I have decided to restore this piece, originally from 8-6-13, to my blog, for reasons that I shared at the end of my revised article, Top Ten All-Time Favorite Insults Sent My Way, underneath Shawn’s entry (which must be read to be believed) that had been restored to its rightful #1 position. What may appear petty or indicative of bitterness is much better understood as not that at all, once all the facts and the backstory are known. I had removed from my blog (except for short periods, before thinking better of it) all of my defenses of myself against these outrageous attacks, brought on by my condemnation of the nuclear bombings of Japan, essentially since 2006 when we first became estranged,
Now, since the attacks from Shawn against me in public keep continuing, I will defend myself by restoring an eight-year-old article. No one can possibly say I have no right to do this, and no Catholic is obliged to always turn the other cheek. St. Paul strongly defended himself at his trial. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman devoted an entire book to refuting scurrilous anti-Catholic public lies he had endured (Apologia pro vita sua): and convinced many in thoroughly Protestant England that he had been greatly wronged. Shawn’s words will be in blue. Most of them were on a public Facebook thread that he later removed, but without (as usual) any apology or retraction)
His garbage remains up to this day on his old site, Rerum Novarum. Just search for my name there and you’ll find posts like, “On David Armstrong’s Tragic Mental Meltdown”: discussing my “pathetic delusions,” etc. You get the idea. Here’s my absolute favorite of his reams and reams of insults and lies at my expense (I am blessed with no end of belly-splitting laughter over this one, whenever I read it):
[Y]our claim to want to dialogue was a sham exactly as I said it was. You should have had the decency to have admitted to it publicly rather than try to pretend that you wanted to dialogue. Furthermore, if you never intended to interact with my arguments, then you have NO BASIS WHATSOEVER for crying about how soundly I bitchslapped your crap down publicly . . .
Alas, I’m not the only apologist in Shawn’s huge three-car garage doghouse. For example, here he is writing about me in boorish and inane fashion, on 10 December 2006:
For one thing, he tries to bring into the picture Dr. Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, and Pat Madrid as if they are necessarily being viewed by me in the same light as I do Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, . . . and himself. Secondly, Dave obviously is interested in playing this up in his predictable Jerry Springeresque way . . . Dave, Jimmy, . . . and/or their uncritical and fawning sycophants . . .
For some reason Keating and Akin are in Shawn’s doghouse with yours truly, while Hahn, Ray, and Madrid manage to escape it. What’s the huge difference? Well, none, really (all three of the “good guys” have given very glowing reviews of my work, by the way), except whether ol’ Shawn grants them his Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or not! As if anyone cares in the first place. . .!
Not many cared at all about Shawn’s endless, War and Peace pontifications, as he consistently used to get about ten readers per day, average, on his site. But no doubt he would say that this was because his sublime profundities were well beyond the grasp of the unwashed masses of ignorant peasantry. At least he had the eventual sense to shut the thing down. In past years (before all he could do was rant against me and other apologists), he actually did quite a bit of valuable work, especially about radical Catholic reactionary errors: some of which I still cite, despite all.
Everyone knows how utterly fearful I am of one-on-one debate. That’s why I have about 700 debates posted online, because I am scared to death of them. I guess that’s why I once did a talk (in person) with sixteen atheists and agnostics: me being the only theist (let alone Catholic) in the room. It’s obviously the reason why I have been on national radio shows (Catholic Answers Live twice), answering questions live, with no idea what they might be.
This sort of abject fear led me to debate James White spontaneously one night in his chat room, or take on Matt Slick of CARM fame, or engage anti-Catholic apologist Jason Engwer in hostile territory at CARM, debating whether the Church Fathers believed in sola Scriptura. He did so poorly that he split even before it was halfway done.
And we see (above and below) how Shawn “argues”. He’s the very last person to be lecturing anyone about how to engage in calm, rational, constructive (minimally ethical and charitable) argumentation. I would send my three sons to a rabid hedgehog in heat to learn how to dialogue before I would send them to Shawn. In any event, good will, attribution of good faith, and mutual respect are required for any good dialogue to take place — to be possible at all — , per Plato and Socrates (as I have often noted).
This was just another example of Dave wading onto a thread and subject he did not know as much about as he tried to pretend and could not admit that lest he lose face. Saimo-saimo with The Venerrrrablleeee Daaaaaviiiiid basically but I digress
So now I don’t know anything about “traditionalism” and it’s opposing faction, the radical Catholic reactionaries. That’s odd, since Shawn himself used to be quite effusive in his praise of my apologetics till he and I disagreed on nuclear war and whether incinerating 100,000 civilians is right in line with Catholic just war ethics or not. I’m almost positive that would have included my work in critique of the radical Catholic reactionaries. In fact, this is indeed documented. In his third edition of A Prescription Against ‘Traditionalism’ — dated 17 March 2003, Shawn writes the following in the Acknowledgements (I’m one of four people he thanks at greater length):
David Armstrong whose critique of a few section attempts at a revision in early 2002 (which were subsequently lost in my harddrive crash of May 2002) was nonetheless influential in my approach to this third edition. (And of course being linked to Dave’s ubersite the past few years: a tremendous circumstance that undoubtedly widened the viewing audience of this work.)
I was also thanked in the first edition, with many others. Is this not hilarious? I go from being thanked as “influential” in Shawn’s magnus opus against radical Catholic reactionaries in 1998 / 2003, to being lied about as a more or less ignoramus on the topic, in March 2013.
[D]id I not tell you . . . that Dave would find a way of bringing me into the mix if he could?
Shawn started gossiping about me as soon as he had opportunity to do so, in one of the attack threads. But if I dare respond to his lies, that’s me trying to drag him into the conflict, and somehow being paranoid / mentally ill / contentious [or insert chosen alternate epithet] . . . this is classic Shawn polemics. This is how cynical revisionism and creation of fairy tales proceed: urinating all over the actual facts of the matter, which are plain as day.
I doubt I have said one word to him in about six years but he is STILL smarting over getting his ass handed to him back in 2005 and 2006 when he bit off more than he could chew with me.
Humility or truth-telling about his own deficiencies was never one of Shawn’s strong points . . .
I am no psychologist but Dave sure shows symptoms of NPD in the way he reacts to things and the way he cannot let anything drop.
Oh, of course. No attacks on me would be complete without personality / mental analysis. “NPD” is “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” This is the strictly comedic and entertaining aspect of otherwise tedious and ultra-boring ad hominem attacks. The anti-Catholics love to do the same thing (this is one of their favorite slanders; lacking any rational arguments), and Shawn will readily use any lie from their playbook, on the old principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Pray for the man. One can only pity one who feels the need to stoop so low.
It’s real simple, folks; makes perfect sense; nothing mentally ill about it at all. I document because people (ones who want to clash with me) have a tendency to revise the past. I know this because it has happened over and over: much first-hand experience. If I didn’t keep people’s words (the ones who feel led to personally attack me), they would simply spin them as if they were no big deal.
After all, a person that is willing to shamelessly lie about another has no compunction about lying about the lies later on, to cover their own tails and present themselves in a saintly (or at least situationally faultless) light that never was the case. I don’t give it a moment’s thought otherwise. If the thing rears its ugly head again, I have the documentation. And oh, how people hate that!!! Shawn agrees completely with this methodology because he does it himself. On the public Facebook group, Banished by Mark Shea: A Support Group, Shawn wrote on 23 March 2013:
[I]f I can offer one piece of advice for anyone who tangles with MS [Mark Shea], it is this: document what happened. Keep copies of all written correspondence either in his comboxes, on your own pages, or whatever and if you can take screenshots for preservation purposes, do that as well. I am glad I kept stuff from years past on this stuff not to relive it but instead to make sure the historical record remains preserved lest folks like him try and play the role of the historical revisionist viz. what actually happened and what he would like to pretend happened.
When I deign to cite Shawn’s own words, however, all of that flies out the window and he comes back with the old mental illness canard and gripes about things being years old. He has to. This is his modus operandi. It’s like a hog scratching his itch. He’s gotta do it!
The actual narcissists and glory-seekers out there wouldn’t last a month in my field, since what they’re about is looking for praise and rapt admiration all the time. That doesn’t exactly coincide with apologetics (to vastly understate it)!
Nothing like the facts . . . They sit in my “Idiotic Comments and Attacks” file. Big Deal! All Shawn can do these days is sit on the sidelines and lob imbecilic attacks and flatulent avalanches of words. If he’s not going after (with his rah-rah buddies patting him on the back and indulging his sin), he can always flail away at his numerous other targets: Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, the class of apologists as a whole, men, women, human beings, dogs, cats, mice, the ocean; anything on God’s green earth will do, as long as it is a target . . .
I mean, its been more than SEVEN YEARS now and he is still going around digging up tidbits from my mothballed weblog from those conflicts that he spins out of context. He has to do that because context on these things is not his friend and deep down, he knows it.
Yes; down deep (at least in my better, most honest moments) I know that Shawn is my overlord and superior in every way: ethically, mentally, intellectually, as a writer, debater, amateur philosopher, political junkie, as a webmaster (with his ten hits a day average that he never managed to break out of), as a sports fan, athlete, cookie-maker, weed-puller, repairer of can openers, you name it: anything and everything! He’d probably even beat me in chess and arm-wrestling. But he can’t outlaugh me. When I read his drivel, I laugh and laugh till the cows come home: till my gut hurts; till I cry a bucket . . . I think he missed his calling as a comedian.
All this does is illustrate why I proactively blocked him on FB as soon as I found out he was on here: I have no interest in retreading old ground and being trolled by this person.
Oh, that is great news! Delighted to hear it. This is delicious irony. Shawn sits there attacking and gossiping away in the slander-thread, while if I try to defend myself at all there, my comments are deleted. But I am the troll, you see, and he’s pure as the driven snow.
[someone else] “Boy am I clueless. I don’t even know who Dave is.”
Count your blessings, . . .!
Obviously a lot of people have way too much time on their hands, if all they can manage to do is attack and lie about me. As always (I’ve been subjected to 17 years of this sort of thing, online), it doesn’t do the slightest thing to stop the work I am called to. My argument that brought on all the galaxies of manure and imbecilic sewer scum attacks is still here, intact. And that’s all that matters. Who cares about all the other nonsense and verbal diarrhea? Let the nattering nabobs play, pat each other on the back (to rationalize their sin), and pummel away . . .
Nothing can be done with him. I mightily tried (far more than most people would have had the patience to do). My conscience is perfectly clear on this. God understands contentious people: that we can’t always get along with them, no matter how hard we try. His present resumption of personal attacks at the drop of a hat, without the slightest attempt to hear or interact with my side, is hardly grounds for hope of a reconciliation. I wish the man well. I have no resentment at all (I don’t waste time with that in my life). I’m simply passionately responding to nonsense and calumny. May God bless him abundantly in all things.
I like that! My profession is lower than being a whore. Isn’t that a wonderfully edifying thought? Now the world’s oldest and most disgusting, loathsome professions are not one and the same. It’s a split ticket. We apologists are the lowest of the low: cain’t get no lower than us’n’s!.
But of course ol’ Shawn brings no personal or intellectual bias to the present conversation; not at all (and no one could possibly think that!). No! It’s all sweetness and light and rock-solid objectivity from our friend. I’m over here degrading myself (on a level lower than the ethics of prostitution) by trying to help folks escape from the prison of radical Catholic reactionary nonsense, but it’s all worthless, because I supposedly (like Akin and Keating and others) used one word like a dummy and an ignoramus; and I must be attacked at every turn with lies and calumnies for doing so.
. . . I am through on this thread feeding Dave’s massive revisionist ego. I will pray for him that he seeks the help he so badly needs and accept this as a reminder of why Christian unity in general is such a seemingly insurmountable mountain and only by God’s grace will it ever occur on this side of the eschaton.
Trying to use controversy to create fictitious monsters to then ask for money to “fight the monsters” is part and parcel of the whole schtick. I would actually have loved to be proven wrong on this (and conceivably still could be) but so far, every prediction I made on this whole episode privately has come to pass.
. . . the problem with those who act the way certain parties have been is they lose sympathy where the area of possible misunderstandings are concerned. There is also the issue of objective manifestation vs. subjective intention, something I tried to explain until I was blue in the face to no avail. But as it is apropo here, I will briefly touch on it anew. Essentially, one can say something meaning one intention that if you look at what is said objectively at face value conveys a different meaning altogether. So many problems would not exist if more folks realized that sometimes the way they think they are coming across is not how they actually are. (And of course they would have to look as objectively as they could as to how contextually they come across.) But if you cannot get someone to even consider that they may have run afoul in this area, then you have no hope of ever getting through to them period and that is what [name] has seen in the circumstance she encountered with someone whose name shant be mentioned here.
Lest anyone doubt that much material at my expense remains up on Shawn’s blog, Rerum Novarum (which remains online to this day), here is the documentation: [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten (ultra-hypocritical reply to one of the times I dared to speak out against his nonsense) / eleven / twelve / thirteen / fourteen / fifteen / sixteen / seventeen / eighteen / nineteen / twenty / twenty-one / twenty-two / twenty-three].
And here is a glowing review (what he used to write about me before I dared to disagree with him). He chose my blog as the best for Catholic apologetics in 2004: about six months before our parting ways. He used to (before I sadly descended into my “tragic mental meltdown”) regularly refer to me as his “good friend” [one / two / three / four] or otherwise commend or cite me as a good apologist and debater [one / two].
ADDENDUM 2: Facebook Citation
I made the following citation and comment [in a much shorter version] on Facebook. Since Shawn could quite possibly complain (assuming someone informed him) that he can’t read it there (being banned), I have also included it here in a public blog post (in expanded form) that he — like anyone else — can read (though he is banned from commenting on my blog, too). If he wants to respond, he need only have a friend pass it along and I will add it here with response.
Now, we have his latest attempts at public spectacle for what reason I have no idea. I suppose one could speculate that it was to generate more $$$ for his apologetics endeavours or even simply because he cannot let what happened last year go. But ultimately, his reasons for why he did this do not matter. Once again, I did not in any way compel him to have to respond to anything on that subject. And (furthermore), it was never necessary to make this an issue of personalities though that is what he chose (for some reason) to do.*Oh and do not be deceived: Dave knows full well that I did not smear him at all -not last year, not earlier this year, and not at the present time. Instead, I made assertions that I more than adequately substantiated. My logic was solid and my reasoning unimpaired. But Dave cannot admit to this because his apologists ego gets in the way.*The apologetic mindset involves always having to win arguments. And rather than showing some humility and admitting it in circumstances where they may have bit off more than they can chew on something, it is viewed as better by them to shoot the proverbial messenger. I have tried every conceivable way to get through to Dave and nothing has worked. I see no reason to say anything else except to correct his latest attempt at manufacturing some supposed double standard on my part and then bid him farewell. The Bible says that certain kinds of demons are only cast out by prayer and fasting…I am not saying Dave is possessed but this has to be one of those kinds of difficulties where something beyond the normal protocol is needed. (8-27-06, and this is the “revised” version, which he says was toned-down, based on suggestions of a mutual friend! That was done more than seven years later, on 10-2-13)
[T]hough I stand by the substance of my original critiques, I do nonetheless profoundly regret letting my anger get the better of me in how I originally responded to Dave Armstrong in this post and extend to him through this effort as well as in words a most sincere apology.
I allowed myself to be suckered back into dealing with Mr. Armstrong’s pathetic delusions. [addition at the beginning from 9-28-06] . . . escalating bilge [“revisionism”] . . . David’s fantasies and illogical public grandstanding [“David’s portrayal of events”] . . . grandstands [“publicly proclaims”] . . . Dave has inexorably become another Captain Queeg [Dave’s portrayals are at variance with reality] . . . Obviously, I was wrong again to think Dave was in any way a reasonable person. [to think Dave would handle these matters reasonably] . . . an issue where I knew he would get creamed [I knew he was seriously out of his element] . . . Now, we have his latest attempts at Jerry Springeresque grandstanding [attempts at public spectacle] . . . unless it is because his fragile ego is still hurting from the thrashing he got last year [he cannot let what happened last year go] . . . when they do not “win”, they go about all sorts of disgraceful historical revisionism, tearing their interlocuters words from context, etc. [removed] . . . it is viewed as better by them to demonize [shoot the proverbial messenger] . . . The Bible says that certain kinds of demons are only cast out by prayer and fasting…this has to be one of them [I am not saying Dave is possessed] . . . Oh and these exhortations came each time after Dave publicly said something that I knew I could make mincemeat of. (Or Dave repeating arguments I had already dispatched with as if they were still viable.) Not that any of this matter of course…Dave will continue to misrepresent me it seems. I do not know why he does this and I have given up trying to figure it out since logically it makes no sense. [removed] . . . Dave’s villainizing of me [the manner in which Dave has treated me] . . . to ban or silence serious criticism in order to entertain or puff oneself up against lessor sorts is not the sign of an honourable person [in order to make public displays against more insignificant challenges is not a sign of honour] . . . go ahead with the 96th installment of how . . . you are the incarnation of St. Paul and all that jazz. The rest of us have things in the real world of far more pressing issues to deal with: such as proposing viable approaches to combat the problems in society that would work in reality and not just in fantasy. [removed] . . . There is also the fact that Dave has basically done everything he can to get readership including continually trying to manufacture conflicts as people are naturally drawn to them much as they are to a trainwreck. Dave is also quite good at casting himself as the martyr. There will always be a certain large segment of humanity that is drawn to that sort of thing -even if only out of curiosity. And that is really all one needs to do to manufacture “hits” to a site. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 16, 2006)] [intact]
I had a falling out with The Venerable David over 15 years ago. I remember in the process explaining to him in no small detail how his carefully crafted supposed “dialogues” were actually self centered monologues and how his claims of wanting a dialogue with me on the subject of our disagreement was a sham. (Well that and the reams of argumentation fallacies he engaged in, admittedly I was quite heelish documenting them chapter and verse once he sufficiently pissed me off, mea culpa!) Where am I going with all this?
Well, it is quite nice to finally see so many others realizing after all this time that The Venerable David is quite far from what he presents himself to be. I used to think he was remarkably tonedeaf on these matters not due to disingenuousness but simply because he was blinded by his ego. Now I am not so sure it is not a bit of both.
Apologetics after all can be quite the ego stroking enterprise and without safeguards in place to act as checks on one’s pride, it is not hard to see why so many go astray and make shipwreck of not only their faith but even of basic human decency. It saddens me to see The Venerable David sink to a level not even I thought he would go and bully someone having crisis of faith issues. I do not know who Audrey Assad is but she has my sympathy as well as my prayers. Hopefully she will eventually realize if she does not already that there are folks out there more interested in building bridges than dynamiting them and will not be afraid to reach out.
The Venerable David loves to engage in historical airbrushing. It is one reason I have resolutely refused to take down any of our past public exchanges circa 2005-2006 though, in the interest of an attempted rapproachment in late 2013 –encouraged by at the time mutual friends; some of whom VD has since blocked, I did revise four of the pieces where the invective was in retrospect off the charts by removing all polemic from them. I even had a third party on good terms with both him and I review the original threads and recommend modifications to me -the lions share of which I implemented. Though the process went against my instincts, I did it anyway hoping if nothing else to create a kind of detente. Despite those efforts, none of that was good enough for him.
The mere fact that he could be so thoroughly embarrassed publicly in any capacity (irrespective of how irenic the text doing so was) simply was something he could not handle. You would think the solution would be to not shoot ones mouth off on subjects to which they were (and are) so woefully ignorant. But the pride of the apologist keeps them oftentimes from knowing both their own limitations as well as the limitations of the apologetic method even when properly utilized. That is why we are treated to a series of “ready, fire, aim” type ponderous and self serving tomes of text which appear and at times magically disappear from folks like him. It is anything to avoid being accountable for their actions and statements in a nutshell.
I am guessing the problem here is a deeper and perhaps mainly a spiritual one. Despite him thinking I am an agent of the Devil, I will keep The Venerable David in prayer.