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Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Review of: The Man Behind the Curtain -- That Book About Michael Voris

UPDATE 12/28/2016:  After visiting with some colleagues last night, I have concluded that I am uncertain that Jones was in the right for writing this book.  While it is true that Jones has the ability to dissect and deconstruct the Voris situation--ought he have done it?  Of this, I am uncertain.  It may be that this was some species of detraction on Jones' part.  This event might not be resolved in my mind for quite a while.  I have been a fan of both Jones as well as Voris to one degree or another.  For example, on Election Night, I was following the election of Donald Trump through Church Militant TV's live feed.  And I often refer to Jones' books in my discussions.

One thing is for certain, should I ever meet Michael Voris in person, I will likely thank him for the yeoman's work he's done for the Catholic community.  I have maintained for years that we need to "stop punching right," stop shooting our allies in the back of the head, and use all of the foot soldiers, berserkers, and commandos that we have at our disposal.

I will also thank Jones for all of the heavily-researched 1000+ pages of historical and cultural deconstruction that he has done for us all.  The tomes that Jones has written are unmatched and essential weapons in this ongoing culture war that seeks to destroy us all.

If I can enjoy Vox Day's Alt-Right victories, in spite of his denial of the Holy Trinity, or if I can laugh and cheer on Milo Yannanopolis as he eviscerates liberals, in spite of his flaming self-destruction, then I can certainly remain a fan of others on my side who may have checkered pasts.

I'm a flawed guy, too.

______________________________

Earlier this year, you may have heard that E. Michael Jones published a book about a curious phenomenon in the Catholic community. He wrote a brief e-book that covered the scandals and homosexual past of Church Militant TV's Michael Voris.

However, Jones' book is something of a phenomenon in and of itself. Readers of his book, The Man Behind the Curtain: Michael Voris and the Homosexual Vortex, will surely get more than they asked for, as Jones endeavors to smuggle in his own editorial review of the Traditional Catholic movement.

From the outset, Jones' book comes off as a delicious--almost gossipy--profile of the narcissistic homosexual flavor that is sewn throughout the Church Militant TV (CMTV) culture. For example, following in the footsteps of Gerard van den Aardweg, Jones goes over how homosexual desire can stem from a lack of same-sex adaptation. These same desires are rooted in a hyperdramatic narcissism, which many consider unquestionable in the case of Michael Voris.
"Plato said that when a man creates any institution, it will mirror the state of his soul. The cult-like atmosphere at Church Militant seemed to bear out what the philosopher said. Deprived of the possibility of using a parish to serve his spiritual narcissism, Voris created an "apostolate," a code word for his self-ordained position as savior of the Catholic Church.
"Becoming a crusader for Catholicism was in many ways the worst thing Voris could have done after his conversion, because by putting himself in the limelight, he simply hardened and exacerbated the narcissism that lay at the root of his neurosis and was the cause of his homosexuality."
Voris' melodramatic damage control (when he "came out" in his April 21, 2016 video, "Limiting God") affirms Plato's claim. After his supposed departure from homosexuality, Voris wasted no time in striving to become admired. He rushed to become a Church spokesman and a fighter of corruption. Affirming his own ego is precisely what led to scenes of Voris riding horses, holding swords, and talking about the importance of masculinity.

As it was, Voris was a neophyte--a new convert to his belief. In spite of the fact that the Church has long held prohibitions against neophytes becoming public figures, Voris had no problem with bypassing the necessary time to heal from his poisoned mind. The outlet of the media would always be there as his soapbox--especially considering that he owned the media company, Concept Communications, LLC.

Voris would go to the media format with his message, in spite of what 1 Timothy would have to say about such a move:
"[I]f a man knows not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? Not a neophyte: lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgement of the devil." -1 Timothy 3:5-6
E. Michael Jones delivers all of this insight and more. He tells of Voris exploding at his spiritual advisor when the latter tried to introduce CMTV's young executive producer to a woman. We are told that Christine Niles had four children with a man in an irregular marriage, but then left him to work with Voris and eventually become his fag hag. We learn that because he was both president of St. Michael's Media and the CEO of his own Concept Communications, Voris was able to personally profit from tax-exempt money that moved from St. Michael's Media to Concept. We are shown e-mails, told of Voris' childhood nicknames, informed about his brief life in seminary, and many other meaty topics.

On what premise does Jones justify discussion of these, seemingly, internal squabbles? He told me directly after I asked him.
Laramie Hirsch: Dr. Jones, as it is with all of your books, I very much enjoyed reading The Man Behind the Curtain: Michael Voris and the Homosexual Vortex. But there is a nagging question in my mind that I cannot answer on my own. And I figure that someone will eventually ask you this question in the future, so here it goes.
What was your motivation for writing this book? What purpose does it serve? Some accuse you of writing something to be gossipy and to make a quick sensational buck. However, this account was very eye-opening and it confirmed suspicions. Now, if I view the Vortex, I have some context for the source of my information. Am I missing anything?
This book led to my purchase of The Catholic Church and the Cultural Revolution just last week.
A fan. –LH
E Michael Jones: I wrote the book first of all to explain what really happened. Secondly, I wrote it to clarify the theological points that everyone was missing in the discussion. The dominant culture's downplaying of the true magnitude of this sin combined with Catholics ignoring the Church's teaching on penance and adopting the Protestant notion of cheap grace made this story incomprehensible.
Laramie Hirsch: Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, this is a case study of how cheap grace can turn into a time bomb for a lot of unsuspecting bystanders. Keep up the writing, and good luck on your upcoming travels.

Jones was in a unique position to explain what happened with Voris and CMTV. He was there. He had been a guest on their show, and he had even led a talk alongside Voris in February, shortly before the "coming out" fiasco in April.

Indeed, Voris' situation was a small glimpse of the overall problem facing Protestant America. The idea of cheap grace causes one to run all over the established norms of morality and social life. Who can argue with that? Rather than "convalesce" and recover from the real damage done during a life of sin, Michael Voris went all out, projecting into the public square his frustrations with his homosexual struggle.

In Jones' book, he basically repeats his statement to me. Americans internalized a Protestant view of grace, ignoring nature and the gravity of sin.
"According to that theology of cheap grace, both the stain and wound disappear in the emotional rush that occurs when the sinner gets washed in the Blood of the Lamb. This is clearly how Luther viewed it, and Calvin picked up the notion from him. Viewed negatively, this form of Protestant cheap grace obliterates all of the bad habits we had acquired as sinners, even extremely vicious habits like sodomy, which have a deranging effect on the mind and personal prudence."
Jones concludes that Voris' "coming out" Vortex episode was hardly Catholic at all. I have to agree. Reading Jones' account, it is clear that Michael Voris was stepping over many in his own organization in order to implement damage control.

The week of Voris' "coming out," even Chris Ferrara commented to Steve Skojec on the latter's blog:
"Transparency triggered by someone else threatening to reveal your past is not transparency. It's a PR tactic called "getting ahead of the story."

"Real transparency is nothing being hidden from the beginning, especially something as horrendous as this. Had Voris come clean at the outset and had made it his theme that homosexuality is not an "orientation" but a disorder from which one can recover with God's grace, then we could speak of transparency. But had he made that admission at the outset, I rather doubt he could have achieved any prominence as a member of the Catholic Internet commentariat.

"My question is how does someone with a past like this, even if he is right with God today, get to be a public commentator issuing judgments against the likes of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre?

"My view is that the only appropriate response to Voris's revelations is an embarrassed silence, and certainly not a ringing defense of his "transparency," of which there was really none. "
In the past, I've already asked: What would Voris' apostolate resemble if, from the beginning, he were a professed former gay man? That would be true transparency. But in reality, the package we got with Voris was not transparent at all. I can therefore agree with Jones that Church Militant TV was malformed from the beginning, and that Voris' past has shaped the organization in a cultish fashion.

It may surprise my readers to know, however, that I still believe that CMTV has yet done some good in spite of itself. Two examples that come to mind is the defense of blogger Vox Cantoris, when he was coming under a lawsuit by Fr. Rosica. And let us not forget when Michael Voris revealed to the world that there was language favoring homosexuality during the Synod on the Family. I cannot discount these and other good things that CMTV has done.

In the troubled age of the Conciliar Church, the sheep are left to themselves. They become wild and feral. This is the result by being abandoned by our spiritual fathers. And when I take that into consideration, I am unsure that I can turn a complete cold shoulder towards what Michael Voris has done.

Now, a moment ago, I mentioned Chris Ferrara. That brings me to the next major point about Michael Jones' book.

Jones Attacks Traditional Catholics

I am a huge fan of E. Michael Jones. His work is second to none. I intend to read all of his books. I would love an autographed copy of one of them.

Therefore, as jovial as I can be, with as much good will as I can muster, I must address the obvious fact that Jones harbors no love for the Traditionalist Catholics who read him. I will do my best to be a happy adversary to this man. However, what he has done with his book is quite sad.

Jones mentions many of the commentators that we keep up with in our circles. He makes mention of Steve Skojec, Ann Barnhardt, Michael Matt, Chris Ferrara, Mother Angelica, as well as the SSPX. Perhaps, in learning that he mentions these names, you are heartened to know that Jones is familiar with some element of the Traditional Catholic community. Why, Jones is even aware of the short fuse of Fr. Rosica!

However, it is those last three I mentioned--Ferrara, Mother Angelica, and the SSPX--that Jones singles out to attack. Jones attacks The Remnant, and even EWTN, lumping them in the same category as Church Militant TV.

For starters, Jones relates to a "wound" in Mother Angelica's past, and he claims that this damage done to her had shaped the rest of her apostolate. He discusses how, during the Depression, her father had abandoned the family when she was six years old, and this caused the family to fall into poverty. Finally, as a girl, she was subjected to ridicule at the Catholic school that she attended.

Somehow, according to Jones, this all made Mother Angelica a self-absorbed human being:
The fact that Mother Angelica never acted on the childhood wound sexually does not mean that the wound wasn't there. The narcissism that flowed from it gradually found expression in her apostolate as well, in ways uncannily similar to what happened at Church Militant.
Obviously, at this point, Jones is comparing EWTN to CMTV, citing narcissistic personalities as the cause for these organizations to violate Canon 1373:
"One who publicly either stirs up hostilities or hatred among subjects against the Apostolic See or against an ordinary on account of some act of ecclesiastical power or ministry or incites subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or by other just penalties."
Jones does not like the idea that the sheep are criticizing the shepherds. He does not like the fact that laity, or those close to them, criticize bishops.

Jones ridicules Chris Ferrara. Interestingly, he agrees that it has always been ridiculous for CMTV to criticize bishops yet simultaneously leave the pope uncriticized:
"Ferrara rightly dismissed [Terry] Carroll's explanation of why it was okay to criticize bishops but not the bishop of Rome as theological 'nonsense.' ... Ferrara's position was that Voris should criticize the bishops and the pope."
Yet, Jones does not want any kind of criticism of bishops whatsoever. And Ferrara's and Mother Angelica's critical stance towards corrupt clergy--in Jones' mind--lumps them both in the same category as Michael Voris.
"Just as he failed to detect Voris' homosexual narcissism during the week he spent with Voris in Gardone, Ferrara missed the narcissism at the root of Mother Angelica's outburst during the 1993 World Youth Day Stations of the Cross incident. Ferrara's approach to both Voris and Mother Angelica was similar. As long as they toed the traditionalist line and made favorable noises about the Latin Mass, Fatima, etc., Ferrara was willing not only to give them a pass but to ascribe their misbehavior to underlings who lurked behind the curtain."
Jones will not give Ferrara a pass. The latter cannot plead ignorance. From the beginning, Catholics wondered what made Michael Voris seem so "off," but no one could put their finger on it--not even Michael Jones, who was CMTV's guest several times. However, in Ferrara's case, he was blinded because of his desire to attack bishops.

Returning to the topic of Mother Angelica's conduct, Jones says:
"[I]nstead of bringing liturgical abuse to the attention of Bishop Stafford privately, Mother Angelica denounced him publicly in a way that bespoke--dare we say it?--narcissism and self-dramatization."
So, again, Jones is trying to tack Mother Angelica onto a book about the Michael Voris scandal. Dare I suggest that these unnecessary references to unfashionable and "unmodern" Catholics bespeaks of Jones' own personal narcissism? After all, this book about Voris could have existed without any reference to his adversaries.

And, again, I am only halfway joking about possible hubris on the part of Jones. For, in the very beginning of Man Behind the Curtain, he waxes on about his debate in the 1990s with Michael Davies, and he goes on about how that debate and a 1993 article managed to single-handedly inspire Terry Carrol and Michael Voris to go to war with the SSPX. He coyly asks: "Was I in charge at CMTV? Was I the man behind the curtain without knowing it?"

These tacked-on attacks against other Catholics make for uneven reading with Man Behind the Curtain. Jones does summarize the mission of this book towards the end--that message being the effect of Protestant-styled cheap grace. However, what does Voris' cheap grace have to do with the non-existent narcissism of Mother Angelica and Chris Ferrara? The answer: absolutely nothing.

Jones has crippled his own book with these spurious half-truths. The book, as a whole, is a disjointed piece with some meaty parts sandwiched in between a second agenda. Either one-fifth to one-fourth of the book is an attempted attack on anyone who dares to criticize corrupt clergy.

The Strawman

So, what is the real point of this book, and who is the strawman? Is the strawman that Jones beats up Michael Voris, or is it Traditional Catholics? And the point of the book: is it Voris' narcissism, or the errors of publicly active Catholics? What is to blame for Church Militant TV's debacle: cheap Protestant grace, or the act of criticizing bishops?

Man Behind the Curtain shows E. Michael Jones' disdain for bringing up the shortcomings of clergy. This contempt endures, even though Jones is opposed on this issue by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and Sts. Peter and Paul. His condescension for Traditionalist Catholics will continue, no matter what holes reside in his arguments against the SSPX. Jones' stance against the Catholics in this book may, likely, continue--in spite of the fact that none of the people mentioned have broken Canon Law 1373--a law, which I might add, that Pope Francis and his St. Gallen Mafia work to subvert on an almost daily basis.

Pope Francis says we should "raise Hell!" I cannot see how E. Michael Jones has a problem with that, since the pope, who is beyond criticism in his eyes, suggested it.

In the end of his book, Jones gives the last word to the bloggers Maureen Mullarkey and Catholic in Brooklyn, as well as Fr. Rosica (of all people). These last three dance on the grave of Michael Voris' reputation. But could it not be argued that they also are dancing on the condemned reputation of Traditionalist Catholics? That is to say, could it be that Jones hopes that Michael Voris' humiliation will be extended to those other Catholics who he has named? Could it be safely said that Jones lumps them all together?

In the end, after deconstructing his book in this manner, I am left questioning the intention of Jones' book--even though Jones told it to me plainly, himself.

Though I disagree with E. Michael Jones and what he tried to do with this book, that is no reason for me to lump him into a dark dustbin of negativity forever, even though that seems to be what Jones has done with those he's disagreed with. It will be a good day when the man takes on other projects.

4 comments:

  1. It will be a good day when Mr.Jones rejects nostrae aetate & the novus ordo religion.
    Mr.Jones is much smarter and much more educated than myself.
    Why is it that he can't spot and reject the heresies in Vatican 2?
    I could go farther & say Pius XII violated Session 7 Canon 13 Council of Trent with his numerous changes between 1951-1958.I will hold up on that as his Philadelphia head might explode.

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  2. Why write a book rant against Voris? Did Voris do something to piss off Jones?

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  3. My question is, who told all these things to Jones? It must be someone from inside Church Militant, an employee or spiritual director who knew almost everything that occurs there.

    Jones worked with Voris, yes, but not on a daily basis. What was the motive of the individual who told this to Jones?

    It might be well to ask Jones how he got all these 'inside information'.

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  4. I think Mr Jones suffers from what Mr Voris describes as I.Y.I http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-iyi
    Not to mention the serious sin of detraction - We all have skeletons that should never see the light of day.

    ReplyDelete