Friday, February 10, 2017

My Comment on Mark Shea's Blog

Mark Shea is a writer I used to respect and look up to so much. I also think he's a nice guy. I asked him to plug a few different things on his blog and he always did, and also to make a prayer request of his readers which he obligingly did. Fair dues to him.

His Mary, Mother of the Son trilogy is a book I've read at least three times, always with pleasure and profit. Indeed, it really unlocked the whole idea of sacred tradition for me. (The title is even mentioned in my famous-to-fifteen 'purple notebook', though I'm seriously thinking of excising that particular line.)

So I'm deeply saddened at his recent descent into militant leftism and (amongst other things) his demonizing of Donald Trump and Trump supporters.

Look; you can ardently dislike Trump if you want. I get that. You can think he's a sleazebag and a braggart. I get that. But to pretend he is some kind of civilizational threat, to make him out as a uniquely terrible President, seems ridiculous to me, especially when his policies are supported by so many millions of ordinary Americans, many of them Catholic. He's acting entirely within his democratic powers. There's no reason to suppose he's any more likely to start a Third World War than any previous President; it seems perfectly obvious that his apparent hot-headedness is actually very calculated. I think the world was probably saved from a Third World War by the defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Also, Shea has been very uncharitable towards those who are worried by the whole Amoris Laetitia controversy. He seems to think they are proponents of Fortress Catholicism who want to push as many people out of the Church as possible. In the post to which I was replying, he argued that Catholicism is about "here comes everybody", not doctrinal purity.

I wrote:

You say 'here comes everybody'. What about the millions of people who you seem to lump in with the Alt Right, who are extremely tired of the mud-slinging of "racism" and "sexism" at every opinion that doesn't dovetail with political correctness, who might be more or less sympathetic with Breitbart's angle? Are they "Alt Right filth" too? I say this as someone who doesn't even read Breitbart.

"Here comes everybody" is fine if it means the universality of the Church. But if it means yet more watering down of of doctrine and discipline, after decades of this has utterly failed to bring about a Catholic springtime and led to ever more of the kind of haemorrhaging you describe, then this just seems perverse to me. I doesn't work. It. Doesn't. Work. When will that lesson sink in?

You keep missing the point about Amoris Laetitia. It's not the text that has critics in 'hysterics', nor are they "Francis haters", it's the radical interpretations of it that fly in the face of St. John Paul the Great's teachings and the whole Catholic tradition, that are totally contrary to the views of the Chesterton you quote so often. (Read "The Surrender upon Sex" in the Well and the Shallows.) I've looked in vain on your blog for some condemnation of the bishops and bishops' conferences who have used Amoris as a pretext to cave in to the spirit of the age. Apologies if I've simply missed this. I can understand you refraining from such criticism out of a sense of docility, but to condemn other people for defending Catholic orthodoxy (nearly always in a way that is respectful towards the Holy Father), seems very cheap indeed. Even if you disagree with them, why can't you accept that they are motivated by sincere concern for the faith once delivered to the saints, rather than this rabid heretic-hunting you keep portraying?

And, by the way, I have attended a grand total of two Traditionalist masses in my life, I'm against the death penalty, I'm all for some social welfare, and I agree with a minimum wage. Stop the caricatures, Mr. Shea. Stop politicising the Faith, and go back to defending mere Catholicism like you used to do.

Mr. Shea replied, merely telling me to learn to live with disagreement. That's fine. He has a busy blog and mine was only one comment of many. But I'm glad I weighed in.

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