Bed-wetting Reactionary Wusses…

Bed-wetting Reactionary Wusses… September 19, 2013

panic over Pope Francis yet again. JoAnna Wahlund grabs them by the shoulders as they scream incoherently like a little girl with a spider on her blouse, and talks them down. Turns out Pope Francis is pretty much saying, you know, what the Church has always said about the possible salvation of non-believers.

It also turns out that compared to some Popes…

  • Pope Stephen VI (896–897), who had his predecessor Pope Formosus exhumed, tried, de-fingered, briefly reburied, and thrown in the Tiber.
  • Pope John XII (955–964), who gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife.
  • Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045, 1047–1048), who “sold” the Papacy
  • Pope Boniface VIII (1294–1303), who is lampooned in Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • Pope Urban VI (1378–1389), who complained that he did not hear enough screaming when Cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured.
  • Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), a Borgia, who was guilty of nepotism and whose unattended corpse swelled until it could barely fit in a coffin.
  • Pope Leo X (1513–1521), a spendthrift member of the Medici family who once spent 1/7 of his predecessors’ reserves on a single ceremony
  • Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), also a Medici, whose power-politicking with France, Spain, and Germany got Rome sacked.

…a Pope who says thanks to Mary with a beachball, washes a Muslim girl’s feet and takes a spin in a Renault is not really that big of a deal.

I’m coming to think that the principal reason Reactionaries loathe Francis (as they loathed John Paul II and loathe the Council and loathe what the Church calls the *Ordinary* Form of the Mass) is that Reactionaries loathe the Church’s missionary imperative.  Not Traditionalists, mind you–Reactionaries.  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.

  • It explains the loathing of the New Evangelization.
  • It explains the contempt for World Youth Day.
  • It explains the contempt for converts.
  • It explains the constant drumbeat demand for excommunicating as many people as possible.
  • It explains the disgust with anybody who “sounds like a Protestant”, not on theological issues but merely on cultural buzzwords and shibboleths.
  • It explains the contempt for the popularity of Francis and John Paul and the fact that many ordinary people–believer and non-believer–found and find them deeply attractive.
  • It explains the Reactionary tendency to treat the sacraments, not as our surest encounters with the love of God, but as reducing valves whose principal function is to keep as many people as possible out of the kingdom of heaven
  • It explains the everlasting tendency to sneer at any mention of love as Kumbayah Catholicism and to perpetually appeal to Jesus cleasing the Temple as their main way of relating to the rest of the Church
  • It explains how rather sensible attempts to reach out to people outside the Catholic communion and to speak in terms comprehensible to them are so routinely greeted by Reactionaries as betrayals of the Faith and compromises with the world and all the rest of it.

The one and only time I ever run across Reactionaries speaking of evangelization is when it is used as an excuse for attacking the Pope.  So, for instance, recently there were screams in the comboxes over at Jimmy Akin’s blog because the Pope, being a Latin of the old school, bowed to a Muslim woman as a gesture of courtesy!  More bedwetting panic!  By this gesture he was betraying the faith!  He might as well just convert St. Peter’s into a mosque right this second!  Why isn’t he evangelizing her by telling her she and her disgusting co-religionists are all going to burn in hell?

This is the Reactionary notion of “evangelization”: threatening people with hell as a conversation starter.  And it only comes up in order to bash Francis for not grabbing a teenage Muslim girl by the lapels and chewing her out, but rather washing her filthy infidel feet.  Beyond that, you never hear of evangelization in Reactionary circles.  You hear instead the repeated appeal to something Benedict never said: that we need to shrink the Church and make it purer.

What Benedict actually said was that the Church goes through natural cycles when people leave for various reasons such as persecution, spiritual laziness, apostasy, etc.  Somehow Reactionaries take that as a mandate to drive out the people who screw up their private vision of the Church of Pure and Perfect Liturgy.  Evangelization screws up that private vision because it constantly calls into the Church, not just Reactionaries, but every oddball, factory reject, weirdo, loser, jerk, and incorrigibly average person in the world.  Such people screw up the system by not getting with the Reactionary program of recreating an imaginary past when everything was perfect.  Many of them (such as Yr. Obdt. Svt.) have no burning interest in the EF and actually prefer the OF if have our druthers, though are grateful for any Masss Holy Church offers.  And we want very much for as many people–ordinary folk–to become Catholic, warts and all.

And so, curiously, I find that the people in the Church who tend to draw most of the Reactionary fire and the bitterest hostility are not the Pelosis or Bidens or Catholics for a Free Choice people. It’s not John Dominic Crossan with his Jesus eaten by wild dogs or Dan Maguire, theologian apologist for abortion.

Rather, the bulk of Reactionary hostility, in my experience, is directed at the Karl Keatings, Scott Hahns, Fr. Robert Barrons, Jimmy Akins, Tim Staples, Al Krestas, Pat Madrids, Patrick Coffins, EWTNs, and various evangelization apostolates, not at the people who are trying to tear the Church down and remake it as either the Episcopal Church or as a branch office of Planned Parenthood.

Why?  Because those people are bringing in new Catholics!  And new Catholics screw up the Reactionary dream of the perfect Church with perfect liturgy.

If you’ve got a better explanation for Reactionary behavior, I’m all ears.  But as near as I can tell a huge amount of the loathing directed at Pope Francis fits this theory very well.  Reactionaries don’t loathe Francis despite the fact that he is an enormously attractive evangelical witness.  The loathe him because he is an enormously attractive evangelical witness.

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  • Dave G.

    Speaking of putting people in boxes.

    • chezami

      If the shoe does not fit, don’t wear it. But do you have a better explanation for this consistent pattern of behavior among Reactionaries?

      • Dave G.

        That would probably be true any time. Which is why such labels might not be as useful as we think, since more often than not we don’t think the shoe fits.

        And yes I do have an idea. Some people think the Pope is awesome. Benedict or JPII or Francis. Whoever, Pope = Awesome. Therefore it wouldn’t be surprising to assume there must be something wrong with those who don’t think so.

        • Stu

          All the whining about being called a “neo-Catholic” comes to mind. But that’s different.

          People, in general, don’t like to be put in boxes. People, in general, love putting other people in boxes.

  • Florentius

    Yawn. The trad hate has become tedious.

    • chezami If you aren’t among the bedwetters Wahlund addresses, don’t borrow trouble. If you are, stop being a Reactionary bed-wetter.

    • Stu

      But he has been kicked in the groin over and over. Don’t you know that!

    • I do not think that word (hate) means what you think it means.

      • Oremus

        Well, calling people “wusses” is not something one does in kindness.

        • It’s still not “hate,” though. I called my siblings wusses all the time and I never hated them.

          • Stu

            Do you know the origin of the word “wussy”?

            • Do you think anyone who uses the word “wussy” in its current societal context knows or cares what its origins are?

              • Stu

                Should they care that it is the combining of the word “wimp” and “pussy”?

                I think so. It’s a tasteless expression. I’m not equating it’s use to “hating” anyone but we can do better.

                • Fair enough. But I’m glad we agree that use of that word toward anyone does not automatically equate to “hate.”

                  • Oremus

                    Well, he also used the word “dickish” in reply to another commentator.

                    • Again… failing to see how that equates to “hate.”

                    • Oremus

                      Yes. Let’s rehabilitate the word “dickish”. It gets such a bad rap doesn’t it? I am sure Mark was trying to use it in a charitable way.

                    • So it’s your belief that crassness or rudeness equals hatred? What a difficult life you must have.

                    • Stu

                      Well, it sure doesn’t look like charity.

                    • Michael

                      This ^. We can split hairs all we want over what particular words veer into hatred; if the goal is to get ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, to that final unity of God, long rants explaining exactly why group X, Y, and Z are “dicks” and “wussies” seems just a tad counterproductive. It’s remarkable that Mark responds to outrage over Pope Francis’s welcoming embrace with frothing at the mouth.

                    • uncharitableness =/= hatred

                    • Stu

                      Wasn’t my assertion.

                      But perhaps instead of attempting to see how close we can get to hatred, without actually engaging in it, we instead work on being charitable.

                    • If you’ll look at the first comment in this string, that *was* the assertion (that Mark hates trads), and it’s the one I’ve been refuting. I’ve never claimed he wasn’t rude or uncharitable, just that being rude or uncharitable does not equate to hatred.

                    • Stu

                      Well, I believe that assertion comes from a history and sharp language from Mark that has occurred on this blog and in the commboxes on an increasing basis. I think that is what you are up against in attempting to refute that notion and it is increasingly becoming a tall order.

                      The problem that Mark creates for himself is that he is responding to snipers by firing a shotgun into a crowd. He is somewhat of a public figure and accordingly will draw both positive AND negative feedback. Some of the latter is admittedly very sharp and he really doesn’t do well with it. But instead of either ignoring it or narrowing his focus on the issues raised or even the exact individual raising them, he chooses to put them in a group and fire back on that group. Problem is, defining groups isn’t very exacting (for example, think of the many different definitions out there for “Rad Trad”) and he ends up doing collateral damage in his counterattacks because, while certainly unintended, he ends up giving other people the impression that he is attacking them. Couple that with vulgarity and some BWE (“blogging while enraged”) and you end up doing some real damage to your own brand.

                      Does Mark Shea hate (or loathe) traditionalists? I don’t know. But I do know that this bitterness is not sustainable for a blog called “Catholic and Enjoying it.” It doesn’t exactly inspire anyone to want to run out and buy his books.

                    • enness

                      “Let’s make this all about me and my taking personal offense.”

                      Can we let it go and move on?

        • enness

          That’s perhaps one of the mildest possible ways of putting it.

  • Tom Leith

    > Why? Because those people are bringing in new Catholics!

    I dunno. Mark. I get the idea its more of a frustration: “Man! These guys ALMOST get it! How do I tip them the rest of the way?”

    What I’ll call the First Generation Reactionaries are 10 – 30 years older than I am — I for example do not remember the Classical Liturgy from my childhood. But I do remember my father’s reaction to it. This generation knew something was wrong in 1970, but most didn’t know what (exactly) was wrong and I’d say they didn’t quite know that it really had been wrong for a long time before. So they reacted against what they were seeing. I find it very hard to fault them for it and I sure don’t want to come off as condescending towards them — I can only imagine the shock and bewilderment they must have felt. The Church had been betrayed, not attacked. Attack they could have dealt with — but betrayal? That was tough.

    It is very true that Reactionaries (first or second generation) must move past Mere Reactionism. For the most part I think the New Apologists you mention have taken to heart the points made by the Reactionaries and have avoided becoming Reactionaries themselves. Even the Church at large has to an extent — look at the new ICEL and translation. But think dismays the Reactionaries — “Can’t they see the continuing danger of BETRAYAL when people who don’t appreciate the TRADITIONS are brought in (and not corrected)? How can Rome tacitly admit we’ve been right all along, and not come the rest of the way? It must be a Modernist Plot! Toss `em out before it is too late!”

    I don’t know whether this is “better” or merely “alternate”, But you did ask…


    • chezami

      Um, those of us who believe all that the Holy Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God and who actually *prefer* the OF roll our eyes when we are told we “almost get it*.. It just makes Trads sound insufferably superior.

      • Tom Leith

        Yes, exactly.

        This is about motivation, not tone.

  • Brennan

    Ok, I like Pope Francis (even though I’m a crybaby, whining RadTrad). I wish Catholic Answers was around 25 years ago so I could have spent far less time in Protestantism than I did. I have a genuine fondness for Jimmy Akin because much of what he writes makes complete sense and he’s thorough. I am also grateful to Scott Hahn even just for his conversion story which has helped remove obstacles for people converting to the Catholic faith.

    Having said that, let me go ahead and give one of the primary reasons why I hope and pray the Traditional Latin Mass spreads and is celebrated at a greater rate and why I prefer it completely to the Novus Ordo.

    The reason is found in a quote from Fr. George Rutler’s book, “A Crisis of Saints” (Ignatius Press). Note that he is a Priest who is old enough to have experienced the liturgy both before and after the changes:

    “A Liturgical Parable

    The Hard Truth

    …We seem to slip out of that golden sense of ultimate truth in two ways.
    The first is by losing any real awareness of the holy. The second is by denying
    that it has been lost. Without lapsing into criticism that would be out of
    place, suffice it to say that the worship of holiness is weak in our culture,
    and the beauty of holiness has been smudged in transmission through the revised liturgy. For without impugning its objective authenticity in any degree, its
    bouleversement [Complete overthrow; a reversal; a turning upside down] of the
    traditional Roman rite marks the first time in history that the Church has been
    an agent, however unintentionally, in the deprivation of culture, from the
    uprooting of classical language and sensibility to wanton depreciation of the

    …It is immensely saddening to see so many elements of the Church, in her
    capacity as Mother of Western Culture, compliant in the promotion of ugliness.
    There may be no deterrent more formidable to countless potential converts than
    the low estate of the Church’s liturgical life, for the liturgy is the Church’s
    prime means of evangelism. Gone as into a primeval mist are the days not long
    ago when apologists regularly had to warn against being distracted by, or
    superficially attracted to, the beauty of the Church’s rites. And the plodding
    and static nature of the revised rites could not have been more ill-timed for a
    media culture so attuned to color and form and action.”

    (“A Crisis of Saints” pp. 107-108)

    So preferring the Traditional Latin Mass has everything to do with evangelization (as well as the sanctification of our souls as Catholics). It’s about having a transcendent, ancient, beautiful liturgy (and everything else that goes along with it in music, art, architecture, and devotions) that commands respect from people from all walks of life and that can draw them into the Church and be an avenue for evangelization as it has been for centuries.

    • chezami

      De gustibus. I am happy you prefer the EF and I’m glad you appreciate the good work of those fine folk. I prefer the OF as a rule, but am always glad for any Mass Holy Church gives me. It’s a small ambition of mine to go to Mass in all the rites of the Church.

      • Brennan

        Well, I hope you’re successful in that endeavour. God bless.

      • Patrick

        Do you prefer the OF as it is generally found in most places (including Life Teen with full electric band drums etc), or the OF as it was intended according to the ostensible intentions of the Church as promulgated in documents (with chant, in a context that should be promoting more, not less, Latin, still ad orientem, etc)?

        • “Do you prefer the OF as it is generally found in most places (including Life Teen with full electric band drums etc)”

          Can you back up the assertion that the OF as found in “most places” is like that? Because with the exception of one Mass I went to, once, on a college campus, every church I’ve been to up and down the east coast was, to my non-liturgical-police eyes, was perfectly ordinary (pun intended).

          • Patrick

            I can say that I’ve had precious few experiences with the OF where there was chant, where there were no “extraordinary” ministers (because there was nothing extraordinary about the occasion…let alone such ministers who conform to the guidelines for who should minister), where there were not obligatory laugh lines, where there was no piano, no guitar, no percussion….in Kansas, Missouri, or Indiana over the course of 30 years. The closest I ever came to an OF as envisioned by the Church herself (per documents) was in Europe (strangely enough) in Hungary. Austria was awful. And I have heard the same from dozens of people from all over, with decades of experience of their own. Anecdotal it may be, but far from unusual.

            • enness

              And this is your litmus test for whether it was an acceptable Mass or not. We get it, thanks.

        • chezami

          See, this is the sort of dickish reply that typifies the Reactionary.

          • Patrick

            It was an actual question, Mark. Do you attend an OF that conforms to the desires of the Church or one that confomrs more to what some other people prefer? Some folks are simply not able to attend a Mass in OF that is actually what it was intended to be (per Church, not per me).

            But thanks for the charitable example of calling people dicks! Yay!

            • Dan C

              You desire a Mass that restricts what is clearly permitted. EM’s, non-chanted OF, guitar and other musical instruments.

              Sorry, these folks are all “coloring in the lines.” Masses with EM’s and guitars, and drums are all permitted. Chant is not required. You want something that is different than what is permitted in the OF, and perhaps desired by the local Catholic culture.

              • That’s actually another point I was thinking, Patrick. I don’t want to get into nit-picky discussions of what does and does not belong in a Mass, but something like the musical instruments involved depends very much on local culture. And even that can change; as I learned recently, there was a time in European Church history where the presence of any musical instrument that wasn’t a human voice was a no-no.

            • enness

              He didn’t call you a dick. Way to make it about you and not the way you asked.

          • Oremus

            Really! Really! I can’t believe that Patrick is an example of the horrible “reactionary”. You keep alluding to this mythical creation but now we have a real live example. Gosh, he seems pretty reasonable. He is explaining where he comes from, what he objects to (LEMs, no chant etc) and he gets called a “dick”. Wow. I have no words.

            • enness

              ‘Dickish’ was modifying ‘reply,’ not the person giving it. In which case, if the shoe fits…tell me you don’t sense the contempt in such a litmus test-style question?

        • Dan C

          This assertion is “rubbish.” Not even when Amy Welborn was doing her “What did you see and hear?” about the Sunday liturgy to her largely conservative audience did such indications come up from a large sampling even every week.

          Liturgy may not happen to certain sensitive folks’s O/C requirements, and it never will. Is the presence of Extraordinary Ministers resulting in an automatic rejection of the quality of the Mass?

          Is the presence of guitars a problem? Because then one stumbles into a matter of taste, and culture sometimes dictates the type of music. Attending Mexican and other American Spanish Masses will demonstrate this.

          I have been in many Masses on the East and West coast. Some in Chicago or St. Louis. They have been normal OF liturgies, without anything striking.

        • enness

          Where is “most places” according to you? Why are you making this a litmus test?

          (Even where I have seen the ‘contemporary’ or ‘teen’ Mass, it’s only one of two or three Mass times).

    • Rosemarie


      Fr. George Rutler is a convert from Anglicanism. I don’t know what experience, if any, he had of the Catholic liturgy prior to 1970.

      • Brennan

        Hi Rosemarie,

        I can only go by what he wrote since I don’t know him personally. Apparently he was an Episcopal priest for 9 years prior to becoming Catholic and certainly it would have been fairly easy for him to gain some experience of Catholic liturgy prior to 1970, not to mention getting to know priests and others who had experience of it as well.

  • vox borealis

    My theory is somewhat different. The reactionaries of this piece do not, I think, hate evangelization. Rather, they question the efficacy of contemporary evangelization because, in their eyes, the new converts who are won by such evangelization seem to be woefully unknowing of basic tenets of the Catholic faith, while at the same time the Church appears either to bleed members (in the European longtime “heartland” anyway—what Mark Shea calls the “decline narrative), or its members seem nominal Catholics at best (collapsing mass attendance, declining rates of participation in the sacraments, closing of CAtholic schools because of low enrolment, poll after poll showing huge swaths of Catholics who do not believe in the Real Presence and who contradict the Church on various teachings, etc).

    I do largely agree with this statement: “And new Catholics screw up the Reactionary dream of the perfect Church with perfect liturgy.” That is, the reactionaries undoubtedly have a romantic view of the past—of a golden age that probably never existed, or if it did, it was the product of very specific cultural and historical circumstances. They romanticize a time when the all was good with the Church and long for a return to that time.

    • LSpinelli

      Reactionaries on blogs tend to not take much of what I type seriously, because I was born after Vatican II. It’s like, “Well, whaddya you know?” Dismissed!

      Speaking of this imagined Golden Age, my mother lived through it (the 1950s), and said she would never go back to the glorified “way things were”. She didn’t like the Latin Mass. It alienated her, even though she was and still is a weekly attendee. (She’s 77.)

      I don’t know why people long for something that never existed. I much prefer to work with what I have in front of me.

      • Dan C

        My mother died in 2010 as a daily Mass attendee. She was born in 1930. She had no time for liturgical fussbudgets and commented that any thought that the good old days of liturgy with the Latin Mass were “good” were delirious. She loved Mass in the vernacular, and was a mature woman when it began.

  • ivan_the_mad

    This comports with my personal experience in that crowd. This is why I am glad for the renewed missionary imperative both from the top in the form of the New Evangelization and from the bottom:

    My pastor gave a fantastic talk this past Tuesday about how liturgy is life is mission, which is the theme this year for the parish. He gave a loose outline of the Roman liturgies and their histories with lots of neat details, and included an examination of Sacrosanctum Concilium. It was very edifying to see the flow of continuity and to understand the cultural and historical contexts of Trent, VI and VII.

    One of his main points was that the liturgy demands a response from us in the form of a ministry or mission. I think this and the parish theme both tie in strongly with the New Evangelization, a new emphasis of an old truth, that faith without works is an empty thing. Ratzinger on the New Evangelization: “Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words but with his suffering and his death. His Passion is the inexhaustible source of life for the world; the Passion gives power to his words.” I recalled these words during my pastor’s talk, and I think they are very apropos. Ite, missa est, after all.

  • Rachel

    I agree with most of the points here. My husband and I have come across some of these attitudes. It’s frustrating because we love the Tridentine/extraordinary Mass and we would like for those treasures to spread throughout the Church but certain people who also only go to the EF makes it very unwelcome, cold, and only fit for the fringe. It scares people off. The main problem is the lack of charity. Again, its not the 70’s anymore. Its not the 80’s nor the 90’s. Times are different and I concur that there was NEVER a golden age. It never existed. I don’t want to go back to the 50’s or 30’s or whatever. Even though we have a TON of problems now, I prefer to live here than to live back in those times. They weren’t hunky dory. There was never a truly Christian society. Plenty of people then blew off the sacraments, were poorly catechized, etc. This was not just a phenomenon of the post Vatican II world. We’ve known people who shun anything post Vatican II, including new devotions (ie. Divine Mercy) since they were started after the council. There is a dying world out there and if we as Catholics don’t unite in charity as brothers and sisters and reach the dying, then we are nothing. Everything we do will be for naught. St. Paul says it clearly that if I have the gift of preaching, song, etc but don’t have charity then it signifies nothing. There is no love of Christ and all it becomes is a checklist of stuff to do in order to escape hell. I wish that the liturgy wars and other intra fighting within the Church would stop. Its not helping anything :(.

    • Dave

      Honestly, I think part of the reason that there are some strange people in the EF world is that they think outside the box. In every case I’ve encountered with a group of people who take a position outside the “acceptable” norms or conventional wisdom, that group has had more than their fair share of eccentrics, hot heads, tunnel vision, etc.

      It doesn’t mean that position is wrong – but it does make sense to me intuitively that there may be some correlation between “outside the box” thinking and eccentricity.

      • enness

        Depends. Is the Magisterium the “box”?

    • Julia

      Your point about attitude is spot on.

      I think the EF is so beautiful. The last time I went to an EF mass it was so uncomfortable being glared at during mass and afterward being told off (for wearing pants)

      There is also a Melkite church near my house. We went one Sunday, and I felt quite out of place not knowing the language or customs. But the attitude of the parishioners was that they were glad we were there and they wanted to help us. They were excited to be there worshiping God, and that we were there to worship with them, and it showed.

  • Zac

    I’ll have a stab at a better explanation….I think it comes out of the dissonance between what the church is, and what it is supposed to be. On the one hand, the Church is supposed to be awesome, on the other hand, well it’s very human. Many people end up just accepting that this is the way the Church has to be in a fallen world (and they may well be right).

    However, such acceptance of the status quo can be challenged in numerous ways. One such challenge arises when an individual finds out that the Church is not doing what it is supposed to be doing in some area. It could be liturgy, morals, charity, or whatever, and it could be on a very local level, or a national level, or an international level. When you encounter a discrepancy between teaching and practice, you naturally begin to wonder that maybe the Church would be a lot more awesome if it actually followed its own teaching on that particular issue.

    For example, here in Australia the Catholic education system has a pretty mixed reputation. When we realise that ignorance of the faith is not ‘normal’…that my generation and others ought to have been properly catechised, but were not, then it is natural to think of the-church-that-might-have-been, and to see the status quo as a degree of failure.

    In other words, if we follow the instructions and still end up with a mess, so be it. But if we have a mess and then discover that the instructions are not being followed, then naturally we all want to try to follow the instructions properly and see how things turn out.

    I think that’s what sets many people down the ‘traditionalist’ path to varying degrees – including people such as yourself Mark – and that seems to be part of a healthy growth in the faith, which is, after all, something ‘handed down’ to us.

    Where the reactionary element comes in (and I think that’s a good term to distinguish it from tradition) is that once we start looking into the instructions more closely, we find that the instructions seem to have changed or been adapted along the way, and we may be tempted to look for the ‘real’ or the ‘right’ or the ‘best’ instructions. Having already identified the faults in the modern world, it is tempting to continue working our way back, as though we can pick the point where things first went wrong.

    So, I think the reactionary instinct has a sound basis, but risks becoming like any field or enterprise where ‘connoisseurs’ can feel aggrieved at the ignorance and fallen standards of the masses. I guess the problem with their approach is that being a connoisseur and still not having charity is kinda missing the point, right? Not to mention that becoming a ‘connoisseur’ with regard to the Church risks putting one’s own judgement ahead of the Church…

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Not to mention that becoming a ‘connoisseur’ with regard to the Church risks putting one’s own judgement ahead of the Church…”

      St. Tommy agrees with you: “On the other hand the will may freely incline the intellect to adhere to tenets declared false by the Divine teaching authority of the Church. The impelling motives are many: intellectual pride or exaggerated reliance on one’s own insight; the illusions of religious zeal …” ST II-II, Q. 11

      I think your comment insightful overall.

  • Oremus

    Can someone please tell me why it is helpful to write these kinds of articles with titles like that? Who are these people he is always ranting about? I think these so called reactionaries are mainly straw men. If they are real people then they are comment box people. I am really getting tired of these fights. I used to enjoy the Catholic blogosphere but it is turning into an infantile food fight. I go to a Novus Ordo but I have friends who go to the EF. I have friends who do A.C.T.S. and Emmaues (sp) retreats. I read Father Z and Simcha Fischer. I am not seeing these fights or rants in the real world. It is really, really not helpful to call people “reactionary wusses” because they may disagree with certain actions of Pope Francis. So, no one is allowed to express an opinion about the confessional box design at WYD?! Maybe everyone needs to calm down. You know the turn the other cheek thing? Try it.

    • If you’ve never met these people in the real world, consider yourself fortunate. And Mark didn’t call people reactionary wussies simply for disagreeing with certain actions of Pope Francis, but for claiming that Pope Francis is destroying Catholicism, is an anti-Pope, is forsaking the teachings of the Church of which he is shepherd, etc.

      • Oremus

        Who are these people? Are they combox people? Trolls? There is something called the high road and I suggest people of goodwill get on it. This is called “baiting”. I don’t care how justified you feel about these guys but really, there is a better way then name calling. Mark Shea has written some really great books but why he has to get bogged down in these imaginary wars – I don’t get it.

        • enness

          I don’t think you’re listening to JoAnna. I don’t know anyone who uses “real world” to describe comboxes. And yes, I see it happening too, so pretty sure it is not just a figment of their imagination.

  • Evan

    Based on my experiences with reactionaries I know, I’m not sure if a desire for a perfect liturgy is their main motivation, although that is definitely part of it. It seems to me that most reactionaries are primarily motivated by a fear that liberalism and heterodoxy are going to corrupt and destroy the Church, and it is the job of the faithful to protect the Church against said liberalism at all costs. (The concept that the Holy Spirit is guiding and protecting the Church does not occur to them.)
    The gospel passage I’ve heard quoted most often in favor of kicking out “liberals” is the end of John 6, when people left Jesus over the teachings on the Eucharist because those teachings were difficult. (I’ve tried to point out there’s a difference between allowing someone to leave and actively chasing them out the door, but to no avail.) Because of that verse, the reactionaries whom I know believe that meeting people where they are and welcoming them is akin to watering down the trvth (which Jesus did not do), which in turn is akin to destroying the Church with liberalism.
    And I think the reactionary obsession with a perfect liturgy is an offshoot of that mentality, not the root of the problem. (And there’s nothing wrong with desiring all liturgies to be celebrated correctly – OF, EF, Adoration, etc. – it only become a problem if liturgy becomes more important than the salvation of souls.)

  • John Barnes

    Ironically, reactionary Catholics bear a striking resemblence to the radical feminists they oppose. Both camps seem obsessed with the exercise of power and authority. If the pope and bishops aren’t constantly clothed in all the trappings of office and aren’t contiunually drumming “heretics” (read: anyone the reactionaries don’t like) out of the church, the reactionaries aren’t happy. At the same time, if women aren’t allowed to be deacons/priests/bishops and exercise the authority that comes with Holy Orders, the radical feminists aren’t happy. It’s all about power and the use of it.

  • Patrick

    Here’s a stab at an alternative theory for why many who like to identify with the EF get bent out of shape at a lot of goings-on (and I might also add that insisting on the Theory of Everything here will not be successful…there are different motivations for anything, and there is no box big enough to cram people into).

    My street cred: cradle Catholic, devout parents, Mass every week, Catholic grade school, Jesuit high school, Holy Cross (the order, not the name) university (where the Prez spoke and faithful were arrested)…through 16 years of Catholic school, the masses were almost completely focused on making it an “experience” to be enjoyed, and no real catechesis ever took place. By the time I was out of college, I was out of the Church, since I had seen the Best and Brightest and they were none too impressive in their solidity (i.e. I had learned nothing for which I felt I could or should die).

    Grace brought me back with full understanding that I must bend my knee to God and His Church, and I could not expect God or the Church to bend theirs to me. However, I also knew that most of the people I went through those Catholic schools with were JUST LIKE I HAD BEEN. Staying in contact with people from all of the different schools confirmed this daily, weekly, monthly, annually. They were clueless, living totally as non-Catholics, yet still going to communion every week (cuz that’s what you do). One close friend, after wrangling with me on the topic of contraception, finally said, “I admit it…you’re right. But I guess I’m just going to go to hell because I’m not going to have any more kids.” Think about that. And this guy is a lector.

    So take my experience and multiply it geometrically. In a nutshell (which is usually not helpful in such discussions), you have a group of people who take it seriously, including their liturgy (which often leads to the EF), and they know that there are millions who don’t take it seriously (which is seen all over the place in OF abuses…many wouldn’t know a reverent Mass without obligatory laugh lines or 12 “extraordinary” ministers [all female] if one landed on them) who refuse to even entertain the idea of taking it seriously (because that would mean fewer ski trips and talking about Jesus in public and missing the game on Sunday).

    That is what many EF devotees react against. It’s not that they hate evangelization, I’d say it’s that they’re trying (perhaps in a very misguided way) to evangelize those already in Catholic pews but who are farther away from the truth than many non-Catholics. You don’t really see abuses in the EF (liturgically speaking), so many think, “If we can get a serious liturgy out there in front of these people, maybe they’ll start taking it ALL seriously.”

    • “they know that there are millions who don’t take it seriously (which is
      seen all over the place in OF abuses…many wouldn’t know a reverent
      Mass without obligatory laugh lines or 12 “extraordinary” ministers [all
      female] if one landed on them) who refuse to even entertain the idea of
      taking it seriously (because that would mean fewer ski trips and
      talking about Jesus in public and missing the game on Sunday).”

      I think you presume too much about your fellow Catholics, frankly. I don’t doubt that there are people like that (I’ve met some), but unless you have the ability to read their minds and hearts, you can’t *really* know what’s going on with all of them, or what their faith means to them, no matter what they say to you and what they do (people are notoriously complex and inconsistent).

      Yes, I’ve met Catholics like that, and “Catholics in name only” who never set foot in Church, and Catholics who are genuinely ignorant of church teaching and are doing the best they can, and Catholics who struggle mightily over the areas where they “disagree” with the Church, and Catholics who flat-out reject certain things but are nonetheless sincere in their acceptance of other things, and I am not inclined to write them all off as Bad Catholics who are Ruining It For The Rest Of Us. Nor have I noticed a correlation between these Bad Catholics and the quality of liturgy they are exposed to.

      Whether you intended it or not (I presume not) I picked up on a sense of contempt for these people who you think are not “tak[ing] it seriously.” That’s what I react to among the reactionary types, because I don’t think that is a helpful attitude at all. For example, your crack about female “extraordinary” ministers. My mother was one at her old parish, and she took it extremely seriously and reverently; she is also one of the most devout, orthodox Catholics I know. I don’t object to the people who argue that the extraordinary ministership or whatever is abused; I do object to the people who heap scorn on the Catholics who fulfill those roles sincerely and reverently.

      • Matt Talbot

        That last paragraph says it all, Beadgirl. Brilliant stuff.

      • Oremus

        Was he really “heaping scorn”? Is the above commentator an example of what you are calling a “reactionary”? Good grief. He has valid criticisms. I am a woman and I think 12 LEMs during Mass is absurd. I want to receive from a priest or deacon and I don’t mind waiting. But, if I express this opinion, I am a reactionary who is heaping scorn on the people who prefer it the other way. Seriously folks. Calm down.

        • Dan C

          I await the Mass in which there are 12 EM’s.

          I suspect that the liturgical non-compliance (because I think Catholics should reserve the word “abuse” these days) complained of is minor.

          Yes, he is not only heaping scorn, but demonstrating enormous disrespectful dismissiveness of people functioning in valid Church roles.

          • Patrick

            Come to Kansas City; you’ll easily find a Mass with 12 EM’s. And none of them conform to actual Church guidelines. It isn’t scorn, it’s facts. Like I said, I’m sure those people are very serious about their participation…in something that the Church actual has not called for. The dismissiveness of the Church’s actual prescriptions could be seen as scorn, could it not?

            • Dan C

              You seek to restrict something the Church permits and explicitly so.

              Your assessment of liturgical non-compliance may actually be in error.

              • Patrick

                It may also be spot on.

        • “many wouldn’t know a reverent Mass without obligatory laugh lines or 12
          “extraordinary” ministers [all female] if one landed on them) who refuse
          to even entertain the idea of taking it seriously (because that would
          mean fewer ski trips and talking about Jesus in public and missing the
          game on Sunday).”

          Really? You don’t think there is any scorn or contempt for people in that phrase? It seems to me he could have made his point far more charitably, but YMMV.

      • Patrick

        I have no doubt that your mother was serious and reverent as an extraordinary minister, but I also have no doubt whatsoever that there was nothing at all extraordinary about the Masses she was helping in, and even if there were, she should not, per Church regulations, have been a minister in the situation anyway. This is my point. People are very happy to take very seriously things that the Church has not really intended as the norm, while things that WERE intended as the norm are discarded, or unknown in most cases. And I most certainly do know what many Catholics think and do because I ask them, and most are more than happy to share (even without being asked. “That makes two kids. We’re done! Phew!”). I have been in their shoes, but I also realized that it made no sense, and I took steps to resolve the tension one way or another (and fortunately landed back in the Church). The “most devout, Orthdox Catholics you know” would tend to be a bit more obedient to what the Church actually teaches and instructs, like regarding “extraordinary” ministers; however, they don’t even know what the Church actually calls for, and this is a failing of catechesis and preaching. I, for my part, am doing a lot to rectify that situation, Newp. And you? Wait, don’t answer that, because I don’t automatically suspect you of being a hypocrite.

        • Now, hold on a minute here, Patrick.

          I attend Mass in Texas. Our tiny mission parish shares our one priest with the main parish 25 minutes away. We no longer have a deacon as he couldn’t keep driving about a hundred miles to the main parish every week (he retired from active ministry a few years ago, I believe).

          Father’s Mass schedule on Sundays includes the following:

          7:15 Mass at main parish

          8:30 Mass at our church (approx. 25 minute drive)
          10:00 Mass back at main parish

          Without EMHCs at our mission church Father could never keep this (admittedly grueling) schedule (which also includes one main parish Mass on Saturday night and two more on Sunday besides what I’ve listed). Which would be the better option: “priestless” Sundays for our mission church most of the time, perhaps, so we don’t have to use EMHCs? Close the mission church altogether? What, exactly?

          • Patrick

            If your situation truly calls for extraordinary ministers, then there is nothing wrong. At the local Masses here, there is no such need. There are often 2 priests in a parish. At the EF Masses, there is often only 1 priest with NO extraordinary ministers, with a full church, and things are fine. It might take an extra 5 or 10 minutes to distribute, but that’s what used to be the norm before every situation was deemed necessary to include 2-10 laypeople.

            • Kate Bluett

              “There are often 2 priests in a parish.”


              Oh, man, that was hilarious. Tell me more about how know what regular Catholics are doing and thinking.

              • Patrick


          • Dan C

            EM’s, who can be women, are not really desired by a considerably vocal, and small subset of conservative Catholicism.

            • Dan C

              We need to keep emphasizing the “woman” bit to “out” one of the other problems these fussbudgets have with EM’s.

              • Exaaaactly. If you keep at it long enough, it always comes down to the fact that “women shouldn’t be anywhere near the sanctuary anyway.” Because of the matter-anti matter reaction and the explosion that might take place in such a situation, I guess. . .

        • “I also have no doubt whatsoever that there was nothing at all
          extraordinary about the Masses she was helping in, and even if there
          were, she should not, per Church regulations, have been a minister in
          the situation anyway.”

          Really? No doubt whatsoever, even though you know absolutely nothing of the parish involved, or its location, or its staffing, or the reasons why the priest had ministers? This crystallizes the problem I have with what you have written, Patrick — the fact that it does not seem to occur to you that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know everything, and you might actually be wrong about something.

          • Dan C

            If the Body of Christ, God, is consecrated and shared, nothing more extraordinary in the world could happen. Patrick seems to miss this.

            • Patrick


        • enness

          Under the circumstances, somebody was going to fill that role. I suppose you would prefer it be someone who didn’t take anything seriously?

    • Newp Ort

      What are you doing to evangelize those in the Catholic pews?

  • An Aaron, not The Aaron

    “It explains the constant drumbeat demand for excommunicating as many people as possible.”

    Reactionary Catholics also seem to misunderstand what excommunication actually is. It’s precisely oriented toward bringing people back into the Church. Reactionaries think it is an end. The Church thinks it’s a means. Ironically, it is, at its essence, a tool of evangelization. The only one Reactionaries seem to embrace.

    • Rosemarie


      If only they embraced it *as* a tool of evangelization. They seem to see it more as a way of purging the Church of the “bad” Catholics, making the Church smaller and “purer.”

  • KM

    We live in harsh times, and reactionaries — not just in the church but outside it as well — mirror this. The cult of money, as Pope Francis said, has created an inhumane society. It permeates America today, this idea that people should be judged and found undeserving of empathy due to their status as losers. The winners — those who are successful — are judged to be superior to the unsuccessful losers who must be lazy and unintelligent. To paraphrase something Pope Francis said over summer, people today care more about their stock portfolios and money than about people.

    “We have created new idols,” [Pope Francis] said in a speech in the Vatican. “The
    worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in
    the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless
    and lacking any truly humane goal.”

    • KM

      “The revolution under Francis is not one of content, but of tone. He
      believes it’s time for the church to lift up its merciful face to the
      world, in part because of its own self-inflicted wounds and in part
      because of the harsh and unforgiving temper of the times. This is a pope
      who will look for every chance to express compassion, steering clear of
      finger-wagging unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

  • Spot on. Spot.effing.on.

  • AquinasMan

    I don’t know if I qualify as a reactionary, but when my non-Catholic and liberal Catholic co-workers come to me declaring that Francis is a true Catholic because he finally admitted that no one has to be Catholic and (my favorite) no other pope opposed war and (my other favorite) it’s about time there’s a pope who wants married priests “because pedophiles”, etc., it’s difficult not to take stock of the “reaction” of these individuals and conclude that maybe, perhaps, there’s a communication problem here. And gentle fraternal correction is of no use once someone has embraced a false message that only came to exist because the generalities in which the Holy Father sometimes speaks are wide enough to drive a tractor trailer through. This MIGHT explain some of the “reactionism”.

    Some of it, I agree, is just plain spiteful fear and superiority and sinful pride and possessiveness over one particular, valid form of the Mass and idolatry of particular popes. But I think a lot of it surrounding Francis, however, is a commonly held belief that evangelization should actually achieve the end of “the person receiving it actually understanding the truth that it is meant to convey”. If it does not, it can do more damage than good. My colleagues act as if the Catholic Church has been saved by Francis. That’s a problem. And it will become a bigger problem when, I am sure, Francis eventually addresses abortion, homosexual acts, etc. There’s nothing quite like watching people “react” to the falsely inferred message that they no longer need to suffer their consciences to search out the truth of the Gospel which is in their possession.

    So, maybe there’s a third group here. Those of us who are witnessing the rampant spread of misinformation about what the Pope is saying, expressly because he leaving room for a lot of opportunistic (mis-)interpretation. Everything that gets fed into the media machine is going to come out with their particular brand of polish, not necessarily what the pope is intending. He’s giving them a weapon with which to divide Catholics, not unite them. It gives comfort to the Bidens and Pelosis of the world who can now with increased vigor stand and say, “The Pope says I need to follow my conscience. Abortion is sacred ground!”

    The question for me, then, is how do we instruct the ignorant (a work of mercy), when they already feel confirmed in their ignorance by the Holy Father himself?

    My .02

    • Stu

      To build on your points, I also think there is knee-jerk reaction by some anytime someone might have even a minor critique of Pope Francis. You may simply comment that the Pope could have handled a situation better and all of sudden you go from 0-60 in 2 seconds toward being accused of loathing him and bordering on sedevacantism.

      • Dan F.

        lots of knees jerking on the interwebs. It’s a jerky kind of place, knee-d I remind you? 😉

        • Stu

          No, you don’t. And you are correct. I’m always an optimist though. I just would like to see a higher level of discourse, especially on Catholic blogs. That lack of charity in attempting to understand others and outright tribalism does more damage to the Faith than a half-dozen so-called reactionaries on obscure web pages.

        • chezami

          You might even say is a jerky kind of joint.

          • Stu

            You keep making connections like that and I femur puns.

            • Sorry, Stu, I for one don’t find that humerus.

              • Stu

                Someone knee’ds to put a cap on it or it might spine out of control.

          • Dan F.

            I see what you did there….

    • Dan F.

      My $.02 in answer to your final question: Show them what the Holy Father 1.) actually said. and 2.) teach them what it means. That there is a difference between right living and following Christ, a difference between redemption and salvation, a difference between discipline and dogma. In my (limited) experience, shattering a conventionally held myth (That all Catholic priests are unmarried and celibate for example) gets deeper into someone’s soul than any finely crafted apologetic for celibacy (or pick the topic).

      I asked an Evangelical friend of mine the other day what his top three disagreements were with the Catholic Church. As I suspected, none of them were factual and now he’s having to wrestle with the idea that maybe the Church might be right about other things too.

      • Stu

        I think that is fair. Like it or not, we are called to clear up confusion and work towards setting people straight and that job will never end.

        That being said, I would like to have an audience with the Holy Father to express my concern that his “off the cuff” remarks need to “tighten up” some. Throw us a bone out here. Help us, help you.

        • Dave

          It’s difficult, though, because sometimes an error or misperception generated by ten words can take ten thousand words to clear up. That’s why people in important positions need to be that much more careful in their speech. I’m not sure how much I blame Pope Francis, though. I mostly blame the media with their creative filtering (and subtraction of 50 IQ points in matters of religion, as Mark is fond of saying)

          • Stu

            It’s not a matter of blaming the Pope. But he is not an “obscure” Archbishop anymore with the freedom to speak in a carefree manner and at some point we have to realize that the media will do what the media will do. Dogs bite. It’s what they do. So, we have to take precaution and be smart in how we say things.

            I’d rather be using ten thousand words to build upon what the Pope said rather than having to do triage based upon how the media predictably reported it.

            • False media reports reduce the liars in the media audience, a few at a time. Let them lie and destroy their business model by spreading the truth.

      • AquinasMan

        Easier said than done, when the NY Time throws up today’s headline: “Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion” — really? Is that the message? And if not, can we agree it’s a serious problem?

        • Is what the message? That Pope Francis is saying hit all the points of the gospels and don’t monofocus down on a small number of them? Or is your issue that Francis didn’t take the NY Times spin seriously enough that he pre-empted them from distorting what he said?

          • Mike Petrik


            It is imprudent to pretend that the NYT is not influential. Those that suggest that it is not influential live in an unreal world.

            • It is imprudent to inflate the influence of a media outlet that is, frankly going down the tubes. They just recently rid themselves of the Boston Globe to the owner of the Red Sox for less than the price of a star outfielder but they retained the legacy pension obligations. There are a number of desperation moves beyond that pointing to a future with a radically different media presence, in NY and beyond.

              Pope Francis is saying outrageous things. That’s ok, Jesus was no less outrageous. So long as we are outrageous in fidelity to Jesus’ message we remain on safe ground. The New York Times is likely not to be sympathetic. Too bad for them.

              I see Pope Francis moving the Church from reaction to proactive action. This will take some getting used to. A lot of knickers will end up in a twist. We will survive. It is likely to be good for us.

        • chezami

          “Times Misrepresent Church” is pretty much SOP. What’s new about that? We fight lies with truth, as ever.

          • AquinasMan

            Agreed. At least make them work for it.

            • The greatest blow you can strike against the mainstream media at this point is to stop pretending that they matter so much. The quicker their illusion of relevance is punctured, the faster they will go bankrupt as advertisers go to other, more relevant outlets. I hope the next round of advertiser supported outlets will cover religion honestly and accurately.

              • AquinasMan

                How are they not relevant? They dictate the public discourse, and the public discourse greatly influences our public policies.

                • They *used* to dictate the public discourse. That statement hasn’t actually been true for years at this point. They have significant influence, at variable levels in different subcultures.

                  They are bleeding audience at a steady stream. Their revenue models are unsustainable and they are going broke in market after market.

                  It is not too early to start planning for their replacements and it certainly is proper to help them along to their well deserved commercial grave.

              • Oh man. I wish I could up this a thousand times.

    • enness

      “And gentle fraternal correction is of no use”
      Says who? Can you see what will happen in the future? Could it be that when their ‘disillusionment’ does happen, it will be your words that have remained with them?

      God has given you an opportunity. Do your best and then entrust it to His working.

  • Beefy Levinson

    I’m not sure it’s hatred of evangelization that is the Reactionary’s root sin; after all, in their minds everyone who is not formally a member of the Catholic Church is automatically hell-bound. I think it ultimately comes down to a lack of faith. I believe everyone is in agreement that the Church has been embroiled in a terrible crisis for the last fifty years. It’s indisputable that Mass attendance, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, belief in the Real Presence, and the quality of catechesis have all declined precipitously. The New Evangelization is aimed at the world to be sure, but it’s also aimed inward as well.
    The Progressive looks at all of this and says, “Of course the Church is in decline. If only she’d drop all of this medieval nonsense about possessing the fullness of truth, people would flock to her!” The Reactionary looks at all of this and says, “Of course the Church is in decline. She’s abandoned the faith, except for a few isolated remnants of which I am sure I’m a member!”
    Ultimately it’s God’s Church and we have to trust that he knows what he’s doing in allowing her to suffer so much since the 1960s. Easier said than done.

    • I think this is pretty spot on. The besetting sin of people with high standards is the despair that comes with the recognition that those standards are not being met by anyone anywhere.

  • JonSc

    Mark, I am no reactionary, not even close. My pastor is no reactionary, not even close. But we grow tired of having to explain Pope Francis to our friends, fellow congregants, and, worst in some ways, to our Evangelical friends. I have a very close friend who, starting tonight, is going through RCIA. He is a very dedicated Evangelical who, through the writings of Ratzinger/Benedict, has come to the conviction that he must pursue seriously joining the church. Francis, on the other hand, is driving him away. Why would he want to join a Church whose leader equivocates on matters such as salvation and homosexuality? Not to sound too partisan, but why would you want to join a church whose leader is cheered on by the New York Times? While, sure, the Pope’s statements can always be justified if one reads in context or if one takes, understandably, the most generous interpretation. But Francis seems totally unaware what his language sounds like to the people who will never read Jimmy Akin or this site: it sounds like believing in God doesn’t matter, that abortion doesn’t matter, that homosexuality isn’t a sin, like liturgy is unimportant. Is he so foolish that he doesn’t know how his words are being interpreted? Sorry, but way more people read the New York Times than read your blog, and the Times is reporting it as I have just described. And Francis just keeps giving them ammunition. I know my liberal Catholic friends, who see nothing wrong in abortion or same sex marriage, who think liturgy is for idiots, and who hate hierarchy think the Pope is their man. It makes them totally comfortable in all their progressive prejudices. I am glad that the Pope attacks some “conservative” prejudices, such as a worship of the market, but he does not seem to realize the impact of his words. He thinks he’s being welcoming, when in fact those outside the church just see him as a chump.

    • chezami

      Read the interview. He equivocates on nothing.
      Stop letting the Times tell you what the Pope said and *listen* to what he says. It is perfectly orthodox.

      • Stu

        That’s not his point. He isn’t questioning the orthodoxy of the Pope.

        Indeed, we should not let the Time tell us what the Pope said. But fact remains, that’s where many, many people get their understanding of things. Whether that is right or wrong is irrelevant. It’s reality and it would be good for the Pope, the Vatican, the Bishops and everyone to realize that. It’s simply a factor that must be taken into account.

        And all too often it isn’t.

        • enness

          You *assume* it isn’t.

          • Stu

            And when it is, it is often done poorly.

      • JonSc

        I wrote: “…the Pope’s statements can always be justified if one reads in context or
        if one takes, understandably, the most generous interpretation.” I agree that he is being misinterpreted. Look, I am a teacher. I strive in the classroom to bring clarity to the discussion. I want it to be easy for the students to understand my point and to not misinterpret. Here’s an example. I have a friend, who while teaching History class, talked about how Galileo dropped various “bodies” off the Tower of Pisa and measured how long it took them to land. To his surprise, come test time some student said that Galileo dropped dead people off the tower. Where did he get that idea? Oh, because, my friend realized, the student didn’t know the generic definition of “body” as in “object.” He didn’t blame the student, he blamed himself, for using a bit of archaic language. He spoke in a way easily misinterpreted.

        Why can’t the Pope, for example, when rightly telling us of the importance of love for homosexuals, reiterate the Church’s teaching so no one can walk away thinking that homosexuality is a matter of indifference?

        • anna lisa

          Francis states firmly that he is a son of the Church. Is there any *doubt* what the church teaches about homosexuality or abortion? To the sinner, embroiled in the sin, broadcasting what we already know to be true is like beating a dead horse. When the pope states: “God is in everyone” (the homosexual), and “God *loves* everyone” (the girl who has had an abortion), he offers MORE than the death sentence that is sin; he pours oil of balm in the wounds of the man/woman beaten up in the ditch. How easy it is to keep a clean and orderly life, in a clean and orderly classroom, because you learned this from your clean and orderly parents. the man with oozing wounds will incline his ear to words that are welcoming, rather than the hammer of cold dogma, removed from the drama of life.
          I’m just a housewife, not even close to being a theologian, why is it so crystal clear to me how Francis is speaking like Jesus would? It’s like all of the people who are saying “It’s confusing!” are angry, like the prodigal son’s older brother.

          • said she

            I don’t hear people saying “It’s confusing!” – Rather, it’s that the press does selective quoting under attention-grabbing headlines, misconstruing the Pope’s intended meaning. Then the public says “Finally, a Pope who understands, and will change the Church’s outdated doctrines!”, while the apologiests have to drop everything and explain what the Pope really said (which very few read).

            Now, I wonder… will we lose people over this? Few, if any, is my guess. Some near-sedevacantists might go, but that’s about it. Will we gain people? Yes! Will they stay, once they find out that we aren’t going to ordain women, etc.? Some will. Maybe most.

            But note what is happening in the process: People are talking about Catholicism, especially Catholic doctrine, and salvation. How can that ever be a bad thing???

            Viva il Papa!!

            • anna lisa

              Yes, some might creep closer to the fire with a murky understanding of the church, but the light and heat will warm and illumine their weary hearts. This is why we need shepherds like Francis, who are willing to go look for the one lost sheep.

        • enness

          “Why can’t the Pope, for example, when rightly telling us of the
          importance of love for homosexuals, reiterate the Church’s teaching so
          no one can walk away thinking that homosexuality is a matter of

          Because sometimes you want to make a point without having to add a massive disclaimer so that everyone stops listening when they think they’ve heard enough. There’s a time for everything.

    • Alma Peregrina

      Far too often I’ve read traditionalist-minded people complaining that they “grew tired” of explaining Pope Francis’ words, spinned by the media, to less-informed people.

      But it is very strange that I never heard those same traditionalist-minded people complaining that they grew tired of explaining Pope Benedict XVI’s words to less-informed people. Mind you, they were also often decontextualized and spinned by the media. Regengsburg address? The “Pope finally allows condoms” propaganda? The ox and the ass at the manger controversy?

      • Stu

        The frequency is the issue. Yes, it’s going to happen regardless. But increasingly it seems as if every week we have a new “did you hear what the Pope said” moment in the media that isn’t what he meant. I believe the Pope’s style of engaging people, which is great, brings with it this challenge.

        Communication isn’t just about “broadcasting.” It’s about what is “received” as well. And if you are interested in your message getting across, you have to be aware not only of what you say or write but how it is going to be received.

        • Alma Peregrina

          As a blogger that constantly defended Pope Benedict XVI’s statements, I would say frequency about Pope Francis’ spinning is very overrated. Sometimes I would be overwhelmed by media distortions of Benedict. I do concede that it can get worse, however, if this “Spirit of Pope Francis” thing catches on.

          What I’m getting at is this:
          1 – Media distortions of the pope’s statement will occur as long as the media is from the World and the pope is of Christ. Benedict XVI had a very clear language and a logical intelect… to no avail.
          2 – Catholic defenses of the mainstream culture’s attacks on the Church (what is known as apologetics) are (or should be) a pleasure for catholics to engage in. However, to some catholics, defending some popes is “tiring” and defending others is not.

          • Stu

            I think it is much more because Francis is indeed speaking out more whether in his daily homilies or giving interviews. Which of course isn’t a bad thing. I just would like to see him “tighten up” a bit because the “Spirit of Pope Francis” thing has already begun and I’m not a fan of the last “Spirt of” thing.

    • Kelly Mason McClintock


    • Dan C

      I think you are unaware of what Benedict the 16th has said. Especially about salvation of the non-Catholic.

    • JonSc, this problem has been going on since the dawn of Christianity, quite literally: weren’t the charges against our Lord blasphemy and threats of terrorism (e.g., that bit where his accusers claimed He said He’d destroy the Temple)? Not to mention the whole “Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood…” bit, and the controversy over that.

      Christianity has always been a mystery to sound-bite slingers and spin doctors. That we have more of those people in our age than in our Lord’s doesn’t mean we should practice deference toward them any more than He did.

    • enness

      “But we grow tired of having to explain Pope Francis to our friends,
      fellow congregants, and, worst in some ways, to our Evangelical friends.”

      Think how tired you would be if you were Jesus having to break up bickering arguments among the disciples.

    • solerso

      “Mark, I am no reactionary, not even close. My pastor is no reactionary, not even close. But we grow tired of having to explain Pope Francis to our friends, fellow congregants, and, worst in some ways, to our Evangelical friends.”
      Maybe your friends are the problem

  • MarianMartha

    “If you’ve got a better explanation for Reactionary behavior, I’m all ears.” FAIL.

    Listen, I do not by any stretch of the imagination fall into that group (perhaps because I’m a convert too), and I think that’s probably a great title for it, but the whole post from beginning to end is driven by the wrong mentality. If you ACTUALLY desire to understand the motivations of a group of people, this ain’t the way to go about it. You basically actually have to talk to them. Even just one, somebody you actually know and respect. You have to respect them as human beings first, then “explain” them second. I think that’s basically what Francis is trying to hammer home to us right now — regarding yeah-I-mess-up sinners and holier-than-thou sinners alike.

    For my part, I think the key is in your power-paragraphs at the end: these people aren’t as pissed at the crazy-left folks, they get the most infuriated at the Catholic apologists who mess up from time to time. Well, crazy-reactionary-fits-of-rage aside, those are the people we, as Catholics, SHOULD be keeping closest to the truth of the Church, because they’re the ones proclaiming it! They’re on the front lines. If they fall down on the job, or accidentally send back a shot of friendly fire, it goes a lot worse for us.

    I don’t necessarily think that’s what most “Reactionaries” have in mind when they go into the crazy-fits-of-rage, but I think that’s the anxiety that drives us all. The crazy-rage, however, just comes out of fear and doubt of God’s providence for His Church (both the institution and Her people). Fear is what turns a Traditionalist into a Reactionary, a fear that is fundamentally a doubt of God. So yeah, that’s not good. But what we NEED to be doing, as people who are interested in evangelization, is ministering to those throwing themselves to the outskirts of holier-than-thou-ism because they feel their feet sinking into the water (I’m looking at your book title to the right of this com box), not attacking them in toddler-“Daddy-she-said-it’s-HER-cookie-but-it’s-NOT”-style. Just because they’re wrong, doesn’t mean we should get all angry and call names. Just because they started the nonsensical fight, doesn’t mean we can’t just finish it by being Christians to them. Come to think of it, Peter is very much like them — fiery, full of wild expectations and a wild fear of seeing Christ humble himself, capable of NOT proclaiming Him right when they think they’re going to be His best advocate. But we love Peter. We need to love them and herald them back into the Church, too.

    • chezami

      I do talk to them. How do you think I am so familiar with the kinds of stuff they say and do. Generally, when I talk to them they say, “You are a Nancy Pelosi neo-Catholic who needs to be kicked out of the Church”. It’s that kind of winning social skill that makes them such a powerhouse of evangelistic oomph.

      • Stu

        And yet you choose to return in kind and give it to those effing “wussies” as good as they gave it. I know, kick to the groin and all of that.

        Rinse and repeat.

      • karl

        What? Who are these people? Where do you find them? Stop this rumor mill. If you have particular people with whom you have a particular complaint, with all politeness address it publicly. If not, we do not want to hear wildly uncharitable attacks on mysterious and angry groups of people who we’ve never met, and I think many of suspect barely exist.

        • enness

          Do you really want him naming names? Careful what you wish for.

    • enness

      Don’t forget that in talking to people, we have to discern whether they are being honest with themselves and us, assuming they’re not all as blunt as Mark describes below. I remember watching one of those TED talks in which we find out that Americans will claim they like dark roast coffee because they’ve become enamored with the language used to describe it, when by the sales numbers they actually drink weak, milky coffee. The implication is not that they are liars, but that they are just not that good at self-assessment.

      (That was a rather long-winded way of saying “Actions speak louder than words.”)

  • Katalina

    The problem here is that as he admits in this interview he is naïve. This is shown in his recent statement that the Church is in great shape. Really? I am sorry but just recently Cardinal Raymond Burke was lamenting this very issue of the crisis of faith in the West since Vatican II. Is Cardinal Burke a reactionary himself with this observation in a talk gave on the state of the Church and the culture? I think not. BTW it is well known just what Francis feels about traditional Catholics.

    • Bill

      The Church IS in great shape Katalina. She always is, even during the Great Schism, the Renaissance Papacy, the 30 Years War, the Enlightenment, the 1st World War, the 2nd World War, the Cold War. She’s guided and protected by the Holy Spirit and her numbers grow exponentially.

      I have such a hard time with boiling everything down to how crappy things are in the West as a way to define the state of the entire Universal Church. It feels tribalistic, like all that really matters is the state of the liturgy in North American dioceses or something. The Church is so much more than this, and in a sense, so much more direct. She is about Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen. That’s really it. Everything else flows from that center point.

    • enness

      The whole world does not revolve around Europe and North America (thank God).

  • Paul Williams

    On the topic of terminology, I’m gathering from this contextual usage that “reactionary” is meant as an insulting term, while I’d not previously understood it as such – paricularly from a Catholic perspective.

    Historically, this term was used (like “papist”) as insult to those (mostly Catholics) who were perceived to be or actually had been resisting the French revolution. Later, Marxists would employ this term to label and single out “anti-revolutionaries”. Often, the persecution of those labelled “reactionaries” was brutal.

    If the brave Catholics of the Vendee and Cristero movements were reactionaries, I certainly would not mind sharing such a title with them. Although I would not defend the actions or beliefs of those individuals being described in the originating post.

  • Dan C

    I claim that Benedict is probably as radical as Francis. Benedict has been saying stuff that Akin and Longenecker and Barron actually won’t acknowledge as saying when explaining to the reactionaries what has been taught, particularly when it comes to the great question: Who gets saved?

    It was far easier to quote the reliably pious commentary of Benedict, who was always so well-spoken and precise and any 10 minute address could be unpacked and studied for hours. When he spoke on other matters, again, such as the salvation of the non-Catholic, for he pretty much lumped Hindus and Evangelicals into the same set as “outside the Church,” he was predictably ignored. Yet he was far far clearer about the position he took than Francis, who has a lot of people assuring reactionaries and Evangelical confreres what “he really didn’t say.”

    Sort through the piles of Ratzinger/Benedict material and one can find specific expositions answering these same Reactionaries and Evangelicals: your fears are realized, not only have you kind of got the message, but hear it is in lots and lots of words, pretty clearly.

    So…I prepare folks for any number of difficult procedures, surgeries, and do some prepping on breastfeeding to women. Most women I have spoken to often come to me for help on the matter of breastfeeding after some Birkenstock-wearing lactation consultant was telling them “it won’t hurt.” My response: it will hurt, a lot. Prepare for it, you can get through it. It will be exhausting and hard and you will manage it. Prepare for a hard time and it will be worth it.

    I note this particular approach because soft-pedaling the concerns of Reactionaries seems to have been a bit of the focus of all these conservative apologists. These apologists need to rip the band aid off quickly and apinfully and say what is actually being said, not what is “not being said” tip-toeing around the fact the someone like Benedict will say this:

    “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, 1996, p. 24: “Q. But could we not also accept that someone can be saved through a faith other than the Catholic? A. That’s a different question altogether. It is definitely possible for someone to receive from his religion directives that help him become a pure person, which also, if we want to use the word, help him please God and reach salvation. This is not at all excluded by what I said; on the contrary, this undoubtedly happens on a large scale.”

    I read Akin and his response to varied concerns, particularly surrounding this question. Akin won’t deliver an answer as clear as above. I recommend he will have less trouble with reactionaries by saying what the master teachers are teaching. Its not new and not radical and had been developed into this formulation prior to Vatican 2. Its that old.

    • Paxton Reis

      I agree. For Pope Benedict though he began with the MSM label of being God’s rottweiler, so most stories and his critics in the Church had to play that angle.

      If one took the time to read his encyclicals and other writings, one would discover a gentle and compassionate teacher and priest. For now, the media things Pope Francis stands in 180 deg. contract to Benedict.

      • Dan C

        Benedict also had an “effectiveness” problem. For those who claimed to be his biggest fans, they never seem to quite get the messages he actually wrote. Or deliberately ignore it. They would avoid his voluminous response to the question, how does the Hindu get saved? One clearly understands and “gets” Francis. So much so, that I think a minor industry has built up telling reactionaries and others what he is really not saying. Just to keep them happy.

        Benedict’s other big problem is that he was a “pleaser.” He had “upsetting” folks, most particularly conservatives. He was no conservative, but seemed to dislike upsetting conservatives. We see that from the delay of Oscar Romero’s canonization (so as not to offend a certain American conservative) to the SSPX reconciliation attempts.

        I think that the media may have a certain element of framing Benedict differently, but I hold Benedict to blame for his own failures in this also. He was not so much a leader as a teacher and academic. I think the “evil media” is a facile response that is reflexive and unthinking. Benedict;s troubles were his own.

        Francis is a leader. He is demonstrating this.

        • Stu

          So Benedict’s troubles were his own but Francis is just misunderstood or denied?

          I’m comfortable with they both have challenges that are unique to their personalities.

          • Dan C

            My claim is Francis is hardly misunderstood.

            I think some folks deliberately avoid what he is saying.

            Like in Caritatas in Veritate, one can see Ms. Scalia wax on about all the pro-life comments in it (there are shockingly few) and avoid the direct comments about a properly ordered economic system, retaining her libertarianism.

            Francis is not misunderstood. Nor was Benedict. The challenging bits were just overtly ignored.

            To note: I am more of a fan of Ratzinger than Francis, but intellectuals appeal to me.

            • Stu

              I think some folks deliberately avoid what he is saying and he is misunderstood.

        • Paxton Reis

          Yes, he was a teacher and an academic.

          For the general public, who don’t read the encylicals, etc., he was labeled a conservative and God’s rottweiler by others and by those who chose to report Church announcements and teachings through their filters and agenda. I’ve heard commentary by a media leader in the Bay Area ask why the if the Church is so pro-life, why does the Pope speak out only on abortion and not the death penalty.

          Come on really?

          It’s all a business though and they need controversy to sell their product. With Pope Francis, I suspect there are some who see the controversy as him stirring up the Church and perhaps opening the door for changes in the Church’s teachings on abortion, etc. Of course, Francis’ interview is not telling us that but inviting Catholics to take a new approach in inviting others to Jesus.

  • Dave

    Oh boy. After skimming through 200+ comments on NCR about this interview by 75 year old liberals sounding like 11 year old girls who just met Justin Bieber, sign me up as among those who are concerned. Of course, nothing has changed, but they sure think it has. Buzzwords like “small-minded rules” are sending them into ecstasy.

    • Dan C

      Eh….things have changed. No one listened to Benedict when 10 minutes into his pontificate he said, on his way to visit Hans Kung, Catholics need to indicate what we are “for” not what we are “against.” Now…people are hearing the same thing said, but differently.

      In the time since that enunciation of Benedict and the beginning of the New Evangelization, we have had a reactionary turn by the US episcopate, with what is perhaps bishops who are most openly critical or hinting at criticism, like Chaput and Tobin.

      This is an English language interview executed and “scooped” by the a Jesuit (liberal) magazine in a country that has allowed the Enemy rip the heart of the Church by fighting the self-defeating Culture Wars, with sides eagerly taken by the bishops.

      This is a “doing” of Evangelism that seems to be heard. Benedict said much the same, but was ignored. The “doing” of this Evangelist, Francis, is obviously “expert” if not a fancy wordsmith.

      This is new and big.

      • Stu

        I’m not sure anyone is listening in depth to Francis either. If you are going to charge Akin and company with hearing what they want out of Benedict, then you have to acknowledge that those who are getting all worked up over this change in language are going to likewise hear what they want.

        I prefer when a leader speaks definitively and precisely as much as humanly possible. That has staying power for the long term.

        • Dan C

          Francis is definitive and clear, and hard to ignore. Hence an entire group of apologists are trying to re-assure folks about “what he is not saying.” I think they deliberately avoid what he is saying.

          He is saying the hard words that need to be said, and this is upsetting some. He is not saying anything different than Benedict, but Francis is saying it strongly and in a way that cannot be ignored.

          He is a leader and very direct.

          • Stu


            I don’t think you understand me. I didn’t say he is isn’t a leader. I also don’t question that his background is different and that affects his approach to things.

            What I said is that I prefer when a leader speaks definitively and precisely as much as humanly possible. This is essential, especially when you are the top guy. You have to be careful what you say because your word have power. I have seen very senior officers in the military make an offhand comment about how they “wish something was like ‘so-and-so” and shocked that their staff actually took it for action with gusto and not always understanding what he wanted.

            I can also add that to expect people to read his remarks fully is understandable but not realistic. Another saying we having int he military: “You have to say it seven different times and seven different ways” because people just don’t listen. Now that is true in the military. Think about the rest of the World.

            I certainly want our Pope to be effective and I believe these are some considerations that would help him in that.

            • Dan C

              I think Francis is clear. I thought Benedict was clear.

              I think it takes a lot more work for Akin and Longenecker to assure their audience that Francis is still Catholic, and to try and spin him. I think, due to the volumes of Benedict’s material, bloggers could focus on his Wednesday audience (“look at the apostle he focuses on today”) while barely touching his first encyclical.

              Francis is unavoidable in his message. He is no friend of the American culture war.

            • Dan C

              Inknow the conversation moved. I just wanted to respond, and thank you for your thoughtfulness.

        • Dan C

          I think, when one views Francis, one has to understand that this is a man from the global South. They have a different view of America and Europe than we do and he is addressing this matter. His address is directly to Americans, in a liberal Jesuit journal, shortly after public quotes from Chaput and Tobin pop up criticizing him.

          He is a man who became an adult when he and his countrymen were victims of an American client state’s repressive leadership. In another Latin American country, a bishop would be assassinated, and, in 1989, more Jesuit brethren would be assassinated, victims of a repressive regime heavily supported by the US. While Wuerl feeds the conservatives with lines like “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square,” Francis has already experienced this, personally and in his order.

          This is a Jesuit, whose order a Polish pope suspended the leadership of, as this pope struggled to understand the West and its errors, too.

          Francis had a dramatic formation. He is a Jesuit from Latin America. He knows how to lead and is doing so. He came to the US, to the land of Culture War blood sport, in which conservative Catholics find more communion with Evangelicals than liberals Catholics.

  • mithril1971

    thanks for the history lesson, the reminder of the gift of that to which we are called as Catholics and this “Reactionaries don’t loathe Francis despite the fact that he is an enormously attractive evangelical witness. The loathe him because he is an enormously attractive evangelical witness.”

  • Ted

    What a doggone sad, pathetic post. So now we’ve reduced ourselves to pissing in each others Cheerios? Catholics vs. Catholics? Trads? Reactionaries? Mad-trads? Rad-trads? What??? Toward what end?

    • Stu

      Beer and shampoo.

  • Patrick

    The real “dickish”ness, to borrow one of Mark’s terms, comes from the Church that gets all reactionary about things like “form” and “matter”, like it matters to God if the host is made of whole wheat or spelt or even tapioca flour, or if the liquid in question is red wine or grape juice or Bud Light. Can you imagine a more idiotic restriction? Pile on that all of the rules about who can be a priest, who is supposed to be an “ordinary” minister and what constitutes a situation where extraordinary ministers are to be used….good grief. And that doesn’t even touch on the thousands of other rules and regulations the Church pushes on the faithful. Where are the real reactionaries? In the back rooms of the Vatican, making up rules….rules rules rules. “You can’t be ordained, you don’t have a Y chromosome!” “You can’t take communion, you’re in mortal sin!” “You have to go to Mass on this day and that day and these other days….” on and on and on. Enough with the rules!

    • Oremus

      Here is what I learned today. There are these really bad people somewhere called reactionaries that hate Pope Francis. And also guitars at Mass. They are against evangelizing and they are really, really mean. They are ignoring the call to bring people together by proven time-tested techniques like calling people bed-wetters and dicks. Calling people bed-wetters and dicks on a blog is not reactionary. Oh no. It is the picture of moderation and charity. If we could all just find the perfect tone of snark, Francis’s message of love and seeing God in all men would triumph.

    • Beefy Levinson

      I see what you did there.

      • Patrick

        Your powers are weak, old man.

        • Beefy Levinson

          If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

  • NoSoup4U

    Can someone explain how this @sshole has a pulpit on EWTN and Catholic radio to pontificate about how anyone who doesn’t share his limp-wristed version of Catholicism is a modern-day Pharisee? If anyone’s a dick it’s YOU.

    • chezami

      Failure to grasp the concept.

    • I don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish with this comment. If you’re criticizing Mark for being a “dick” or an “@sshole,” then perhaps you should examine the log in your own eye before pointing out the speck in his…?

  • Pollito

    Thank you for the reminder that Pope Francis is not the worst pope in Church history. I had almost forgotten.

  • karl

    The leftover bitterness in some traditional circles (after being marginalized and nearly criminalized by Church leaders for decades) (and which in my experience is definitely the exception, nowhere near the norm) is NOTHING compared the vitriol that you and other conservative Catholics have been hurling towards them over the past few months. This is so, so, so shameful. Surely this war of words does no one any good.

    • Bill

      I disagree with your premise completely. I’ve seen PLENTY directed at orthodox Catholics by these people Mark talks about, and plenty of defensiveness by the same people.

      • enness

        Yes, I imagine it depends on where we’re looking.

  • SameAsYesterday

    There’s about 30 of these personality types. Not really a big deal.

  • Guy Fox

    Mark Shea’s consistently uncharitable treatment of traditional Catholics is pathetic. When Mr. Shea points his finger at Radtrad, Trad, Reactionary (whatever his new label of the day) he will use this cheap shot way of calumniating those with whom he disagrees. This Straw Man reasoning is just nasty, as it does not give credit to the many many religious and lay in traditional circles who have lived heroic lives for Christ as they support the pope. His contention that traditional Catholics lack success in conversions is just absurd. In my Latin Mass parish for example you can’t walk 5 feet without tripping over one of his former fundie fellows. Perhaps Mr. Shea should refocus his attention on something useful like converting Protestants and other heretics and leave the Traditional Catholic be. If Mr. Shea is not liturgically converted, and harbors nostalgic sentiments from his Evangelical misadventures, perhaps he should leave this discussion to the grownups. On second thought do we really need this mean spirited xProtestant Professional Catholic to tell us how we should behave? Mark, perhaps it’s time to go out and get a real job. I don’t see you as offering anything more than the average guy posting on these sites, in fact, far less.

    • enness

      Dear Guy,
      Not very far down, directly across from the Facebook logo, you will find this:
      “Not Traditionalists, mind you”
      May I suggest a more careful read next time?

      Also, stuff like this – “you can’t walk 5 feet without tripping over one of his former fundie fellows” does NOT help your case. In fact it brings to mind images of glass houses and stones.

  • enness

    I would suggest if people don’t want to be called out on such behavior, they not do it. And while it might be argued that Mark has been less than crystal clear in the past, I see no excuse in this post for thinking that it is directed at your run-of-the-mill EF attendee who just plain likes it better.