Bye, Bye, Marty

04/30/05: I owe an apology

Once again, my overactive mouth (or in this case, keyboard) has gotten me in trouble. A rather unpleasant affair occurred at Evangelical Underground. My sincere hope is that valuable lessons have been learned by the participants and that those lessons can be passed on to our readers.

Before I make good on my promise to apologize for my snide remarks, I must apologize for taking so long. I probably could have whipped up something quick, but I thought it better to put time and consideration into my words. It would have been a shame if in my haste I inadvertently offended again.

I think the easiest way for me to do this is to step through comments that I worded poorly and say what I should have said.

Me: “I fail to see how conjecture based on incomplete and poor researched media reports enlightens anyone or shows them the love and saving power of Jesus Christ.”
Eric: “And an avid ‘listener’ of the show can assume to know more than local reporters?”

You’ve begun to contradict yourself. I’m pulling the plug on this one.

My intention was to call into question the investigative thoroughness of the local media and stop people from jumping to premature conclusions. The AP article was very short and was an abridged version of the Tribune-Review story. The latter provided more contextual quotes, but is rather presumption in its title and tone. Minto said in an interview that a TR reporter had called him after receiving a tip by phone. After speaking to Marty, the reporter contacted Chuck Gratner, general manager of WORD-FM and sought a comment. What Mr. Gratner said shed little light on the situation. An email I received in response to an enquiry I made indicated that the station had not planned on giving an official press release. There is no evidence to suggest that Tony LaRussa actually listened to the show aon any regular basis, if at all. Thus, the article is rather biased to Mr. Minto’s position. I don’t say that to insult or call into question Marty’s version of the story, but to merely point out that the picture is incomplete.

As the news of Marty’s firing spread, I saw a lot of accusations made by those who only had access to the AP article. Many of these accusations were very harsh in tone. Some verged on anti-Catholic conspiracy theories. When I read Eric Ragle’s post, I feared that, as a prominent blogger, he might add fuel to the flame. I did not intend to label Eric as a bigot and I apologize if I have. Unfortunately, I got up on my soapbox and ranted about what I perceived as unfair treatment.

“Eric Ragle at Evangelical Underground seems to be convinced that some sort of conspiracy to placate Catholic listeners was responsible for Marty’s firing. He also seems to think local reporters are infallible and assumes that they actually listened to the show prior to reporting the story.”

“That comment thread is now closed. I find it ironic that someone claiming that Marty was censored by Catholic discrimination was so quick to pull the plug on me.”

The way I worded things made things personal. I had intended to prevent Marty’s firing from precipitating needless conflict in the Christian blogosphere. Instead I created conflict of my own by publically airing my grievance with Eric. Had I been practicing what I’ve often preached, I would have privately contacted Eric. Had I done so, none of the ensuing mess might have occurred. I am sorry for making what should have been a private disagreement public.

Understandably, Eric was offended by what I wrote and responded in post on his blog. The gist of his accusations is that as Catholic who was often annoyed and/or offended by Marty’s comments, I am too biased to objectively report on his firing. I can certainly understand why he would say that. Admittedly, I focused quite a bit on Marty’s bias against Catholicism. As a Catholic, they are what most often offended me. My point is, and has always been, that Catholics aren’t the only people Marty offended with his remarks. However, not being a member of those groups, I was not personally offended by the remarks against them. I was trying to stick the rule of writing about only what I know. I am sorry if I presented myself in such a way as to suggest hypocrisy. I apologize if Mr. Ragle felt that he was being chastized by someone with ulterior motives. As a side note, I would like to state that while I’m friendly with Marty’s former producer, a fellow Catholic, I had no intention of gaining favor with him. I was merely looking out for his reputation and good name as a friend, a Christian, and a responsible netizen.

Eric pointed to some particular comments I made in my mega Marty Minto post that I should apologoze for.

What I said:

“It’s nice to see that clown colleges are still producing fine graduates [like Eric Svendsen].”

What I should have said:

“Mr. Svendsen’s accusations are based on heresay and assumptions. They are unfounded and unresearched. As such, they lie somewhere between detraction and calumny. They can certainly be construed as ad hominem attacks that lack apparent substance or merit. They are ridiculous on their face and Mr. Svendsen should be ashamed of them. They are inappropriate for anyone to make but are especially eggregiously offensive coming from a professed Christian. One should not impune another’s reputation without evidence and sufficient reason.”

I apologize for insinuating that Eric Svendsen is a clown. In doing so, I was no better behaved than I thought he was. I don’t know if E.S. reads my blog, but if he does, I invite him to provide proof for his allegations. I am more than willing to hear other points of view and I sincerely hope we could have a polite and fruitful dialog

What I said:

” On a side note, I hate to kick a man when he’s down, but would have hurt for him to use a spelling/grammar checker? It’s one thing to butcher English on the air when you don’t have a grammar or pronunciation aid handy. It just looks sloppy when it’s typed up as his ‘official’ rebuttal for the world to see.”

What I should have said:

*sound of wind blowing across a prairie*

I should have kept my opinion to myself. Better yet, I should have emailed Marty and pointed out the mistakes to him so that he’d the opportunity to fix them. I may yet do that. I am sorry for any and all of the pot shots that I have made about Marty Minto. I was a loyal listener to his show, and despite our differences, I respect and like him. Perhaps others have less trouble with this sin, but I’m often rather critical of others, including my friends. In fact, sometimes I’m crueler to my friends and loved ones than I am to complete strangers. I guess on some level, taking others down a peg makes me feel better about myself. I’m sorry for hurting others in the process of massaging my fragile ego.

Sadly, my dispute with Eric didn’t remain merely between us. Due to a rather unfortunate case of mistaken identity, Mike Russell of Eternal Perspectives was dragged into the conflict. He called me a toddler and I accused him of character assassination. It wasn’t pretty. Via comments and private email, though, we seem to have buried the hatchet. I am sorry that in my zeal to defend my reputation I offended you, Mike. I honestly do find your blog interesting and insightful. I will endeavor to read it more frequently. I hope you enjoy mine as well.

To conclude my apology, I’d like to quote a comment I left at EU.

“I?m sorry that this has become such a big thing and I apologize if any of my comments offended you. I will be taking your suggestions and criticisms to heart…I don’t want to be at odds with another Godblogger. Bickering helps neither of us nor our readers. However, this has been a humbling experience and I will certainly attempt to learn its lessons. I will also be open about this on my blog so that others might learn before making the same mistakes.”

“It is my sincere hope that we can put this matter behind us and find ways to interact fruitfully to spread the Gospel and witness to each other and the world. “

I mean that bit about openness sincerely. I am leaving my inflamatory comments as a testament to my flaws. I will also soon add a link to this apology in the offending post.

Mike summed things up pretty nicely in one of his comments. I’ll close with his wise words.

“[A]ll of us say stupid things and wrestle against sin. In doing so, we often hurt one another. We all need to extend generous portions of grace to others while gulping down huge helpings of humility ourselves. There are no innocent parties in this exchange: Mr Dung, Eric, and certainly I could have handled the situation much better, I think, but we didn’t. Why not? Because we’re all in the process of maturing and God still has much to do in our lives.”


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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

12 thoughts on “Bye, Bye, Marty

  1. Rob

    Christians suing Christians proves that we do not take the gospel seriously. Plenty of non-Christians will have their ideas about Christianity confirmed if such a lawsuit is filed.

    Come to think of it, there’s a lot of us Christians who will have their ideas about fellow Christians confirmed by that lawsuit.

  2. Rob


    At least I’m self-employed. I can’t be fired for blogging what I think. How people react at church might be a different matter, but one I’m prepared to deal with.

    How about you?

    If Marty speaks with an attorney, that will be disappointing. Somehow, Christians suing Christians just looks real bad.

    So tell me, how do we heal the Christian community and the Christians from this hurt?

  3. Jerry Nora

    It’s too bad. I would rather have a big Christian personality (okay, big with regard to Pittsburgh!) who would rally Catholics and Orthodox, rather than have a link on his personal website to “Good News for Catholics”, to teach us Catholics what the Bible really says. But we do need challenging folk as well, and I pray that this is not a symptom that WORD is becoming another easy-listening station, so to speak.

  4. Steve Nicoloso

    So was he fired because:

    a) he called The Purpose-Driven [Insert Purpose-Deprived Thing] the moral, therapeutic, deistic schlock that it is?

    b) because he was an ill-informed anti-Catholic bigot?

    If (a) that really is too bad, and confirms my thesis that “safe” Christian Radio is anything but… If (b) then… well… that still seems like no reason to fire him. Seems we still all benefit from folks stirring up the stew a bit…

    We have a “Christian” Radio station here in N. Jersey that goes on-and-on now about how “safe for your whole family” they are. But I really have to wonder just how “safe” their milk-toast programming and profoundly insipid music really is… I have to wonder how many people will try to enter by the wide gate and broad way exactly because it seemed “safe.” “Safe” is exactly what mainstream CCM and X-ian broadcast radio is trying to be… and I can’t help but wonder just how dangerous being “safe” really is… Give me bare boobs @ the Superbowl anyday over this…


  5. John

    We live in a predominantly Christian country. Christians sue Christians every day, and it does no remarkable harm.

    Also, I don’t know that non-Christian radio stations pose a particular threat to children. We spend an awful lot of time and energy protecting children from some media threat which has never really been demonstrated to exist.

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