Sunday, 8 January 2012

On SAGO and other issues...

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...

6 comments:

Part-time Pilgrim said...

Ben

Insightful as usual.

I don't think you should be worried about whether you are "self-appointed". CCC 907 says "In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons"

So you are appointed be reason of your baptism to make your opinion known provided you have regard to the integrity of the faith, show reverence to your pastors and consider the common good and dignity of persons.

Brilliant book the Catechism. It's all there.

Elaine, Littlesheep Learning said...

I've just started trying to read Catholic blogs in order to try and help me successfully bring up my children within the church (both myself and my husband became Catholics at university so don't have the 'Catholic culture' of family life ingrained) and to be honest all the name calling and I'm a better Catholic than you posts makes me wonder why I'm bothering and if I'm better off staying feeling isolated in a bubble.

Ben Trovato said...

P-t P
Thanks for your comment - and the gracious compliment. And you are right, the CCC is a wonderful book!

Elaine
I absolutely agree that the Catholic blogosphere can be very unedifying at times. There are some good bits which you may search out, but increasingly,even bloggers whom I like and respect seem to be being dragged down into the squabbling mire. You might do better to read some good books...

However, there are blogs out there which do not descend into the mire; perhaps simply make a note of ones to avoid - a blacklist, if you will (or Index, I suppose in Catholic terms!) Twitter can get particularly toxic for reasons that are not wholly clear to me, though I think immediacy and brevity are two of them.

But for Heaven's sake, don't allow the silliness to put you off the brave and noble adventure of raising your kids in the Faith!

Ttony said...

Demonisation is bad, although recognising the work of the Prince of this World becomes easier and easier as he chalks up his victories; but ridicule is a very English way of avoiding getting into a fist fight.

Ben Trovato said...

Ttony

Don't! You'll only encourage me...

(I am wrestling with the appropriateness of satire: it can be unpleasant, but it can help bring about change...)

Lazarus said...

Great post. A critical rough and tumble in the blogosphere is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing, but we do need to keep reminding ourselves of the need for love and even kindness behind it all, and keep pulling ourselves up when we forget.