The infallible conservative anti-charism for anointing folk heroes…

The infallible conservative anti-charism for anointing folk heroes… October 20, 2012

continues its winning streak:

In his rebuttal, D’Souza said he was unaware that being engaged to someone while still legally married to someone else would be frowned upon at the conference (of Christian apologetics).

“I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is,” said D’Souza in his statement. ”Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.”

At least the guy is no longer billing himself as a Catholic. But seriously, how many red flags do guys like this have to drop before we use a little common sense and discernment. He was able to do this kind of stuff because a) he larded his speech with Republican, Christian and Catholic jargon and b) he made a movie attacking Obama. So criticizing him “might help Obama” and it was all shushed till a couple of people, ‘ow you say, “voted their conscience” instead of doing the expedient thing and spoke up. Result: The very first (but by no means last) comment on the piece, from an archetypal World Nut Daily reader is:

I don’t care about dsoyza’s sex life. I am greatful for the movie 2016 that he made so that the rest of the brainwashed kool aid democrats hopefully will redeem themselves by voting for Romney, after watching the video, so America can be saved from the foreign Muslim president Destroying the country right now.

…and so on for hundreds more.

Yes. All that matters is that “dsoyza” created ideological cannon fodder so that people who want to go on believing the Obama is a Muslim (in the teeth of all the obvious evidence that it is absolutely idiotic to believe this) and that dems are “brainwashed” could do so. These are the people who were freaking out about Clinton’s sex life. Why that was contributing to the breakdown of the family! Now, it doesn’t matter that a leading member of the Religious Right is stabbing his family in the back to go indulge in adulterous fornication because he’s for Family Values unlike that Muslim Obama with his intact and healthy family. Yeah: those Dems and their KoolAid. They will say and believe *anything* in order to win, unlike Christians of integrity such as Dinesh D’Souza and his fanboys.

And, seriously?: “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced”? D’Souza, a former Catholic and now head of an Evangelical *college* had never in his life read this?

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:1-8)

And people wonder why the Church is hemhorraging young people with the stink of such hypocrisy on this large swath of those calling themselves “conservative orthodox Christians”, all in the service of our corrupt politics.

Want to avoid future Maciels, Corapis, and D’Souzas making us look terrible–as well as desperate fanboys saying any stupid thing that pops into their heads to make excuses for them because they belong the correct tribe and help you hate the right people? Stop anointing folk heroes and surrounding them with the muffling protection of tribal allegiance merely because they know how to spout pious culture war jargon. The Church wisely waits till people are dead to proclaim saints.

UPDATE: Since people don’t seem to be getting my point, I will clarify: It’s not D’Souza’s adultery that’s the issue. It’s the comboxes on the linked article, which are full to bursting with denial, attempts to shift blame, shouts that as long as he’s an enemy of Obama it doesn’t matter, and all the rest of the arsenal of rationalizaton that gets trotted out every time some conservative folk hero commits obvious big sin. My one little sample was meant as one little sample. You can go back and read a 745 comment long combox in which people are struggling to keep their eyes tightly shut so they can go on trying to cling to D’Souza as a folk hero, simply because he helps them hate the right sort of people and cling to the right sort of ideology. As to D’Souza himself: sure he needs our prayers and sure anybody can fall. But fallen idols are not helped when their fanboys continue to idolize them. They are helped when they are loved as the weak men they are and not as the heroes of some Manichaean fantasy about a struggle between Good Us and Evil Them.

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  • Well once someone ditches the Bride of Christ, no surprise when he ditches another bride.

  • Alma Peregrina

    I am relly saddened. His book “Godforsaken” was, for me, one of the best apologetic books on a matter that is most dear to me.

    You’re right. Someone who writes such a theologically orthodox apologetic book can not ignore Christ’s teaching on the indisolubility of marriage.

    Sad, sad, indeed. I do not judge the man. But I will never trust him enough to venture through one of his books, without first investigating its orthodoxy. If it is worth reading, I’ll judge it for what it is and not for what the writer is. But I agree that such a “role model” damages the pro-family cause.

    He should be viewed as he really is, a sinful man (just like any one of us) who, sometimes, does good things… Not a saint (at least, not yet).

    Pax Christi

  • bb

    Mel Gibson, another icon gone south ( there are binders of them), is now dating a stunt woman. I do not know if her Catholicism…if it exists… surpasses that of the wife of decades and of many children …nor do I know if this new one loves Latin. Time will tell.

  • Mark, I’m a long-lapsed Cathoilic and an irredeemable lefty blogger who is discovering your site for the first time. I suspect we disagree about almost everything, but you’re an eloquent,witty and erudite fellow. Your site was a real pleasure.

  • I remember when I was in college, being a proud liberal agnostic using my state university to find more reasons to be a liberal agnostic. It was during this time that Jim Bakker was caught, er, shall we say with his pants down. I remember Billy Graham was interviewed and asked what he thought of this whole scandal. Graham avoided any harsh condemnations, not wishing to say anything else under the ‘who am I, a sinner, to judge?’ principle. Jimmy Swaggart, on the other hand, let loose with both barrels. As an agnostic, I was more impressed by Graham’s response. In hindsight, I had good reason to be more impressed by Graham’s response.

  • I understand and agree with your dislike of personality cults, but really: Every time a high-profile Catholic falls away, do we have to use him as a stick with which to beat Catholic conservatives? I’m not aware of many (if any) Catholic wagons circling around Dinesh D’Souza. In fact, prior to somebody filming his book and plugging it at C-PAC (and don’t get me started on them), I’d have been hard pressed to name ten Catholics in my acquaintance who’d heard of him. He’s hardly a household name. The book itself got at least as many bad as good reviews in the conservative press, and the liberal media largely ignored it altogether.

    I’ll cop to giving Fr. Corapi the benefit of the doubt for as long as I reasonably could, because we’re supposed to try and believe the best in others, and because he did some good work in his day. But I never called anyone a heretic over it, and I deplored the nasty infighting we saw on both sides.

    But Dinesh D’Souza? I remember him being touted as a conservative wunderkind back in the ’80s, when he worked for Reagan, but that was almost 30 years ago. What I’ve read of his writing seems well-reasoned, if not always correct. I’ve seldom heard him mentioned in the Catholic blogosphere, and if there’s a “how-dare-they-accuse-him” movement afoot, I haven’t seen it. So why the outrage? Or are you so fed-up with the Thing That Used To Be Conservatism that any stick will do to beat it down with? Sin happens. Let’s pray for the poor sucker, and leave the lay anathemas to Michael Voris.

    • Tom

      What he said.

      And this is here because patheos said my post was too short.

    • I also agree. That was more or less the point I was trying to make.

    • I gotta agree, as well.

    • I’m gonna get on this bandwagon. This post is a little over the top for such a minor figure.

  • Marion

    Catholic Icons.

    Not so much.

    Love. Jesus. Simple.

  • Evan

    Is it really too much to ask that I go one day without hearing about some absurd hypocrisy on both sides of the isle? Just this afternoon, on my facebook feed, liberals were exploding because some guy in Ohio put out a yard display with Romney dressed as a hard working farmer and with Obama dressed as a devil. It was okay to switch the roles around, because Romney is only a nominee and Obama is the president and to demonize him is disrespectful of the office. (Apparently that standard doesn’t apply when Bush was portrayed with Hitler’s moustache while he was president.)

  • Anointing? Mobs don’t anoint people.

    • Sure they do, that’s the step that comes right before the feathers, isn’t it?


  • Sue Ting

    Not a fanboy. Definitely a fan of hard truths peppered with artful wit. Thank you sir for using your gifts so well to help us along the way.

  • Mercury

    “But Mark dont u realize ur HELPING OBAMA?”
    Sorry, but no one has said that yet, and I’ve gotten the impression that you’re under some contractual obligation to get at least one comment like that per post. 🙂

    To be serious, D’Souza’s book “What’s so Great About Christianity?” was one of the first times I took a long and hard look at Christianity as a real cultural and philosophical reality, and might have been quite instrumental in taking those first baby steps towards taking the faith of my upbringing seriously. I read it on the floor at Barnes & Noble. It’s probably not all that deep of I look at it now, but still it served a purpose.

    As to his behavior – Can anyone really be surprised by such thing anymore? There are a few quite old Catholic priests whom I love, and I hope and pray that they will make it out of this world without any crap like this. Then again, they WOULD surprise me. But guys like this – not really. Pray for him.

  • Janet O’Connor

    I was not aware of this scandal until just today, but before that I knew he recently released a Movie about the President called Obama 2016. For me it is not something to dwell on because there are too many other important things happening. Just a few days ago, I saw on Vatican Insider where Pope Paul VI will be beatified “soon” as his miracle has been approved and next year it may take place. Also the 100th anniversary of Pope John Paul I took place and his cause took a step forward to the Causes of Saints for review including his own miracle. Also it has been confirmed the pope was NOT murdered.

  • Blog Goliard

    D’Souza is a brilliant guy who sometimes succeeds at maintaining the patina of a scholar, and has put out a variety of books–some good, some bad, some in between. (The overall trajectory, unfortunately, seems to be steadily downward.)

    He’s taken his licks from the conservative establishment before. To take just two recent examples: in 2007, he faced fierce criticism–including some blistering pieces from some of NRO’s sharpest writers–over The Enemy At Home; and in 2010, The Roots of Obama’s Rage (the book that gave rise to the documentary) received decidedly mixed reviews.

    He was all but unknown at the “folk” level of conservatism until the film “2016”. (Which, by the way, is not about peddling Obama-is-a-Muslim theories. Despite the fact that D’Souza’s thesis, in my view, overexplains Obama’s leftism, “2016” is a legitimate contribution to the discussion. It’s not wacko-bait; not even remotely related to the likes of “The Clinton Chronicles”.)

    The film is still quite new, and it’s still all that most people know about D’Souza. It’s given his right-wing Q Score a boost to be sure, but he’s not a “conservative folk hero” yet and probably never will be. And this “scandal” is small potatoes to those of us looking at it from a Catholic perspective. Whether his remarriage is more de facto or de jure, whether it happens a little before or slightly after a civil court declares him to be divorced, doesn’t change the essence of what’s going on. He’s simply doing what evangelical Protestantism (which he left Catholicism for) allows: trading in one wife for another. All other questions are merely matters of timing and discretion.

    I’ve probably wasted too many pixels on this business, though, since this sort of post is not really about D’Souza. It’s a variation of a regular rant of Mark’s–often issued quite rightly and justly and usefully, please note!–and apparently he had to get it out today whether there was good reason or not. If one has to scrape the bottom of the barrel and dig up some WMD commenters (seriously?) as a target for today’s assault on “The Thing That Used To Be Conservatism”, well, I guess that’ll do in a pinch.

    One would probably do better, however, to redouble one’s efforts to “love” (which most emphatically includes interpreting their words and deeds charitably whenever possible) “the weak men” that Romney and D’Souza and their fans are. If Mark assures us that he has some love in his heart for even men like these, that even the likes of them are worth trying to treat in a kindly fashion now and then, I’ll take his word for it…but, quite frankly, I’ll be surprised. I see nothing but unadulterated, aggressive hate in many political posts lately–and knowing Mark to be a big-hearted guy, I don’t like seeing this, not one bit.

  • Peggy R

    I read about this earlier this week. I was amazed at his stunningly stupid statement that he thought it was ok to be engaged while still married, but going through a divorce. I am sure he’s Catholic, and our church holds even a higher standard than most evangelicals on marriage and divorce. How could he not know? Sin makes you stupid, as our host says.

    • Blog Goliard

      He’s not Catholic anymore. It appears that he’s attended nondenominational evangelical churches since at least the turn of the century, and though he plays games with words a little and doesn’t like to use the word “renounce”, he’s been openly not-Catholic for years now.

      (All this information can be found by following the top Google search result for “D’Souza Catholic” as of this moment:

      • Tim in Cleveland

        And it sounds like he might be converting to Mormonism soon (I said it!)

      • Peggy R


        filter wants more words…it is so very, very kind of you to offer such fine helpful links…..

  • I appreciate this post as I would not have been aware of Mr. D’Souza’s actions otherwise. They are terrible, and I think Mr. Shea overall has done an admirable job pointing out “conservative” hypocrisy on this. This is a service to the Church, because we are not out simply to alienate from Christ and the Church anyone who refuses to accept Republican orthodoxy as the Gospel.

    In terms of this blog, I find it one of a very few oases of sanity in an otherwise extreme and crazy universe (the conservative Catholic blogosphere) It’s not the blogs often mind you, but the comments sections, that are truly stunning.

  • SDG

    D’Souza started out as a credible intellectual force for a thoughtful conservatism, but over time he slid into partisan hackery. This piece from The Daily Beast (I know, ritually impure source, but that only makes its grudging acknowledgement of D’Souza’s early promise more convincing) offers a pretty fair sketch of D’Souza’s rise and fall.

    • Mark Shea

      Thanks for the link, Steve. The college that thought he was a great Get despite the warning of guys like Olasky could have saved themselves a million bucks had they been willing to listen to such ritually impure voices instead of seize on a pop folk hero. And the people continuing to defend him now because he helps them hate Obama better would not look like such self-blinding sucker who will say anything to win. One of the dangers of the internet is that people increasingly only go to news sources that tell them what they want to hear. The great problem the Right faces is that it has to now ride the tiger of a Fox-Newsified base it has labored to create, proud of its ignorance, eager to believe anything about Obama the Nazi Communist atheist Muslim, which regards somebody like D’Souza as a hero even when he decays into a hack like this. Not good.

  • Michael F.

    @ Mark

    You write, “All that matters is that “dsoyza” created ideological cannon fodder so that people who want to go on believing the Obama is a Muslim (in the teeth of all the obvious evidence that it is absolutely idiotic to believe this) and that dems are “brainwashed” could do so.”

    What do you make of this interview between Ed Kline (former editor of New York Times Magazine and Newsweek) and President Obama’s pastor for 20+ years, Jeremiah Wright?


    Again, this was what Obama’s own pastor of 20 years said:

    “…the Reverend Wright told me on tape, that Obama came to him and said, ‘I need some spiritual advice; I don’t know exactly who I am’ and the Reverend Wright said… ‘Well we know your Islam background… but what you need now, is some coaching on Christianity.’ And I asked the Reverend Wright ‘did you convert him from being a Muslim to being a Christian and he said, ‘well, I don’t know if I could go that far but… I made it comfortable for him to accept Christianity without having to renounce his Islamic background.’” (Ed Kline)

    • Mark Shea

      I make of it that a hyper-policiticized liberal social gospel Protestant pastor did what hyper-policiticized liberal social gospel Protestant pastors do: regard religion as a form of social engineering and social cohesion (as well as coalition-building). Exactly what this is *not* is a conversation that any serious Muslim (or Christian) would ever have. But two men who regard religion entirely in secular and sociological terms would talk in exactly this way. Face it: Obama is not a Muslim. He is a post-modern secular leftist social gospel Protestant who views all faith claims through a deeply political lens. It is idiotic for people to perpetuate the claim that he is a Muslim. He’s just not.

      • Michael F.

        Thanks for the reply. I think we largely agree.

        Personally, I’ve never believed that Obama was some sort of devout, stealth Muslim. However, I do believe that he more than dabbled with Islam and that he retains at least some elements of Islam within what appears to me to be a syncretist belief system with an admixture of some Islam (learned in his youth), black liberation theology (learned from Jeremiah Wright) and the leftist socio-political philosophy that you mentioned (learned from people like his mentor Frank Marshall Davis [communist], Roberto Unger [socialist], and Saul Alinsky [radical “community organizer”])

        So I agree with you that he’s not a practicing Muslim, but I don’t think it’s “absolutely idiotic” for anyone to seriously question his true beliefs when even his own pastor said he couldn’t answer whether Obama was actually Muslim or Christian.

        [The links keep getting rejected, so I’ll post them in individually below]

  • Arnold

    “Face it: Obama is not a Muslim. He is a post-modern secular leftist social gospel Protestant who views all faith claims through a deeply political lens.” I totally agree. However, he appears to be in some way still deeply attached to his Muslim past as a boy in Indonesia and it colors and affects his policies toward the world of Islam. We never see him speak up on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Muslim world (or elsewhere) but he is quick to do so for Muslims.

    • Mark Shea

      Chalk it up to leftist post-colonial theory. All Islamic bullying of Christians is The Cry of the Victim of Western Power. It’s about race and class, not some attachment to actual Islamic belief.

      • Michael F.

        Not sure I’m following you here, Mark.

        I’m not convinced these can be so completely divorced from one another in reality. And I don’t think I would agree that “all” Islamic bullying of Christians is really just the cry of the victim of western power. Violent jihad against non-believers goes back to Muhammad. And I don’t think Muhammad was merely striking out against western power.

        • Mark Shea

          I’m not saying it is. I’m saying that a leftist post-colonial understanding, not a devout Muslim one, informs Obama’s behavior and thought–because he’s not a Muslim. He’s just not.

          • Michael F.

            I wrote, “I don’t think I would agree that “all” Islamic bullying of Christians is really just the cry of the victim of western power.”

            You responded, “Im not saying it is.”

            Then what did you mean by this? “All Islamic bullying of Christians is The Cry of the Victim of Western Power.”

            I basically just repeated what you wrote, verbatim. So what did you mean by that, then?

            • Mark Shea

              I meant “in Obama’s view”.

          • Michael F.

            [My comment with two links of evidence was screened by the system – if you release it, please delete the next two comments because they’re just re-presenting the same information in a way that will make it through. Thank you.]

            [Second point:]
            You’re essentially agreeing with D’Souza’s argument here and I don’t disagree with either of you. I would just argue that it may be a both/and, not an either/or. I think there’s enough evidence that he is influenced by his at least partial embrace of and experience with Islam *as well as* his leftist anti-colonialist sentiment. I don’t believe he is or ever was a “devout Muslim”, but one need not ever have been a devout Muslim to still be influenced by his experience with Islam. I do believe he has significant empathy and even admiration for practitioners of Islam because of his faith formation and his experience being often surrounded by Muslims in his family and culture.

            [I’ll post links to two articles below]

            I also think that helps explain in part why he has made certain foreign policy decisions – including he reticence to label terrorist attacks like the one at Ft. Hood and Benghazi “terrorism” or “Islamic radicalism.”

            And again, while I agree that he is not a practicing Muslim, I don’t think it’s “absolutely idiotic” for anyone to seriously question his true beliefs when even his own pastor said he couldn’t answer whether Obama was actually Muslim or Christian. I actually think such doubts are fairly understandable.

  • j. blum

    Seems there are also a whole lotta Muslim victims whose pain Mr. O does not feel, those on the receiving end of his drone strikes, for instance.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Don’t let facts get in the way of a good partisan narrative.