never visited his page.  I heard horror stories, but found it hard to believe them.  Well, once I was there, I believed them. 

By now, of course, Mark falls into that Orthodox Liberal Catholic group.  That is, they don't reject traditional doctrines about God or the Trinity or the Resurrection.  They also stand with the Church on issues like abortion and gay marriage.  But in almost any other area where there is wiggle room, they tend to fall down along the modern, post-Christian liberal paradigm.  The reasons are, no doubt, many.  For some, as my boys pointed out with our parish, it's less that they love liberalism as much as they hate American Conservatism and the GOP. 

Be that as it may, today Mark could in no way be called a conservative or traditional Catholic and have those terms mean anything.  And his Facebook page reflected that.  Moreover, those who commented were a rough brood, many of which seemed to be the sort of thing Pope Francis could have been thinking of.  It often got mean and ugly.   Quite a bit of contempt and condescension toward those who aren't following lockstep behind the modern Left.

Nonetheless, for all his Left leaning and liberal cheering, Mark remains adamantly pro-life and passionately against abortion.  Period.  No suggestions otherwise can be entertained.  So it came as quite a shock, in those couple weeks I was visiting there, to see how many 'Bernie Rocks' posts Mark had uploaded.  Especially when it was set in juxtaposition to almost every other candidate Mark mentioned, who received nothing but scorn and insults from Mark and most of his readers.  Like a sore thumb, Sanders stood out above it all and Mark's Facebook page looked like quite the Pro-Sanders Facebook headquarters. 

So when Mark posted yet another 'Equestrian Sanders Pic', I merely said that his page was becoming like a campaign stop for the Sanders campaign, and he might want to do a double check.  After all, Sanders goes beyond pro-choice.  He is pro-abortion, and in fact, pro-culture of death.  He is part of that secular liberalism that reminds us how so few societies that have opposed war or the death penalty have done so in the name of life's sanctity.  Just the opposite.  They do it because things like torture, war and the death penalty run afoul of the Left's great sinful promise: that pride is, in fact, a good thing.  The universe does rotate around me.  Things like death penalties or punishment or war suggest there are things bigger than me, and so they are clearly bad.  But things like abortion, any marriage or sex any way I want, euthanasia, assisted suicide: they serve me and a world set firmly under my whims and desires.

That is the sort of Left Sanders advocates.  As a politician, he has gone into areas that even pro-choice politicians fear to tread.  He advocates post-Christian sexuality, and further appears to support the punishment of those who don't do likewise.  He supports gay marriage, and also the HHS mandate, thereby solidifying his opposition to multiple things that Mark holds near and dear.

In some ways, it reminded me of Mark and Ron Paul some years ago.  For a while, Mark became quite the Catholic voice for the Ron Paul campaign.  While he insisted he wouldn't vote for him, that he was merely pointing out where he thought Paul was correct, his blog became a major boost for Ron Paul supporters.  Eventually, Mark did admit that if Paul was in the primaries by the time they came to Washington, Mark would vote for him.  When he did that, it wasn't really a shock.

In some ways, this sudden high-five to Sanders sniffed a bit like the old Paul posts.  Sure, he wasn't saying 'Vote Sanders' or 'I Support Bernie!'  But his posts were stacking up quickly, with many having nothing to do with anything other than "Bernie Sanders: Awesome Guy!"  Sorry, but someone who pushes to loosen the restrictions for a partial birth abortion has dropped at least one rung down the awesome ladder in my book. 

So I posted my message.  And oh my, all hell broke loose.  Mark came at me with everything: mocking me, calling me names, accusing me of passive aggressively suggesting he is pro-choice.  He used the old Sea Lion cartoon against me.  Several of his readers did the same.  I tried to keep it where I was, insisting that while you can quote someone you don't agree with (as a general rule I try to find better examples unless I'm making a specific point), there is a logical difference between a single quote and days of 'thumbs up' posts.

Mark and his readers would have none of it.  Mark simply repeated the charges over and over again.  Even my oldest son tried to bring some perspective, echoing a logical assessment of the current political climate being partly to do with Obama's legacy.  That went as well as you can imagine.

Finally, I had enough.  Especially since Mark continually repeated the charge that I was passive-aggressively insinuating he is pro-choice.  Of all the things I could say about Mark, that would never be one of them.  And I told him that.  But it did no good.  Mark was falsely accusing me of falsely accusing him; like a fundamentalist insisting that Catholics worship Mary no matter how many times we say we don't.  I simply couldn't do anything.  Mark was answering with mockery and accusations and hearing nothing else.  With readers sympathetic to Mark's position, I was outnumbered.

Finally, Mark told me to just leave.  To get the hell off of his page.  At that point, there was little else I could do.  There was no reason to stay.  I might as well have gone to Jack Chick's website and argued for a Dungeons and Dragons tournament in a Catholic Church.  Which is a pity.  Mark Shea, c. 2016 bears almost no resemblance to the Mark Shea I first encountered, c. 2004/2005. 

But, never one to cry quits, I just wondered.  I wondered over the weekend.  I wondered if he was still going full steam with the 'Awesome Sanders' posts.  So I snuck over today to grab a peek and, guess what?   From that day, and in fact that post, there have been no Bernie Sanders posts.  There was one blasting Sanders and Clinton for their relationship to Planned Parenthood.  But that was it. 

So you see kiddies, sometimes you have to suffer the slings and arrows to help keep someone from going down the dark path, even if their intention is to do no such thing.  Part of me wants to be smug and go there and point it out, but I know better.  That would be wrong anyway, and it could back fire.  For now, be glad that a leading Catholic voice in Apologetics isn't allowing his Facebook page to be a major stopping point for one of the most ardently pro-culture of death politicians in our national government. 


  1. I salute you for doing that. He and his followers are rabid and illogical. I was good internet friends with a woman who loved him. I enjoyed seeing her post pictures of her kids and facebook socializing. I'm not sure how she found him, but apparently she's an almost "famous" convert, or something. One day, I found that I had been unfriended and blocked by her, and realized it was because I had clicked 'like' on a comment disagreeing with one of Shea's opinions. I think once they get it into their minds that all pro-self-defense Catholics are evil, they are filled with rage and hate and forget to read the Catechism. They're somehow convinced that they will change the self-defense sections of the catechism and think that we're going to hell for being constitutionalists rather than Catholics who forgot that Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword.

  2. Thank you for that. I was very fond of Mark in the day, but I guess the best way to say it is he changed and I didn't. One of Mark's main points in the early days that the Church was a big umbrella under which Catholics could agree to disagree about a great many things. Sure, there were non-negotiables. But there were many areas, even important ones, where we could agree to disagree. That changed, and the result is similar to what you point out. The irony is, those non-negotiables of yore - such as abortion or gay marriage - are now those things with which we are told we can respectfully disagree over, and the issues that are in no way established as indisputable are the things that are treated as indisputable. I often wonder if it is because of that, knowing they really aren't indisputable, that has increased the rancor and the vitriol. After all, when saying abortion is a non-negotiable, you have the history of the Church at your back. When speaking of the death penalty or self-defense as intrinsically evil, you don't.

  3. Dave, the Mark Shea of 2016 is also the Mark Shea of 2004 too. He was always like he is now, but in previous years he was better able to keep his real persona under wraps. However his ego got the better of him as time rocked on. So, when he thought he could get away with it, he came out against the death penalty, in favor of decriminalizing sodomy, and other social justice nonsense. If you want to talk to some fellow banished by Mark Shea folks go here. You might want to talk to Joseph d'Hippolito

  4. Mr. Griffey:

    I am very sorry you had the experience described in your article. Mr. Shea has been heroic in defending the Church's teachings regarding the 5th Commandment. But he can be short tempered. I think it is good to bear in mind that although Mr. Shea is a superstar among Catholic bloggers he is neither Pope, nor Bishop nor pastor. He possesses no teaching authority. Mr. Shea can be as right or as wrong on matters as you are.

    You do good work here on your blog. I suspect that you will save a soul or two and in the end is that not what Catholic blogging is all about? I will say a prayer for both you and your fellow Catholic blogger Mr. Shea.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  5. Thank you Richard. Much appreciated. My biggest problem with Mark can be summed up with saying he has become all the things he once said were problems in Catholic apologetics. And even that is no excuse for sin. False accusations are just that, and we must never forget that while I can take a stand on what we did in Hiroshima, or how to pray for the 9/11 terrorists, the real test of my devotion is often how well I can forgive the person who screwed me over at work, or how I stand on treating my neighbor or the person in the desk next to me. The things I can do something about should never be set aside as incidental to loftier issues over which I have virtually no control. That is something I learned from Mark back in the day.

  6. Dave:

    Sorry about Shea's intolerance. I've never been a fan of his. This is my first visit to your blog. Congratulations on your conversion. I wish more people like you would come to the faith.

  7. Thanks iowapapist. No need to be sorry for Mark. That's up to him. There are plenty of great Catholic bloggers out there. Jimmy Akin is one off the top of the head. I simply lament that Mark was once in that category, too.


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