Michael Matt and Kent Wuchterl

Michael Matt and Kent Wuchterl October 22, 2013

…of the Argument of the Month Club chew the fat on the recent debate between me and Michael Voris:

As I say, I’m the last person to consult about who won the debate. If you want my worthless opinion, I won. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

The more I’ve thought about it, the more it seems to me that it would only be an exercise in folly for me to write up my account of things since I’m bound to forget something–and to be immediately pounced on as a “liar” when I do. So instead, I’m waiting for the AOTM guys to just post the audio of the debate and then link it so people can make up their own minds. Hopefully, that will be soon.

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  • B

    Unfortunately I think it will be months before it’s released. They haven’t even put up the debates from March yet….

  • Can’t wait for the audio…. AutoTune the Argument!

    • Andy, Bad Person

      “The problem with Reaction-action-actionaries…”


      • Paul Williams

        Or what about “POISON … poison … poison … POISON” (AutoTuned to Bell Biv Devoe).

        • Newp Ort

          You never trust a big beard and a smile, That blog is poi-oi-soooooon!

  • John Barnes

    Would have been nice if these guys had posted audio or video of the entire event before (or alongside) their 38-minute exhange on why they disagreed with Mark.

    • Yeah, without a record of the event itself I got the impression that they weren’t representing Mark’s position well.

    • Pappy

      They didn’t disagree with Mark at all, I think they wanted him to go further.
      They agreed with Mark’s assertion of “prayer, fasting, almsgiving along with the spiritual works of mercy” but as they said in this video, most of the guys coming into AOTM are already doing that, so where do we go from there. I don’t think that Mark meant that these things where an exhaustive list. While I disagree with the Voris assertion that these things are “vague”, I for one would have loved to hear more concrete arguments about why each debater thought their approach was the better way to address the current (particular) crisis.

      • If Voris wants to avoid being “vague”, he’s going to have to do a better job researching his critiques and understanding the terminology or practices he’s critiquing. A friend sent me a link to one of his recent videos in which he criticized the language of “personal relationship with Jesus”. While I didn’t disagree with the point Voris was trying to make, it became clear that he didn’t actually understand what the people who use the language of “personal relationship” really mean.

        As a result, he merely creates suspicion and mistrust in his viewers for a terminology that PE Benedict has himself endorsed and driven a needless wedge between people in the church who probably agree with each other. He didn’t need to do this. He could have addressed his concern without saying, and I quote, “Enough already with all the ‘JOY’ talk and the ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ blabbing on.” Voris is being snarky and offensive while encouraging needless suspicion and despair; and, in the end, just not addressing the real problem.

        So if Michael Voris wants to tighten things up and make our concepts, terminology, and ideas for reform more pointed and precise, he ought to get to know the people he’s criticizing and understand the terminology they’re using before assuming he knows exactly where they’re wrong.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          When Voris creates something half as inspirational and impactful as “Forming Intentional Disciples,” maybe I’d take his opinion on relationships with Jesus seriously.

        • pointvicente

          You mentioned that you feel Voris is driving “a needless wedge between people in the Church.” Yet at the same time you said that you agree with him on the point. Your comments come off to me as unnecessary criticism regarding Michael Voris’s personal style. Its as though you are using your distaste of Michael’s personal style and creating a fog which could steer people away from the Truth. Which is the fact that you cannot separate Jesus from his mystical body the Church. They are one. The Church Militant is only attacking the language used when it is in context of a personal relationship outside of the one true Church.

          • The Church Militant is only attacking the language used when it is in context of a personal relationship outside of the one true Church.

            I’m pretty sure he’s not. He’s talking about the language of “personal relationship” used to describe the Christian’s relationship to God; that’s inside the Church.

            • pointvicente

              Again, its the context of how it is used. For example, if one over emphasizes one aspect of the Truth and never attempts to defend the faith then one is outside the fullness of the Truth. Voris is not casting a judgement against a person but a person’s action or lack of action even if you or anyone else might think its a bit snarky. If you believe and have faith then you care enough to act it out and defend it. Therefore some things must be said regardless of how people may perceive you. All followers of Christ must steer people toward having a personal relationship with Jesus that embraces the Truth of the Church’s teachings.

              • Are you saying that Michael Voris doesn’t have a problem with the use of “personal relationship with Jesus” language as long as it’s properly understood? Because that’s not how it came across in the video.

                What came across in the video is that he considers the language of “personal relationship” to be intrinsically tied to a shallow understanding of the faith and a superficial understanding of Christian affections.

      • chezami

        The basic difference was that I actually proposed an approach and, as far as I can tell, Voris proposed absolutely nothing but a rehearsal of fruitless anger. If you can recall a single constructive proposal he made,you are a better man than I am.

  • Paul Williams

    Seems like what these spectators really wanted to debate was “Is the Church in crisis and, if so, what is the nature of this crisis?” Or maybe more specifically “Is Michael Voris or Mark Shea prudent and reasonable, or uncharitable and a demagogue?” Hopefully, it didn’t turn into to an “oh yeah, well you…” type of tit-for-tat that Voris seems to have been ginning up for.

    I think these types of debates are more informative and illuminating for the discussion topics raised, than the actual result and evaluation of “winning”.

    • Pappy

      As Kent indicated in his recap, the essence is what is the proper response for us (the laymen) to the crisis.

    • chezami

      It *mostly* stayed on track, though it did diverge into the personal a few times. When they get the audio up, you’ll get a sense of where it went off and got back on the rails.

  • tj.nelson

    I liked the video shots of the event. It looks like a fun evening. I know some of the people and met Kent a few times – he’s a good example for laymen. The conversation was enjoyable.
    Like the Olympics it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s about dialogue, speaking to one another, listening to ourselves and one another and working together for unity.
    I’m always joking about AOTM but I’m being serious here. I think it serves that purpose. You were very good to participate Mark. God bless you.

    • Newp Ort

      To crib an idea I think from Woody Allen, they should have a cage match and battle it out with socks filled with poop.

    • chezami

      Thanks, Terry!

  • Beefy Levinson

    The only real way for you two to settle your differences is to engage in an Epic Rap Battle of History.

  • thomas

    I think such get togethers are a great idea. Airing out differences face to face is always better than throwing bombs from a distance. I’d like to see more Catholic men’s get togethers in parishes.

  • Clare Krishan

    re: nuancing their rhetoric … its just not that ‘simple’ its no mere show and tell. Consider the Pope’s locus of focus in his email response to the American son of Holocaust survivors: the word “humility” in speaking of the presence of God. The Verdun altar connects the dots between biblical iron-age peoples and we moderns in three paradigms: Order of Time; Order of Possibility; and Order of Virtue .


    The virtue of humility links the glorious communicating Mystery of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the dove descending on Noah in the Ark and the communicating of the law on Mt Sinai (of which Shavuot remembrances occur concurrently with Pentecost). Think how tenderly he trod in communicating on so painful a topic as the Shoah to someone who’s parents witnessed those horrors… and the bridging word?…. humility!

    “the first age is named the Age before the Law (ante legem) i.e., what modern philosophers call “the state of nature.” This original period reaches from Creation to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The second is defined as the Age under the Law (sub lege) and lasts from the time when Moses communicates God’s Law to His people until the angel Gabriel brings his timely announcement of Christ’s birth to Mary. The third period, the Age under Grace (sub gratia), from the Annunciation on…”

    I can’t shake off the impression that certain apologists wish to short-change their encounters with ‘the other’ to mere disembodied deductions of logic that they can chalk up to ego “I won”: that the Mystery of an encounter ‘sub gratia’ isn’t necessary (and in their hubris exclude God, duh thats exactly what secularists are so often accused of, no?); that ‘sub lege’ (its all so logical after all, why after the Angel’s departure would rhetorical ‘tenderness’ of a St Joseph be required to continue our narrative of redemption?) should suffice!

    The grammar of assent surely has to be in the ‘present tense’; that grace communicates via enjoyment of the company of three: He, thee and me, humbly not presumptuously? Delicately not bombastically.