“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Here are three links worth sharing:

I think Mark Shea has been “trolled”, as the young people say.

I admire Mark Shea for many of his moral stances, and he even changed my mind on a couple of things, but he is way too ready to believe nonsense about traditionalists, including Catholic Trads (Latin Mass types, who in my quite extensive experience are mostly pretty normal.)

The story of Anil Dash, internationally (in)famous for what he did to another man.

Not a new idea, but well put: how the Left lost control of (some of) the narrative.

[Further on Mark Shea. I think the commenter Outis Nusquam says it well: “The punishment for attacking things you don’t understand is looking like a fool when someone trolls you. Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment is a loose network of thinkers on the internet who reject most of the principles of the French Revolution/Enlightenment for one reason or another. That’s it. There’s no secret island fortress, anyone can adopt the label, and he speaks for himself alone. You owe us all a big apology for this nonsense. Have the humility to do some research and use some critical thinking before passing yourself off as a “Catholic” “intellectual”.”

I spent about ten years attending a Latin Mass church. This was run a lot of the time by the FSSP, a group of priests in full unity with Rome. The people who attended were mostly unremarkable. There was a smattering of odd types, but no more than in any other group. The only remarkable thing about them was that they were mostly very well educated, with a lot of scientists, political operatives, and so on.

As for the Dark Enlightenment, I suppose I support some of the ideas to the extent that I think the Enlightenment ideas of equality should be critiqued. Readers of my blog will notice that I have a lively interest in women and their capacities and roles, but on the other hand I rarely write on race. It is always a mistake to invent an enemy, caricature him and slap a name on him. Mark Shea should emerge from this “a sadder and a wiser man.”

And now that I have quoted both Shakespeare and Coleridge, that will do.]

Mark Shea defends himself.

I think Mark’s problem is that he is a bit deficient in Humour, and its older brother, a Sense of Proportion. I think the “trading cards” here are meant to be in fun. Like this one of SunshineMary, the indefatigable antifeminist blogger:


Some fairly sensible comments from Rod Dreher, or at least from his reader Athanasius:

“Despite massive promotion of Darwinian evolution throughout the popular culture (haha, look, it’s Jesus riding a t-rex), seemingly for the sole purpose of undermining our traditional religion (the American mos maiorum), no one is allowed to extrapolate the obvious conclusions of evolutionary biology that genetic cohorts (i.e., races) have differing rates of intelligence, strength, and agility and different behavioral traits, all of which evolved over the tens of thousands of years we were separated. Could it possibly be because such knowledge would render many of our policies (from affirmative action to bans on racial profiling) utterly irrational? The same applies to biological differences between men and women and the effect that recognition of such knowledge would have on such absurdities as claiming that physical tests for firemen and soldiers are “sexist” …

… Most of these “Dark Enlightenment” bloggers (and that’s really all they are) are fantasists and contrarians with a weakness for obscurantist and melodramatic language. However, many of the writers whom they’ve claimed (e.g., Sailer) are serious thinkers who are challenging all of the above–all that is unchallengeable in politics, law, art, mainstream/mass journalism and most tragically, academia. If these are discussions that the elites of our society continue to suppress, I do think that we are the verge of a new political movement–one that will hopefully be led by cooler heads.”

Obviously he is talking about the American situation. Australia is a bit less crazy on race and “gender”, thank God.

A breathless journalistic account of the Dark Enlightenment, which seems to have not much more nuance and real understanding than Shea. But that is what journalists do, find patterns and trends that may or may not be real. A more informed discussion.

The latter article includes this:

“Ah, yes. The race thing. If race is a Dark Enlightenment obsession, someone forgot to tell them. While there’s some overlap with human biodiversity (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and is thus a horrifying heresy to those of the universalist faith), it’s more a cousin of neoreaction; like the manosphere, it’s hardly a wholly owned subsidiary. On the matter of race, neoreaction’s biggest crime is its refusal to parrot the “White people…ewwwwwww!” meme that dominates much of progressive discourse; instead it offers a critique of the Cultural Marxist “critical race theory” that is an essential leftist article of faith.”

Here is something Shea said after he realised he had been “punked”: “That is, I was too ready to believe that a loose association of racist nuts with theories ranging from transhumanism to the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire and who (I am not making this up) enthusiastically have trading cards of their weirdo heroes might behave like, you know, nuts and overgrown teens.”

I would say three things about that:

1) I am fairly easily fooled. I once bought a book on “Why Cats Paint”. I still have it. I really thought that cats could paint, like chimpanzees perhaps.


But even I could see at a glance that the account that Shea believed was bogus.

2) The “trading cards” were a joke. Shea is lashing out wildly here.

These guys are actually Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending, both top scientists and pretty acerbic, especially Cochran. They would not be amused at being described as “weirdo heroes”:


3) More seriously, he gives the game away when he conflates transhumanism with the restoration of monarchies. These are not ideas likely to be held simultaneously by any one group. I know a little about the former, and it is a radical set of ideas associated mainly with the more extreme type of nerd, whereas the latter sound like romantic nationalists who would have little interest in transhumanism (and neither group are likely to be “racist nuts”). There is some “guilt by association” going on here.

Shea is painting with a very broad brush and has no real idea what he is doing – like this cat:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Cat Artist

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gede Prama on February 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

    And I love all the posts in this blog really interesting touch words, thank you friend 🙂


  2. Was Mark Shea’s post meant to be a satire? It sounds like its describing one of those ancient “evil” Osiris worshiping Illuminati-cults mentioned in Chick Tracks. A vein cartoonish sensational anti-Catholicism that can only come from a Baptist church in the deep-South circa the early 1980’s. You know, those tracks where Catholics are portrayed as praying to a “Whore of Babylon” Astarte-goddess and congregations secretly engage in bacchanalian orgies every Sunday.

    Although I do think you underestimate the cluelessness of American-Trad Catholics. My mother’s family in Italy is quite Trad-Catholic – the religion they practice bears no resemblance whatsoever to what American Catholics consider “Traditional”. American Catholics are bizarrely uninformed about their own faith. Hence, why I have to deal with American Trad-Catholics who tell me my Rheumatoid Arthritis is the result of demons, my Protestant husband believes the Blessed Mother is Satanic, my stillborn son’s soul is in hell…

    For years, I’ve wondered about the cause of American Trad-Catholic poor-Catechism. I settled on this theory: reforms initiated in the American Catholic church in the 70’s that intentionally downplayed Catholic teachings, in an attempt to compete with the influence of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches. If the American Catholic Church hadn’t attempted to assimilate into mainstream Evangelical culture, than it wouldn’t be the watered-down laughing stock (well, to Catholics from other countries) it is today.

    Are you similar to most Australian Trad-Catholics? ’cause the way you observe your faith reminds me a bit of my Italian relatives. Observant, religious – but not pushy or mean. Its organic? (not sure if that’s the correct adjective)

    *sigh* I suspect a lot of my religious confusion would have been avoided American Catholicism wasn’t so crazy.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 18, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      Shea suffers from pundit syndrome, the need to be an instant expert on everything. He also has the tendency, which is easy to fall into, of pontificating. He also doesn’t like Traditionalists. There may be Trads who are antisemites or conspiracy theorists, or whatever, but I have never known any; and, besides, mainstream Catholics can be cranks too.

      The Latin Mass appealed to me for historical, cultural, aesthetic and spiritual reasons. But I haven’t been going for a while, for various reasons, and in any case I try to see myself as a Catholic, simpliciter.

      Shea has a vague idea that human biodiversity studies mean “racism” and Traditionalism means rejecting Vatican II. And so on. But it is all a cartoonish understanding. He therefore falls for and responds to a cartoonish story fed him by a troll.

      The worst example of his careless swiping at targets without any understanding was his referring to the “members” of the Dark Enlightenment having trading cards, an example of which I have posted above. This is just nuts. The trading cards are a joke. Shea seems not to get irony, and this is one reason he can be very tedious.

      There is no organised Dark Enlightenment. Apparently a young philosopher called Nick Land wrote a piece on the subject, but I have not read it. Personally, I am not much interested in racial questions, for example. I leave that to experts like Steve Sailer.


  3. […] “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” […]


  4. There may be Trads who are antisemites or conspiracy theorists, or whatever, but I have never known any; and, besides, mainstream Catholics can be cranks too.

    Well, Shea writes for an American audience, no?

    I’d argue that 90% of American Catholics, in general, are cranks with very little, if any knowledge at all, of the Catechism. Or the Biblical scripture, for that matter. Heck there was a poll recently that showed 70% of American Catholics don’t even know what transubstantiation is! Shea may have been trolled this one time, but unfortunately his post about wacky-out of touch American Catholics aren’t too far from reality.

    I need to resurrect my blog just so I can continue a series of posts about bizarre American Christian-trends. Like widespread fear of Satanic Care Bears or the condemnation of lingerie panties.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 19, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Shea is actually one of the best, which is of course faint praise.

      Catholicism is a difficult religion. It has a long history and complex theology. And current catechesis is weak.

      As we have discussed before, there is a strong streak of gnosticism and angelism currently visible in western Catholicism. And American Catholics have been influenced, clearly, by pressure from the once-dominant Protestant culture and from the sexual and feminist revolutions.

      I take Shea to be attacking a strain of largely non-religious thought in his attacks on the Dark Enlightenment. The problem is that he doesn’t really understand the issues or the subjects, and he has a very emotional style of argumentation. He was playing to the peanut gallery with that silly post, but he only succeeded in exposing his limitations.

      One would think that a man like that would be sympathetic to defences of femininity and the patriarchal family, such as those by SunshineMary, but he clearly is happy to throw out the “baby with the bathwater”.

      As I remarked in another place, if you have an article for me, just pop it in the comments.


  5. As I remarked in another place, if you have an article for me, just pop it in the comments.

    Still working on it. Really long and I’m a perfectionist 🙂 Sorry for making you wait.

    One would think that a man like that would be sympathetic to defences of femininity and the patriarchal family

    Again, in Shea’s defense, not many “enlightened” Christian women behave very Christian-ly. Or feminine. Or have a strong understanding of Biblical patriarchy. Or are even Catholics…?

    Wait, why is Shea concerned about the behaviors of non-Catholics?

    Instead, Shea should just go watch that dumb show “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel. They claimed that the Vatican is, like, hiding ancient alien secrets. And that Jesus is an alien from outer space. See? That’s something ridiculous and sensational he could get angry about. “How dare the History Channel claim that Jesus is creature from outer space!” is more up to Shea’s speed.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 19, 2014 at 2:07 am

      You are actually onto something, and it is a point that some recent critics of Shea make. One cannot be a Catholic and criticise other people for having unusual ideas. Catholic dogma is full of mysteries and oddities, and I say that as a believing Catholic.

      Shea wants too much to be respectable. (To be fair, he has taken some brave moral positions too). He wants to attack other peoples’ beliefs as “beyond the pale” but forgets that his are also strange, to many people.

      There is no normal, no centre. All of us have odd beliefs, even atheists. All of us are misinformed in some respects. Shea just wants to chuck a whole lot of stuff that makes him uncomfortable in a box, label it Dark Enlightenment, and throw it out with the garbage. It is not going to work. And it is intellectually lazy.

      He is not purely a journalist. He has written real books. But he has some of the faults of the typical journalist. Not doing his homework and trying to score easy points, for example.


  6. Wait, scratch that; Shea has already criticized Ancient Aliens.


  7. Posted by Julian O'Dea on February 19, 2014 at 3:37 am

    A real conspiracy?



    Supposedly held at the St Regis Hotel, which I only know of from its appearance in the film “Metropolitan”.


  8. […] « “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” […]


  9. Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 11, 2017 at 9:40 am

  10. Posted by Theodore M Seeber on July 18, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    The sad part is, I in my novus ordo parish, am a conservative trading card fiend. I pass out prayer cards to little kids all the time. They love me for it.


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