Whatever you call the opposite of a serious, major league presence in the blogosphere and on social media–and something tells me it’s not “stunningly handsome fiscal powerhouse”–that’s me. I pretty much blog to pass the time and to hold a place to give me a forum in the unlikely event I ever actually have anything to say. A little over a week ago, I wrote this piece declaring my solidarity with Mark Shea and, remembering that I have one of them Twitters all the cool kids are talking about these days, shared it there.
That piece seemed to finally launch my readership into the single digits, and I received some public feedback on the Twitter. One was a challenge from writer John Zmirak. He and Mr. Shea have been rather notoriously at odds, and he challenged me to defend or renounce certain quotes from Mr. Shea that Mr. Zmirak characterizes as false and libelous. I’m not prepared to do either, though. I made a statement of solidarity with Mark in the wake of his firing by the National Catholic Register because the years of positive influence his work has had on me have earned from me gratitude, loyalty, and the benefit of the doubt. That said, I have also appreciated Mr. Zmirak’s work, especially a few years back when Inside Catholic was a thing. Mr. Zmirak writes wittily and well. I’m considerably to his left, so don’t often share his opinions, but neither do I own as mine the most negative characterizations of his work. I find both Mr. Shea and Mr. Zmirak to be welcome voices in the wider public conversation. I got no beef with John Zmirak.
A second challenge came from the Messages from Eden ministry. From this ministry’s website, they seem to have three well-intentioned goals: combating secularism (apparently unaware from whence comes their freedom of speech to do so), promoting devotion to the Eucharist, and exegeting the first chapters of Genesis. The Lord’s Supper rules, so I’ve got no beef with them there, and though I’d be amazed if it turns out that I’d be on board with their biblical hermeneutic, rightly dividing the word of truth is a noble goal, so good for them for giving it an effort.
From their Twitter feed, it seems that their chosen method for promoting the Eucharist and interpreting scripture is to blast out over-the-top memes attacking Pope Francis, Barack Obama, and Mark Shea. In response to my pro-Shea piece, I got this gem:
This ministry’s idea of constructive dialogue in the great common conversation and in the work of promoting the Eucharist and interpreting Genesis is to, without any semblance of moderation or nuance, portray Mark Shea as a double agent in the service of Moloch for supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. (That Shea has not endorsed Clinton and is not voting for her–while I have and am–strikes Messages from Eden as beside the point.) I suppose, by implication, I, too, am a servant of Moloch, while Mrs. Clinton’s opponent, then, must be the champion of Yahweh.
I’ve been a polemicist myself in the past. I know how easy it is to get carried away in rhetoric for what one truly believes is a righteous cause, and all of a sudden let charity, nuance, reason, and sanity slip away. For a time, I took it upon myself to lather the Internet in polemical materials pitting the faith community of my young adulthood against that of my youth with little consideration for the impact that might have on those whose kindness to me I was too rash and immature to appreciate. Should I ever find the words and the forum, I’ve still got me some repentin’ to do. In the faith tradition of my youth, too, I was reared on polemics, the shadow of Foy Wallace still a very real, if usually anonymous, presence in our fellowship. At times, I even wonder if the anti-Catholic polemics I learned in my youth (always ideological, never bigoted) had been more balanced, taking measured issue with real positions of the Catholic Church rather than historically inaccurate straw men handed down uncritically from centuries of the Anglophone past, if I ever would have started down the road that led me to catch the old Roman fever. (“They’re actually not anything like what these tracts say, so what ARE they like…”)
Anyways, I guess I owe a considered response to Message from Eden regarding my loyalties to Moloch, so here goes:
After all, Moloch was totally mean to Willow, breaking her adorable little dorky heart, but once he turned into a robot, Buffy wasted him. So problem solved, folks.