Case study of the foolishness of focusing on politics (and extreme opinions therein) when one's vocation and gift lies in apologetics.
Also, proof that brilliance in one field has absolutely no relation to even basic competence in another . . .
There are people also (no names, of course) who do decently in the area of political analysis, but are out to sea in understanding theology and/or apologetics: its importance, biblical necessity, or what motivates it.
Folks need to concentrate mostly (in the public sphere, especially) on the gift that God has given them (1 Corinthians 12:11; cf. 3:5-9). Mark was not put here on this earth to rail against and frequently misrepresent fellow Catholics and George Bush, but to share and defend Catholic truths and to build up the faithful.
Emphasis mine, because I think that there's a lot of truth in this. Mark's books and tapes, as I understand them, are very helpful at what they do in terms of apologetics. This is one of the reasons, incidentally, why I have stated that I don't think that some kind of organized boycott effort against him is a good idea, let alone my skepticism of the feasibility of such a venture. Whenever Mark is in his element, he handles himself rather well - I would cite his reply to the guy who attempted to argue higher criticism against Christianity an example of that par excellence.
It is when he gets outside his element (and I would include torture in that category since it seems to me that he regarded it first as political and later as a moral issue due to the nature of how his position hardened on the subject) that he tends to resort most often to hyperbole, demonization, and straw man arguments. In that I do not believe that he is alone, but right now it seems to me that he is currently moving back and forth between being a Catholic apologist and being some kind of socio-political commentator. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you look at Dave Armstrong, Jimmy Akin, or Christopher Blosser, you will note that they go to great lengths to distinguish between their own political views that people can accept or reject on their own merits and those of the Church. Rod Dreher, who has expressed views every bit as nutty as Mark's on occasion, makes no claims that his views represent the deposit of faith for the Catholic (now Orthodox) Church. In other words, they generally recognize the distinction between the sacred and the secular. It is not altogether apparent to me that Mark does this, and his repeated snears that those who disagree with him politically with him harbor are more loyal to their political party than to the Church or are less faithful to the Magisterium than he (as occurred recently in the case of Chris Blosser regarding Brownback's views on torture) do everything to reinforce this view.
Now to be fair, Mark didn't assert any of his ultramontane-esque elements into his call for the impeachment of Bush on the word of a crank over at WorldNetDaily. However, to have an individual who is quick to do so offering that kind of "serious" socio-political commentary on a regular basis is something that I don't think is terribly healthy for the Catholic community. Somehow mentioned the possibility of getting in touch with Father Neuhaus and while I still remain adamantly opposed to any kind of boycott against Mark Shea, I think someone might want to let him know the kind of sentiments he regularly expresses on his blog for Father Neuhaus's own professional reputation. If anyone is able to contact him, I would ask that you keep your comments limited to my stated concern (not seeing his reputation come under attack) rather than some kind of anathema sit against Mark Shea.