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Cyber Shock Horror: St. Blogs Exposed!

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 10, 2004

Commonweal author Rachelle Linner checks out Catholic blogs and is deeply distressed to find the wrong kind of diversity.

Intrigued by the genre, I set out to explore the most visible precincts of what is known as St. Blog's Parish -- the moniker applied to the loose collection of Catholic blogs. I began reading with the expectation that all sites would exhibit the thoughtfulness and charity of Peter Nixon's. This naiveté was quickly dispelled when I realized the diversity -- and varying quality -- of Catholic blogs.

If you've ever spent half an hour with Commonweal, you can supply the next line yourself:

This diversity is not, unfortunately, a mirror of the wider church.

Told you.

St. Blog's, with some exceptions, tilts decidedly to the conservative side of the Catholic culture wars. The tenor of a site can frequently be ascertained from its title or tag line -- The Fifth Column ("Orthodox Catholic commentary on current events"), Magisterial Fidelity, Against the Grain (authored by the man who maintains the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club).

"What further need have we of witnesses?"

One gets a quick sense of a blog's politics from the organizations its author provides links to. This is not unlike checking out the publication rack in the back of a church; regrettably, in this electronic parish rack, Commonweal is less visible than Crisis and First Things.

Thank you for sharing.

A number of priests and seminarians also write blogs. ... Curiously, women religious are absent from St. Blog's. An absence explained by the conservative bent of many blogs, or just a function of statistics?

The real reasons are far more sinister: first, html software is specifically designed to block caring, other-oriented language that is respectful of the marginalized. Second, blogging manuals are kept in a locked archive in the Vatican. Third, the wimples worn by women religious were designed by male hierarchs to impede their peripheral vision so they couldn't find the "enter" key on their laptops. The consequences are inevitable.

The traditionalist blogs are one response to the weakening of Christian certainty -- in this case, a negative response -- one that often displays a judgmental attitude and a corrosive cynicism about the "secular" world.

Judgmental? Cynical? When the author of Economic Justice for All (and erstwhile Commonweal contributor, by the bye) paid $450G in church funds to hush up his rent boy, didn't we wait until after the district attorney's press conference before corroding our official support for the Brake the Cycle of Poverty Bike-a-thon? Rachelle, we are an Easter People.

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 6:31 PM ET USA

    Too bad she did not take a little more time and really look around and find all the really great blog's out there. She has overlooked some of the best blog's that there are but expecting her to check out more than just a couple is probably too much for her. At least she has brought St. Blog's more into the light and who knows what kind of trouble that will cause among those that would like to ignore these kinds of "outspoken" Catholics. Oh horrors I can see them now, where did they go wrong?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 2:55 PM ET USA

    "...as anyone who has spent half an hour with Commonweal..." how do you do that? I max out and throw it across the room at five minutes.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Mar. 10, 2004 2:02 PM ET USA

    "Blogging is analogous to the street preaching of the Catholic Evidence Guild." My cover is blown -- I'm the current president of the Catholic Evidence Guild -- and yes we still do street preaching. Evangelization is what it's all about.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 1:47 PM ET USA

    Now, now...let us not be ungracious. I feel a deep debt to Ms. Linner's input. For example, although I knew of The Fifth Column (excellent!), I was unaware of Magisterial Fidelity and Against the Grain, let ALONE of the Cardinal Ratzinger fan club. More stuff for me to read and enjoy. Thank you! PS: If she has any other blogs that are similarly 'judgmental', please post them as well. I wouldn't want to judge them without seeing them (a sentiment with which I am sure she can empathize...)

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 12:10 PM ET USA

    "We celebrate diversity, but not for you people." Believe me Rachelle, everytime I look at the Commonweal, I feel the EXACT same way!

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Mar. 10, 2004 9:43 AM ET USA

    Judgmental? Cynical? Now, Rachelle, as an information specialist SURELY you must realize that PseudoD's cynicism is not his own fault. Rather, I am a victim -- victimized by the Scandal and Poor Witness of the rather weak lineup of 3rd stringers on the Ecclesiastical Football Team these days. I really do think that you need to dedicate your ministry to finding the root cause of this cynicism. ps I trust you enjoyed my responses to the Commonweal website survey.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 6:37 AM ET USA

    Ms. Linner begins: "As a librarian and information specialist..." One feels that (sniff) should have been interposed at that point. 'Librarian' - one has a vision of a severe and stern visage, horn-rimmed spectacles, hair in a bun, tweeds and sensible shoes. 'Information specialist' - One is reminded of the definition of a 'specialist' as: "One who knows more and more about less and less". Commonweal? 'Nuff said.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2004 6:03 AM ET USA

    The Commonweal story begins with a falsehood, "Curious about the genre...." The Commonweal relics, I have no doubt, read these blogs assisduously for ANY mention of their publication, and the observation that most blogs are written by restorationists is hardly a revelation, since we often find ourselves excluded from the "public rack in the back of the church."

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