Mark Shea is a Nice Guy. He’s Also Brave to the Point of Not-So-Smart.

Mark Shea is a Nice Guy. He’s Also Brave to the Point of Not-So-Smart. May 23, 2018

Photo Source: Mark Shea

Mark Shea is a nice guy. And while he’s truly brilliant, he’s also brave to the point of not-so-smart. 

Mark lives his writing life on the edge of a razor. He never flinches from saying what he thinks, even when what he thinks flies in the face of what a lot of other people think. He expresses himself without censoring his thoughts through whatever politically correct sieve his readers might be using.

Make no mistake about it; both right wing-nuts and left wing-nuts have their own version of political correctness that no one may violate without facing all sorts of approbation and personal attacks. Catholic right wing-nuts have their own layers of right wing-nuttiness slathered on top the standard version. 

Mark is fearless in railing against the shibboleths of both sides of the political divide, and he’s got the rabid enemies to prove it. I’ve spent a good bit of time, talking with Mark in backdoor writer’s channels, and I can say that he’s not only a passionate, committed Catholic who believes what the Church teaches right down to the ground, but that he’s far more generous toward his attackers than I would be. 

I was aware that there was a group of nut jobs out there in the hustings calling themselves “Banned by Mark Shea.” I assumed they were hissing and spitting in their little group, but I in no way imagined the kind of direct calls to acts of violence, Hitlerian anti-semitism and evil to the point of being satanic that they were actually engaging in. What they’re saying isn’t just the verbiage of a bunch of nuts. It’s evil. 

I came by this knowledge when I was putzing around on the internet and bumbled into reading a blog post by my fellow Patheos writer, Scott Eric Alt. Mr Alt reproduced conversations from “Banned by Mark Shea,” including comments from a well-known right wing Catholic priest. The thrust of Mr Alt’s writing was to admonish this priest that, because he is a priest, he should not be part of this group. 

I’ve heard, but not verified, that the priest in question has left this group. But he has a history of engaging in vicious personal attacks against Mark that goes back several years that I know of. He’s very active in the pro life movement, but that doesn’t excuse this kind of behavior. In many ways, it makes it worse.

A lot of people believe that priests speak for Christ. When priests engage in evil behavior, they lead other Christians to do the same. They also turn others away from Christ. They make the devil’s case that Jesus is nothing by how they behave. 

In my opinion, the fact that these folks haven’t driven Mark out of the Church — and they have certainly tried — is due entirely to his love of Christ and the help he must receive from the Holy Spirit. It would be so much less painful — and more profitable — for him to abandon the Church and turn his back on Jesus. But he sticks, despite the attacks. 

I can attest, because he and I have talked about this a number of times, that he still, in spite of these attacks, loves and respects the Catholic priesthood. Mark’s faithfulness to the Church is, without consideration of the action of the Holy Spirit, confounding. 

I’m not going to reproduce the verbiage from “Banned by Mark Shea” here. But I’m glad Mr Alt put it on his blog. I would never have imagined it was this evil if I had not read it. 

I don’t think that this behavior is merely evil. I think it is satanic. I also want to caution my readers to think carefully before they step on the down elevator of public excoriation of people they disagree with. 

No two people ever agree with one another about everything. Two well-intentioned, intelligent people who are both trying to find a solution that will benefit everyone will look at exactly the same problem and come up with diametrically opposed solutions. 

This does not make either one of them evil. It makes both of them human. What’s more, this ability to think differently from one another is not a weakness of humankind. It is our greatest strength. It is what has led us to the achievements we’ve made in human progress.

Most of the time, when people are forced to sit down and talk with one another, and then work out compromises between their two positions in order to fashion a workable solution, they come up with something far better than anything either one of them would have created alone. That is the strength of democracy. It is the power of human thinking. 

But our national leaders have abandoned this for a nasty game of king of the mountain. Our leaders in politics behave like a bunch of verbal thugs. The president of the United States is the head of the trash-talk pack. 

What’s far worse, our religious leaders are no better. Far too many of them have abandoned their role as spiritual and moral shepherds to take on flash-trash, no-morals, anti-Christ politics. Sadly, the race to the bottom in our national discourse is oftentimes led by men of the cloth who, if they were followers of Christ, would be leading us in the opposite direction.   

What I hope is that Public Catholic readers will take a look at themselves and back off from this sort of behavior, both in their thinking and in what they say. If you find yourself sinking into this kind of blackness, stop, pray, repent, and change. You are walking on the edge of evil, and the urgings you feel to hatred and vituperation come from the devil. 

As a final thought, I am going to say that the folks at “Banned by Mark Shea” should get down on their knees and pray that nothing happens to Mark Shea. Because if anything does, all the police have to do is look at this hate group and their calls to violence to find their suspects. 

Here is Mr Alt’s column: Father Peter West, You Must Leave Banned by Mark Shea. 

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44 responses to “Mark Shea is a Nice Guy. He’s Also Brave to the Point of Not-So-Smart.”

  1. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in any group that would wish violence or vitriol on Mark Shea or anyone else. It is certainly disgraceful that any clergy would be involved in it.

    But I must say, in charity, that at least on social media Mark can often come across as very vitriolic toward his opponents, or those who disagree with him. He is on my friends list and I have never removed him, but I’ve also quit reading a lot of his material. It simply comes across as “how may I pick on my opponents today.”

    Simcha Fischer is the same way, only she has taken to lacing many of her Facebook posts with vulgarity, which simply causes me not to want to read her work.

    I think that this is sad, because I have enjoyed her work, and Mark’s work for many years. In Simcha’s case, I particularly enjoyed her story of dealing with life on food stamps. I shared it with many others, including clergy, in order to try and underscore the point that she was making.

    I absolutely understand that sometimes people can come across differently on social media than they are in person. I have been guilty of getting carried away in debates on social media. I have come to the conclusion that it is simply not worth the effort to convince someone to agree with you who’s not going to do it.

    If I were Mark Shea, I would really reflect on that reality. There are times when social media does not lend itself to the Gospel.

  2. Note to Newcomers to Public Catholic: I enjoy providing a platform for people of good will to discuss pretty much whatever they want. However, I don’t blog to provide a platform for foul language, name-calling, vicious gossip and diatribes against individual people. I also do not allow insult to the Holy Father or the name of Our Lord. On the other hand, if you have disagreements with a viewpoint, feel free to express it. Just stick to the issues and don’t attack people. When I say that, I also mean don’t attack other commenters or me. We’re all people here, and we deserve respect. Blessings.

  3. It is false and a lie that BBMS advocates violence and anti-Semiticism. It is the other way around!

  4. I cannot agree that Mark Shea is kind. During my recent bout with despair, you took it upon yourself to try to show me that the Pope’s hatred of rigid pharisees was not about me personally.

    Mark, on the other hand, dismissed my moral issues with forgiveness of the unrepentant and banned me as a rigid pharisee, solidifying my despair that the church has abandoned all morality.

    That some become violent due to being treated this way is no surprise at all. Like I said in response to the last exhortation, the mark is missed. The paraiahs and the periphery is no longer to be found amoung the secually aberrant and those in poverty. The real periphery of the Church today is the righteous man, the wealthy heterosexual with the large family who follows church teaching.

    Liberals hate such rigid pharisees with a vengence.

  5. “However, I don’t blog to provide a platform for foul language, name-calling, vicious gossip and diatribes against individual people.”

    Good to know you disagree with Shea’s M.O.

  6. Ted, I couldn’t stop thinking about this comment. I want you to know that this was Mark’s loss. You add a lot to Public Catholic and I am honored that you feel free to come here and discuss things. Blessings, my friend.

  7. Ha! Mark Shea kind? That is ridiculous Rebecca. Obviously you haven’t read his comments. What’s also ridiculous is that Mark Shea is brilliant. He’s knowledgeable on Catholic dogma, and I have respect for him on that. But when it comes to social issues or history or anything other than Catholic dogma, he either repeats one side of the talking points or is so simple one has to laugh. Kind? Hahaha, I have to keep laughing on that. He’s an outright jackass if you disagree with him.

    I had no clue there was a “banned by Mark Shea” group. That’s funny. I’ve been banned by Shea! I’ve got better things to do than waste my time on that. If they advocate violence against anyone, including Mark, then the full weight of the law should be brought against them.

  8. What I don’t get is why they are so obsessed with Mark. It’s a blog, for Pete’s sake. Just go on — like you did.

    BTW … how many people have banned you Manny ????? It sounds like I’m your only stalwart friend.

    (I guess they haven’t seen how kind and good you really are.)

  9. Actually the only two people I know that have banned me are Mark and Dave Armstrong, and I wasn’t arguing with Dave (we pretty much see things the same) but with some other person commenting on his blog. Even with Mark it took a long time for him to ban me and he even warned me before he did so and gave me the option of whether I wanted to be banned. But whatever issue it was we were arguing over (I think he was claiming Republicans only make believe they support the anti-abortion side) was so egregious that I didn’t care to ever go back to his blog. So I just told him to ban me.

    I don’t know if you know, but the National Catholic Register at some point refused to publish his articles. I don’t know if that’s changed now. He’s got a history of being cantankerous and uncharitable in his disagreements. I wish him well, though. No one should be subjected to threats, let alone actual violence.

  10. The one thing everybody in “Banned by Mark Shea” has in common, is that they are against identity politics of any sort.

    That can sometimes appear to an outsider to be against the identity group de jure. Sometimes violently so.

  11. As I wrote in my reply to Gaudette at,
    Please, Holy Father, know that we, your abused children, have adopted rigidity for our very survival. That we are rigid not out of gnostic and pelagian selfishness, but out of actual harm done to our families and ourselves by the embrace of sexual revolutionary ideas by the clergy and the consecrated. We are rigid because we have to be- to protect our sons and our daughters from pornographers and sex traffickers that are not only common in society, but have even infested the clergy of the church. We have a need to protect intact marriages from the abuse of divorce.


    I think Mark’s main problem is that he labels people far too easily- and then throws them away. He’s not the only one to have ever done so.

    I’m hoping, painful as it is, that the case of Juan Cruz from Chile will be an opening- a rigid homosexual who was abused by a priest. He’s certainly done what no one else in Chile could do- get the Vatican to listen about sex abuse complaints there.

    Very much an example of the wounded man seeing clearly the knife in his heart.

  12. Thank you for this authoritative and charitable and gutsy defense of an unjustly attacked Catholic ma’am. One small suggestion: our Black brothers and sisters have pointed out that the common metaphors of blackness and darkness for sin, evil, and ignorance etc.–not originally racist in the few biblical usages because ethnic hatred was not colorized then but very much so in the history and present in hymns, preaching, common speech–fuels the deadly racist injustice they are subjected to and asked us to shift our language to evil, stupid, dangerous, unconscionable or whatever fits the situation. I am working to change this habit myself and feel it right to respectfully point it out to other justice and faith minded folks as well. Thanks for considering!

  13. What did I say that you are referring to? I don’t mind adjusting my language if it hurts someone, I just need to know what it is.

  14. I guess we just ran across both your banning on this blog. 🙂 I’m glad you feel like coming back here. I would miss you terribly.

  15. I know. I’ve also mellowed too. Getting into these internet squabbles usually crosses over into a sin. And that’s not worth it. Peace!

  16. “What I hope is that Public Catholic readers will take a look at themselves and back off from this sort of behavior, both in their thinking and in what they say. If you find yourself sinking into this kind of *blackness*, stop, pray, repent, and change.” Beautiful exhortation which would be improved by “this sort of sinfulness” or “abhorrent behavior” or something else that doesn’t use the common metaphor that can unintentionally fuel the pain of our Black sisters and brothers–especially as hate and racism increase under Trump.

  17. I’ll think about it. Before I go off on changing my usage of what has been a common metaphor for millennia, I’m going to talk to my black friends and see what they think. I will do that. Promise.

  18. Agreed. It can also set off a sick heart. I’m in enforced mellowing. 🙂

  19. I, too was banned by Mark Shea, which is an issue too insignificant to detail. The internet is vast and to waste time obsessing over one blogger is silly.

    I should say this in charity:
    Shea comes from the Reformed tradition and retains personality elements recognizably reformed.

    It’s analogous to how Anglican culture – what we call the Patrimony – pervades my heart. Got to tell you that the royal wedding last weekend really did it for me.

    Is it a surprise that Shea is still impacted by his background?

  20. You were banned????

    Do you guys use alternate personalities on Mark’s blog?

    I don’t get it.

    That said, I agree with your conclusion. The devil can use any ditzy thing as a gateway into your soul, including, I guess, obsessive hatred of a blogger. Manny summarized it well. Internet obsessions can lead any of us into sin.

  21. Thank you ma’am. I would also recommend and request that you take this to prayer and spend some time reading the work (blog and FB and/or Twitter follow) of the Rev. Dr Wil Gafney, an Episcopal priest and Hebrew bible scholar from whom I have learned so much about the ongoing struggles of our Black sisters and brothers in the perspective of scripture and faith. EG

    I have been following more and more Black scholars and clergyperson and learning so much because I just don’t have the chance to make hundreds of Black people with different perspectives IRL. There is such a power differential between even us well meaning white people who want to be anti racist allies that it can be a burden on our Black friends in everyday life to answer these questions–and tough them to speak up and challenge our mistakes and even to give candid answers to questions like these when they know we might have mixed feelings about hearing the tougher answers that might require changing our minds and hearts more and more. I really believe I can guarantee that if you change this habit the many who are quite hurt by the metaphor will appreciate it as a lightening of their great burden and it won’t offend those who might not mind. Blessings!

  22. I used to read Mark; when he wrote about the faith it was inspiring and edifying and worth the read. And he’s funny and he loves Tolkein and Star Wars and Dr. Who. He would share stories of people in need; ask us to help them through prayer and sometimes with requests for financial aid. But I got tired of listening to him scold people. It got especially bad when Trump actually won the Republican nomination. Post after post after post after post would say the same thing. “These are hypocrites!” And even though I completely agreed with him, I got tired of reading it. After all, Jesus cleared the temple only once, not repeatedly. He called people to repentance many times but always with Love. So I stopped reading Mark. I occasionally go and see if he’s moved on only to find the same snarkiness. That’s not the reason I read Catholic blogs, so I just wait several more months and then check his blog again. I hope he goes back to sharing the joy and the beauty of the faith.

    And, Rebecca, I’m delighted you’re back to blogging. I hope you’re still intending to write a book.

  23. Thanks CathyLouise! Yes, I do need to write that book. I took off from blogging to work on it, then got sidetracked by health concerns. But it’s on the todo list.

  24. I’ve also been banned from commenting on CAEI. It’s reduced my willingness to read there, which I used to do in order to make sure I wasn’t keeping myself in an internet bubble echo chamber. But my disagreements with Mark were limited to a few things — gun control, whether Trump support was categorically immoral, and the whether legislation and government are efficacious tools for combating various social ills. He might not have realized it, because I’m not one to post an “attaboy!” or “You tell em!” From time to time I’d address some of the errors his commentariat that weren’t covered in his posts.

    I presumed that his increasingly strident tone and uncharitable characterizations of those who disagree with him were the result of grave spiritual attacks upon him. I also limited my interactions with him to CAEI, as I haven’t the spiritual fortitude to engage with Facebook or Twitter. To this day, I remain somewhat peeved and annoyed with him, but not angry, and I certainly don’t hate him. But I ought to pray for him more than I do.

  25. …he’s also brave to the point of not-so-smart.

    I’m confused, here.

    Are you saying that Mark is not-so-smart because he should be cowed by threats of violence? Or that he should be more placating to those he thinks are grievously wrong?

    I disagree with Mark about a lot of things (a LOT of things), but I do admire his chutzpah and willingness to call out what he thinks is wrong in the world. That he gets so many people so riled tell me that he has struck a nerve with these dingleberries.

  26. Islandbrewer, would you edit your post and substitute a less vulgar word in place of the last word you used? I don’t want to delete it, but I don’t allow that kind of language on this blog.

  27. Done. And here I thought I was avoiding vulgarity by not using the first few words that popped into mind.

  28. Let me re-emphasize something. When it comes to explaining Catholic doctrine, Mark Shea is excellent. I just read his post on predestination and the Catholic position that he has up now, and it’s excellent. Not only is he knowledgeable but he can easily communicate it. God bless him for that. If only he wasn’t so darn pugnacious with those who comment.

  29. People get pugnacious on the Internet. I have to apologize from time to time, and I’m not half of Mark Shea, either as an apologist, or a brawler. 🙂

  30. The problem with Mark has never been that he does or doesn’t have an opinion, or whether or not he is passionate, or right or wrong. At his best, he does very well conveying, in layman’s terms, the teachings of the Church. But Mark sometimes – perhaps often – crosses the line, judging others, assuming the worst interpretations of what they’ve said, sometimes just coming out and accusing people of things that are false. That’s not just ‘oh well’. As a minister of the Gospel, one can’t violate the teachings of the Gospel in order to encourage others to avoid violating the teachings of the Gospel. It’s one thing to have a particular approach to debate, it’s another to be uncharitable, it’s still another to make false accusations. Mark does have a lot to offer. But right is right, wrong is wrong.

  31. I think Mark is brilliant, and he was part of the reason that I became a Catholic. My interactions with him where I have disagreed with him, though, have left me sad and disappointed in his behavior, particularly the anger and name-calling. I have not been banned by him, and I wish him no harm at all, but I no longer read his work either.

  32. I am banned by Mark Shea. He is a Bob Sungenis to the left. I used to defend him back in the day when I posted on his blog under the name BenYachov, but these days I believe him to be quite mad.

    He is a naughty person. My wife used to post on his blog (MysticalRose) and Shea was fond of her and she never said a cross word to him. But these days she can’t read him anymore.

    Shea has to un-Shea himself.

  33. No I said “I posted on his blog under the name BenYachov”. I am BenYachov. I bring it up because I changed my online nom de plume from BenYachov to Jim the Scott. I hope that clears it up for you.

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