Sunday, March 27, 2011

Anti-Catholic Polemicist Steve Hays Falsely Claims That I Have No Accountability to My Priest and Bishop

By Dave Armstrong (3-27-11)

Here is the latest from this inveterate slanderer:

Is he [Paul Hoffer] accountable? I notice the conspicuous absence of contact information, either at the end of his post, or over at his own blog, which would enable readers to report him to his parish priest or diocesan bishop in case of misconduct. By the same token, I notice that Armstrong hasn’t made that information publicly available either. Yet Armstrong is hosting a post about personal accountability. Hoffer and Armstrong pay lip-service to the accountability-system of the Roman church while they shield themselves from direct accountability to their religious superiors. If they have the courage to stand behind their words, why don’t they provide the contact information for their religious superiors in case a reader has a grievance to lodge with superiors over their conduct?

I already answered this identical charge (from him) on 22 January 2011. But that is assuming that 1) the man reads anything by Catholics, or perhaps 2) takes anything seriously that is written by Catholics, or 3) takes at face value self-reports by Catholics, or 4) reads what Catholics say specifically in reply to him. None of these things are by any means certain, since he often deletes my comments on his blog when he finds himself unable to answer.

The controversy in question was an attack on lay apologetics at Boors All: an anti-Catholic site that Hays frequents. He participated in this discussion, which is why I replied to him on this very issue. He wrote in the combox there:

One simple test of whether lay Catholic apologists are accountable to their religious superiors is whether they leave contact info on the sidebar of their blog so that you can run what they say by their parish priest or local bishop's office. When have you ever seen this?

He parrots himself with the usual clueless anti-Catholic inanity and boorishness: not realizing (or cynically ignoring the known fact) that I have already fully dealt with this ridiculous charge. I replied at the time:

I have written many times for my parish newsletter, primarily under the auspices of Fr. Paul Ward (St. Joseph's in Detroit). I've spoken at parish meetings; my books are sold in the vestibule. The current priest is Fr. Paul Czarnota, who had approvingly read several of my books before he ever arrived. Steve is free to contact the church to ask what is thought of my work. The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of the Detroit archdiocese, granted ecclesiastical approval for the book What Catholics Really Believe: for which I wrote the study guide. I was informed by the editor, Stan Williams, that not a single word of my portion was modified when the censor (Professor Robert Fastiggi, from Sacred Heart Seminary) checked it out for orthodoxy and accuracy. Those are my credentials in my own archdiocese. I also have an Imprimatur for my New Catholic Answer Bible. Steve Hays, however, is apparently accountable to no one. I recommend that someone try to find out who he is accountable to: if anyone. After all, accountability is also a Protestant concept. But he's just a guy (frustrated, unsuccessful academic) with a blog and a big mouth, and master of insults. He's not published anywhere that I know of, except for self-published works.

Now, I will be charitable and help poor Steve Hays, who -- notwithstanding his fathomless wisdom -- seems to have an extraordinarily difficult time navigating websites, and comprehending how he can possibly find this exceptionally mysterious, obscure information about where I go to church (and have these past twenty years).

When one looks at the top of my blog, there are seven major categories with which one begins a "card catalogue-type" search on my site. Steve (now pay close attention!) will want to select the second from the right, entitled "About Me." I think the average reader would be able to ascertain that this might lead to the desired personal information. Maybe not, and maybe Steve would find this difficult to comprehend. We all have our weaknesses and limitations, after all, and he stated outright that I haven't "made that information publicly available" and that my blog was notable for such information's "conspicuous absence."

But back to our task at hand. Now, here's where it could conceivably become quite frustrating for Steve, but we'll try our best to "dumb it down" and walk him through the process. Once there, readers are confronted with an incredibly complex, Byzantine set of three tables, each having eight sections. This might be over Steve's head, but if he puts his mind to it, I think it is entirely possible. He will (presumably, if he gets this far in his quest) look over these, and hopefully, by God's grace and a bit of luck, would be able to locate a category on the bottom-left corner of the second table down (the one in the middle).

Got that, Steve? Good! It is entitled (drum roll): "Home Parish: St. Joseph's in Detroit." This takes the reader to our parish website, complete with contact info! Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? Two clicks of a mouse: "About Me" (which is always on the top of my blog), and the parish link. This is even easier than a sidebar, because my sidebar has lots and lots of stuff, but the top of the blog is one small portion that is always visible.

The archdiocese is another story. It's true that I don't have that contact information listed on my site, as far as I know. But of course it could be obtained from my parish if necessary. Failing that, let's see if we can actually find such a thing. How about searching in Google:"Archdiocese of Detroit." The fact that I live in the Detroit area is all over my blog and Facebook page: if you click on the bottom of my profile on the sidebar ("View my complete profile"), it goes to my Blogger Profile, wherein it states at the top that I reside in "Metro Detroit, Michigan." Or one can click "Resume": permanently on the top right of my blog. At the bottom of that is my lengthy blurb, "About the Author." At the very end of that and end of the Literary Resume one learns that I "reside in Melvindale, Michigan (metro Detroit)." I don't think this is rocket science. Does anyone else except Steve Hays, who has a whale of a time figuring it out?

But back to the elaborate, excruciatingly tough Google search for my bishop. Using the words above, we have success! The very first hit is called "The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit." YES! Even as you view it there, sitting on the Google search page, attentive readers may spot a subsection entitled "Contact." This actually takes one to phone numbers, email addresses, and street addresses. So it is another two-mouse-click affair: "Archdiocese of Detroit" in Google and "Contact" under the first hit. I think even Hays could manage to navigate this ineffably complicated labyrinth. Two clicks to my home parish; two clicks to my archdiocese.

Then Hays is free to inquire all he likes: to my priest, who is a big fan of my books and was reading them before he even arrived at my parish, or to my bishop, who has granted me ecclesiastical approval of one of my writing projects. Feel free, Steve. Not that he would ever actually do any of this, of course . . . but it makes for a melodramatic rhetorical flourish, doesn't it?: to make the vapid charge with no basis whatever in reality. This is a particular specialty of Hays'. He's the master of the groundless, logically challenged accusation.

Now let's see how mysterious is the contact information for my friend Paul Hoffer, who was also blasted by Hays. His blog is called Spes Mea Christus! Remember the charge that was made:

I notice the conspicuous absence of contact information, either at the end of his post, or over at his own blog, which would enable readers to report him to his parish priest or diocesan bishop in case of misconduct. . . . why don’t they provide the contact information for their religious superiors in case a reader has a grievance to lodge with superiors over their conduct?

Okay, Steve! The challenge has been met to find this difficult information. Let's head over to Paul's site and begin our quest. Less than a page view's scroll down we see "About Me" on the sidebar, and we learn that Paul lives in Norton, Ohio. Good! That wasn't too bad. Next section: "Important Links." We look through those, and . . . ah! Tenth one down is "My Diocese - the Diocese of Cleveland." A click on that brings all the contact information. Very next link is "My Parish - Saint Augustine Church - Barberton." Click: and we find all contact information again.

This is even easier than my site, but both are quite easy for anyone above a, say, third grade education, or IQ higher than a hose nozzle.

Okay; that settled, let's go over to Tribalblogue: Steve Hays' infamously imbecilic anti-Catholic site. How easy is it to find his contact information, so we can hold him accountable? Pretty quickly in scrolling down the sidebar we find his name. Clicking on that, we get a profile, where we discover that he is "a native of the greater Seattle area" -- but alas, we don't get to hear where he resides now. We have no idea where the man lives, and that's how he wants it: lest he actually be accountable to anyone. Who is Hays accountable to?! Nobody.

We see nothing about any church, or even a denomination (we know he is an anti-Catholic Calvinist), yet we are duly informed of the crucial , astonishingly revelatory information that Hays is a "semicessationist, . . . an Augustinian exemplarist . . . a Cartesian dualist. . . . an alethic realist, [and] scientific antirealist." Oh goody! I wouldn't be able to get to sleep without knowing all of this pedantic information! There is no human being we can contact in order for Hays to be accountable. He's an island unto himself, and thus almost a self-parody of a caricature of Protestant atomistic individualism that fellow Calvinists like Tim Enloe have tried so hard to maintain is not the case in Protestant ranks, and that "private judgment" does not mean what it means. But here is Exhibit #1.

The same profile page on 2-20-09 informed us that Hays was "a TA at RTS." Huge clues there, and perhaps at least an inkling of a denomination (once we figure out what "RTS" is). The current one says, "I have an MAR from RTS." But of course, folks who attend seminaries are often from different denominations. We want to know to whom the man is accountable (generally in the Protestant world, a guy called a "pastor"), and that is not to be had on his site: at least not easily, if so. If it is there, then I'm sure Steve will be happy to direct us all to it, just as I showed him where my personal parish and archdiocese info. could easily be found.

He has revealed in recent comments that he usually attends a PCA church (Presbyterian Church of America), but that is beside the point of the accountability issue. He doesn't say which church, where it is, and who is the pastor: let alone offering contact information that he demands of Catholics. As usual, it is the glaring anti-Catholic double standard. If he wants to argue that Protestants aren't accountable to anybody, let him. That will perpetuate one of the flaws that Catholic apologists have been pointing out for 500 years. He's a walking case study of what rampant sectarianism leads to.

I could find nothing else of a personal nature on his sidebar. Perhaps I missed it. So I guess we're out to sea. If Hays is accountable to anyone at all, certainly we couldn't find out who that might be by looking at his blog sidebar. But both Paul and I have easily accessible links to our home parishes.

One can only shake one's head at such rank hypocrisy and foolishness . . .

* * *

Paul Hoffer has now replied underneath Hays' hit piece:

I will offer a Christian response to your post on my own blog, but I just wanted to point out one slight error here. In regards to accountability, I offer a disclaimer that if I post anything contrary to the Catholic faith, I will make correction. I give my hometown on website, too. I also list links to both my bishop and my pastor on my website in the Important Links section. Thus, if you or any of your readers have a problem with anything I write that you think my bishop or my pastor should be aware, you may click on those links to where their addresses can be easily be found. I would also hope that you or they contact me so I could offer a response or provide correction if I do say anything offensive. I am sure that you will provide a correction to your article so no one would think you are bearing false witness against me. I will post your article and its correction on my blog so no one on my side of the Tiber could accuse of the same either.

I must say that if accountability is an issue for you perhaps you and Mr. Fan should provide links to your pastors on your websites as well lest one labels you and he hypocrites.

God bless you and yours! (3-27-11)

Hays, undaunted, makes himself even more ridiculous than he already is, in reply:

And does Armstrong's failure to heed your example indicate a lack of accountability on his part? (3-27-11)

As shown above, there is no such failure. Paul counter-replied:

He has a link to his parish under the "About Me" link and has posted articles about his particular parish on several occasions (which btw undercuts your beef here). (3-27-11)

Hays, in his increasing desperation to avoid ever admitting that he blew it and lied publicly yet again, comes back with this:

I see no email address for his priest. (3-27-11)

Etc. It's classic Hays obscurantism. Having been caught with his pants down and shown to clearly be in error about whether Paul and I list our home parishes (and never seeming to be able to retract and apologize), now he is desperately switching topics in the combox for his post, hoping that no one will notice. His cronies no doubt won't notice (they never do), but we do.

* * *

See Hays' astonishingly ridiculous "reply" -- but be duly forewarned: it will insult your intelligence like few things I have ever seen in my life.

* * * * *

Addendum (8-7-15): I have now been writing (since May 2014) a regular column, featured in the center of The Michigan Catholic: the official newspaper for the archdiocese of Detroit. Anyone can search my name on the site and see all my articles. Presumably, my archbishop is aware of that, and if I were so unaccountable and wrote egregious error in it, he would make sure I was booted out . . . 


Martin said...

I'm puzzled by his complaint from the start. Since when are priests and bishops responsible for their parishioners every ignorant remark on the internet.

Steven Buehler said...

LOL! Gee, they can't click on "About Me" and then the link to "St Joseph's My Home Parish"???? Apparently they don't want to read very far, do they?

Dave Armstrong said...

Hays was never the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but this is a new dullness even by his low standards. And it is very funny, I admit.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Dave, Mr. Hays' demands of Catholic accountability is one of the funniest arguments I have ever come across in all the time I have done apologetics. I enjoyed how you handled his assault here. One very minor correction: Mr. Hayes does not state that he presently lives in Seattle-only that he is a native of that locale. His present address is Sto-Vo-Kor, USA. Apparently the Klingon afterlife is located somewhere in our fair land.

BTW, I posted my own response to the whole article a short while ago.

God bless!

Alexander Greco said...

Is this the same Steve (men should masturbate in preparation for marriage) The Master Logician Hays?

Dave Armstrong said...

It is the very one, Alexander: The Great Masturbator.

Paul: I read yours late last night. Excellent job, as always. I will modify the location information.

This thing will probably get even uglier as it proceeds along. I'll pray that the Lord will grant you heroic patience, so you can withstand all the garbage and continue with charity, as you have been doing.

Raymond said...

Hi Dave, Mr. Hays' demands of Catholic accountability is one of the funniest arguments I have ever come across in all the time I have done apologetics

It is also funny because he is acting as if this whole 'accountibility' thing came from a Catholic when really he was the first to try to argue about it...meanwhile he won't divulge where he goes to church.

romishgraffiti said...

So today Dave is a loose cannon in the Catholic Church that needs to be reigned in. Anyone wanna bet in a few months Dave will be accused of being a papal lackey acting under orders and incapable of thinking for himself?

Scott W.

Dave Armstrong said...

LOL Whatever we do must be wrong; that much is certain. :-) The law of contradiction is irrelevant . . .

Cory Tucholski said...

I think the best part of the whole thing is Hays's response in the comment section of "The Catholic Two-Step" post:

Are you dense? To repeat what I already explained in my post, I'm responding to Hoffer and Armstrong on their own terms. A tu quoque argument.

That doesn't commit me to their standards of accountability. I might have different standards of accountability. If you're going to raise objections, learn how to raise intelligent objections.

Wow. So he's different because he "might" have different standards of accountability. Sounds like special pleading to me!

This post inspired me. I put a link to my home church on my About Me page, just so everyone knows 1) I have one, 2) I'm active in it, and 3) how to get in touch with my pastor.

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent, Cory! This will show that most Protestants actually are accountable to someone, as opposed to Hays, who seems to have no awareness that he ought to be publicly accountable to anyone whatever. I don't even know where the man live, let alone his church and pastor. He gives you guys a bad name.

Cory Tucholski said...

"He [Steve Hays] gives you guys a bad name."

I've always thought so. I particularly enjoyed Hays's comment about how masturbation is good practice for your wedding night. I laughed soooo hard when I read that the first time. I'm glad someone else (Alexander Greco) remembered that little absurdity!

Dave Armstrong said...

Better watch out, Cory, or the Great Masturbator will be writing posts mocking you up and down!

Cory Tucholski said...

Mr. Hays has already bashed on me here for disagreeing with his masturbation position. His position on masturbation. The first way didn't sound right.

Would it surprise you if his reply to me was mostly red herrings, a few logical fallacies, and an ad hominem attack?

Dave Armstrong said...

No. Same old same old there.

jimpaton82 said...

"The great masturbator"

Imagine going down in the annals of history known as this LOL.

Dave Armstrong said...

Well, he has worked very hard to earn his place in history! LOL We all need to be particularly known for one specific ability . . .