On Tuesday, we talked about the failure of much of the Catholic Apologetics Industrial Complex

You can read about it here.

Recently, there was a spectacular illustration of that failure, courtesy of Catholic Answers contributor Leila Miller. Catholic Answers, as I mentioned “taught a generation of Catholics that the only moral issues they need concern themselves with were abortion, euthanasia, ESCR, human cloning, and gay marriage–which eventually got whittled down to the de facto belief that Opposition to Abortion Taketh Away the Sins of the World. And from there, we arrive at the grotesque spectacle of an MAGA Qatholic subculture in the Church that actively labors to fight the Church’s teaching.”

The teaching I focused on in the previous piece was capital punishment, but nearly any aspect of the Church’s social teaching or prudential guidance is equally opposed by most of the apologetics industrial complex if it collides, as it so often does, with the agenda of the MAGA freak show. Be it racism, care for the earth, a living wage, health care, or sanity about the Pandemic, most of the conservative Catholic apologetics community can be reliably counted on to take the disastrously wrong position, up to and including war on the Holy Father himself if it threatens GQP priorities.

So we find outfits like Liesite News, kooks like Archbishop Vigano, Bishop Strickland, and Fr. James Altman (and that’s just scratching the surface) all doing their level best to spread Pandemic, attack vaccination, poison minds and hearts, panic over dumb conspiracies like the Great Reset, and wallow in self-pity rather than do the obviously right thing, get the shot, and wear the mask when needful.

So, for instance, on this score, Catholic Answers writer Leila Miller weighed in with this deep thought:

May be an image of text that says 'MUCH Leila Miller 4d Tư Leila Miller I believe Hitler started with the idea of cleaning up the contaminants. Tuberculosis was his target. Get rid of that disease. Then it went from there. 4d Like 5'

After all, who hasn’t set out to give their bathroom a good scrubbing and accidently annexed the Sudetenland, overrun Poland and France, bombed London, conquered North Africa, driven deep in the Soviet Union at a cost of millions of lives, all while gassing six million Jews with Zyklon-B? I’m sure we all remember when the anti-polio crusade in the 50s led to Eisenhower’s massacre of millions of innocent men, women, and children. Cleanliness is next to Holocaust, you know.

There is so much wrong here that it is hard to know where to begin.

There is the idiotic suggestion that those who favor vaccination are morally indistinguishable from Nazis.

There is the equally idiotic suggestion that Hitler was just somebody with a well-intentioned cleanliness fetish who got carried away.

There is the stupid suggestion that Nazi “race hygiene” was the moral equivalent of, you know, hygiene.

And above all, there is the utterly appalling manifestation of what I spoke of in my previous piece: the deeply internalized narrative of self-pity that has the utter narcissistic gall to see itself as a victim equal to the dead of Auschwitz while selfishly promoting a filthy falsehood that has helped to kill nearly a million Americans.

And, as somebody who cares deeply about the Faith, there is piled on top of all that stupidity, falsehood, and narcissism the idea that any of this has the slightest thing to do with a reasoned defense of the faith and not an irrational defense of spite, self-pity, narcissism, and the idiot MAGA cult.

That this selfishness is combined with an image that says, “Let us love the cross very much” is obscene.

That an organization like Catholics Answers does not instantly stop publishing this dangerous woman’s stuff is bad enough. That they continue to platform her as some kind of guide to the Catholic Faith is absolutely scandalous.

God’s Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of it.


26 Responses

  1. I make the comment, fairly tamely, that apologetics are there to convince the believers, not the unbelievers, and I get painted as a miscreant who thinks all religious people are idiots. Nothing I ever said, or would say. If I actually thought that, I wouldn’t be here. This is the ONLY religious blog I visit regularly. And yet…

    “ The teaching I focused on in the previoius piece was capital punishment, but nearly any aspect of the Church’s social teaching or prudential guidance is equally opposed by most of the apologetics industrial complex if it collides, as it so often does, with the agenda of the MAGA freak show.”

    Hmmmmmmm. That’s exactly what I said the other day. Just fewer words. But I was a horrible person for saying it. I was “blaspheming god’s name among the gentiles”, or something like.

    For the record, I like and respect most of the people who post here, atheist or believer, as much as you can like and respect people who are only electrons on a screen. Even belgians! There are some things we won’t agree on, but I recognize two qualities I value highly in most of the people who post here— intelligence and compassion.

    Yeah, I’m annoyed. Maybe someday you’ll get that I am actually on your side.

    1. “apologetics are there to convince the believers, not the unbelievers”
      Yes, absolutely true, and Mark himself acknowledged it just a couple days ago when he quoted Matt Kappadunkel: “The apologists’ passion for the Catholic faith deepened my desire to share it with others.” Yet no one ever seems to cite examples of anyone testifying that apologetics brought them into the faith in the first place. I’m sure a few of those exist, yet they are clearly rare compared to the vast swarms of believers who just feel better because of apologetics.

      1. In my posting, I actually admitted that that was the case when I was a young man. But that was because I was questioning, and wanted to believe something. And Mark’s response do you, he’s pretty much saying the same thing. He and I just reached different conclusions about the nature of apologetics.

      2. @Mark Shea:

        You have to keep in mind that within our cultural context, nobody comes into contact with Christianity from a truly neutral position; for us, Christianity is the proverbial water we swim in. Its because the environment has done much of the heavy lifting, that apologetics can do what it does best: convince us that that their particular version of Christianity is the real one, persuade us to pursue a deeper commitment to our religion and provide us with with the reassurance that our beliefs are intellectually sound and reasonably grounded.

        Or at least it did for me, once upon a time. Apologetics were pretty effective at convincing me to get involved with the JWs way back when, but that didn’t happen in a vacuum.

        Nevertheless, the problem it runs into with non-believers is that there is nothing to reinforce. Its akin to attempting to repair the structural foundations of a building that has already collapsed. There is nothing for the apologetics to latch on to.

        And so, while it may not be the explicitly stated intention of apologetics to become an almost exclusively self-serving and self-centered enterprise, it is the target audience and functionality it has settled into over time.

      3. @Mark

        Regarding the revolutionary nature of Christ, have you read “The Holy Thursday Revolution” by Beatrice Bruteau? You may like it. Bruteau’s more of a theologian though, not an apologeticist.

        Another person who writes about the revolutionary nature of Christ is is Peter Kreeft, and he does get into a lot of apologetic writing.

      4. @ Mark Shea

        Tom Holland is well worth a read. I discovered him mant years ago while reading ”Persian Fire”. A good storyteller and, as far as I am concerned, a man with a better understanding of cultural Christianity than, say, Jordan Peterson.

        If you haven’t wathce dit yet, his conversation(s) with Tom Wright are fingerlicking good.

    2. Quoting bensnewlogin:
      “apologetics are there to convince the believers, not the unbelievers,”

      It is often both. Believers have valid questions, too. Some they come up with on their own. Some they come up with because apologists for other beliefs (including atheism) posed the question to them. Some level of convincing goes on both ways between the different sets of believers.

      Seperately quoting Joel:
      Yet no one ever seems to cite examples of anyone testifying that apologetics brought them into the faith in the first place.

      I have regularly encountered people considering becoming Christian or even Catholic who don’t merely want to know what Christian’s believe, but why we believe it. Very often, it is because they have doubts about a teaching, but want to give it honest consideration. It is rare to see someone approach Christianity with an attitude of “Just tell me what I’m supposed to believe. I’ll accept it without question.”

      A person asking honest questions is one of the most fruitful situations for apologetics, but the apologetic arguments are just one factor in their conversion. Usually they cite an encounter with a person of deep faith or charity, or a realization arising from prayer or their own study as the catalyst for conversion, but I think in most cases they would not have taken the plunge without the aid from knowledgeable people to explain what they are getting into and why.

  2. You know, if you squinted just a little bit, you could read this Leila Miller’s post as endorsing the spread of disease as a marker of morality. (Our first clue that Hitler was a bad guy, was his opposition to infectious disease — go Tuberculosis!!)
    Various of these nuts create a similar impression — I remember some female air personality on ETWN growling that “some people care more about a polar bear than about an unborn baby in the womb”.)

    Yes. They only care about abortion. Specifically criminalizing abortion, period. They don’t actually care about explaining a Catholic view of when and how life begins, which is because it’s hard to explain and because acceptance requires a degree of faith in something that, sorry, is not intuitively obvious. They don’t see caring about the climate of the whole earth, or the control of infectious disease, as in any way showing love of God and neighbor. Still less doing anything about it.

    All they have is the anger.

  3. Aside from Mark and a handful of others (I assume!) There are very few trying to argue against these dangerous, kooky people. Pick up America Magazine or the NC Reporter and the stories are not the same. This is so interesting! When the Church veers along a (perceived) progressive course, there are armies of grouches and self-righteous a-holes there to correct it. When it veers into fascist tendencies, the same dynamic doesn’t seem to apply. There is nobody trying to save the maga from itself. Although there are plenty willing (myself included) to get out of its way as it barrels off the cliff…

  4. The logic behind opposing so many other moral issues, like global warming, reminds me of something that happened to me around 20 years ago – I don’t recall if I said it here before. I was at a family party and someone had thrown a can in the trash rather than the recycling. I figured it was a mistake, picked it out, and put it in the proper container. I’ve always been a big proponent of recycling and always felt it was in accord with Catholic teaching. The relative who put the can in the trash saw me do this and told me “the people who tell you where to put the recyclables are the same ones who will tell you where to put the dead babies.” The message was, essentially, that people only support recycling as part of an overall support of abortion – that anything the “libs” support is geared towards support for abortion, which they consider a sacrament. The ulterior motive of saving the environment, helping the poor, etc. – at least when put forth by “liberals” or Democrats – is not to save the environment or help the needy, but rather to increase access and acceptance of abortion. It doesn’t really make sense, but it seems to be the logic at play.

    1. @ lucky

      You can see the same dynamic at play wherever the GQP is inaction. It’s all about owning the libs. And if a go ernor of a religious state has to kill off his citizens to prove it, it’s a price he is willing to pay.

    2. “anything the “libs” support is geared towards support for abortion, which they consider a sacrament.”

      The “sacrament” business goes back to Gloria Steinem, who was quoting a *man* who’d asserted that if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament; it has taken on a life of its own since then.

      I remember hearing Limbaugh say that feminists actively seek to become pregnant just so they can abort the pregnancy, because abortion as such means so much to them. And I couldn’t really believe that anybody would believe something that stupid. But it goes back to something that Mark quoted recently — they believe it because they love the wickedness.

      1. @ lise

        I said the same thing about the anti-abortion protesters of my youth 50 years ago. I could see that their arguments consisted mostly of blood and gore photos. I never understood it back then, but I finally understood it a few months ago due to something I think that Mark had written, and which you just underlined. They got off on it. They got off on being bloody and pretending it was righteousness. They got off on displaying the violence and calling themselves righteous. I’ve had the same experience with a very relentlessly, virulently anti-gay religious people, who go on and on and their descriptions of whatever it is that they imagine gay sex involves.

        I never realized until a few months ago that the bloody photos and the graphic descriptions were exactly the same thing: they were getting off on it.

  5. I have no idea from what that writer was trying to say, and I’m having a hard time drawing the line from her words to your post. I guess it could be intended to compare vaccination to genocide, but that is not even remotely clear.

    I could ask for more context about her post, but I think it would be more productive bring up another problem with modern apologetics, and in fact, modern public dialogue in general: Twitter.

    I recommend not getting mired down challenging such comments. Rather, merely dismiss them out of hand due to a logical concept I suppose could be called Argumentum ad Twittum: an argument abbreviated for the sake of constraints of the publishing platform, or to cater to short attention spans, or due to inability or unwillingness by the proponent to formulate a complete argument, is invalidated by the fact of its arbitrary abbreviation.

    I’m not dismissing out of hand whatever points might be intended to be made. I’m dismissing the arguments actually made. My intention is to reduce noise, fragmented logic, sarcasm, posturing, inappropriate appeals to emotion, presumptions, and other features of modern public dialogue that have a tendency to be divisive or deepen tribalism, rather than to reconcile difference by persuasion.

    1. I will take you at your word, that you don’t get what Leila Miller meant. You do know, I suppose, that a mention of Hitler is typically made to state or imply that somebody is a villain, yes? OK, here goes:

      1. We all know that Hitler was a very bad man who did terrible things!
      2. Well, the first thing he did when he got started in politics was to Oppose Infectious Disease!!! And then when people got used to him and he got power, why, he did Terrible Things!!
      3. So, be very suspicious of people who *say* they’re really interested in infectious disease — it could be just a way to blind you to their intention to do Terrible Things!!!

      1. You have stated a far more clear premise than Ms. Miller, and hints of an argument, despite intending it as satire.

        The way you presented it, there could be some merit in responding to address the fallacies. The original presentation is not an argument. It’s not even a premise. It should be ignored, or at most, summarily dismissed due to lack of an actual case.

  6. “Hitler” is to 21st Century Westerners what Satan used to be. That’s the way that name is used now. Another symptom of our secularization–ironically, coming from a Christian apologist in this case!!

    I think some of the pandemic reaction is going too far now that so many are vaccinated–I think mandatory masking for three year olds, which iust came down today in my state, is unnecessarily cruel given the miniscule risk they face–but you don’t have to drop the H-bomb to illustrate that masking preschoolers and primary schoolers isn’t necessary if their teachers are vaccinated.

    1. @ benjamin

      You should do a bit more research. According to the stories I’ve been reading, more and more kids are getting sick which means more and more adults are going to get sick. Two of my friends caught Covid from their six year old boy. Fortunately, everybody was young enough that they didn’t get really sick. But it could have gone the other way.

      As for vaccinations doing much good, they do a great deal of good, but they are not the only answer. We had a birthday dinner for me with 10 friends a couple of weeks ago. Everybody has been vaccinated. And these are people I’ve known for decades. So I trust them. Nevertheless, the oldest member of our friends got tested the next day at the residence she lives in, and tested positive. So her vaccine did not hold for her. fortunately for us, our vaccines all did, including the two people that spent 40 minutes in the car with her in each direction. We all tested negative, using the best tests available. So we’re pretty sure they’re accurate.

      There is only going to be one way to stop this plague. Follow sound public health guidelines, isolate as much as possible, socially distance as much as possible, get vaccinated, wear masks, and do what is ever necessary to achieve heard immunity before a new variant makes the whole point moot again.

      1. To wit: “COVID cases in children are rising sharply across the country, including in Rhode Island. Data from studies are only just beginning to come in, but it appears that Delta may be infecting more children than previous variants, makes children sicker than other strains, and has a higher risk of long-term health problems.” (Click my name for link.)

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