Mark Shea

Shea Plays Race Card on Death Penalty

 

Mark Shea has been trending left for quite a while and now he is using the favorite tactic of the contemporary left in this country:  race baiting.

 

but it’s totally not about race or anything and if you notice that it is you are “playing the race card”. The Death Penalty: Because the Magisterium is incompetent to teach about faith and morals when American white conservative sacred cows are involved.

 

Have you no sense of decency left Mark?  Of course, it has long been known around Saint Blogs that in the heat of controversy Mark Shea will use any stick to wield against those on the other side, no matter how dirty and unfair the stick is.  Back in 2013 Shea offered a public apology for his bad behavior and I congratulated him on it.  Go here to read my post.  One aspect of apologies is amendment of behavior and, regrettably, since that apology Shea has gotten worse in his public behavior, and the above putrid insult by him of Catholics who hold to the teaching of the Church for almost 2000 years as racists, is beneath contempt and is about as low as one can go in American contemporary discourse.

For 33 years I have engaged in adversarial relationships every day of my professional life as an attorney.  I have always tried to never use unfair arguments and I have always attempted to treat my adversaries with respect.  Sometimes I have felt that this has put me at a slight disadvantage occasionally with attorneys who have a win at all costs mentality.  However, my success record in litigation has been rather good, and I have the added bonus of being able to look at myself in the mirror when I shave.  I think that what I have done as an attorney is a good rule to follow in blogging, whether other bloggers do so or not.

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

 

Libertarians

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a  puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity.  I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds.  However, , at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:

 

Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.

An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.

Go here to read the rest.  Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting?  Can we?  (Mark, you are missing your cue!)

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious. Continue reading

If Only All Catholics Thought As Highly of the Church

 

In response to President Obama’s ignorant exercise in moral equivalency in invoking the Crusades and the Inquisition, ( as T.Shaw noted fewer people were turned over for execution by the Inquisition, actually Inquisitions, in all of history than die in American abortion clinics on any week day), go here to read about it, Jonah Goldberg quotes from his book Tyranny of Cliches which explains why such Catholic bashing is ahistoric and unfair:

 

As a fairly secular Jew I cannot and will not speak to the theological questions, in part because I do not want to. But mostly because I do not have to. The core problem with those who glibly invoke one cliché after another about the evils of organized religion and Catholicism is that they betray the progressive tendency to look back on the last two thousand years and see the Catholic Church — and Christianity generally — as holding back humanity from progress, reason, and enlightenment. They fault the Church for not knowing what could not have been known yet and for being too slow to accept new discoveries that only seem obvious to us with the benefit of hindsight. It’s an odd attack from people who boast of their skepticism and yet condemn the Church for being rationally skeptical about scientific breakthroughs.

In short, they look at the tide of secularism and modernity as proof that the Church was an anchor. I put it to you that it was more of sail. Nearly everything we revere about modernity and progress — education, the rule of law, charity, decency, the notion of the universal rights of man, and reason were advanced by the Church for most of the last two thousand years.

Yes, compared to the ideal imagined by atheists and secularists this sounds like madness.

But isn’t the greater madness to make a real force for good the enemy because the forces of self-anointed perfection claim to have some glorious blueprint for a flawless world sitting on a desk somewhere? It is a Whiggish and childish luxury to compare the past — or even the present — to a utopian standard. Of course there was corruption, cruelty, and hypocrisy within the Church — because the Church is a human institution. Its dark hypocrisies are the backdrop that allow us to see the luminance of the standard they have, on occasion, fallen short of. The Catholic Church was a spiritual beacon lighting the way forward compared to the world lit only by fire outside the Church doors.

You know that you live in loony tunes times when a secular Jew like Goldberg has a better appreciation for the role of the Church in History than some Catholic bloggers:  (Ahem, that is your cue Mark:)

Not feeling the hysteria…

…over Obama’s Prayer Breakfast remarks. It’s just today’s Panic du Jour from the Noise Machine. Here’s what he actually said:

“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ…

“So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

“And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” (source)

This seems, not merely reasonable, but rather pedestrian.

 

 

Ferrara v. Shea

 

 

Break out the popcorn!  The latest in the longstanding Ferrara v. Shea feud:

 

 

The “Francis effect” appears to be driving Mark Shea over the edge as he doggedly stays the neo-Catholic course of defending the indefensible no matter how indefensible it becomes. Given a Pope who has just cooperated with the Abortion President to sell out the oppressed Catholics of Cuba, with thanks from both Obama and Cuba’s communist dictator, and who approved a synodal document calling for appreciation of the “positive elements” in concubinage and “valuing” the “orientation” and the “gifts and qualities” of “homosexual persons,” Shea is now faced with a growing army of messengers that have to be shot, including a few cardinals and bishops.

Shea is beside himself over a searing critique of this pontificate by Maureen Mullarkey that appeared in—oh the horror!—First Things. He cannot believe it: “This was not written on a bathroom wall where it belongs.  It was not published on some blog published from Ignatius Reilly’s basement.  This was published by First Freakin’ Things.” Yes, First Freakin’ Things, the preeminent journal of “moderate” Catholic opinion that could never be accused of “rad trad” leanings.A bewildered Shea wants to know: “First Things: What happened to you guys?” Francis happened, that’s what. Now, if Shea were a reasonable man he would recognize that there just might be a serious problem with this pontificate when even First Things begins voicing objections to such elements of the Bergoglian program as “his clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba” and his “sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements”—a reference to Francis posing between two environmental activists while holding an anti-fracking T-shirt.

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Torture Debate Golden Oldies

9-11 jumpers

With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which does its mendacious best to blame the CIA for enhanced interrogation methods (torture) while giving Senate Democrats the Sergeant Schultz defense, I know nothing, nothing!, Mark Shea has decided to climb Mount Sinai again and damn every one who disagreed with him as to the inherent evil of torture:

Now that the Torture Report is out and we are discovering that the lies we listened to for so long (We only waterboarded three high value targets! We had to do it to save lives!  Valuable intel!  Are you telling me that some filthy terrorist is more important than an unborn baby in your sick twisted liberal mind?) are all exposed as appalling lies, it’s important to do an examination of conscience.  Why?  Because we Catholics consistently supported torture in larger percentages then the average American population.  And the more we self-described as “faithful conservative” and “prolife” the more likely we were to do so.  God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us. (Romans 2:24)

The ugly fact is that in our fear and rage, we became the thing we hate.

Go here to read the rest.  The comments are a hoot: Continue reading

Mark Shea, Pro-life and Religion as Politics

 

Mark Shea has taken his agree-with-me-on-these-issues-or-you-are-not-really-pro-life routine to the pages of the Jesuit rag America:

But weirdly, when the topic is not the unborn, many allegedly pro-life people often forget their wisdom. Result: on many issues ranging from war to torture to refugees to the death penalty, it is extremely common to run into people who are anti-abortion, but not pro-life.

And so self-identified pro-life people, in a solid majority, favored the launch of the Iraq War, despite the fact that it failed to meet a single criterion of Just War teaching, was sternly denounced by Pope John Paul II, warned of by the world’s bishops, and dismissed as folly by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who famously remarked that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and who warned that it would result in catastrophe—as the destruction of the Chaldean Church, the deaths of at least 100,000 people and the transformation of Iraq into chaos eloquently attests.

..
Relatedly, self-identified pro-life Christians supported, in greater percentages than the general U.S. population, the use of torture against prisoners. Indeed, along with Evangelicals, self-identified pro-life Catholics may constitute the single most enthusiastic supporters of torture in American public life. This is despite the fact that the church describes torture as gravely and intrinsically immoral—exactly the same terms in which she describes abortion.

Similarly, the death penalty is sometimes treated as an issue in which the church’s guidance to inflict the punishment only if absolutely necessary is rejected on the theory that God “commands” rather than reluctantly permits the death penalty. Some even go so far as to declare the church, not merely entitled to an opinion from which they dissent, but actually “wrong” and work to execute as many victims as possible.

Finally, there is the strange spectacle of some Catholics opposing pre-natal help for low income women (thus increasing the likelihood of abortion for poor families who fear they cannot afford another child) and the even stranger spectacle of self-identified pro-life people brandishing guns and screaming for desperately poor refugee children from Central America to be sent back to the extreme dangers of rape, sex slavery and murder.
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All is Well!

 

 

If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow,  I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.

Donald R. McClarey

For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:

The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change.  Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.

Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.”  When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?”  They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until  abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” Continue reading

Mash Note

 

America, the Jesuit rag not the country, interviews Mark Shea.  The money quote:

 

I love the man. It’s almost inarticulate, but I have nothing but love for the guy. I think he’s the absolute real deal and I feel tremendous hope for the church. As I said before, I’ve loved every pope we’ve had, but I particularly have a soft spot for this man just as a human being apart from whatever he does as pope. I think the world of him. There are some people you just recognize as genuine people and I always respond really strongly to them. There’s no artifice about him and I really like that. Continue reading

Agree With Me, Or You Are Not Really Pro-life

abortion and welfare

 

Mark Shea is back to his old trick of saying that unless you agree with me on policy issue x which is not directly related to abortion, you are not really pro-life.  It is an attempt to stop debate on policy issue x, at least among pro-lifers.  Mike Gannon at Pocketful of Liberty takes the argument apart:

 

This past Tuesday over at Patheos, Mark Shea, noted gadfly of Catholics and other Christians who come down on the small government side of the aisle, authored a post that started out with the provocative assertion “If we oppose abortion and social safety nets, we don’t really oppose abortion.”

Balderdash, I say!

Now, that’s a qualified balderdash, as I explain below. Mark Shea is a complicated thinker who is usually worth giving a second look (halfway through the piece he denounces the idolatry of the individual and the state in the same breath, demonstrating the difficulty one has at putting him neatly into this or that political box). Nonetheless, in this piece Shea falls victim to the temptation to cast aspersions on fellow pro-lifers who at the same time harbor serious concerns about the scope of our modern welfare state.

It’s a cheap trick that is all too common in political discourse to attempt to strong-arm a fellow traveler into lockstep with one’s own preferred platform by questioning their commitment to the cause if they disagree over tactics or emphases. Continue reading

Rebecca Frech Schools Mark Shea on Guns

Mark Shea has a habit of saying that unless people do x, x always being a policy he endorses, they really are not pro-life.  This of course is simply an attempt, at least among pro-lifers, to stop debate on x and says nothing about the merits of x as a policy.  His latest attempt to do so is on the issue of smart guns, technology that purports to prevent a firearm from being fired, unless the owner is the one pulling the trigger.  Go here to read one of his posts on the subject.  Blogger Rebecca Frech, at her blog Shoved to Them, relates an incident to describe why Shea is wrong as a practical matter:

The argument seems to center around smart gun technology. Shea reasons that if gun owners were truly pro-life then we would support all efforts to create guns which would only fire for their owners, and then the world would be a better place. People who don’t support such legislation and research, even if they support the protection of life from conception to natural death, are not truly pro-life because they participate in a culture which accepts the possibility of death by gun shot (Mark and his readers haven’t mentioned how they aim to prevent people from being bludgeoned with a rifle butt or pistol whipped with a handgun).

*********************

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Touching Up The Ol’ Hermeneutic: A Reply To Gabriel Sanchez

Gabriel Sanchez, a Catholic author I know and respect, has written a critique of my – as he calls it – selective “hermeneutic” of libertarian Catholicism at Ethika Politica. Specifically he is critiquing my critique of Mark Shea’s indictment of libertarianism as heresy at Crisis magazine. It seems he at least agrees with my point that libertarianism is not heresy, but that may be where the agreement ends There are some broad points of his critique I want to address.

First there is Sanchez’s claim that my argument regarding the limits Leo places on the state with respect to taxation and charity is “strange.” The part of paragraph 22 that Sanchez says I “overlook” is irrelevant; in context, it is clear that Leo does not believe that the state has a duty to expropriate and confiscate wealth in the name of charity. I could have quoted more of that paragraph to support my point, such as “[n]o one is commanded to distribute to others that which is required for his own needs and those of his household; nor even to give away what is reasonably required to keep up becomingly his condition in life, “for no one ought to live other than becomingly.”” After this, the part I did quote:

“But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one’s standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. “Of that which remaineth, give alms.”(14) It is a duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity – a duty not enforced by human law.”

Maybe we live in two different semantic universes, but in mine, when someone says “no one is commanded”, “not of justice”, “not enforced by human law”, the meaning is clear: the state has no obligation to confiscate the private property of citizens and distribute it to whomever it deems worthy. Whether to give and how much to give is a matter for each individual to decide. I suppose it is arguable that the state could do these things with the consent of the people, but it is not required to do so and the libertarian argument against them would remain quite valid.

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Shea & I: A Follow-Up

The-Pope-and-the-Inquisitor

I have a new piece up at Crisis regarding libertarianism and heresy inspired by a post on Mark Shea’s blog. Since I post there under my actual name, and since the reasons I had for writing under a pen name have largely vanished, I suppose my pen name is no longer needed here, though I will keep it because the Marquis de Bonchamps is still my hero. Anyway, I wanted to post some additional thoughts here for those interested, and since there are (as of 5/3, 11 am Pacific Time) 320 comments between my article and Shea’s reply, there might be a few. So here they are:

1) I didn’t choose the name of the piece – or the picture (above). Shea and I am sure others know that writers don’t often get this privilege when they submit something for publication. It’s not that I wholly object to the title and I like the painting, but I might have chosen something else. It wasn’t my intention to provoke the man.

2) Speaking of which, I haven’t followed Shea’s writings enough to know whether or not he deserves the almost unprecedented levels of animosity directed at him through the com-boxes. I’ve found some of his writing to be agreeable in the past and I have nothing personal against him. It was his claim, not his character, I was seeking to critique. I don’t approve of or condone the savaging of the man on a personal level.

3) Shea, through the com-boxes in his reply (though oddly not in the actual reply), thinks my argument is “silly” because if libertarianism is heretical, it can’t possibly be worth anything (thus rendering my probing questions in the opening of the piece superfluous). And yet in his original post (the second link above), he makes a practical argument against libertarianism and I am still not sure if it is the reason why he thinks it is heretical or if it is just some unrelated tangent. If libertarianism is heresy – end of story, end of debate – why proceed to make a rather half-hearted point against it, in this case, that it is somehow “utopian”? Or is that the reason he thinks it is heretical? He didn’t make that clear, hence the questions I pose in the piece. I also make clear that since I believe that a) libertarian arguments against confiscatory taxation are rooted in true and morally good principles and b) the Church does not reject what is true or good that c) it is very likely that at least what I call libertarianism is not “heretical.” I thought that was rather obvious.

One last thing: another publication will be posting a reply to my piece on Tuesday. I won’t give anymore details for now, but I expect a lively exchange to result.

Of Sarah Palin, Waterboarding and Baptism

Sarah Palin and the torture debate?  Red Meat for bloggers for sure!  Sarah Palin at the NRA convention said about captured terrorists and interrogation:

“Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

The remark has received predictable criticism from the Left.  Mark Shea, who is not a Leftist whatever else he is,  chimes in with the usual quiet reason that has ever reflected his comments during the torture debate:

Well done also to Joe Carter for giving this vile filth no quarter.  There is nothing left to discuss or negotiate.  “Prolife” Christians who cheer for torture and, worse, cheer for sacrilegiously likening it to baptize have only one option: repent and seek forgiveness.  Those who make excuses for it or refuse to repent ought to be as radioactive as Catholics for a Free Choice.

Here is a link to the Joe Carter post mentioned by Mark.

Father Z believes that the remark requires an apology.

Ed Peters who Father Z quotes is very condemnatory:

Open contempt for faith and things of religion is broadly associated with the left in America. I well recall pro-aborts smirking under a placard that claimed “If men could become pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.” Now Palin has given sociology professors an incontestable example of contempt for religion on the American right.

May my readers join me in offering a short Pater in reparation for both.

In the face of all this, Sarah Palin is unrepentant:

Actions to stop terrorists who’d utterly annihilate America and delight in massacring our innocent children? Darn right I’d do whatever it takes to foil their murderous jihadist plots – including waterboarding. Whatever one thinks of my one…-liner at the NRA rally about treating evil terrorists the way they deserve to be treated to prevent the death of innocent people, it’s utterly absurd for MSNBC to suggest that I could put our beloved troops in harm’s way, but we’ve come to expect the absurd from that failing network. If you want to talk about what really harms our troops, let’s talk about politicians who gut our military’s budgets, or a president whose skewed budgetary priorities slash military benefits, or an administration that puts our vets on endless waiting lists for care that comes too late to help those who’ve paid the price for our freedom, or those who break bread with those who think it makes no difference how our military heroes died in Benghazi or anywhere else trying to protect America. Those actions are a heck of a lot more harmful than declaring an appropriate message our enemies should receive. If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn’t give you a right not to be offended. Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance. That’s why we do whatever we can to prevent them from killing innocent people. And for that, we should NEVER apologize. Good Lord, critics… buck up or stay in the truck. And if you love freedom, thank our troops! Thank our vets! And thank those who have the brains to support them and the guts to defend what they have earned!
– Sarah Palin
My own thoughts? Continue reading

The Great Shea-Voris Grudge Match

Mark Shea and Michael Voris recently met for some verbal sparring:

 

Before I start to describe all that I recall regarding the event, in the interest of transparency I have to say that I would place my own views in closer proximity to the Voris camp than to the Shea camp, although I do greatly respect and enjoy reading/watching both gentlemen’s work.

Since Mr. Shea was arguing in the affirmative on the topic, he gave his opening arguments. The mic was then passed to Mr. Voris, and this is where things quickly became a bit heated. In his first turn or two at the microphone, Michael Voris focused less on the substance of the debate, but instead started referencing quotes that Mark Shea had written on his blog regarding ChurchMilitant.tv, Michael Voris, Michael Voris’s followers, etc. Michael Voris clearly came to the debate with an ax to grind.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that what Shea has written on his blog regarding Voris was both juvenile and irresponsible (you can search Mark’s blog for yourself), but I have to say that this tactic by Voris didn’t reflect well on him. Where I was sitting, there was a chorus of groans erupting when it became clear that Michael Voris was starting in with the personal attacks rather than addressing the question posed. Thankfully, this was the most contentious portion of the debate, which only lasted around 45 minutes. Everything following that moment was a bit more civil, with the two even finding some common ground. Continue reading

Pharisees, Reactionaries and Mark Shea

I cannot possibly improve on what Pat Archbold wrote at Creative Minority Report:

 

God, I thank you that I am not like other people”

 

From the eminently huggable Mark Shea’s “Bed-wetting Reactionary Wusses…”

What ties everything in Reactionary culture together better than any other theory I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s not that Reactionaries think the Church is evangelizing wrong and want to do it better.  It’s that they hate the whole idea of bringing new people into the Church at all (except for a vanishingly small sample of like-minded Reactionaries) and seem to be bent on making sure as few are allowed in and as many are driven away as possible.

I agree with Mark.  Wouldn’t it be much better if all the Reactionary Wuss –holes in the Church who are not as open, loving, and tolerant as us would just get the the F out.
File this in the “irony is lost on them” department.

Mark Shea’s Public Apology

Sorry

 

 

Interesting public apology by Mark Shea:

The past week has not been a pleasant one, but it has been a fruitful one.  I won’t bore you with a lot of autobiography, but I will say that the Holy Spirit has been very busy, turning over some rocks in the heart that have nasty things living under them.  And since some of them concern youse guys (who have been way more patient with me than I would be if I were reading me over the past several years) I think I owe some apologies.

You know how something can be right in front of your face and you can’t see it?  That’s what it’s been for me this week and really for a good number of years.  I’ve sensed that something is wrong, but not been able to really get it or know what to do about it.  Partly I spent a lot of time thinking about the reaction to this piece, in which it was very plain that the issue for readers was simply that I had offended and angered a lot of people for a long time. But in many ways, the reactions to that piece just seemed to recapitulate a lot of reactions over the years. It seemed obvious to me that the problem was me, not my readers (since I don’t believe in conspiracy theories).  My assumption is that when a random sample of people all report a very similar experience, that’s because they are reacting to something that is there, not conspiring to create an illusion of something that is not.

So there was that.  There is also the fact that, over the past several years, I have engaged in a number of arguments on a number of questions that have brought to the surface some pretty deep rooted habits of soul.  I have remarked on them in the past and tried to repent of them (sincerely, I might add, but of course the problem with besetting sins is that they are besetting: think about that sin you’ve confessed a hundred times and seem to make no progress with.  Frustrating, ain’t it?)

Anyway, it all kind of came to a head this weekend on Sunday, starting at Mass.  The hymn was, appropriately enough for Corpus Christi, “Taste and See”.  As I was praying it just got more and more apparent to me that the message I’m getting back from so many quarters is, if you will, “You taste bitter”.

And I couldn’t argue with that.  I do taste bitter. And for that I am deeply, profoundly sorry, because it is through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault that I do.  I’ve become bitter in much of my interaction with people.  And bitterness is a root that “defiles many” according to Hebrews.  In my case, I think I have defiled quite a number of hearts who came here looking for the gospel and instead just got Mark Shea getting increasingly cynical and angry about all sorts of stuff.  You can’t eat food, including food for the soul, that is bitter.  My apologies to all to whom I have done this. Continue reading

Has Ryan “Softened” His Pro-Life Views?

Brace yourself for the latest meme to hit the politosphere: the word is now that Paul Ryan has “softened” his views on abortion. Ryan has long opposed abortion in all cases save in a few cases where he believes it may be necessary to save the life of the mother. This means that he has opposed abortion in the case of rape. But in this post-Akin political environment, so the narrative goes, Ryan, in the interests of being a team player, is renouncing his opposition to rape exceptions.

What set this off? First there was the statement made by various Romney campaign spokespeople in the aftermath of Akin’s blunder:

“Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape”

Then there were Ryan’s responses to some reporters who were pressing him on the abortion/rape issue, and focusing particularly on some legislation he previously supported which made distinctions between different types of rape. Ryan said to the reporters:

“I’m proud of my record. Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I’m comfortable with it because it’s a good step in the right direction.”

One the basis of one or both of these statements, major news outlets and some in the Catholic blogosphere are claiming that Ryan has “softened” his views on abortion. Or, to put it in Mark Shea’s words, Ryan has “partly renounce[d]” his position. In response to a comment I made on Mark’s blog, he elaborated further:

 I just don’t see how anybody can regard movement from “It is always gravely evil to deliberately kill innocent human life” to “I am opposed to the murder of innocent, unborn children except in cases my boss tells me not to be opposed,” or, “unless I feel it jeopardizes my chances of becoming VP” and maintain that Ryan is not compromising.

It is quite obvious to me that Paul Ryan has not said or done a thing to warrant the attribution of such cynical and selfish motives to him – though I do believe he, like most pro-life politicians and even people such as myself, is willing to compromise on a few points to make significant gains, a point I will elaborate on below. In any case, Mr. Shea goes too far. Because I often find his commentary to be fair-minded (even when I disagree), I am surprised at this rather unjustifiable attack on Ryan’s character but also willing to grant the benefit of the doubt. So I will offer my take on these comments and Mark can reply if he feels it’s worth his time.

Continue reading

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