Stroke of a Pen? Not So Much

06/01/2011 Comments (5)

Back during the Long Lent of 2002, journalist Rod Dreher gave voice to a meme which has enduring power in the Catholic Church when he complained that the Pope could simply dismiss any bishop he wished with “the stroke of a pen” but that, mysteriously, he would not do so.

Given the stunning infrequency of the Pen Stroke Papacy’s appearance in history, I was always highly inclined to doubt this anticipation of Papal Omnipotent Fiat but, not being a Vatican Insider as I sit here at my computer here in suburbia, I was not inclined to enter the fray too deeply beyond saying, “I think you over-estimate what the Pope is able or willing to do, even with bishops he’d dearly love to get rid of.”


Filed under ecclesial politics


05/27/2011 Comments (9)

Thanks to the miracle of technology, by the time you read this, odds are pretty good I will be on my way to, waiting at, or sailing away from the Anacortes, Washington ferry dock, heading off to our annual Memorial Day Shea Fambly and Friends Camping Trip in our Hidden Island Redoubt, somewhere in the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound, looking forward to four days of jollification with nothing to do but nap, walk on the beach, toss a Frisbie, ride a bike, and read a book.

Many people don’t know that Washington has islands, but we do indeedy! They are beautiful things that tend to just abruptly bulb out of the Sound rather than gradually glide down to a beach like the one on Gilligan’s...READ MORE

Filed under musing

Lincoln's Doctor's Dog

05/25/2011 Comments (20)

Back in the 30s, a publisher once remarked that there was a huge market for Civil War books (this was the era of Gone With the Wind, after all), medical books, and pet books. He suggested that somebody needed to write a book called Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog and he would make a fortune.

These days, the popular subjects are religion, royalty, mystery, and sex. So the perfect opening line for a novel is “Dear Heaven! I’m pregnant!” said the Queen, “I wonder who did it?”

As an author of books that fit into a very specialized niche with a decidedly miniscule readership, I have sometimes played with this gag. A friend of mine once joked to me that “Having a best-selling book of Catholic...READ MORE

Filed under musings

How to Bias a Discussion

05/23/2011 Comments (26)

Everybody knows that how you slant your language has a huge impact on how people think. So, for instance:

We see this all the time in the Mainstream Media. That’s why you and I are routinely called “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life.”

And it’s why, when the Minnesota Senate recently reaffirmed the normal understanding of marriage the Press dutifully called this “banning gay marriage.”

That’s like talking about “banning” marrying your dog or the Eiffel Tower.

It’s not “banning” anything. It’s upholding the sane conception of marriage and not entering into the delusions of people who have insane conceptions of marriage....READ MORE

Filed under msm bias

Listen to Your Mother

05/20/2011 Comments (64)

So it turns out interrogation experts from every branch of the military and intelligence services agree: Torture doesn’t work.

That’s good news for Catholics, because it confirms one of the basic realities forgotten over the last decade: that Catholic moral teaching is rooted in practical reality and not simply Ivory Tower Cloud Cuckoo Land theory.

Indeed, if there is anybody laboring to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land (and to snooker as many unwary Christians into that fantasy world as well) it is the politicians and Media Talking Heads of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism, who have fanned out over the airwaves since May 1 to try to get you to ignore the teaching of Holy Church on torture...READ MORE

Filed under salvation through leviathan by any means necessary

Hawking. Again.

05/18/2011 Comments (136)

A reader writes:

Stephen Hawking has recently declared that he doesn’t believe in Heaven: 

As someone in the science community, I have become more and more embarrassed by Hawking. He has made some interesting and important contributions to theoretical physics over the years while dealing with the great adversity of his condition, but at this point he’s just famous for being famous—Paris Hilton with a PhD.

I am all for good science and religion dialogue, but I don’t think the media should be giving so much attention to Hawking for sophmoric rants like this. They might as well have a front page story about Ms. Hilton’s thoughts on string theory.

Hawking is the beneficiary of the high...READ MORE

Filed under chattering class follies

Killing bin Laden vs. Killing Tiller: What's the Difference?

05/16/2011 Comments (40)

A reader writes:

Two honest questions:

1) Are doctors who perform late-term abortions mass murderers?
2) How was what the guy who shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in Wichita (the guy claimed to have been preventing a mass murderer from taking more innocent lives, re: “if you had the chance to kill Hitler, would you?”) different from what we as a government did to Osama bin Laden (a mass murderer, as he’s being called)? The first mentioned event was abhorred, the second seems to have been condoned.

These thoughts kept me up til the wee hours of the morning and I was trying to write about it, but I couldn’t come to any conclusions. I’m sure you are busy, but any perspectives?

1) If a...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

Was the Civil War Just?

05/13/2011 Comments (90)

A reader writes:

I have enjoyed your take on the whole Osama situation. I do agree with most of what you say ... if not all. I have to admit that my initial reaction was of most people, aka “ding dong Osama’s dead,” etc. but the Catholic filter kicked in and I was able to use this situation to evangelize to our Edge middle school group about this situation ... thanks to our astute children asking questions.

I do have a question for you though on the Just War doctrine and how it could apply (or not) the the War Between the States that took place starting 150 years ago. Since you are better versed in the doctrine than I am, what is your take on this conflict and do you believe this was a...READ MORE

Filed under mailbag

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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.