Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hooray for Suicide! shout the Catholics

I have tried for over an hour to post a comment on an article by Marjorie Jeffrey, which is a response to an article by Mark Shea that people seem to be willfully misreading.  Jeffrey, it turns out, wrote a piece for Crisis in the spring in which she said some rather disturbing things.  

Since there seems to be a problem with Marjorie Jeffrey's site (no browser on any of three computers in the house will allow me to comment on it), I will simply comment here and hope she sees it.  The two suicides I refer to are those of Dominique Venner, who killed himself before the altar in Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this year (an act that Jeffrey, by means of a pretentious graduate-level quasi-academic neo-classicism, praises), and Daniel Somers, who killed himself out of despair for his military service in Iraq and its aftermath (an act Mark Shea rightly condemns but has much more sympathy for).  I comment ... 

Marjorie, you are misreading Mark's article.  He does not praise one suicide and condemn another.
However, when you say of Venner, "His suicide in the cathedral was a final act of respect, as well as a powerful setting for the message he intended to convey," you say something really rather horrific.  To commit self-slaughter before the holy altar of Christ is perhaps the most evil thing a person can do; this was anything but an act of "respect".
Note as well that Mark Shea is careful to offer pity and prayers for both men, and rightly so.  His point is not to compare their acts, but to compare reactions to them in the Catholic blogosphere - and, frankly, he makes a very good point.

And frankly, right wing Catholics are nuts.

They tell us, contrary to Church teaching, that torture is hunky-dory, that lying is a thing you should be proud of, and now that blowing your brains out before the altar of Christ in Our Lady's cathedral is an act of respect.

Utterly unfathomable - and scary.

When even our most self-styled devout Catholics say such things, we are a Culture of Death indeed.


Chris said...

I do find it inconsistent and disingenuous, however, that Shea has no problem writing for one of the mainstays of the conservative Catholics- the NCRegister/EWTN- who have been at the forefront promoting the very positions and persons he attacks. Shea is conveniently not going to bite the hand that feeds him! (I actually think Shea is somewhat of a neo-con, at least on some issues.)

Kevin O'Brien said...

Chris, if he's "not going to bite the hand that feeds him", then how do you explain him writing about this issue at length at the NCR?

Chris said...


This is not a particular issue that the NCR has otherwise tried to argue for, as far as I'm aware. I think this may also be why NCR printed it. So he is here not in a position of contradicting them. Compare this with other "conservative" issues/persons which the NCR has promoted but Shea has not written against directly in the NCR. Granted, however, it could be that the NCR did not want to print them because of that fact. I don't think it can be denied that Shea is seen as part of the whole "conservative" establishment, even if he may deny it. But he certainly has gained from the notoriety it has given him. It is also no accident he is a regular for NCR, EWTN, etc.

Anonymous said...

She saw your comment. :D
Source: I am one of her friends.

Kevin Tierney said...

It's becoming increasingly tough to find a political home in America, not just because of issues like abortion and gay marriage, but because both parties are increasingly speaking about issues which have little resonance with Catholic social teaching.

There are actually conservatives formulating a new style of politics that actually make "right wing" positions at least somewhat more tolerable to Catholics, but they are a minority nobody listens to outside of think tanks.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Chris, are you saying that Shea should not write for conservative publications because he's not really conservative? Or are you saying he's secretly much more of a neo-con than he pretends to be? All I can tell is that you think he's involved in some sort of odd conspiracy that compromises his personal integrity.

I really don't know what you're trying to say - but I think Shea at least got this one right.

Scott Belhorn said...

I read that article and wondered who was more mad, the woman who wrote this or the editors at Crisis? How could anyone praise Venner? Here was a nihilist, a devotee of Mishima and a likely Vichyite, whose suicide did nothing but set back the natural marriage movement in France. Who would disgrace an altar like that, save a demoniac? And yet here was Crisis publishing an article that strongly suggested this was a noble act. That it was written by a young woman is frightfully chilling.

And we wonder why people are leaving the Church. For goodness sake.

Scott Belhorn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.