Thursday, September 19, 2019

Conspiracist Taylor Marshall Blocks Sacerdotus

As I have written before, when Pope Francis was elected, this stirred a lot of people in the Catholic Church. The "schism" really began on March 13, 2013. We are seeing it more open today, especially on social media. Catholics are fighting one another. I shared how many Catholics followed me, jumped into my mini-debates against atheists and protestants, and were friendly. That changed with many unfollowing me, blocking me or aligning themselves with party lines, so to speak.

Before on social media, there were Catholics who were more orthodox than others, and then there were the sedevacantists and the really absurd Catholics who deny almost everything the Church teaches. I faced them all. From NovusOrdoWatch and his sheep who deny the papacy and have a huge misconception of what Catholicism teaches, to the liberal ones who claim the Bible supports abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage. Despite these, there were always mainstream Catholics who alway balanced things out. Now, nearly all of those followers are competing against each other as to who is more Catholic than the next.

Taylor R. Marshall is one such character who went bonkers, along with Rorate Caeli and a few others. I used to follow Marshall back in 2015 and enjoyed his appreciation of the Liturgy from pre-Vatican II. However, his tweets started to become more nonsensical and contentious. He began to attack the Ordinary Form of the Mass, made implicit jabs at Pope Francis and started to show a scrupulous side that one would expect from the Pharisees. Having a doctoral degree, I expected him to be more rational and balanced, but he has demonstrated a tendency to rely on heuristic representativeness, conjecture, bias and conspiracy to push a narrative.

I am not sure when, but he blocked me on Twitter. It seems he blocked me because I questioned his comments and corrected his misinformation. I state this because I never was rude to him. My tweets are evidence of this. I will show them here:

In this tweet, I asked him for a review copy of his book so as to review it on my media

In this tweet, I comment on how I tried to get the nuncio to invite my nephew to meet the pope during his visit to New York, and the nuncio gave me the runaround:

These are the times I questioned him and offered a correction to his misstatements and misinformation:

As you can see, my criticisms involved his misconceptions and bad takes on certain events or actions, particularly, involving the pope. They were never ill-willed or meant to make him look bad. I was doing my Christian duty of correcting a brother in error or offering him a different perspective than the negative and accusatory one he adopted. If this is what led him to block me, then he is clearly insecure with his intelligence and cannot handle criticism.

Had I come across as rude and vulgar, then I would understand the need to block me. However, I did no such things. This tells me what many others have stated about Marshall: that he is an opportunist profiting off the gullible. Opportunists do not like to be challenged. They are authoritarians who see themselves equal to no one and untouchable. I am concerned for Taylor and his large following. They are not well educated in the Catholic faith, history of the Church or her Liturgical rubrics. This is evident in the exchanges I have read online and on his personal website. Taylor caters to a group of alleged Catholics who call themselves "traditionalists," but are really ignorant of tradition, both with capital and lower-case T.

These are the type that believes the only valid Liturgy is the Extraordinary Form, want to oppress females to the pews wearing veils, oppress young girls from the altar, profess false ideas on how to receive Holy Communion, rely heavily on private revelations, and who deems everything they disagree with as "modernism." Another thing this type of Catholic does is nitpick externals. If a vestment or clerical attire is not to his or her liking, then the cleric if a "modernist," liberal or heretic. The scrupulous nature found in these types of alleged Catholics is disturbing. Taylor himself is guilty of this.

Here is a recent example of one of those scrupulous tweets that are worthy of the Pharisees:

In this tweet, he is mocking the use of different colored clerical collar shirts. Like seriously, Taylor? The Catholic Church has no official rubric that states what a cleric has to wear other than the cassock with the appropriate piping color and sash. Then there are religious orders and institutes which use their own variations of habits and clerical collar shirts or even cassocks. What difference does it make the color of the shirt a priest or deacon uses? Taylor's comment here to just wear a cassock is offensive to religious orders. Does that mean the brown and gray Franciscan habit or black and white robes of the Dominican invalid because it is not a cassock? This is what I mean when I say that Taylor has gone bonkers. He has gone off the rails, so to speak.

I will not go into his book which reads more like a fictitious novel with a conspiracy plot. It is like reading the Da Vinci Code or watching the movie Angels & Demons. The book would not pass vetting from scholars and academics. It is a veiled attack against Pope Francis that insinuates that the pontiff was seated in Rome due to the influence of cults within the Church, such as the Free Masons. If Marshall really believes what he wrote, that is scary. I worry about his psychological health along with his spiritual health.

Conspiracy theories are not new in the Church or secular world. There are many people who create them and believe them. Today, we hear of Trump being an accomplice with Russia, Hillary Clinton as a hitman of sorts, the Pizzagate scenario, Queen Elizabeth being a reptilian alien, Area 51 having captured aliens, Pope Francis is a Communist, I can go on and on, but we get the point. New ones pop up almost daily, especially on social media. Why are humans fascinated with conspiracy theories?

Well, psychologists have many theories. Human beings need to find a causal explanation for events in order to have a clear understanding of the world (Heider, 1958). This need to stabilize and formalize a causal explanation often leads to a rushed conclusion. In psychology, this is called Heuristic Representativeness. This is when the human brain pieces together pieces of information and comes up with a conclusion without process it logically. Conspiracy theories are formed by this processing. These theories posit, to varying degrees, that with certain actors, events hidden from the public perception that seems to be coincidental or link to one another offer a specific conclusion that proves a set narrative; the conclusion is then closed off from falsification (Lewandowsky et al., 2015). In fact, those who try to debunk the conspiracy theory becomes part of the conspiracy. Any attempt to debunk said conspiracy theory is met with aggressive responses and intense rejection (Goertzel, 1994). These conspiracy theories offer a safety blanket for the confirmation bias a person holds (Bost & Prunier, 2013). Any counter to them will force the brain of the person holding to the conspiracy theory to become defensive. This is why we see Taylor and his sheep become very defensive when their narratives and theories are questioned or debunked. It is the equivalent of offending someone's mother. The one whose mom is being attacked will not sit idle to it.

Those who foster conspiracies have a borderline personality disorder. They exhibit signs of Paranoid Ideation (Cichocka, Marchlewska, & Golec de Zavala, 2016). Narcissism is also a part of those who foster conspiracy theories. They feel superiors to others with the belief that only they possess the truth (Cichocka, Marchlewska, Golec de Zavala, & Olechowski, 2016). This is what we find in the works of Taylor and his followers. They exhibit paranoid (The Catholic Church is being infiltrated) and narcissism (only "traditional" Catholics are Catholic). This is why the Pope has been concerned with those Catholics who are "rigid." By "rigid," he does not mean Catholics who follow the Church's teachings and live the faith in an orthodox way. He means those who believe their form of Catholicism or how they understand it, is the correct one and refuse to adopt reality and the viewpoints of another(Stewin, Len (September 1983).

Dr. Coplan categorizes it in this manner: People who are cognitively rigid externalize and internalize certain behaviors. They externalize:

  • Insistently repetitious behavior, 
  • Difficulty with unmet expectations, 
  • Perfectionism, 
  • Compulsions, 
  • Preservation, 
  • Agitation, 
  • Aggression, 
  • SIB (Self-Injurious Behavior). 

They internalize:

  • Perfectionism, 
  • Obsessions, 
  • Anxiety, 
  • Depression and Suicidality. 

Individuals who are cognitively rigid adhere to a Mental Set. This is a paradigm of previous experiences that are ordered in such a way that it becomes a schema. Anything that counters or is different from this mental set is rejected. Doing so will cause the individual to learn new things and explore new environments. This is not easy to do for some people. It is like building a house the way you like it, living it in for years only to disassemble it and rebuild it in another way. Most are not willing to do this in real life with a house, imagine with their minds.

So those Catholics who are stuck in the past and only think the pre-Vatican II way is the only way, those who are cognitively rigid. These are the ones the pope has shown concern for as a pastor. He probably speaks about this because he knows well as a Jesuit how dangerous the rigid can be. Those who are cognitively rigid hide inner conflicts and personality disorders. If not treated, they can even lead to severe depression, antisocial behavior, and suicide. When I studied in Toronto, I lived in a parish that was "traditional-minded" in the sense of appreciating the pre-Vatican II Liturgy. The pastor of the parish was a Franciscan who was very critical of everyone. I felt very uncomfortable around him. He would tell me that priests who wore short-sleeved clerical collar shirts were heretics and was caught up on attire. When I went home for the holidays in New York, he called me, not to see if I got home safe, but to criticize my travel clothing. I wore jeans, a sweater, a winter coat, and a Yankees cap. This priest found an issue with this! I was dismayed and realized how sick some Catholic priests can be, psychologically speaking. One morning during breakfast, the priest said he would not open the door to black people. I questioned him as to why, and he said that a black man robbed him while he was depositing the collection and that he is more careful around black people. I was disgusted at his comment. This priest was a "traditionalist" and the rigid type the pope has spoken about numerous times. This is not an insult, but a description of abnormal psychology that some Catholics have adopted.

Taylor and his followers exhibit the same rigid and paranoid tones which all Catholic should be worried about. They are signs of an underlying personality disorder which and blow up into something more dangerous. Conspiracy theories are not something we should take lightly. They are dangerous and are often what create cults. The fact that many Catholics choose to follow Marshall over the pope and the Catholic Church's teachings are disturbing. Taylor is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts. He has made many gaffes on Twitter which have been caught by others who are knowledgeable. One such gaffe is his comment that the priest is somehow superior to the laity. This is not Catholic teaching! He eventually deleted the tweet. Another tweet is when he posted a photo of someone receiving Communion at an altar rail with the caption "this is how it is done." Again, this is not official Catholic teaching. While people can receive on the tongue while kneeling, this does not mean it is the only way or only correct way. This misconception and one which he claimed Communion in the hand was not done in the early Church led to writing my own post showing actually documentation refuting his misconceptions, see: It is scary to think that many believe his content is correct. They see "PhD" and believe he is an authority. However, his doctorate is in philosophy, not theology. His theological studies are on the master's level and are protestant in nature. Taylor was an Anglican priest who became Catholic.

That fact brings me to an interesting point. Suppose I wrote a book claiming that he infiltrated the Catholic Church and cite his former life as an Anglican priest, does that make my book factual? If you say no, then you are correct. Conspiracy theories are not factual. People can read whatever they want, but they have to be smart enough to vet it against the facts. I read a lot of things and take them as a grain of salt, so to speak. When I read them, I do extra research to verify the claims.

As Scripture says, "test the spirits (1 John 4)." Be careful with Taylor and others who present a narrative that is not what the Catholic Church teaches. As stated before, Marshall tweeted some good content in the beginning, however, he has gone awol, so speak. We need to pray for him and correct his errors with the facts, not insults or accusations. Marshall is one tweet away from becoming a schismatic. While he is not shy about his dislike of Pope Francis, I have not seen him openly state that there is no pope or that Pope Francis is not the pope. However, it is only a matter of time until he goes sedevacantist from what I have read from his own hands (tweets/writings). This indicates a psychological and spiritual crisis going on in him. We need to pray for him. He may suffer from an underlying psychological personality disorder or adjustment disorder.

Remember, Taylor Marshall is just a layman. He is not an official teacher of Catholicism. Catholics should rely on the magisterium and sacred deposit for their information, no one else. Marshall's content is his personal opinion and bias, nothing else. No Catholic should make any decisions on how he or she practices his or her faith based on what they hear or read from Taylor Marshall.

I hope the bishops do something to have more control and monitoring of alleged Catholic content found on social media. They are the teachers of the faith, not laypeople on YouTube or Twitter accounts. The bishops need to take control of the situation or they will lose the people to these lay people who post narratives in the name of the Liturgy and Catholic faith.  Are we to become petty Pharisees?  This scares aways Catholics and those interested in joining the Church as this person tweeted to me:

There is nothing wrong with loving the Liturgies from the pre-Vatican II era. I love them and love the traditional lace surplices!  I love Latin and receive Communion on the tongue and kneel when I can.  However, I do not impose my preferences upon other Catholics when the Church already decided options for them.  Being a true traditionalist is loving tradition, all of them, not just the ones from Trent until 1962.  It means accepting the fact that tradition is part of the Catholic Church and is a living organism which the pope and bishops have control and mandate over, not the laity or even priests and deacons.  As one of my Oratorian professors from the Oratory at St. Philip's Seminary in Toronto, Canada wrote in his book:

"Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism the dead faith of the living" 
      ~On the Lord's Appearing

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