By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong (1-25-12)
Catholic "apologist" (???) Robert Sungenis is desperately trying to evade responsibility for promoting a wacko video by Gnostic anti-Christian nutcase Jay Weidner.
In his "reply" to that heavily documented paper (R.I.P. to Dave "Stairway to Heaven" Armstrong), Bob pulls out all the stops with an attempted reductio ad absurdum treatment of my well-known love of classic rock music, as a supposed tongue-in-cheek, turn-the-tables equivalent of my critique of his conspiratorial space-case views. In so doing, he utilizes (not just once, but twice) words of someone else that are not even my own; but Bob presents them as my words. In the pitifully failed effort to be funny and at the same time to allegedly make a profound "gotcha" point, Bob does indeed provide plenty of comic relief.
But the funny thing is how bad his reductio is, and how ridiculous he makes himself in the details of it, that involve factual whoppers. It's like laughing oneself silly, watching a terrible 1950s science fiction B-movie. He simply doesn't know how to do it. People are usually either very good at satire or very bad. Bad satire is very funny, but not for the reasons that those who write it, think it is funny. It's hilarious because the bad attempt at satire is itself funny, in how lousy it is. It also has a pathetic aspect. Bob's attempt fits the bill in spades.
Bob first directs his reductio towards my stated admiration of the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven. The point was to show in a "funny" way how my liking music written and performed by drug- and sex-crazed degenerates, is no different from his advocacy of wacko nutcase conspiracy theories written by New Age loons. He is trying to "prove" that I tarred him by a guilt-by-association or "poisoning the well" or the genetic fallacy, and so he returns the favor with a reductio.
But apart from the obviously bad logic in the failed attempt at a humorous analogy, Bob stumbles in his wild interpretations. It's understood (I reiterate) that he is being humorous and not being literal; yet given the kind of people who regularly defend him on my site, it's quite possible that some of them will actually believe silliness such as the following (with my interjections in blue and brackets):
Wasn’t that song about drugs, as were most of the songs coming out of that 1960s hippie “peace and love” “drop in and drop out” era? [actually most informed commentators think it was about Celtic or Norse mythology; and Plant was a lover of Tolkien also; Led Zeppelin did a few songs straight from Lord of the Rings; e.g., The Battle of Evermore, from the same album as Stairway to Heaven] The famous line in the song goes, “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven…” Translation: at that time, you bought LSD (lysergic acid developed and promoted for the hippi [sic] generation by Dr. Timothy Leary) and it gave you a “trip” that almost seemed like you died and went to heaven. My guess [and that's all it is] is that Dave probably indulged in some acid from time to time [I've never done drugs at any time, and have not even ever been drunk, to my knowledge; never smoked, either], and had a wonderful “trip” to nirvana, and hearing “Stairway to Heaven” forty years later he just can’t help reminiscing over those glory days [since there were no such "glory days" I can hardly fondly remember them]. We can see Dave now, riding in his 72’ Pontiac Firebird [it was a '70 Ford Torino] high as a kite on acid [no ticket for DUI in my record] with his buddies [right], all of them screaming the lyrics of “Stairway to Heaven” out the car windows. [I was in high school from 1973-1976, and my friends -- most of them music majors -- were into classical music, not rock music; I played trombone in the orchestra and was an usher for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra]
If we want to find someone high on acid (?), driving around with a bunch of rabble-rousing teenage rebels, it might very well be Bob himself, as we learn from his conversion story in Surprised by Truth:
But by the time I was a freshman in college and was away from the constraints of a nominally-Catholic home, I did what so many in my situation have done: I made friends with the wrong crowd and promptly fell away from the Church. I soon found myself floundering with no sense of direction . . . (pp. 104-105)
I converted to serious evangelical Christianity in April of 1977, five months before I ever went to college. I didn't live in dorms; I lived with my parents; worked at the medical library while in college, and I was hardly running around with crazies; in fact, it was a rather lonely, isolated time in my life. I did immoral things like hiking the Grand Canyon. In my fourth year of college I got involved with a wild, dope-infested fraternity, called Inter-Varsity. :-) As you can see, my experience was vastly different from Bob's. Apparently, he felt he could project his own college-era experience onto mine. Wrong. I was the true rebel. I had rejected the whole youth culture routine and had devoted myself to our Lord Jesus and a serious, life-transforming Christianity. That was radical: not the usual sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll lifestyle of teens that (it sounds like) Bob followed, like millions upon millions of others.
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Dialogue on Romanticism and ...Nov 20, 2006
Dave writes: “I think I was spared this, because, unlike you all, I had the sort of Christian upbringing which had me afraid of so much as listening to a Led Zeppelin record, lest I should become possessed by the Devil. Yes, it would tend to ...
Commentary: Oh, we’re beginning to see the dynamics here. Poor Dave was conflicted. He just knew that Stairway to Heaven “had everything great lyrics, an unbelievable vocal, dramatic drumming, pretty guitar lines...” but his “Christian upbringing” made him feel guilty for liking it. Ask any psychologist and he’ll tell you that this wrecks havoc on the human soul. Unfortunately, Dave decided to alleviate the conflict and take the plunge, but in the wrong direction. Somewhere along the line Dave began to believe that Zeppelin and his followers were no longer “possessed by the Devil,” and thus Dave begins to speak rather admiringly of them. This is the same group whose Stairway to Heaven, if played backwards, was understood to reveal that the Led Zeppelin group chose to worship Satan. (See this and many other reports: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbNqeDr5mlQ).
Perhaps this might have worked if my own positions were accurately described. The big problem, however, is that I never wrote what he cites me as writing. It might have been helpful for Bob to cite actual web pages, so people could see some context. But he provides no link. In this instance, the post in question is "Dialogue on Romanticism and Christianity" (with Keith Rickert, Jr.). See the other guy in the title? He's the one whom Bob quoted. His words are in blue (as I often do in dialogues; just like this present paper), and he wrote this, not me. My background was entirely different. There were no rules whatever about listening to music, and I was only nominally Methodist.
Consequently I have never had ridiculous notions about music as Bob has. I wasn't legalistic against it or fanatical in favor of it. I understood (once I was old enough to have the wits to analyze it) that music is not produced by canonized saints and that good or great art is not the same as sainthood; that lyrics can be (and often are) morally objectionable. I never went through a legalistic phase of throwing out all of my records after a conversion.
I was never influenced by rock songs to behave in an immoral way in the slightest: not one bit. I rarely listen to lyrics in the first place. I'm notorious for not retaining lyrics, because I don't care about them. I am almost solely interested in the music. Even with the musician I admire most for lyrics, Bob Dylan, I couldn't give anyone the entire lyric of a single one of his songs, and I listen to his lyrics probably more than anyone else's. Thus Bob's quack psychoanalysis misses the mark as far as east is from west, since he is analyzing another person's report, that was vastly different from my own mindset then or now.
Bob then goes back to one of my papers on music that expresses an admiration for the album Led Zeppelin IV and remarks:
Now, there’s two icons of the world that you want your children to emulate: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page!
Right. Of course I have never taught my four children (ages 20, 18, 15, and 10) to emulate rock stars or to live in ways that many lyrics of songs suggest. If they emulate anyone, it is my wife and I and other Catholic and Christian models, which is why they are not into drinking, sex, drugs (just as my wife Judy and I weren't), rebellion, and vulgar music (infinitely worse than anything Led Zeppelin ever put out) that is so prevalent today. They spend their time with good Catholic youth groups, pro-life activities, charitable activities, teaching children catechism, music ministry, helping the youth minister, watching carefully controlled television shows (almost all rented), playing sports, riding bikes, etc. They are even more conservative (and far, far more religiously observant) than I was because I was a good liberal in my attitudes (if not my actions) up till age 18. It's all in how one is brought up.
Sungenis then engages in a lengthy lecture on various aspects of immoral conduct of rock stars, which is perfectly irrelevant, since I have never in my wildest dreams sought to deny any such thing. I simply like the music. The lives of many classical composers were every bit as immoral, if we want to really get into this. Does that mean that we don't listen to them anymore? Beethoven is out the window because he had many affairs and never married and was nominally Catholic at best? Tchaikovsky is out because he was a practicing homosexual (like Bernstein and Copland and others); Wagner and Liszt because they were notorious womanizers; Brahms (also never married) because he frequented the prostitutes in Vienna; Schubert because he appears to have likely died from venereal disease; Mendelssohn and Mahler because they were (gasp!!!) -- worst sin of all -- Jewish? Virtually no one would take such a view.
He makes himself even more silly by spelling names wrong and botching basic facts: "Jimmy" [Jimi] Hendrix, "Mitch" [Mick] Jagger; claiming that Hendrix and Jim Morrison "committed suicide" (Hendrix choked in his vomit after an overdose; Morrison had a heart attack in his bathtub: neither death a known suicide method, to put it mildly). Morris never "stripped naked" on stage; there was one famous incident (that I won't go into in mixed company) that is notoriously disputed as to even what actually happened. But in any event it wasn't total nudity, for sure. I'm not defending it; I'm merely making the point that Sungenis seems to have little or no regard for basic accuracy in reporting known incidents.
Having made a total fool of himself already (in the course of a failed comedic reductio), Sungenis steps in it again by quoting more imaginary words of mine that I never wrote:
Commentary: You zee the problem, now, Dr. Sigmund? Look at dis poor boy! He’s pushing 50 years old and he’s still waiting in line for a Zeppelin ticket vith teenagers of whom he iz old enough to be their grandfather! My guess is that Dave’s tombstone will read: “Maybe I’ll see Zeppelin as I travel the Stairway to Heaven. Wish me luck!”Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Michele Bachmann: Anti‐Catholic?Jul 14, 2011
Dave writes: “I was actually in the running for a ticket to the ‘07 Led Zeppelin reunion, but alas, that failed to go my way.”
Once again no link is provided and Bob makes another embarrassing mistake. It reminds me of his claim a year or so ago when we were wrangling over his geocentric views: that we supposedly met and had a meeting in California (complete with further descriptions of it): a thing that never happened. I have met Bob once and it was in Virginia in 1998. So we have imaginary meetings, fictional descriptions of what I believe, and "quotes" of mine that never occurred. Very impressive! Does this not indicate a problem in accuracy and citation, and a certain faultiness in care and thoughtfulness? It verifies rather spectacularly Bob's problems of ramshackle research that were evident in my critique.
In my actual post, "Michele Bachmann: Anti-Catholic?," the words cited as my own come from commentator "williamthegreat": deep into the combox discussions. He was replying to my saying, "I'm goin' to see McCartney in nine days (first time)!" by writing:
Sadly, I have yet to see either Macca or Jimmy Page at a live venue, which would be my two greatest wishes. As a songwriter and a guitarist myself, they are my greatest idols. I was actually in the running for a ticket to the '07 Led Zeppelin reunion, but alas, that failed to go my way.
I have never seen Led Zeppelin. Nor would I even wish to now. The last I heard from Plant and Page working together was the 1998 album Walking Into Clarksdale, which I thought was terrible, and got rid of after one listen. I like some of Plant's solo work, though.
Sungenis goes into even more ridiculous tongue-in-cheek analysis that is so stupid I won't even bother documenting it. Trust me on this . . . But now he becomes serious and leaves the reductio. I shall cite the entirety of this concluding "serious" section. It is as ludicrous as what preceded it:
Now for a moment of reality:
The foregoing was to show what I can do, from David Armstrong’s own words and actions, to make him appear like a sick and dangerous man. Not a very pretty picture, is it? I did it merely to show that this is what David Armstrong consistently does to me on his website, constantly looking for any chink in my armor that he can exploit to make me look bad in the public eye. I felt Dave needed a taste of his own medicine.
But it ain't my "medicine." I present facts about Bob's absurd, illogical, non-factual views on various matters; he comes back with this pathetic attempt at failed humor that misses the mark entirely: with fallacies everywhere, fake "quotes" and sheer silliness.
The latest attempt by Dave Armstrong to engage in his predictable character assassination is to make a fuss over the DVD of the Month that I put on our website: Jay Weidner’s new documentary on Stanley Kubrick and how Kubrick was hired by NASA to fake the moon landings (http://www.catholicintl.com/index.php/latest‐news/620).
Thanks for the verification, Bob. Now if you remove the material we have it documented and reiterated in your own words, complete with the URL (and we have screenshots, too).
Dave Armstrong’s hypocrisy shines through when he admits to us that he still listens to the sex‐crazed, drugcrazed, anti‐establishment‐crazed lyrics of “Hendrix, Cream, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Stones, Doors, CCR, etc”
Yes, I like good music. So what?! Who does Bob listen to: Pat Boone? Bob wrote in one paper that Beethoven and Mozart (as well as Lincoln and Roosevelt: dunno which one) had syphilis. Does that mean now that we can't listen to the music of Mozart and Beethoven because they weren't perfectly holy and saintly?
(so much so that he entered a contest to see if he could get a ticket to hear them again just five years ago),
. . . which never happened, because this quote was from someone else, as shown. Note that now we are in the serious re-cap portion of his paper, and Bob repeats the myth. But so what if I did, anyway? It's just a music concert. Does Bob only go to Catholic supermarkets and banks, where everyone is a practicing Catholic? Is he careful to avoid buying anything whatever from China: where the country is officially Communist and atheist and where forced abortion and horrendous labor conditions abound? Does he avoid buying anything from Japan, because very few are Christians there? I highly doubt it. It's impossible to avoid non-Catholics and non-Christians. We can't live in a bubble. Our task is to be in the world but not of it.
Bob engages in Pharisaic legalism: the sort of mentality that recoiled when Jesus ate with the sinners that He came to save. Jesus said:
Matthew 15:10-11 . . . Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
We can't avoid being with non-Catholics and non-Christians and items or art, as the case may be, produced by same. The intelligent Christian knows how to discern the good from the bad. If something is sinful, we are not to emulate or be influenced by it. If I start advocating drugs or free sex or drunkenness or any immoral thing, and do so by the direct influence of the lives of rock stars (and classical composers), then I am wrong, and acting immorally. But to simply listen to music that is not absolutely perfect morally, is not a sin.
I'll guarantee that if Bob would list the music he listens to (unless he listens to none at all, except for Vivaldi, who was a Catholic priest), that there will be immoral people involved, and he'll be in the same boat he puts me in. It's a certainty, since virtually all pop musicians have engaged in promiscuous sex. Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash has even noted more than once that the primary reason most (male) musicians pursued music was to "get the girls."
but when it comes to someone questioning the political establishment, Dave draws his arbitrary line in the sand and would rather demean a fellow Catholic than even consider the possibility that the establishment could be pulling the wool over our eyes. The most pitiful thing is, Dave Armstrong never watched Weidner’s DVD. But this is typical of his style – shoot first and ask questions later. If he had watched the DVD he would have seen that Weidner doesn’t dispute that NASA sent a man to the moon; rather, he has a third alternative: NASA sent someone to the moon, but in order to sell the program to the world, NASA staged the moon landings in a studio.
Right, Bob. In your thought-world, this is compelling, profound "evidence." I didn't have to watch this piece of trash to learn about it, because I read about it. I was aware that he actually thought there were moon landings, because I took note of it in my paper, citing a review by Andrew W. Griffin, who stated:
Weidner leans towards the idea that the U.S. did go to the Moon but that the Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972 shown to the public were all staged and Kubrick was the guy directing the whole thing. . . .
Thus, we have the sweet irony of Bob blasting me for not watching a video by a Gnostic lunatic (pun intended), who believes that aliens called "Archons" visited the earth and gave us the Bible, to fool and hoodwink and oppress mankind:
. . . the early Christians were actually Gnostic followers of Jesus instead of what we, today, call Christians. The entire New Testament was completely rewritten by Constantine and all of the information on the Archons was removed . . . Anyone who is following this mad, insane god, Jehovah, will be lead to their death for certain.. . . The defining myth of Western mythology is that Jehovah told Adam and Eve that they could not eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Not only that but if they did eat of it, they would surely die. Yet they both ate of it and didn’t die so he wasn’t even telling them the truth.
Clearly, on the other hand, while he urges me to watch movies made by this anti-Christian wingnut, Bob didn't read all of my critique, or else he wouldn't make a dumb remark like this. But think of what this means. We did go to the moon (presumably with a man; or maybe it was a monkey?), so says Bob and nutcase / space case Weidner but it wasn't in the period of 1969-1972. So there had to have been a secret rocket launched sometime after 1972, and the whole mission took place with no one's knowledge about it except those who planned it. A rocket, with all that is entailed in that, could secretly launch and go to the moon. That is an amazing conspiratorial scenario indeed. But Weidner covers himself by only "leaning" toward the idea. Bob continues on with his profundities:
Weidner shows very persuasive evidence since he is a film expert who can clearly see the patchwork cinematography that NASA tried to pass off as authentic moon landings. He then tells the story of how Stanley Kubrick was hired by NASA in 1964 to make fake moon landings, but Kubrick wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, of course. But Kubrick didn’t want to die and have humanity at the mercy of the US government’s lies. So he made a movie in the late 70s titled “The Shinning,” [sic] and in it Kubrick tells the story of the government conspiracy in symbolic language. If you ever wondered what “The Shinning” (starring Jack Nicholson) was trying to say but never had a clue, Weidner will show you in graphic detail.
Yes; who could doubt it? I could see, though, that Weidner is as nutty as the character played by Jack Nicholson became in the movie . . . that's a clear connection that I can observe here. So all is not lost! There is a connection between The Shining and Weidner's goofy, tin foil hat hoax theories, which is nutsville and madness.
So, please forgive my attempts at comic relief with Dave Armstrong’s prior and present life, but enough is enough.
You are forgiven, Bob, because of the laughs you have provided all of us (for reasons other than you think).
Perhaps Dave will think twice before he pulls the trigger again.
I pulled it today all of one day after his piece, so obviously I am trembling in abject fear . . .
January 24, 2012
January 25, 2012 (alas, the last year we have on earth . . .)