Taylor Marshall vs. Timothy Gordon (Hatfields & McCoys Redux)

Taylor Marshall vs. Timothy Gordon (Hatfields & McCoys Redux) April 15, 2020

The basic trouble with going far right on the ecclesiastical spectrum: radical right; radical Catholic reactionary, is how far right does one go? Is there actually a breaking point? Who determines where that is? Hence, we will see divisions and in-fighting amongst the reactionaries when one makes a move further right, because being a reactionary is all about being one’s own pope (the more so, the more influential and famous one becomes within the movement). Thus, when there are disagreements, how can two mini-popes with their little online fiefdoms resolve a difference? It becomes like the infighting of pope-less Eastern Orthodoxy.

Radical Catholic reactionaries love to habitually go up to the “line” but not quite go over it. The ordinary form Mass is still valid, yet it is trashed all the time and regarded as “objectively inferior.” And Catholics who attend it are despised and looked down upon, as second-class Catholics. Vatican II is a valid ecumenical council, yet it is trashed all the time and regarded as fundamentally less authoritative than Vatican I and (especially) Trent: even though Pope Benedict XVI (the bitterly disappointing former darling: because he resigned), writing in 1985, made it clear that Vatican II and Trent have precisely the same authority. The pope is a valid pope, but only worthy to be bashed and lied about week in and week out. No particular deference is due to him (think “Protestant”). You get the picture. See the pattern there?

But now and then, a high-profile reactionary actually becomes more “diabolically self-consistent” (though further from the truth) and ventures over the line. This happened on Easter Sunday when Taylor Marshall received the sacraments from the SSPX: the breakaway group which is in imperfect communion with the Catholic Church.

His cohort in over 100 videos, Timothy Gordon, publicly spoke out against this, and all hell has broken loose in reactionary ranks, and we have a civil war. It was long overdue, though completely predictable. But it’s certainly here now. It turns out that Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon have had a disagreement regarding SSPX going back to January.

Timothy’s brother David (words in purple below) apparently started the current controversy with this tweet:

This mainstream trad Catholic dalliance with the schismatic SSPX (canon 751) is beginning to endanger the souls of the faithful and it needs quashing with dispatch. R4R is going to settle the debate in the coming weeks. (4-12-20, 9:34 PM)

Timothy replied in that discussion thread:

It’s not a matter of opinion. Look at what the Church says on the matter: [link] (4-12-20, 9:43 PM)

Debating an issue is fragging? It’s an important intellectual matter and it merits dispassionate debate. Get thicker skin. (4-13-20, 12:16 AM)

Timothy (words in green henceforth, and Taylor’s in blue) tweeted on April 13th ( at 8:06 PM and 8:13 PM):

Just defending myself with the truth. People accused me of not reaching out, which I have been for months[.]

Did you see how many folks idiotically assumed that I haven’t been reaching out as a brother in Jan/Feb/March? I was being snubbed. One has the right to defend one’s reputation[.]

I wondered why I hadn’t seen Timothy’s face on the ubiquitous Taylor Marshall videos as of late . . . He later revealed exactly why he was “snubbed”:

For the annals of history: I didn’t “leave.” I was non-renewed against my wishes. It had become clear we didn’t agree about Taylor’s evolving position on the SSPX, but I wished to continue: we were still bringing souls to the Church together, which matters most to me[.] (4-16-20, 3:20 PM)

This sounded very familiar. Taylor had highly recommended my work for years, thanked me in at least one of his books, and carried an ad for my books on his site for several years. But at first disagreement (my critical review of his book, Infiltration) I was immediately banned from his Twitter page and have been the fodder for his (rather juvenile and petty) insults ever since. Now it’s happening to the one who was his partner. Timothy had tweeted earlier in the day on April 13th, at 4:34 PM and 5:33 PM:

Regarding @TaylorRMarshall: I’m happy to chat, do a show, slap high fives and come together about the (majority) stuff we agree on OR do a civil show about the (minority) stuff we disagree on. Gotta be two-sided though. I can’t do UNITY alone. Not gonna tweet anymore on this[.]

Update: called Taylor a little bit ago to wish Happy Easter Monday and bury the petty squabbles. No reply. (If recent history is a guide, I won’t get a reply. I’ll continue to hope.)

Outward unity among the reactionaries has been fairly solid, since all alike detest and despise the pope (“my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”). But the other fault lines inherent in such an arbitrary and quasi-schismatic movement were bound to come out sooner or later. Steven O’Reilly made the obvious point in a tweet underneath Timothy Gordon’s (4-13-20, 5:20 PM):

The problem is, in order to unite the clans, as in the analogy, a William Wallace is needed. Unfortunately, we have a number of chieftains, some with significant egos; and no William Wallace.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker tweeted similarly:

When Catholics set themselves up to judge and condemn popes and bishops its not long before they are judging and condemning one another. (4-14-20, 8:58 AM)

Steve Skojec opined on 4-14-20 (5:10 PM): “Our coalition is dwindling, . . . ” Delighted to hear that! Quasi-schism is starting to fade . . .

I guess Taylor Marshall ain’t Braveheart. Sorry, Taylor! And it ain’t gonna be clan chieftains Chris Ferrara or Steve Skojec or John-Henry Westen or Michael Voris or Patrick Coffin (who all preside over their own echo-chambers) either. Timothy Gordon replied on 4-13-20, at 8:36 PM and 8:54 PM:

Agreed. Ego kills. I’ll speak to ANY of these guys I’ve ever crossed swords with. Wish ALL of them into the Kingdom of Heaven[.]

I’m not a grudge holder. I can get over combat fast, cuz I’ve done a lot of literal and figurative fighting[.]

Earlier still, on April 12th, Gordon tweeted:

I’m not asserting with certainty that SSPX is in a formal schism. I’m saying that “formal adherence” to schismatic acts is a grave peril of attending the SSPX. They’re conceptually different[.] (10:22 PM)

Taylor, can you tell me in a sentence why SSPX is necessary when FSSP exists? The answer always insinuates “formal adherence” to schism. A bunch of the mob on here defend your position, but say they choose FSSP over SSPX every time

THIS is the real issue. All else is minutiae[.] (11:39 PM)

And on April 13th:

God bless FSSP! There’s an unimagined gap between FSSP and SSPX[.] (10:21 AM)

Honestly: All I care about is the truth. Wherever it leads. Catholic micro-celebrity is wholly meaningless and mostly fruitless. Don’t act as if fringe groups and their leaders aren’t the mob w/ gang bosses on Cath twitter. They are[.] (10:25 AM)

A) she’s calling names, not me B) my daughter has brain surgery in 90 mins and many of these people want to go to war with good guys like FSSP. It’s intolerable[.] (10:31 AM)

It’s a boring, inconsequential, fruitless debate. And most of these people think you’re scum just for going to the Novus Ordo. Just ask them[.] (12:25 PM)

JP2 indeed spread a false ecumenism but wasn’t trying to kill the TLM entirely. Distinctions matter[.] (12:36 PM)

Dave and I disagree about *how close* VC2 comes to embracing ecumenism/modernism. I think it comes dangerously close. But Trads have flatly misunderstood religious freedom in Dignitatis: read Leo XIII’s IMMORTALE DEI 36, which Trads reject Dave and I agree 100%about Dignitatis[.] (1:01 PM)

Agreed that there was a modernist intent going in. Irrelevant. Meaning inheres in text, not intention. We read the Vatican docs for their original public meaning—that which was ratified by a vote—not their presumptive intent—which isn’t certainly ascertainable[.] (1:47 PM)

There were other pastoral councils that did not condemn a heresy. 2 or 3 of them. Not just VC2. I used to believe this nonsense as well. Another wrong SSPX talking point. (1:49 PM)

That’s heteropraxy, not heterodoxy. What’s obtuse is a hermeneutic of intentionalism instead of a hermeneutic of textualism[.] (1:50 PM)

That’s what we are saying: we KNOW the intent was bad. But the meaning of the Council inheres in the text[.] (1:53 PM)

The world of text, hermeneutic, jurisprudence. Everyone KNOWS what the modernists we’re trying to do. I’m arguing that they failed by not clearly articulating their modernism[.] (1:54 PM)

The issue is that the texts are to be presumed faithful unless specifically heretical, even if their drafters used weaponized ambiguity[.] (2:00 PM)

Yes there’s a new theology that needs to be rejected. But you’re not understanding that conciliar documents need to be interpreted under the construction most optimally faithful to Tradition, wherever possible. (2:04 PM)

I don’t think they’re formally schismatic, but it’s a case by case determination that is impossible to make unless you speak to the individual Kook yelling “novus ordo is invalid!” (2:14 PM)

Just tried calling you. Let’s take this offline, bro. I would never frag ya[.] [2:41 PM)

Disagreeing respectfully is the OPPOSITE of fragging. It’s “intellectual.” Civil discussion is what’s needed and you won’t even respond to me, privately or publicly. Calling FSSP “bootlicking” (as many who were supporting your tweet were doing) IS fragging. Please disown that[.] (3:02 PM)

[DorotaG had tweeted (4-12-20, 11:01 PM): “My bishop in endangering my soul and the boot licking FSSP is nowhere to offer a real mass. The SSPX is the only church in town that is not a total joke and does not desecrate the eucharist. Only one offering mass, confession and benediction for over a month.”]

For my part, I didn’t even see the SSPX debate your post caused until late afternoon. But the debate should be: a) not avoided and b) CIVIL[.] (3:04 PM)

Nobody wants the Catholic infighting, Taylor. We have to be able to have discussion intellectually, w/o the fomenting of the emotions. Let’s appeal to civility Ironic to have to say, because we produced 100+ really good shows on difficult topics over the course of 15 mos. (3:39 PM)

Nonsense. Show me where I called you a single name. You said “precisely” about a schismatic slur[.] (3:43 PM)

I never claimed I texted Taylor yesterday. I said I’ve reached out several times in the New Year w/ scarcely a response. (3:54 PM)

Yes, Dave and I disagree on stuff. The SSPX equaling formal schism stuff is wrong, as far as I know. And JP2 was FAR more modernist than he acknowledges, but the point is that Dave’s tweet to Taylor was 100.0000% civil[.] (4:02 PM)

Why all the handwringing about civility? NOT TOO LATE! Let’s take this offline and chat by phone later, yes? I await your reply, Taylor… It’s sophistical to claim (ever) that it’s too late for civility. I said nothing about you or your family on here and never would! (4:22 PM)

PS: this isn’t a big deal. Catholics are drama queens[.] (4:38 PM)

People were accusing me of not reaching out to Taylor. Reaching out to a brother in Christ is ALWAYS good advice. I’ve been reaching out for months; just defending myself against slander[.] (8:04 PM)

no pattern except that I wish them both well—they’re both Catholics with whom I mostly agree Trent [Horn]: a smart dude I barely know & only spoke with thrice; Taylor: a smart dude I know WELL—spoke to him daily for over a year, until he abruptly/mostly stopped replying to texts/calls[.] (8:33 PM)

Never too late when people care for each other in true Christian charity (which I do for Taylor). Truly care for him. (8:50 PM)

You bet. Will do whatever I can. There’s always room to come@back together. Don’t worry brother[.] (9:46 PM)

No worries at all. Brothers squabbling a bit is the inevitable cost of abandonment by our spiritual fathers; all of us have various talents, but none of us have authority to pronounce on theological questions. Only dad does. The good part is that it’s NEVER too late to make up[.] (9:54 PM)

Just gotta retry each day for unity. All of us, me included. As Faramir says of war: sin makes corpses of us all. (9:58 PM)

And on April 14th:

Lefebvre voted for EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT. Can we talk about that? It’s quite strange, no? Honesty check time[.] (2:20 AM)

My homeboy @SteveSkojec  (accidentally) mischaracterized my position, which is actually “schismatic attitude” in many/most attendees (but not all)[.] (3:04 PM)

I don’t believe (never have) as Dave does that formal schism is most likely. (3:13 PM)

It seems possible to do with some but not most SSPX attendees, namely the ones w/o the schismatic attitude How do you unite the clans with those who call us FSSP “bootlickers,” a common attitude among SSPX ever since FSSP broke off. (3:18 PM)

Completely unacceptable, Taylor. The largest imaginable public detraction w/ extremely sensitive private info you had as a family friend. (Also, secretly blocking someone as you tweet someone that you’re available is insane.) (7:15 PM)

My brand CANT be damaged by defending the ONE HOLY CHURCH against outsiders who claim my Sunday obligation isn’t fulfilled if I attend novus. (7:45 PM)

Petty, self-serving, vindictive, egomaniacal acts like releasing sensitive private 411 about my household during Abby’s surgery. That’s why. Major pattern. FOR THE RECORD: HE ENDED TNT. I wanted to continue, even w/ above: we were saving souls and that’s all I care about: (7:57 PM)

That’s why you’ll always see me warning against SSPX even though it’s trending now and him riding the wave. I don’t care about the business model. (7:58 PM)

I called him yesterday. He won’t call back. He’s been ignoring me nearly 100% since almost immediately after he said he wouldn’t do another year of TNT. He used the huge analytics boost his channel got from TNT and then ditched me, presumably cuz I’m not Trad enuf for biz expsn[.] (8:33 PM)

He made it sound like he called back, Steve. He didn’t. He sent a diplomatic text insinuating there wouldn’t be a call. (11:32 PM)

I can’t fully access Taylor Marshall’s tweets because he blocked me, but I can get at some:

I am grateful to the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, by whom our Marshall family received the Resurrected Body of Christ on this Easter Morn. Without them we would be without the Sacraments. God forgive me for anything negative or incorrect that I have ever said about the SSPX. (4-12-20: Easter Sunday, 6:25 AM)

Shots fired by Retrograde Gordon Bros against Marshall. It’s not the first time. Take it up with them. I am living my life and have no time for their judgments over my soul and my family. (4-13-20, 12:52 PM)

Completely dishonest. (4-13-20, 1:00 PM)

I reached out to [Timothy Gordon] this morning, actually. Mind your business Steve [Skojec]. (4-14-20, 4:23 PM)

I’m blocking the 3 Gordon’s because they will not drop it regarding me and the SSPX. I reached out to Tim this morning. For their good and mine and all of us, I’m officially ending this nasty Twitter feud. It’s destructive and wrong. Sorry Gordon’s, but this seems to be the only way. (4-14-20, 4:34 PM)

I ask everyone to pray for all parties involved. (4-14-20, 4:36 PM)

Precisely, no more feuding in public. (4-14-20, 4:58 PM)

It is fixable. But not while shots are fired hourly on Twitter and crowds watch on.(4-14-20, 5:01 PM)

I’m fine. I just don’t want this dragging out in public. It needs to stop. (4-14-20, 4:56 PM)

I don’t think you get it. This shouldn’t be engaged in public. (4-14-20, 4:59 PM)

Bottom line: Timothy Gordon is clearly trying to reach out to Taylor and stop the disunity; Taylor Marshall wants no part of it. I think (all reactionary issues aside for the moment) Timothy Gordon shows himself to be acting as a Christian should (in terms of seeking to reconcile); Taylor Marshall is not acting in such a fashion.

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Addendum: Further Timothy Gordon (and David Gordon) tweets:

16 April 2020:

I’ll do it anytime. I love dialogue; I care about Taylor; most of all, I love the truth. RoP [Right On Point] is a perfect forum for this. Neutral and objective. (12:11 AM)

The attempts to throw Dave under the bus are silly. Dave’s position and mine, while distinguishable, are in close enough orbit to give faithful, non-contumacious, full-communion Catholics a nice spectrum to examine and choose from. (3:17 PM)

Imagine being me in this situation. Tons of defamatory theories swirling about my motives and about the TnT breakup itself (which Marshall is conspicuously failing to correct). Justice demands that I set the record straight. (3:43 PM)

The point of departure was NOT receiving Communion—which is licit all things considered—but the apology for not just “inaccurate” statements about SSPX (which is great!) but for all “negative” comments about them. The latter of which was/is troubling and misleading[.] (5:07 PM)

I’m not convinced SSPX is in schismatic! I think you’re [Steve Skojec] closer to my position than Taylor’s since both of us won’t attend SSPX (for ineffable reasons, even) and yet he will… (5:20 PM)

In the interest Christian unity, I’d like to emphasize that I do NOT believe that @TaylorRMarshall erred by receiving the Eucharist from the SSPX on Easter; regular parishes are widely shuttered and there was no other possibility of receiving the Holy Eucharist. (9:16 PM)

My sole issue with his Easter tweet was that he retracted his previous due criticisms of the SSPX, which I worried would nudge many of the faithful to attend SSPX liturgy, which would endanger the less-educated in the Faith, since they will more readily succumb to the rebellious mindset of the Society towards VC II and towards the Novus Ordo, a mindset that is condemned by the Church. Moreover, since we are not in full communion with SSPX, receiving the Eucharist with them is a performed falsehood. Such was my purpose for my rejoinder. (9:16 PM)

To all those who believed that I was criticizing his/his family’s reception of the Eucharist from the SSPX rather than the implicit invitation for the less-educated faithful to frequent SSPX liturgy, note this was not my intention. He was acting as a good father. (9:16 PM)

Let’s have robust discussion about the status of the SSPX (whom I still hold to be in objective schism) going forward, but in a spirit of Christian fraternity and unity. For my part in some irreverent jesting in the wake of this spat, I’m sorry. Acta non verba. (9:16 PM)

Also for the record, I’ve never been certain why Taylor opted for non-renewal during the peak of TNT popularity. He never said. There are certainly a few factors, as with all etiologies, but I speculate that his evolution regarding SSPX was probably one of them. (9:50 PM)

Clarify where correct; apologize where incorrect. (9:58 PM)

@ROPpodcast  any way—public or private—to reconcile with TM is good. But again, has to involve all willing parties. (10:01 PM)

Someone close to Taylor, tell him to return my call. He’s got a good heart and we’ve both had a hard year. Can’t be sensitive or grudge-holding over some of these memes. I heard he was mad about some of them[.] (11:30 PM)

17 April 2020:

Dave and I guess about the status of SSPX differently. Get over it. And that’s just what it is, guessing. Cuz the Church won’t clarify. 2 of Dave’s biggest heroes—Sheen and Burke—agree with him[.] (4:06 AM)

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Photo credit: Thomas Splettstoesser (8-15-06): atomic structure of profilin in comlex with actin, PDB code 2BTF, cartoon representation, rendered with PyMol [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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