Catholics, Libs & Trads; Climate Skeptics & Warmists; Political Left, Right & Trumpists
Let’s do Rational, Gracious Dialogue

“Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which it soars to the truth.”–Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio


Harsh words, heat but not much light in internet discourse recently.    Catholic Liberals versus Catholic Traditionalists (Jesuits vs Benedictines?), climate skeptics versus climate warmists, leftists–near and far–versus conservatives versus trumpists (trumpkins?).   I know which of these sides I’m on (and if you’ve been reading my blog posts you should too, dear reader).    But even though I know in principle how I should write and should not, I don’t always follow through.   Rather than telling how other people have transgressed the rules of gracious discourse, I’m going to focus on my own experience, my own missteps, since I know what’s in my heart (most of the time), but don’t for others.


After Pope Francis delivered his second encyclical,  I wrote two posts: “Laudato Si, ‘The Curate’s Egg’: I.  The Excellent Parts”  and “Laudato Si, The Curate’s Egg’: II. The Political/Economic Parts I Find Difficult to Swallow.”   The first praised the arguments of Pope Francis that everyone should be less materialistic and be more devoted to being stewards of God’s creation.   In the second I argued against Pope Francis’s call for supranational organizations to supervise environment and economics and his endorsement of a hypothesis, anthropic global warming (AGW), that was unproven, indeed disproven by data and analysis  (see here and here, for example).

My two posts (which I had been working on for the previous month) were partially a response  to an article that had appeared several weeks earlier on Catholic Stand. “Pope Francis Has Single-handedly Destroyed Catholicism AGAIN (sic).   I initially commented  on this post that the Pope’s Encyclical was divisive and that his remarks on AGW were like an inkstain from a leaking pen on a shirt pocket, they destroyed the whole intent of the Encyclical.   An exchange of comments ensued between me and the author of the article, an exchange which ended up with the author accusing me of insulting and disrespecting Pope Francis.  I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, if you want to follow through and see if that accusation was warranted.   (Order the comments by “oldest”;  my moniker is “duhem”;  the author’s is “JoAnna”.)

I was not without fault in the exchange, but my problem–which I try to correct–is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.  I should try to see the passion and belief of the other in the dialog and speak to that.   I did leave Catholic Stand as a columnist, but rejoined a month or so ago, absent an apology from JoAnna.  After reviewing the dialog between me and JoAnna–if it deserves to be called a dialog–I continue to wonder it was right to return.  It’s still pains me to reread them.


And of course, there are the gracious comments of intellectual substance on political and news posts.   I’ll not list such in detail, but go to or National Review Online and read comments by Leftists, Liberals and Trump supporters and all those others who don’t think like me.   I should add that in 2015 I was allowed to comment on, but then was barred because of my comments on posts by Trump supporters.   And that doesn’t bother me.

Any suggestions, dear reader, for making comments more gracious, more seeking to find the truth?    And do they apply to this post or this blog?

CODA (added later)

 What bothers me more than spiteful talk, is the reluctance of people to try to get at the truth of something.   Everyone seems to want to rest contented in their preconceptions without stretching their horizons.   As for me, before 1991 I was a firm believer in anthropic global warming and its dire consequences.   Then I read articles by Richard Lindzen, chaired professor of meteorology at MIT, Fred Singer, physicist and environmental scientist, and Frederick Seitz, past President of the National Academy of Sciences, and I changed my mind.   Before 1994 I was an agnostic secular Jew, but then I read “Who Moved the Stone”, by Frank Morison, and I was convinced that the Resurrection of Christ was real, and if that was true, so was the rest of the New Testament, including the giving of the keys of the Kingdom to Peter by Jesus.  And so, Top Down to Jesus, I became a Catechumen and was baptized into the Church.

More to explorer


  1. let’s not over think this,,,,frankie is a saul alinskyite, he’s a heretic and an apostate, end of story. anyone suffering loss of peace and contentment let alone joy of their belief in trying to rationalize or apologize for this plant by the subversives is wasting precious time and mental energy. countless zillions of christians leave their churches because they understand the sermon on the mount fundamentals and other basics of christian living, without the help of a middlemen or women. if any church can civilize otherwise barbaric and savage behavior in their flock, they have done good. trying account for or understand the current pope is like trying to square a circle, and even GOD CAN’T SQUARE A CIRCLE. pax vobiscum.

  2. It all depends where your views are shared, doesn’t it? To cultivate a sense of horror or maybe humility I found sharing my views on nominally conservative Catholic blogs can cause dissension. Three such views are:
    —Vatican II has been destructive for the Church and should be entirely abrogated.
    —Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to our country in years.
    —Pope Francis is an unmitigated disaster for the Church and may not be the legitimate Pope. Pope Benedict XVI may be the legitimate Pope.

  3. To Very well educated by Jesuits: Thanks for your comment. There is, I believe a certainty irony in your description of Pope Francis and the title of this post (and your moniker), but I see where you’re going with the overall message.
    To Michael Dowd: thanks for your comment. Did you mean “a sense of humor” rather than “a sense of horror”? And, I agree with your first view, 90%; your second view, 40%; and the first part of your third, 90%, the second part 20%.

  4. Civility in comboxes is overrated. If you can’t properly analyze the “facts” from even the most vitriolic post, then it probably says more about you than the person posting. It just so happens that many vitriolic postings contain no facts, just vitriol. For instance, I credit the Jesuits for helping me to sharpen my analytical skills. Like when they taught me that truth( which is objective) is in the gray (which is something subjective).

  5. Civility in comboxes is overrated.

    It’s not ‘over-rated’. It’s just that calls for civility are usually not undertaken in good faith. (Glenn Reynolds uses the term ‘civility bull****’). It’s an excuse to get rid of an abrasive dissident by feigning a concern with procedural matters. Amy Welborn is the only civility scold I can ever recall encountering who wasn’t a phony.

  6. Bob, Yes. And you know you are right when they will not discuss, and when they will not let you speak. You really know you are right when they refuse to let you speak because they have determined that what you say is “hate speech” or a “hate crime.” Of course when they do that, you know they hate you. Who’d a thunk this applies not only to the world rulers of this present darkness and their minions, but also to those controlling the highest and the almost highest offices in the Church? Guy McClung, Texas

  7. I try to keep it simple. The best policy is to not discuss any thing with a liberal. The dishonesty, false equivalences/logical fallacies, and stupidity promote migraines. We generally conclude by shouting past each other.

    If you feel you must converse with a liberal, forget about making statements of fact. Fact, truth, etc. only exist when they advance/promote liberal chimeras. Facts don’t apply to liberals.

    If you must, simply ask questions (Ann Coulter years ago): What data, facts, etc. do you cite? Compared to what? How much would that cost (not only money, but also collateral damage/unintended consequences)?

    Here’s my translation of the typical, liberal’s stance in a debate: “You’re Hitler [or homophobe/islamophobe/misogynist/racist/. . .] and I don’t care what you think!”

  8. Good post. It touched on environmentalism, global warming, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, etc.

    I do not believe in the fiction of anthropogenic global warming; however, dumping billions of tons of pollutants into the worldwide environment every year from burning coal, oil and methane is an untried experiment, and will have unanticipated and undesirable consequences. We are supposed to be stewards of the environment which God created. To avert the dangerous effects of fossil fuel pollution, baseload electrical power should be generated from nuclear (e.g., AP-1000, APWR, US EPR, ESBWR, Sodium Cooled PRISM, Pebble Bed Gas Cooled Reactor, Molten Salt Thorium Breeder Reactor, etc.). And in areas where feasible, solar and wind may be used (but they have capacity factors of less than 30% and are hence unreliable). Furthermore, hydrogen may be produced from water for transportation vehicles by using nuclear generated electricity, obviating the need for oil and gasoline for transportation. God has provided enough thorium and uranium in Earth’s crust to keep humanity prosperous for tens of thousands of years via Th-232 / U-233 and U-238 / Pu-239 breeders.

    Pope Francis should stick to preaching repentance and conversion, righteousness and holiness, not environmental consciousness. Stewardship of the environment is only one outgrowth of being repentant, not a cause. Good works of mercy for one’s neighbor rank higher. Yet, while the Pope over-emphasizes environmental consciousness, not once does he point out the solution – nuclear energy. Instead, he jumps onto the renewable energy bandwagon without realizing that due to a less than 30% capacity factor, every solar installation and every wind farm necessitates spinning (and polluting) fossil fuel reserve for the 70% of the time when the renewable energy project cannot provide electricity due to the vagaries and whimsy of fickle sunlight (clouds, nighttime, short winter days, etc.) and wind breeze.

    Pope Francis has said and written heretical things (particularly about communion for adulterous relationships), but he does so not to be a heretic but because of an excess of sentimentality that he misunderstands as mercy. He is a Latin American Marxist Peronist, but he sees himself not as that but as a warrior for social justice, kindness, niceness, and inclusivity. He is a product of his culture in Argentina and his formation as a Jesuit. He does not intend to be or do evil, and would be mortified to realize that that is exactly what is happening. Pray that the Lord opens his eyes. Otherwise, yes, he should be deposed and anathematized for the good the Church. And no, I do not like it one bit. But we are called to pray for the Pope regardless, and to love him because like it or not, he is still the Holy Pontiff.

    I voted for neither Trump nor Clinton, but for Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party because that party has a platform which is more closely aligned with Church teaching that any other which I have read. Yes, I knew that Castle could never win, but I was going to be damned before I ever voted for either major candidate. I was disgusted with Trump’s lewd comments to Bobby Bush on camera, and his ignorance of the Constitution and founding principles of this Republic, and his childish behavior of trying to get back at anyone who would criticize him. Nevertheless, I was horrified at the prospect of an utterly corrupt and vile reincarnation of Livia Drusilla Caesar (i.e., Hillary) from ascending the White House. Or maybe I should call her Poppaea Sabina, wife of Nero? She should be tried in court for the various crimes she has done and imprisoned. On the other hand, I do wish that God would erase for all eternity Trump’s twitter account. That said, Trump is the President, he’s better than Hillary (though 1 plus 0 is only 1), and he does some really good things on occasion that Hillary would never do.

    As for the rest, I can be and have been rather judgmental and vindictive in some of my writings. I frankly despise those who murder the pre-born and those would give not just sanction but accolade and praise to sexual perversion. And I have zero tolerance for anti-nuclear environmental ignoramuses who say they care about climate change and then fight against the one thing which can safely, effectively and reliably replace carbon-spewing fossil fuel. So sometimes it’s best for me to not comment on a story I read because my blood pressure rises and my cardiac stents undergo a hydrostatic pressure test that my physician never intended they should endure.

  9. which is to say that I am a phony? Possibly you’re right.

    I’ve not seen you at work in that vein. Tito Edwards runs this site, so it won’t be your doing if I get banned. I had several specific individuals in mind, and, no, you weren’t one of them.

    I’ve seen sites go to seed due to a deficit of moderation, but I’ve seen more often moderation employed to suit the whims of the moderator. When the moderator does this and strikes attitudes, the repellent quality of the exercise is compounded. (Rod Dreher provides examples of this sort of behavior).

  10. “I did leave Catholic Stand as a columnist, but rejoined a month or so ago, absent an apology from JoAnna. After reviewing the dialog between me and JoAnna–if it deserves to be called a dialog–I continue to wonder it was right to return. It’s still pains me to reread them.”

    I have enjoyed your posts on TAC, and conclude that your passion on things political is fair. This post is healthy. Your humility and care in your search for truth is inspiring.

    Keep at it.
    As for JoAnna. Stop going back to “re-read” them. Penance then progress.
    Peace Dr. Bob.

  11. Two of the things that feed the unhealthy communication so common these days are a failure to clearly state opinion versus fact and the failure to give persons of opposing views a way to save face. Together, they are disastrous.

    Look at Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus’ longer comment above. Note that he is quite clear that he is talking about his views. The reader experiences no confusion in the communication and that lets the reader take it or leave it on its own terms.

    The failure to let folks save face is, to my mind, a rather serious problem across a range of human activities. Look at the National Anthem issue in the NFL; we are rapidly setting up a winner or loser scenario that may destroy the professional support. A small bit of face-saving would avoid all of that unpleasantness. Suppose, for example, the NFL sent a very public invitation to the most notable players involved, asking them to attend a very private meeting. During the meeting, the NFL agreed to create a foundation targeted to address some of the issues important to players in exchange for their participation in league activities like the National Anthem? Sure some folks would be furious but the face-saving would go a long way to removing the politics from the sport again.

    In less significant, but more regular ways, I think we have to let those we are communicating with save face. it really isn’t hard to say “I really like the way you phrased ___. That made me think and I appreciate it.”

    Boom, done. Civility restored and conversation is perhaps over. Even if not, the conversation has one less disputed point for acknowledging that the opponent is right on an issue.

  12. I should add, that I don’t dislike all Trump supporters–my wife is one; just the ones who take as holy writ, without looking at the output carefully. By the way, I understand there are reports from all sorts of people whom I respect that Breitbart is a real nice guy, a prince among men…So there are always two faces we present, public and private.

  13. By the way, I understand there are reports from all sorts of people whom I respect that Breitbart is a real nice guy

    He was. The problem is he died, and left his magnificent site in the hands of people who have sullied his name. I prefer to refer to that site as At least that’s intellectually consistent.

    You raise a lot of interesting points I’ve been thinking about myself lately. As someone who cherishes fruitful dialogue but who has also contributed my share of hostility, it’s a struggle.

    Art’s right in that calls for civility can be phony, but what it seems you’re referring to are vitriolic public comments which are not even remotely based in reason or attempts to treat one’s interlocutor with fairness.

    To me, I’m mainly concerned about intellectual honesty. I don’t mind snark or even vitriol so long as the arguments you are making are based on an honest assessment of the facts (as you know them). Strawmen, red herrings, tu quoque – these are the logical fallacies that drive me nuts. I’m also bothered by the obsession with binary choices. For example, I’ve been called a liberal AND a Trumpkin on the same exact thread at National Review because I dared to criticize Trump, but also criticized one of the resident leftist trolls for making an absurd argument (I forget the specific issue).

    I think the latter issue is really where things seem to have gone off the rails. Between Trump and Pope Francis, it is almost impossible to have a position other than love/hate for either man. If you show even the slightest appreciation for something Trump has done, or even pushback against overbroad attacks, you’re a Trumpkin. On the other hand, in other circles, criticizing him for anything is a sign you’re basically a crypto Communist. It’s just an insane level of tribalism.

  14. Thank you much Paul Z. You express my position much better than I did (or could). By the way–evidence of synapses getting further apart as I age–I meant Bannon supposedly is a real nice guy according to some reports.
    I would like to reply to nasty comments as did Disraeli, when told by a member of the Opposition, “You will die either in prison or of some fearful disease”, and Disraeli replied “That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your politics or your mistress.”

  15. I do not know of any regular contributor or regular commenter here at TAC being a phony or behaving in a phony fashion.

    Never been a problem here. There was a certain amount of supercilious artifice deployed by the Vox Nova crew who used to post here. Academics are like that and so are the people who ape them.

  16. On the other hand, in other circles, criticizing him for anything is a sign you’re basically a crypto Communist. It’s just an insane level of tribalism.

    I haven’t found that among people with an abiding interest in public affairs. More people who have responded to Trump the man in a visceral way. The issue was odd: Ted Cruz eligibility to stand as a candidate. A great deal of discussion of that nature consisted of Joe Blow saying ‘the constitution requires you be.. [pull criterion out of rectum].” Either that or it’s something bizarre like the crew who were claiming Eleanor Darragh’s birth certificate (of which the Cruz campaign posted an image to answer his detractors) was a computer-generated fake. In this case, partisanship for Trump was inducing people to say 15th century case law trumps 18th century statutory law, a thesis I’m sure it never occurred to any of them to take the slightest interest in until the day-before-yesterday.

  17. Dr. Kurland,

    De Mortuis nil nisi bonum.

    Andrew Breitbart died 1 March 2012. His on-line journal lives on the backs of lesser men.

    Pamphleteers/propagandists go way back. I think some would be shocked at the incivility among and between certain founding fathers (Adams and Jefferson come to mind) and the newspapers that supported each. An example of incivility extremes that can be plumbed is how Aaron Burr abruptly ended Alexander Hamilton’s good works.

  18. “CAN’T SQUARE A CIRCLE” WHY? God cannot contradict Himself. If circles are squared, There will be no circles. We will have no wheels, no rainbows, no orbits, no globes, no halos, no electrons. God promised us rainbows

  19. Mary-He with the keys is actually getting ready to square a circle, he B who declares I AM, I am of the new divine quadrinity. Can you say “woman priest” ? Guy McClung, Texas

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