03/07/2011 Comments (6)

One of the interesting phenomena one constantly runs into on the Internet is the fact that conversations tend to roll in eternally like waves on a beach. 

What I mean is this: You have some argument about something; say, the morality of lying in a good cause (as we’ve had here recently).

What fascinates me is how you can hash out some point in great detail, building a great sand castle of argument on the beach whereby you show, with geometric logic, that there is a real difference between the speech act we call “lying” and the speech act we call “writing fiction.”  You labor with great care to make clear (to the scrupulous) that writing fiction is morally acceptable even though what is...READ MORE

Filed under pondering

Science Fiction…

03/04/2011 Comments (2)

...is often the enterprise of noticing something in the headlines and then extrapolating it to insane proportions by imagining that it will continue expanding on to infinity through all time, space and eternity (as the inimitable John C. Wright discusses here).

Chesterton talks about this a century ago in his wonderful introduction to The Napoleon of Notting Hill where, after chronicling various prophetic utterances by the trendy writers of the day about what the future surely held (all of which were to be exploded by the actual events of the 20th century, though many of Chesterton’s forecasts were eerily fulfilled), he says:

All these clever men were prophesying with every variety of...READ MORE

Filed under chestertoniana

Since I am so universally beloved and agreed with…

03/02/2011 Comments (4)

...it is extraordinarily rare for me to get mail that disagrees with or expresses anger toward me.  But, incredibly, I recently did.  A reader wrote to complain that I was being mean for writing that journalists advocating for abortion as an alternative to infanticide were doing advocacy journalism for an evil cause.  My reader complained that merely to write “Abortion is prohibited in Pakistan, except when the mother’s life is at risk from her pregnancy, but advocates say that legalisation would reduce infanticide and save mothers from potentially fatal back-street terminations” is not to say “advocates including me”.

The problem is that this makes the blunder of presuming that every...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

When Christians Say…

02/28/2011 Comments (20)

...that reality has multiple floors occupied by cherubim, seraphim and various ranks of angels, thrones, dominations, and powers, they are condemned as superstitious fools, even though they have inspired Scripture and abundant historical testimony to their existence in their court.

When a physicist says reality has multiple floors, he is hailed as a genius, even though he has zero empirical evidence in his court.

This is what is known as hard headed rational thought.

As it was written in the book of the Prophet Chesterton:

The modern world will accept no dogmas upon any authority; but it will accept any dogmas on no authority.  Say that a thing is so, according to the Pope or the Bible,...READ MORE

Filed under science as priesthood

Sundry Mop Up Remarks

02/25/2011 Comments (79)

I’m just about talked out on the whole “lying for a good cause” thing.  Indeed, I thought I was talked out a week ago.  But since people keep asking what I think about this and that, I thought I’d give answers

To begin, lot of folks ask what I think of the whole undercover cops issue. Here goes:

Briefly: I’m not much use here because

1) I haven’t seen any ecclesial teaching on the matter (recall that my interest was sparked by current events, not by some long work of study of the matter, so there’s lots I don’t know),
2) I don’t know what the rules of engagement for cops are, and
3) I don’t know what is legitimate for the state to do vs. what the private individual can do (ie. agents...READ MORE

Filed under consequentialism is always a faustian bargain

Augustine vs. the Priscillianists

02/23/2011 Comments (321)

My esteemed friend and colleague Steven Greydanus remarks:

The rubric “Lying for Jesus” seems unnecessarily glib and dismissive. Granted the gap between a straightforward self-defense rationale for deceptive falsehood and Live Action’s more complicated deception, I would object to a critic of the Church’s nuanced definition of stealing with respect to the owner’s “reasonable will” using the rubric “Stealing For Jesus.” Ditto self-defense / just-war theory and “Murder (or even Killing) For Jesus.”

I appreciate the concern about this and can only say that I honestly have no intention of being flip, glib, or dismissive here.  Nor, by the way, was my mention of Screwtape the other day intended...READ MORE

Filed under lying for jesus

Faustian Bargains

02/21/2011 Comments (310)

Well, I’d hoped (as you no doubt did) that I could put the Lila Rose controversy behind me.  But I continue to ponder the moral reasoning that has come to the fore with the advent of the campaign LiveAction has conducted against Planned Parenthood.  Let me reiterate, first and foremost, that I think the reward of the Hebrew midwives will (and should) be the reward of Lila Rose and her companions.  The big fact here, which must not get lost in all the hurly burly of argumentation, is that Lila Rose fears God and, like the Hebrew midwives, deserves the reward they received from God.  I fear that in all my talk-the-hind-leg-off-a-donkey verbiage about the specific question of lying for Jesus,...READ MORE

Filed under consequentialism on parade

Last Comments on Lying for Jesus

02/18/2011 Comments (323)

My post the other day has generated a boatload of questions, comments and concerns.  I can’t address absolutely everything, but there are several main questions that come up which I think it is worth playing whack-a-mole on (though, as “whack-a-mole” suggests, they are hardy perennials that lots of people seem to raise again and again, usually because they’ve never thought about it).  In no particular order, here are some random thoughts about some of these moles.

First, isn’t it interesting how things that appear to be “elementary” moral teaching (“Don’t lie”) suddenly get complex when it’s Us and not Them who are pondering the problem.  Case in point, not long ago we were all being told...READ MORE

Filed under ponderings

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.