Contra Mozilla

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He's Still Got It Somtimes

I've long enjoyed Mark Shea's blog--the short funny headlines, the "sin makes you stupid" posts, the honest and winsome rebuttals to anti-Catholics of both secular and fundamentalist Protestant stripes.

However, I've been reading less of Mr. Shea lately, not so much because I disagree with a lot of what he's been posting (though I do disagree with more of his recent posts) as because many of these posts have been actually disagreeable. He's been continuing to pick a large fight with the Republican party (which is fine in and of itself), but this has gone overboard to the point of practically saying that if Republicans are for it, then it must be bad. A lot of it is, but there are still quite a few "good" Republicans, and "good" Republican policies: they just tend not to be prioritized. His assessment of the modern political milieu is starting to look a lot like the revolutionary which Chesterton decried, who knows all about what's wrong with the world but not what's right or how to actually fix it.

He's also walked a very fine line between going after Cardinal Burke's supporters* and going after Cardinal Burke, again uncritically. There's a lot I don't see in the ongoing disputes between Shea and the "uber" traditionalists, so I largely let that pass--but I also find it to be largely uninteresting. And his posts on gun control usually have me doing at least one *facepalm*, if not a *headdesk*, upon reading them, not so much because I disagree with his argument that we should do something to limit shootings**, but because I don't think his proposed solutions will solve the problems which he claims they will solve***

With that long preface aside, he still does put out some good articles. A case in point is this recent one about radical Islam and radical secularism as two heresies which ignored opposites of the two New Commandments:

Both radical Islam and radical God-hating secularism are diseased spiritualities. They represent a chemically pure and primal form of schism and heresy in the Christian tradition, since both ultimately trace their roots back to that. Whereas the Christian tradition unites two commandments that are often hard to reconcile (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”) and incarnates them in the God-Man Jesus, Radical Islam and radical God-hating secularism demand we choose one and hate the other. It is the quintessence of heresy to do this....
This schism between the love of God and the love of man is a war that is now drawing blood. The work of bringing peace in this civilizational conflict is, therefore, like all works of peacemaking, going to require blood. But in the Christian tradition, that means not so much shedding somebody else’s blood, but our own in union with Christ.
"For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."(Col 1:19–20). 
Does this mean we must be pacifists? I don’t think so. There is room in the Tradition for Just War Theory. But Just War Theory, never forget, is a concession to human weakness, not some kind of ideal. It is a stopgap, a crude tourniquet for trying to stanch the flow of blood from the severed limb of the Fall. It is battlefield triage and treatment with a wad of rags, a gulp of whiskey and a bullet to bite on. 
The goal is not Just War, but Just Peace, the peace of Christ. To win that, Christ did not, as Patton famously said, make the other poor dumb bastard die. He threw himself on the grenade. And he did it for the Nazi, the terrorist, the sadist, and above all, for me who would have been the first in line to shout “Give us Barabbas!” 

And while he is obviously frustrated in tone, he makes a good point when saying that all of Catholic social teaching cannot be boiled down to opposition to abortion, or (more realistically), to the "Big 5" issues. In particular, this passage is spot on:
Now, some Catholics will complain that this is unfair and that there are not enough hours in the day to oppose abortion and euthanasia *and* run around doing stuff about unjust war, gun violence, torture, poverty, the death penalty, desperate refugees, the environment, and the many  other things the Church teaches are part of a fully prolife ethic.  I have no problem with that objection.  We can’t all be everywhere doing everything.  So if your anti-abortion commitments are where you put your limited time, talent, and treasure I have no objection to that at all.  Do what you can with what you have and the Lord be with you.  
Where I object is when anti-abortion Catholics manage to find lots of time and energy to sink into directly opposing and fighting *against* the obvious and clear teaching of the Church and who insinuate or say that concern about the rest of the Church’s teaching is somehow an act of support for abortion.

Both posts are good reads (especially the former). I suppose that the endless frustration which comes through in many of the other posts might be a consequence of having too many disagreeable readers, which is a danger faced by anyone who becomes a big name blogger. Lord knows that I get frustrated enough with the one stubborn fool who I suffer (elsewhere). I can't image what it would be like have many of them, constantly.

*By whom I mean those who complain about Burke's removal from his curial position by Pope Francis, and who moreover insist that pope Francis is a bad pope who is out to "get" traditionalists. FWIW, I actually really like Cardinal Burke, and would overjoyed if he becomes Pope Francis successor.

** Despite the media's narrative, gun crimes have actually been declining in frequency.

***Biometric scanners, for example, will not prevent a gun's legal owner from taking it on a rampage. Nor would they prevent any person who has the owner's authorization to use them take them on a rampage. They will, however, prevent some gun accidents if used correctly, and probably also some thefts.

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