I am in a reflective mood today. Yesterday I posted a pertinent and searching post (I thought) and then pulled it in short order, because I realised that it was more likely to fuel unpleasantness than achieve the ends I wanted.
That made me reflect: what were the ends I wanted? Positive change, I suppose.
And I realised that the post as written was extremely unlikely to have effected that.
So why had I written it the way I had? Because it was clever, incisive, likely to draw some cheers from some people, controversial, likely to inflate my stats?...
Moreover, it seemed so evidently obvious and unarguable to me that a foot had been placed firmly in a mouth: however, other intelligent people did not see it that way at all. I still think I was right in my analysis (of course!) but that made it clearer than ever that a clever blog post was not going to be the epiphany for the other party that I hoped.
I have also been observing with growing dismay the unpleasantness of many of the interactions on the Catholic blogosphere. Name-calling, in particular, I dislike: CVeebies, for example, being used to imply that all those participating in the Catholic Voices initiative are some sort of dumbed down, brainwashed lackies of Austen, Jack and Kathleen; or Taliban Catholics, for people who actually believe the hard bits, too, and expect bishops to stand up for them. This kind of labeling assumes as a given a particular and prejudicial story, and seems to me to be both intellectually lazy and uncharitable.
But actually, I wonder if people like me are a bigger part of the problem: people who sit on the sidelines as Self Appointed Guardians of Orthodoxy (given my dislike of cheap labels, you will understand that SAGO is particularly appealing...)
I fully understand why we do it: our intentions are good. We know that all is not well in the Catholic Church in this country; we are fiercely protective of it, and hugely frustrated and angered when we try to raise our concerns and are told to hold our tongue.
But when that turns from constructive comment designed to help and move the agenda forward, to ridicule (of which I have certainly been guilty: I do enjoy it!) and demonisation (of which I have also been guilty, though I try to avoid it) then I think we have lost the plot. And if SAGO loses its flavour...