Thursday, May 24, 2007

He's apologized ...

At least sort of, since I gather he got more than a little irate and started deleting comments when the point started to be made that perhaps, just perhaps, he might hold some level of hatred towards Bush (which he still denies he possesses, his recent Daily Kos-like behavior to the contrary). I generally think that Dave Armstrong did the best summary of the situation with the following remarks:
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.

17 comments:

Bubba said...

To clarify, Mark didn't delete comments "when the point started to be made that perhaps, just perhaps, he might hold some level of hatred towards Bush." He deleted my comment (and the subsequent replies), and they were based on the even more basic observation that sandwiching his apology between preemptive attacks against his critics wasn't all that mature.

Mark Adams said...

torquemada,

Where does the Armstrong quote come from?

Dave Armstrong said...

From a recent thread on this blog.

Phillip said...

Bubba,

Yeah, I was following that when all of a sudden they all disappeared. This is one of Mark's dialectical tactics when he's losing.

You're right, it is quite immature to couch an apology amid insults. Its not a true apology but Mark thinks it is and it is his blog.

Victor said...

Mark:

Specifically, Dave said it here:

http://coalitionforfog.blogspot.com/2007/05/more-shea-illiteracy.html#comment-4341977119240913154

Shawn said...

I concur with what David says as it pertains to Mark Shea.

Anonymous said...

This is one of Mark's dialectical tactics when he's losing.

He learned it from Rod Dreher, who has mastered it to a fault.

Diane

Bubba said...

Victor, completely random off-topic comment, but I agree with the comment you made here re: Brooks and religion, at Rod's blog.

Legally or not, the entire text of the article can be found here, and I actually think Rod's criticism has some merit, as Brooks writes, "if you really wanted to supercharge the nation, you’d fill it with college students who constantly attend church, but who are skeptical of everything they hear there."

That doesn't mean that Brooks thinks such people are morally better, as he doesn't weigh in on "the state of their ambivalent souls", and I certainly think that Rod's posturing as a defender of doctrinal truth in the face of those instrumentalist neocons (of course) is farcical given his stated reasons for joining the Eastern Orthodox church.

But Rod's summary of Brooks is probably fairly accurate, even though his excerpt does nothing to reassure the reader.

Shawn said...

By the way Torq, I have already contacted Fr. Neuhaus on this matter three times and am going to send out a fourth email (a much shorter one than the others I sent him) probably tomorrow. (The text is written I just have to do a final review to make sure it is diplomatic yet firm.) The three sent thus far can be read in their entirety at these threads:

Correspondence With Fr. Richard John Neuhaus --Round One (sent May 1, 2007)

Correspondence With Fr. Richard John Neuhaus --Round Two (sent May 4, 2007)

Correspondence With Fr. Richard John Neuhaus --Round Three (sent May 15, 2007)

What we are seeing with Mark is nothing new and it has been a problem for a long time -Mark is just the latest and one of the most extreme of the examples which could be noted. I for one was sick of this years ago but that is all I will say on the matter for now.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

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.

Here's Fr. Neuhaus' e-mail:

rjn@firstthings.com

I strongly suggest contacting him. Boycott or no, Shea must "experience consequences" for his incessant bullying. Removing a forward from a book is a kind of "fraternal correction." Otherwise, all this criticism of Shea is nothing but wasted electrons.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, y'all, but I am very uncomfortable with vendettas.

Diane

kathleen said...

DIane, I don't think this counts as a vendetta. If Neuhaus sanctions someone who has a crazed personality on the internet, then Neuhaus' own reputation is sullied, and that's not good for catholicism, period.

If my husband pulled a tenth of the stuff Shea does at his place of employment, he would be fired and we would be penniless. why should corporate standards be higher than standards for catholic apologists, for pete's sake? I really hope Neuhaus doesn't write this foreword, and not because of any schadenfreude on my part. I couldn't give a hoot if shea is or is not having a bad day.

torquemada05 said...

A couple of points, not the least of which being that if anyone does get in contact with Father Neuhaus at my urging, I would prefer that the focus of the conversation not be the idea that Mark Shea "needs to pay" or anything like that. The entire reason that I suggested the idea was to ensure that Father Neuhaus was not tarred by association with someone who is rapidly descending (as his recent comments indicate) into full black helicopter crackpot status, it has nothing to do with Mark Shea. Stating our disagreements with the man in full would be too long and involve too much background to the point where it would be far too easy to write off as the words of someone playing Ahab to Mark's Moby Dick.

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