Monday, July 04, 2005

Me, myself, and I

I seem to have hit a sore nerve with dear old Dave. Actually, it would be hard to miss since he seems to be a bundle of nerves.

<< Shades of the fake blog [purporting to be me]. Remember that? >>

Yes, I do remember that. Pity it was taken down. For a guy who prides himself on being such a satirist, Armstrong’s reservoir of humor runs dry as soon as he is the one being spoofed. There was even the veiled threat of legal action. Yet he cites this as proof positive of his humility. Yes indeedy! Humility is his middle name.

<< If you make the slightest attempt to defend yourself at all against ludicrous charges, then you get this kind of worthless bilge back. I must accept what these clowns say about me at all times, lest I [supposedly] prove their point [by disputing it]!!! Is that what might be called a "no-win situation"? >>

This merely reinforces his blinkered outlook. Notice that it’s not about defending the Catholic faith, but about defending himself.

Compare this attitude with the recent thread between Paul Owen and Eric Svendsen. Svendsen spends a lot of time rebutting false charges, but he always brings it back to the exegesis of Scripture. He doesn’t make the issue about himself, even if others would like to make the issue about himself. Rather, he uses these controversies as an occasion to zero in on the meaning of Scripture. That is where he spends his time and effort.

Dave, on the other hand, goes on and on and on with these poor-little-me-centered tearjerkers and three-hankies.

And I simply thought it was worth noting that a guy who runs the third-rated—or is it third-rate?—Catholic apologetics blog spends so much of his time commending and defending himself instead of commending and defending his church. If he really thinks that everyone should convert to Catholicism, couldn’t he at least give his own church top-billing?

<< Has he never glanced at the mountain of papers posted on the left sidebar of this blog. >>

Notice his Jedi mind-trick. I was specifically referring to the daily/weekly fare that makes its way into the archive. Dave redirects the reader away from the archived material to the cream of the crop. This merely proves my point that the substantive stuff is only a fraction of the whole.

If you had an employee who spent a few hours each week actually doing what he was paid to do, while spending all the rest of his time surfing the web and playing computer games on company time, you might have reason to suspect that this said something about his interest level in the job.

<< This reminds me of James White's oft-made claim…

But I wouldn't expect Steve or Kerry to comprehend such a fairly simple goal… >

Well, for once I must admit that Armstrong’s arrow has hit is mark.

There’s no doubt that I’m seen far too often in bad company, with all the wrong sort of people—you know the type: those backwoodsy Baptist Bible-thumpers like James White and Frank Turk and Kerry Gilliard. Why, between the three of us we can hardly put together a single grammatical sentence.

It’s a disgrace to my family name. That I own—to my everlasting shame.

Perhaps, though, Dave would spare me a guest pass to Versailles so that I could rub shoulders with the powdered-wig and French snuff set he frequents.

<< To me, this present post is about how a sharp guy like Steve Hays has to reduce himself to the appearance of a blithering, babbling idiot and fool when trying to "refute" my "arguments" (argument? huh?! What's that????). This is -- again -- all about him. One has to ask why this is, that a person with a head on his shoulders and a working brain between his ears, is reduced to such vapid, vacuous, worthless inanity? >>

Despite the Heraclitean appearance of experience, there are a few constants in life, such as time and tide, death and taxes, sunup and sundown, seedtime and harvest, as well as Dave’s clockwork resort to the pejorative language he denounces in everyone else, which restores my confidence in the reign of natural law.

<< Therefore, all this sort of "exposing and chronicling" (which is, I know, boring and tedious to many, including myself) is done, not for my own sake, but for the sake of weaker Catholic brethren. I'm not here merely to entertain, but to help the faithful, aid weak, undereducated Catholics who need a shot of confidence. >>

Doesn’t the sheer, unstinting nobility of it all hit you smack-dab in the solar plexus? ‘Tis a far, far better thing that I do, than I have every done…

Yep. Humble is his middle name.

It would be easy to chalk this up to his overweening vanity, but actually, it dovetails with his theology. You know, all that good stuff about supererogatory merit deposited in the Treasury of Merit. The only question is whether pride selects for theology, or theology selects for pride.

17 comments:

  1. Steve --

    You had me at "three-hanky". I'll steal that in about a year when nobody remembers you said it.

    Also, I'm having t-shirts made for all those in DA's hall of shame, and I need your size. For reference, Dr. White takes a 3X and I take an XL.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dave allegedly comes to Svendsen's defense, but it's still about Dear Old Dave:

    "Sadly, this is a typical three-days' work in character assassination and slander on an Internet Discussion board, which is why I have participated virtually nil on any board (Catholic, Protestant, or Rastafarian) for coming up to two years now. It happens on all sides, and we should condemn it on all sides. Only when folks start protesting against lack of charity and fairness to opponents amongst their own parties can we hope that anything will substantially change on Internet discussion boards."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Xenophon,

    Why delete everything? I like reading your blog on here. ;-)

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dave's apologetics really must bother you since you are so quick to post an ad-hominem attack about him for the most trivial things...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Demetrios,

    i) Dave doesn't think these are the most trivial things. So you are defending him by an argument he would reject.

    ii) As I've explained in my essay on "Favorite fallacies," there is a legitimate place for an ad hominem attack when there is a logical link between belief and behavior. As such, we often find this line of argument used in Scripture. But I guess you regard Scripture as irrelevant to your faith.

    iii) As I also explained to you once before, I have addressed Dave on more substantive issues, but he chooses to evade direct discussion of the more substantive issues. And I notice that you do exactly the same thing. Trivial people don't deserve to be taken seriously.

    If at some future point you would like to get serious, I'd be happy to reciprocate. But, for now, I'm pitching my response at your own chosen level of discourse.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Steve,

    Perhaps "trivial" was not quite the correct word. But the subject really 1) Had nothing to do with you, 2) Was not about "Dave", but was intended to show the hypocrisy of Eric Svendsen in the way he complains about ad-hominem attacks, and then turns around and makes them himself. Not a whole lot there that exalts Dave the person.

    You said that Dave "evades" issues. If this is true, then could you show me 1 direct challenge you made to Dave that was somehow evaded or ignored? For example, a classic example of "evasion" (although the way many people interpret the term these days is often totally arbitrary) is when James WHite refused to answer a refutation of The God Who Justifies by Ben Douglass because CAI is a "small", "fringe" catholic apologetics organization. That is what I would consider evasion. If Dave ever did anything to you along those lines, then perhaps you would be able to show me the specific case...because I honestly can't find any.

    I don't know what you mean by this sentence:

    "If at some future point you would like to get serious, I'd be happy to reciprocate."

    I'm not an apologist, and I dont go looking for this sort of stuff. I was simply making a comment about the subject of this post, which certainly IS trivial. But hey, lets make a deal. If I ever refute any one of your papers, then you will provide a charitable and fair response to it, with no ad-hominem. Capice?

    You attempted to justify your ad-hominem blasting of Dave with a reference to Jesus and the Apostles. All I have to say is that this excuse can be used to justify just about any ad-hominem, and that I disagree with its use in the way that you used it. If we really are apostates, then isn't the use of such language just going to make us more hostile to your beliefs? That goes both ways, for us and for you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. << Steve,

    Perhaps "trivial" was not quite the correct word. But the subject really 1) Had nothing to do with you, 2) Was not about "Dave", but was intended to show the hypocrisy of Eric Svendsen in the way he complains about ad-hominem attacks, and then turns around and makes them himself. Not a whole lot there that exalts Dave the person.

    You said that Dave "evades" issues. If this is true, then could you show me 1 direct challenge you made to Dave that was somehow evaded or ignored? For example, a classic example of "evasion" (although the way many people interpret the term these days is often totally arbitrary) is when James WHite refused to answer a refutation of The God Who Justifies by Ben Douglass because CAI is a "small", "fringe" catholic apologetics organization. That is what I would consider evasion. If Dave ever did anything to you along those lines, then perhaps you would be able to show me the specific case...because I honestly can't find any.

    I don't know what you mean by this sentence:

    "If at some future point you would like to get serious, I'd be happy to reciprocate."

    I'm not an apologist, and I dont go looking for this sort of stuff. I was simply making a comment about the subject of this post, which certainly IS trivial. But hey, lets make a deal. If I ever refute any one of your papers, then you will provide a charitable and fair response to it, with no ad-hominem. Capice?

    You attempted to justify your ad-hominem blasting of Dave with a reference to Jesus and the Apostles. All I have to say is that this excuse can be used to justify just about any ad-hominem, and that I disagree with its use in the way that you used it. If we really are apostates, then isn't the use of such language just going to make us more hostile to your beliefs? That goes both ways, for us and for you. >>

    Demitrios,

    This response was better than the last. By way of reply:

    i) Here are some examples of Dave’s evasive behavior:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/04/catholic-sophistry.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/04/if-at-first-you-dont-succeed.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/04/leaky-buckets-redux.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/04/of-resolutions-loopholes.html

    ii) On the general question of whether White or Svendsen is hypocritical or evasive, I’m not in a position to comment on that. I’ve not been reading these blogs from day one. There’s a lot of history between these bloggers that I’m simply not up on.

    iii) Every blogger is responsible for his own usage. I’ve defined what I mean by ad hominem, and when it’s right and wrong.

    iv) As to CAI, that’s a judgment call. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense for an Evangelical apologist to confine himself to Roman Catholics who represent the mainstream teaching coming out of the Vatican and magisterium and periti and standard review process.

    That is the best way of offering a fair and accurate assessment of RC theology.

    For example, it wouldn’t be very fair to take Hans Kung as a representative voice for Catholicism, would it?

    At the same time, some “fringe” groups can be influential in their own right, and may be worth addressing for that reason alone.

    For example, one could argue over which version of Islam or Buddhism is more “authentic,” but if enough folks follow an “inauthentic” version, that’s still worth engaging.

    BTW, from what I’ve read of Ben Douglass, both as a “troll” on Dave’s blog, as well as his own blog, he seems like a nice, candid, reasonable guy, and I, for one, wouldn’t mind listening to what he has to say.

    v) I’ve never said that either you or Dave are apostates. All I’ve ever said is that the church of Rome is apostate. But there’s a distinction between an apostate institution and its members. For example, the PC-USA is an apostate denomination, but not every member thereof is an apostate.

    vi) Generally, I would reserve “apostate” as an individual label for someone who was fairly well versed in the Evangelical faith (or pre-Reformation orthodoxy), and later left that for something more humanistic. And I prefer to reserve it for more extreme, clear-cut cases.

    vii) I take it that you are Greek Orthodox. The Eastern church has a different history than the Western church. It never had a Reformation, and, hence, was never in quite the same position to reject the Reformation.

    More recently, there has been at least some degree of capitulation to evolution and liberal Bible criticism. I don’t know how widespread that is.

    vii) Keep in mind that I’d only use “apostate” as a term of personal endearment!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Steve,

    Actually I am not Eastern Orthodox. Demetrios Kydones is the name of a famous medieval Byzantine lay-theologian who converted to Catholicism. His Apologia is translated in a work by Catholic author James Likoudis.

    The example I gave in regards to CAI and Ben Douglass was only an example of what I consider "evasion." I didn't mean to imply anything about the parties involve, nor to associate you with other Protestant apologists. the fact that Bob Sungenis teaches geocentrism does not put him on the fringe, theologically speaking. I consider Dr. White's excuse in not replying to Ben's refutation of his book to be a finre example of "evasion", and that is why I shared it with you.

    And I thank you for the links. I will read over them.

    Pax Christi

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay, I'll make you an honorary Byzantine theologian!

    What puts Sungenis on the fringe is that he claims to be a faithful Catholic, but he's at loggerheads with the post-Vatican II papacy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Steve,

    Sungenis is on the fringe in a sense. On the other hand, he appears to accept Vatican II but thinks it can be interpreted in a way consistent with prior church teaching. I gather his position has evolved to a more moderate approach over the years. He points out that some of the novelties of JP II such as the Assisi events aren't consistent even with Vatican II.

    Obviously to the Woytlarians, the guy is on the fringe.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Demetrios,

    Thanks for sticking up for me. Sorry if that sounds "narcissistic: and incredibly self-centered. :-)

    Steve thinks I evade his arguments because I am scared and he is so unanswerable. In fact, the actual reason is because I have ceased debating all anti-Catholics, since January.

    I've explained this many times, but he sees it a some sort of lying rationalization for my cowardice. In an attempt to reach some middle ground, I challenged him to a debate on the question of whether I am a coward or not, or whether it is possible to simply make a resolution not to debate certain people (on various grounds). This did not violate my resolution to avoid debating the usual topics with anti-Catholics. It had to do, rather, with the non-theological claim that I am an intellectual coward. See:

    "A Socratic Examination of the (Automatic Anti-Catholic) Charge of Supposed Catholic Fear of Protestant Opponents"

    (http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ177.HTM)
    Steve flatly refused to debate this (with more insults, of course, as always). So, whereas I am refusing on principle, not based on fear or inability at all, Steve refused on the basis that I was a liar and a sophist. See how it works?

    James White, Eric Svendsen, and others kept up a smear campaign for many weeks after I made my resolution to stop debating them. According to them, I "melted down" and am an utter chicken and coward. But I said in the resolution that I would make an exception for a point-by-point rebuttal. Thinking (wrongly as it turned out) that James White did this in regard to our discussion about Moses' Seat, I issued an extensive nine-part reply, which he ignored for several weeks, finally saying he would not answer it because I am a liar and a sophist.

    So when I refuse to debate anti-Catholics, it's because (so our anti-Catholic overlords tell us) I am a liar and a sophist and a coward. When anti-Catholics, on the other hand, refuse to answer my critiques of their arguments (which White has been doing for ten years, in our case), it is because I am a liar and a sophist and a coward.

    See how simple it is???

    ReplyDelete
  13. 1. Dear old Dave has chosen to intervene in my little chat with Demetrios. I guess he feels that Demetrios is one of those "weak, undereducated"' Catholics who needs Anderson to play Father Dave and Mother Hen as he faces the traumatic ordeal of having to speak directly with Steve Hays. Actually, I thought that Demetrios was holding his own quite nicely without Dave's hand-holding.

    2. Dave has a habit of putting certain words in my mouth, based, not on things I ever said about him or about myself, but on what others have said about im or about myself.

    3. Dave also has a habit of rolling something I may have said with something Svendsen may have said with something White may have said into one big soppy wad as if anything said, or said to have been said, by one of the three can be attributed to the other two. I guess Dave has been watching too many reruns of Star Trek. We are not some Borgian Collective. Last time I checked, neither Svendsen nor White bore much resemblance to Seven Of Nine, and that's not what I see when I look in the mirror, either.

    4. Since he and others continually bring up Dr. White, I'll just offer my own impression. White is a natural debater. And it takes a certain stage presence to be a debater. Somehow I can't see Mr. Rogers in a debate with Art Sippo.

    And Dr. White carries that larger-than-life persona with him into his writing. In addition, he has an ironic sense of humor which drives a lot of his opponents up the wall. I don't find anything malicious in this. Indeed, unlike some of his opponents, Dr. White can laugh at himself as well as others.

    He certainly has a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents. I seem to have that same effect as well. Of course, you can only get under someone's skin if he's thin-skinned to begin with.

    For better or worse, Dr. White and I have something in common: we have a personality type that translates directly onto the page. There's no mask. Everything comes straight through without a filter. Oh, and by the way, Dave is, in his own way, just as transparent.

    And another thing--some folks may not like my style or White style, but they respond, whereas they ignore a nice guy like Steve Jackson.

    From what I've read of his, Jackson is invariably polite and well-mannered. None of my barbed humor. He just sticks to the facts.

    And he's rewarded for his courtesy by Dave's silent treatment and abuse from Dave's adoring groupies.
    That tells you right then and there how phony all this whiny, high-pitched moral indignation is.

    They complain that Jackson always brings up the same examples. That's because these are still perfectly good examples, and he's still waiting for a good reply.

    Actually, from what little I know of him, Jackson is a model in more ways than one. He's a cradle Catholic who, at a certain age, found that he was not getting the answers he needed.

    Now, there are different ways in which cradle Catholics respond when they find themselves out of step with their church. Some are on the left of the church, and stay in the church, constantly railing and rebelling. Others are on the right of the church, and liberalize to bring themselves back in step with the church; while still others are on the right of the church and, in the mirror-image of their liberal counterparts, stay in the church, constantly railing and rebelling.

    Jackson, by contrast, achieved harmony by simply going into a denomination which shared his values. He didn't try, egotiscally, to remake his old church in his own image; or remake himself, lemming-like, in the image of his old church.

    Instead, he went into a denomination which has much the same sacramental tradition, but is far more conservative. This proves him to be a man of principle, unlike his detractors.

    His is an example which many Catholics, Anglicans, and Anglo-Catholics would do well to emulate.

    5. But I digress.

    I don't care whether Dave violates his precious resolution. What's' that to me?

    If Armstrong would just admit that, like every other mere mortal, he is sometimes inconsistent because he makes shortsighted statements which fail to anticipate every possible exception or unforeseen contingency, then every reasonable man would make the same generous allowance for him that we would appreciate in kind when we find ourselves caught in the same inconsistency. That's only human. That's part of the charm of our finitude.

    But he just can't bring himself to admit the obvious, and so he keeps wrapping himself round and round in a sticky web of his own ever-tighter and ever-thicker cocoon of self-denial.

    ReplyDelete
  14. >Dave has a habit of putting certain words in my mouth, based, not on things I ever said about him or about myself, but on what others have said about im or about myself.

    Is that SO, Steve? For such a high-powered brain, as you possess, I'm amazed that the part of it that controls memory is so deficient.

    Here is what I wrote in my post; what I am claiming you have expressed regarding myself:

    "Steve thinks I evade his arguments because I am scared and he is so unanswerable."

    ". . . he sees it a some sort of lying rationalization for my cowardice."

    "Steve refused on the basis that I was a liar and a sophist."

    Now I will back it up from your own words, from just ONE single post of yours:

    ("Catholic sophistry": 4-14-05: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2005/04/catholic-sophistry.html)

    "Armstrong's latest response to what I've written is an elaborate exercise in sophistry."

    "Does he really think I've going to step into his trap? I guess he's hoping his trap is sufficiently camouflaged that no one will see it for what it is. But he's not going to play me for the chump."

    [SOPHISTRY]

    "He has clearly picked up a lot of scar tissue over the years, and like a bad divorce, he brings all this old baggage with him into the next encounter."

    "The only reason that this has gotten so personal is that Armstrong has made it so personal by trying to make me the issue, or talk about himself, . . ."

    "Armstrong is the one who tries to personalize everything . . ."

    [STUPID, DEAD-WRONG POP PSYCHOANALYSIS]

    "Then there's the matter of his “resolution.” He uses this as his favorite escape hatch to evade a substantive discussion. But any reasonable person can see that this is a viciously circular appeal. . . . Who does he think he's kidding with this transparent ploy? But if you're desperate enough, I guess you'll resort to any last-ditch escape maneuver, however obvious."

    "And what I see is that Armstrong is spending an awful lot of time defending his position not to defend his position. And this invites the alternative explanation, which is, to my mind, the more plausible one, that he wouldn't spend so much time defending his position not to defend his position unless his position were indefensible."

    [INTELLECTUAL COWARDICE; also suggests LYING and INSINCERITY]

    "In a phony show of magnanimity,. . ."

    [LIAR]

    The references to White and Svendsen were relevant precisely because they offer a disproof of your charge and a proof of my rejection of your charge. Like you, they both accused me of intellectual cowardice and an inability and/or unwillingness to defend my opinions. It's a fact that they repeatedly made this charge. It's all documented.

    But I answered White in great depth (which shows I am not a coward). He refused to respond (which, of course, has not the slightest relation to the question of whether HE might possibly be an intellectual coward, and unable to defend his viewpoints; go figure). I answered your charge against me in depth and you refused to counter-reply and chose to continue personal attacks instead. All of this is highly relevant.

    You can lie about me all you wish, Steve. I'm not harmed by it, but you certainly are. God is watching and He is not mocked. I don't waste my time with fools and mockers. I've only written this for others who are reading, who hopefully have a lick of sense and fairmindedness, and who engage in the novelty of actually hearing both sides of a story before coming to quick, severe judgment (even when the target is a lowly, pathetic "papist").

    Your brother in Christ,

    Dave Armstrong

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Dave,

    You have a habit of blending what people actually say with your personal interpretation of what that implies, and then substituting your own inflated gloss for what they actually said when you attribute certain statements to them.

    Your attempt to back up your claim merely illustrates the point. Did I charge you with sophistry? Yes. And that's the only verbatim example you can dig up--one which I never denied. The rest is just your own slanted characterization of what was said. You choose to draw your own inferences and then attribute your inferences to me.

    And this is a familiar ploy on your part. You like to take offense because that gives you an excuse to duck the real issues. So you put your personal spin on what "anti-Catholics" say about you, then appeal, not to what they actually said, but to your hyperbolic paraphrase, to justify evading a substantive engagement of the issues.

    The simple and direct way to deflect a charge of evasiveness is to stop being evasive and start being responsive. What you did instead was to "answer" the charge of evasiveness by drumming up yet another escape maneuver--your so-called "Socratic Examination."

    As to the judgement of God--sorry Dave, but you're shooting blanks, here. Given the trend towards universalism in contempory Catholic theology, a la Rahner, von Balthasar, JP2, Benedict16, Cardinal Kasper, &c., the threat of divine judgment is a pretty empty threat on the lips of a Romanist.

    In modern-day Catholicism, Dantean hell-fire has evolved into a fake fireplace with plastic logs and strobe lights. Or haven't you kept up with the development of doctrine?

    When was the last time you heard a homily on fire and brimstone at Mass, Dave?

    But if you're feeling nostalgic for some old-time pyrotechnics, why don't you come over to our side where we still honor the infernal fireworks of Jonathan Edwards?

    Honestly, Dave, I don't know why you get so hot and bothered. Surely White and Svendsen and I are doing you a personal favor. Think of all the time off from Purgatory for all that meritorious, supererogatory suffering we're putting you through!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm "hot and bothered"? That's news to me! I'm laughing my head off at all the fathomless nonsense you crank out with annoying regularity, regarding 1) Catholicism, and 2) my views.

    This leads me to suspect the possibility that you are merely pretending to be an abysmally ignorant critic of Catholicism, just for the fun of it. You couldn't possibly be this far off in your assessment of virtually everything Catholic or "Dave Armstrong." But then again, from what I have seen, if anyone is that misinformed, it would be you.

    Either way, there is no reason for any serious Catholic to waste their time with you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. True to his modus operandi, Dave makes sweeping allegations about ignorance, nonsense, and misinformation without a scintilla of supporting evidence.

    I guess that's the beauty of being a Catholic epologist--you can indulge in these fact-free dismissals. Makes for a very easy living.

    ReplyDelete