Friday, December 14, 2007

Revolting Post over at Mark Shea's

Yeah, I know it's seeming like every other post here is on that topic. Maybe I have Shea Derangement Syndrome. His blog really has become like finding out that a hoard of jewels has fallen into a septic tank. Do you avoid it and let the valuable bits remain buried? Do you risk getting yourself befouled?

Keep in mind that I once had a job where I had to clean the cages of dogs and cats with , ahem, digestive problems, using a spray bottle and paper towels. If I remember correctly, there were times when I had to work both morning and afternoon on New Year's (and it's Eve), the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You can guess which of the two approaches above I tend to take.

What's of concern to me is that Shea routinely vilifies his opponents and spreads gossip and libel about them, demonizing them for "tiptoeing up to the line" on issues such as torture and sexuality where people are genuinely trying to find a solution that lets them both obey God and prevent the deaths or serious injury to their fellow man. Not only is does this render him a horrible witness for his views and the Holy Catholic Church, but it bring Shea himself into dangerous territory with regard to sin. As great as his apologetics writing tends to be, his blog and many of the commenters there definitely played a major role in it taking so long for me to finally decide that I belong in the Holy Catholic Church.

You don't see bloggers like Amy Welborn (ladies first), Jimmy Akin, Chris Burgwald, Bob Catholic, or TS O'Rama (alphabetical by last name) acting that way. Meanwhile, Shea's almost certainly started a blog war with Dean Esmay, a recent convert. As much as I've been anticipating the clash of these two, this isn't a very promising start.


Mike Bradley said...

I've been having the same feelings as you regarding Mark's blog. It used to be one the first blogs I would view daily. But when he started commenting on the war, it fell further down my list. I think I even when about a month or two without reading him. You're braver than I am. Now I just refrain from reading any post relating to the war.

will said...

You've commented recently about Mark's tendency to assume the worst about Bush, and there I think you're probably right. For the rest, I don't think I agree; but it's hard to be sure, as you didn't link to the specific post you're alluding to.

But I don't see him (usually) vilifying and libelling folks other than Bush; not in his main posts, at least; I can't speak to his comments and e-mails, as I don't usually read the comments threads. He uses robust and confrontational language, I admit, but he's *always* used robust and confrontational language. But it seems to me that he's generally attacking ideas he sees as misguided or flat out wrong, rather than the people who hold them. For example, in his main posts he frequently will refer to "a commenter" without identifying them; for those of us who don't follow the comments, that keeps it on the level of ideas.

Does he cross the line on occasion? Sure--he feels passionately about this, and gets carried away. But when called on it, he's more likely to publically admit that he was uncharitable, etc., than most other bloggers. Many others don't appear to have this problem; but Mark's trying for Chestertonian ebullience, and that's hard to pull off.

In short, I think you've let him get under your skin a bit more than is justified, and are in danger of falling into the same sin you're accusing him of.

Pauli said...

I don't know Dean, but my advice to him as a convert myself (1994) would be to stay away from arguments about morality or theology for a few years and go after more formation and study.

I remember I thought I was ready to do apologetics and spiritual direction, etc. within months of my first Holy Communion. How stupid I was. Luckily I ran into Opus Dei and gave me a shot at being a serious but balanced Catholic.

Mark's trying for Chestertonian ebullience, and that's hard to pull off....

I would say it's closer to impossible. Mark has no doubt done some valuable work, but he has neither the wit nor the mind of GKC.

Shea ex-reader said...

But when called on it, [Mark Shea is] more likely to publically admit that he was uncharitable, etc., than most other bloggers.

Not at all. Not on this subject anyway.

Read this post, and the resulting combox.

Jack said...

I don't know who this fella is, and can't imagine myself caring.

But I do have one word of advice for modern people about getting so worked up about blogs, mine, yours, or anybody else's.

It's just the internet.
It won't be preserved for posterity, nor is 99% of it worth preserving for posterity.

And this guy, whoever he is, well he's just a fella like millions of others on the internet.
He ain't no more important, and likely never will be, in this world anyways, than the billions of people who ain't on the internet. And maybe never will be.

Because a fella has a megaphone, doesn't make him as wise as Solomon, maybe just loud as Echo.
Anywho, it's your business people.

Do as you wish.
But if I were really gonna get worked up about something I reckon it would be something worth changing.
And words alone just don't really do that.
That is to say, words don't do work, action does.

So to me there ain't a whole lotta point bout getting all worked up about words.
That'll never really change anything worth changing.

And neither will the internet, as long as it's just a word orgy.

So to me, and this is just me, pick your fights where your blows will land hardest and do the most good.
And that likely ain't on the internet.

Go out into the world, the real world, if you want a real fight worth fighting.
Then your skirmishes will really mean something, regardless of who says what.

But that's just what I say...

And since it's on the internet, take it for what it is worth.