Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What is it that we communicate via our blogs?

DeaconDanWright posted today about the fact that, while there is a strong Catholic presence on the web these days, much of it belongs to individuals and their blogs .... some of which may not be the most effective means of presenting what exactly it is that we're all about. It's nothing new — there was a nice rash of "Let's play nice" back at the end of May. However, it's a message that bears repeating over and over again.

The Gospel for today comes from Matthew 15, and includes Jesus telling the crowds: "It is not what enters one's mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one." One of the sisters I live with had commented during a discussion last year that she has a different understanding of the commandment to not take the Lord's name in vain. In her mind, it has nothing to do with saying "God" at inopportune times; rather, it occurs more when we presume to speak for God with regards to who God likes or doesn't like. Dan references this with regards to some of the less-than-community-mindness, pointing out: "I’ve heard it said that the eyes are the windows of the soul, but it seems more to me that the mouth is a better indicator." (Funny .... isn't that what some folks are saying about Mel Gibson?)

But ... I'll let his words speak for himself.
Before we can explore what it means to say that God is love, I have to tell you what love isn’t. Unfortunately, it isn’t what you find on many religion blogs and websites. We have to be discerning in the matter because there's a lot that can mislead us. I find myself constantly frustrated, but I hear in my spirit, "The Lord has given you the good sense to recognize him." We can't let it get us down when we visit a website claiming orthodoxy and instead find hate. Jesus warned us about these folks. Just yesterday I looked in on one blog, one of the really popular ones, and found them trashing a parish half-way across the county, so I looked at the parish's web site. I found nothing objectionable, just a socially progressive urban parish attempting to tackle the tougher questions of life. All I could think was, "God bless this parish. They're looking for the God who is love."
Check out the full thing, though. He's got a great take on the difference between "mercy in admonishing the sinner" and just-plain-rudeness. Which, from reading the post that inspired his post (which is intentionally left unlinked) .... rudeness is by far the theme. I just don't get it. Do they really think that mockery and ridicule is the way to win someone over? Whatever happened to "one holy catholic apostolic Church" that we recite each week in the Creed? The word catholic with a lower-case "c" to mean universal, the word one to imply unity?

I remember one of the Benedictine Life Weekends when I was just visiting this community. Someone was talking about the whole thing of how if someone's bugging you, you should pray for them. However, praying that they go away doesn't count, nor does avoiding them so you don't have to pray for them. And yet it seems that many folks out there are merely biding their time until liberal Catholics "stop stealing oxygen from those who use it for reason" and finish out their "death throes".

Oh, no, we can't engage in any reasonable civilized dialogue. We'll just "find (ourselves) suffering from an unreasonable desire to open a can of whoop-ass" on the people we don't like, those suffering from "the cardinal virtue of heretics such as yourself: stupidity".

Well. I'm curious. If that's what they say about their fellow Catholics, I'd hate to see what they say about those they don't like!

Something else has struck me throughout my blog-wandering career. It seems to me that it's often the "ultra-conservatives" that mock the "liberals" with excessive ridicule, while the "liberals" reply with a plea for civility. Have I just not come across the mocking liberals, or is this actually a legitmate trend?

And, for the record ..... this is by no means applicable to all bloggers, not even all the Catholic bloggers. But, when I do come across blogs that are mocking and ridiculing other Catholics generically, it tends to be going in the conservative ==> liberal direction. But, there are many many bloggers out there on both sides of the traditionalism spectrum that can speak with civility and respect.

And for that .... I thank them. And as for those who have more-frequent-than-necessary lapses of civility .... well, I guess I'm supposed to pray for them.
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Anonymous A said...

There are too many folks out there getting their panties all in a bundle over all kinds of stuff. Life is too short and I need to be about the business of loving God, neighbor as self, and keeping my own life on the path, and not trying to get all in everybody else's faith and try to make them "tow the line." Bah!

My two cents: Always be nice on your own blog (and you are), and read those folks who edify you. Ignore all the rest of the jokers and let them shoot each other. Don't get caught in the crossfire.

Hey my Benedictine sis, Pax to you as always. You rock.

8/08/2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Deacon DW said...

Amen, Steph, we pray for them and simultaneously we forgive them. Also, I like what the other commenter said--just don't read those guys. I guess sometimes the best way of not being judgmental is to look away from the temptation.

Meanwhile, we live as Christ taught us!

8/09/2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger the tentmaker said...

I think we have a fairly ecumenical group that hangs around together. I for one, believe that for all those rude and hateful sites there are those who do believe in the one catholic Church. Baptists and Catholics are supposed to be like oil and water right? Well, folks, I'm about as Baptist as they come, and I love this site and this sister.

8/09/2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Thanks for the big early-morning smile, tentmaker!

8/10/2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

What happens when we don't hate each other and we actually like each other but can't agree on what kind of socks to wear or what to have for breakfast or anything?

Here's me hoping the first day of school is a great day for you and your young women!

8/10/2006 5:24 PM  

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