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.