Monday, November 1, 2021

Scott Eric Alt responds to my post

A few days ago I took issue with a post by Scott Eric Alt.  Now, Mr. Alt has responded to me.  Read it here.  In case I muddled the previous post, let me break it down, to make sure we're on the same page.  Here is an image of the book title that seemed to be the launch point for the post:

And here is the Twitter post that objected to the above book title:

I couldn't care less what Mr. Alt's arguments about Scott Han are, positive or negative.  Or what the book has to say about the matter.  Whatever.  But what struck me in Mr. Alt's initial post that I linked to was this:

So to have criticisms of Scott Hahn means that a Catholic “serves a different master”? What you think of Scott Hahn is a litmus test for whether you’re serving God or Satan? Scott Hahn is above criticism by any faithful Catholic?

That’s straight-up undisguised idolatry.

The comments on that post are as tragic as you would expect.

(I also find it ironic that the same people who feel Scott Hahn is above criticism by decent Catholics regularly attack the Holy Father, as though attacking the Holy Father is a hallmark of decent Catholicity.

That highlighted sentence is what jumped out at me.  The 'Gee people, isn't a faithful Catholic allowed to offer a mere criticism of Dr. Hahn?'  Please.  That sounds like an over the top objection from a Pee Wee Herman movie.  The reaction of Leila Miller was a reaction to a deliberately provocative and accusatory book title and we know it.  If you don't like the over the top reaction, then say the same about an over the top book title. 

Sure, if you want to criticize Scott Hahn, then do so.  Heck, if you want to criticize those who still think Scott Hahn adds value to Catholic teaching, by all means.  But the Jerry Springer level click-bait book title is meant to do just what it did..  The 'Hahn American Pope and Catholic fundamentalists' aren't academic assessments or careful journalistic uses of terminology.  As Terry Mattingly at GetReligion was fond of pointing out, they're being used here to take broad swipes, and Mr. Alt knows it.

Which, as I said my post, is the problem.  The 'let your yes be maybe to give yourself a slick exit just in case' is more at home with the Father of Lies than the Father of Light.  We darn well know that book title was meant to do something, and acting like we're shocked that it did so is the same rhetorical sleight of hand all too common today.  The same level of duplicity we see when late nigh political activists insist they're really just humble comedians, so why the fuss?  So for heaven's sake, don't play the part of the hapless babe who just can't understand why those fundamentalists are so defensive.  It's unseemly and a bit cowardly if you must know. 

I will make one factual correction.  Mr. Alt labels me a 'pop apologist'.  I'm not an apologist, nor do I claim the title apologist.  That's why I spend little time on this blog unpacking Catholic doctrine or defending the Catholic faith against detractors and skeptics. That's for people with the time to put in the work needed for reliable apologetics.  I'm just a fellow who looks at the news and the goings on of the day and comments on how those impact a Catholic convert in a changing world.  I also watch what others on the Catholic Internet do and how I believe that helps or hinders the cause.  

But again, rather than get into a tit for tat with Mr. Alt, I'll leave you to read his rebuttal.  You decide. My contention was that he knew full well why people responded to the book in question the way they did, or at least responded to the implications of its title, and he shouldn't act surprised that they did, . He has responded to clarify.  I'll leave you to it. 

Oh, and since I do allow comments, Mr. Alt is free to comment here if he's up to it. . 


  1. I'm reminded of when Jonah Goldberg released his first book, "Liberal Fascism" which had a cover with a smiley face sporting a hitler mustache. When he was making the book rounds back then, he never shied away from how provocative his book title and cover was. Though he would admit the cover picture was his publisher's idea, not his.

    Though at first glance at his post, I see SEA is doing the age-old internet tactic of "taking the hyperbole super serious" - a favorite tactic of atheists for decades and the fastest way to let me know a person is not worth the time to bother with.

    1. Correct. I have no problem with provocative anything really. Some great movements were formed around colorful rhetoric. But don't play the 'deer in the headlights innocent' who is shocked that there is pushback. If you don't want that, then don't provoke. If you provoke, then deal with the fact that people may be provoked. That sort of slick tactic doesn't even work for the late night activists. It certainly won't for Christians seeking to make a point.

    2. I don't know much about him, but apparently he plays fast and loose with his own brand of advocacy. So this:

      For the record, I know of nobody who says they are in conflict. What I know is those who oppose the idea that justice in this world should take precedence and we just need to be flexible about the whole God and Gospel and Eternal Life stuff, which it can be argued some Christians act like. See the age old debate about The Social Gospel. But I know of nobody who says one necessarily negates the other. Yet there's an entire post about it.

    3. That furthers my suspicion that a lot of his effort is spent deliberately missing the point of what the debate is about. (which I notice almost ALWAYS happens when a discussion about trade-offs begins)

      If he was really interested in grasping this "justice" issue, he would do well to read Lewis' "dangers of national repentance."

    4. Lewis was quite prophetic when we see how 'national repentance' is being used to destroy the nation being called upon to perpetually repent.

  2. Mr Hahn is a good writer. His books give a gift to the reader. Thank God he is on target. One of my daughters took classes from him at Franciscan University (Steubenville) and then got a temporary job doing housework for Mr and Mrs Hahn. She reports that the couple is simply what they are.

    1. Yes they are. It saddens me to watch them become the latest targets as this isn't the first time I've seen swipes at him and his work. He was also instrumental in my family's journey into the Catholic Faith. The saddest part is, I don't know if that holds any worth now for some who used to sing Dr. Hahn's praises.

  3. Good decision to not engage him any further. Mr. Alt is majoring in minors, and his dudgeon is not worth the pixels.

    1. My thoughts. I remember him from years ago and didn't think much of his style then. I see nothing in the snippets I've seen recently to change that assessment.


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