Phil Lawler’s Mythical Private Letter (Unfruitful Discussion)

Phil Lawler’s Mythical Private Letter (Unfruitful Discussion) May 6, 2020

This occurred in a public post on Patrick Coffin’s Facebook page, then later on Leila Lawler’s public Facebook page.


Patrick Coffin: Don’t miss next week’s episode of The Patrick Coffin Show —Making Sense of Pope Francis with author Phil Lawler.

Mike Mudd: Wanna make it really interesting, have Dave Armstrong on as well. 

Lawler would never agree, even if I wanted to, so it’s a complete non-starter.

Mike Mudd: Even so, it would be a great show to discuss the opposite views.

And would be the first time — to my knowledge — that the two sides were actually heard together. But since Phil already made it clear he had no interest in dialogue with me, he certainly wouldn’t live, on-air. He wants to do all he can to utterly ignore all my critiques.

Phil Lawler: I responded at length to you, privately, about your critiques. You ignored my response, and continued to mischaracterize my ideas. That’s why I see no point in continuing an exchange.

Hi Phil,

All your responses (unless I am forgetting something) were posted publicly on my page, and I replied. I recall you sending a short note when you sent me the book file. Our last public exchange was originally posted on my site and Karl Keating’s.

I don’t recall any lengthy personal letter about my critiques. I certainly would have responded, as you see I have been doing many times (the latest, today, vs. Stephen Phelan). It may be, then, that I never received a private lengthy letter. Was that sent in email or in a PM? By all means, send it again, and I will reply point-by-point and post everything on my blog (with your permission).

[14 minutes pass]

Is this exchange already over, too, before it begins?

[89 more minutes pass]

Phil Lawler: Don’t troll, Dave; you’re better than that.

You say you sent me a letter. I say I never received it. You say I ignored it and mischaracterize you. So send it to me. This isn’t trolling. Mike Mudd tagged me and I came and commented. Achieving further mutual understanding and desperately needed unity in the Church is a good thing, not bad.

Here’s something I heartily agree with. Phil wrote yesterday on his Facebook page: “I am angry- at the tactics of those who, while speaking in lofty terms about open dialogue and respectful debate, do their utmost to impugn the motivations and question the good faith of those who disagree with them.”

Over on Leila Lawler’s Facebook page, my name came up as well:

SK McKenna: I prefer David Armstrong’s review of this book on Amazon.

Leila Marie Lawler: Well you don’t actually know if you prefer that review, if you haven’t read the book. As it happens, Dave Armstrong misrepresents Phil and doesn’t hesitate to ascribe opinions to him that are not supported by the text. So if you prefer something that is about one man’s desperate attempt to avoid reality, well there is nothing I can do about that.

Thomas Berryman: Without wishing to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, or be disrespectful, I prefer to read a book myself and reach my own conclusions, especially before attempting comment on said book. Some of us adult converts (like Dave) tend to be a little zealous in our desire to protect our newfound Church, without regard for the facts. I remember meeting him once back in the early 80s here in Detroit, when we were both evangelicals. He was well-intentioned and obviously a man of faith, but even then he had a tendency to build up a head of steam and shoot off in occasionally odd directions.

He’s a good man. But he is very wrong about Phil’s book.

I’d be glad to be shown where I am wrong, and will modify portions of my reviews accordingly, if this is demonstrated. Phil just claimed earlier today that he sent me a long private letter in response to my critiques that I ignored, continuing to supposedly misrepresent him. I never received such a letter. I asked him to send it to me so that I can hear his thoughts and interact with them. Now he appears reluctant to send it. Why?

Frankly, Dave, your comments here and elsewhere are amounting to trolling — I’ve already had to delete a comment on a post that was downright sneering — perhaps you will remember it, as it was a mean-spirited response to my request that people leave reviews on Amazon, which you had already done and yet found it important to sort of gloat at your negativity. If you continue this way, I will block you.

It is clear to anyone who reads all the comments here and on Phil’s posts that we are fine with comments and even with arguing. But this is too much.

In answer to the comment above I have tried to be evenhanded and give you the benefit of the doubt. Yet you come on the very page where I am basically defending you, to be on the attack. I’m done.

Phil refused to engage in a simple discussion with me, trying to find more common ground. He seems unwilling to send me this long private letter that he referenced. He falsely accused me of trolling, then his wife did, when I was trying to be conciliatory. So I will now block them both. I’m still accessible via email if they have second thoughts about wishing to communicate again like normal orthodox Catholic adults.

Both are now blocked, having both falsely accused me today of “trolling” when I was trying to be conciliatory and open up lines of communication. Should they change their minds and seek to talk like adult Catholics ought to, again, my email is always accessible:

apologistdave [at] gmail [dot] com

And they can comment on my blog. But I’m through with the silliness with them on Facebook.


(originally posted on 3-10-18 on Facebook)

Photo credit: book cover of Phil Lawler’s book, from its Amazon page.



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