Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Emetic

Ttony, over at The Muniment Room, has suggested that it would be a good idea to publish a regular corrective to some of the rubbish printed in The Tablet, and is using the working title: The Emetic.  He has posted an example of the kind of stuff that needed correction or comment in just one issue.

Due to the sheer volume of idiocy the Tablet can publish in a single issue, it would clearly need to be a team effort.

This seems a great idea to me, that could develop into a serious apostolate with many benefits; but , if it is to be taken at all seriously, it would need some thought and a lot of work.

Some of the questions that occur to me are:

  • Should we set up a new blog, twitter feed etc dedicated to this important apostolate?
  • Who should be on the team - and who decides - and by what criteria?
  • Should we aim for consistency of style and approach (and if so what) or diversity ranging from satire to legal and theological dissection?
  • Should we strive to fisk every dodgy article every week, or simply pick the more outrageous ones?
  • Who would edit/review articles to ensure that they do in fact accurately express Catholic orthodoxy?
  • Who would be our spiritual director?
  • Is this, in fact, a good idea?

If anyone is interested in getting involved, or in answering any of those questions, or in suggesting further questions that we should address, please comment in the comms box here or at Ttony's place, or on Twitter.


Lazarus said...

This is pretty much off the top of my head -so please treat in the spirit of 'brainstorming' rather than a considered view...

On the plus side, there's undoubtedly an attraction in setting the record straight. One of the things I've always found most irritating about the Table is its smugness: having a blog/website which regularly challenged this would be immensely satisfying.

On the negative side, does any orthodox Catholic take the Tablet seriously anymore? The days of triumphant heterodoxy are over: even the most ardent Tabletista knows that they're in an argument that (at the least) they are no longer clearly winning. What would a dedicated site/blog add to that? Would it convince the wavering? Wouldn't it just end up with more of us dedicating time and energy to talking to those who already agree with us, rather than reaching out to rebellious or even non-Catholics?

I'd be really interested in others' views on the proposal.

Towards the Tiber said...

Sounds as if you've all hit on an interesting idea!

I would say that Lazarus is spot on. You would need to decide which audience you want to reach.

Do you want to reach the audience that your individual blogs already reach - traditional Catholics who already know that the Tablet talks a load of rubbish and mostly don't bother reading it? If so, your own blogs are probably just as good (especially blogs such as Protect the Pope, which seem to cover a lot of these issues very regularly). Having said that, you could potentially use it to send links to Priests/Bishops to encourage them not to have it available in Churches, and I suppose it would be good to have people picking up on the sheer volume of ridiculous Tablet articles (added to that you'd never run dry of content!).

On the other hand, do you want to reach the people who read the Tablet and believe they are reading authentic Catholic teaching? Who will be influenced by what the Tablet says to rebel against the Church? In that case you need a very robust strategy, and it becomes a much more serious project.

I think in that case you'd have to: a) research the readership and work out how best to reach them (ie will they be looking at Catholic blogs on the web or would they only read a print magazine that they could pick up in Church?), b) how to make sure that whenever the Tablet appears online, so does the Emetic (ie ensuring it is the second hit whenever someone searches for the Tablet). Either way, it would be a tricky job to reach the one audience who would otherwise believe what the Tablet is teaching.

Not to pour cold water on it, I think in theory it's a great idea, but not sure how effective it would be in practice...

Recusant said...

I think Eccles and Protect the Pope pretty much have it covered between them already!

Ttony said...

The two key points are a) getting an accurate counter-narrative out quickly (I was on to this) and b) making sure that both Tabletistas and innocents who read it believing it to be Catholic can be made to realise that it isn't (which I think TtT above has articulated really well).

To do the first scratches an itch of mine, but doesn't necessarily do much more than tell people what they know already. Getting the message to those in the second category would make it worthwhile (and make it absolutely necessary to do the job quickly and well), but is much more difficult.

But if we can do it, then we should do it: we just need somebody who understands to tell us how.

Mark Lambert said...

I think there are a lot of people who consider themselves good Catholics and read the Tablet. I know quite a few. And these good souls have bought into the idea of conscience as the ultimate arbiter of right & wrong. The issue has been that there is no counter narrative. I have experienced this first hand, getting involved at a diocesan level and then coming up against, not to put too finer point on it, completely heretical ideas, and being told by orthodox supporters that all I could do was withdraw. This I found deeply unsatisfactory because all that is left then is the heresy.

So where are we? No catechesis, a loud heretical voice broadly decrying the faith and advocating dissent and attack from secularism. Hmmmm anyone see a correlation with last Sunday's first reading from Nehemiah??

blondpidge said...

I think you could do this well online and it would be easy to manage. In my opinion you'd need a wholly separate website, twitter stream, FB page and it would have to be an impersonal ''ego free" project so as not to attract any personal attacks. The contributors would I think need to be anon, for a variety of reasons.

I think you could quickly pick up an online following and the word could be disseminated far and wide with support from some of the major Catholic bloggers such as Frs Ray, TF etc.

The major problem could be getting this to a wider, non on-line audience as TwT notes.

Hugh of Avalon said...

I think the advantage of this idea is that it would provide a focus for the concentration of efforts. A number of orthodox Catholic bloggers currently do sterling work in this area, but their critiques are scattered and piecemeal. A unified counter-narrative would be much stronger and would, I think, eventually attract more attention and a wider audience. The Church has more or less sanctioned the Tablet by permitting it to be sold in practically every Catholic church. Many innocently think it is therefore sound when it clearly is not. Others, such as Anglicans, think it is representative of Catholic opinion. I once worked for the archbishop of Canterbury and can confirm that it was read as such in the staff room at Lambeth Palace!

On the side of the angels said...

If you want anonymity - the easiest way is to have a blog with a Sunday Summation - followed up by any in-depth references, expositions or links during the week. From Friday to Sunday one could could have skype conferences or internal discussions on internet messengers [Facebook/yahoo etc] discussing what needs to be addressed, whom among you will construct a response or what links/references already provide it..
Like gloria tv and the vortex one could have a ten minute video 'news round-up and commentary' on Tablet content to complement the written material - and here's my suggestion - make an xtranormal video with an animated character doing the dirtywork then the whole thing will be ego-free.
The whole thing can be done easily within 90mins - and there's more chance of people watching a little video than reading something.

Now this may seem counterintuitive BUT I would also suggest that instead of commenting ON the blog itself - I'd rather a second supportive mirror blog for comments which only became avaliable on the Monday and was highly moderated for topic-related discussions. This would prevent blog-shanghaiing and the message being lost by internal comment squabbles - the message being the most important thing on the Primary blog - anything else being merely supplementary.

Now here's another suggestion - outside the compilers who would be known to themselves I'd suggest that one set up another posting-board blog simply to receive comments where the commentators would be asked to comment as anonymous [with maybe a personal number or pseudonymous handle] - and instead of being
published the bloghost merely publishes notification of their received contribution in the comments box.

Certainly some people cannot compromise/jeopardise their position or association within certain groups or diocesan/quango roles and could be deemed disloyal or worse if idenitifed.

Lastly I'd suggest you made Saturday rough-copies and sent them before publication to a handful of informed experienced adjudicators/arbiters [one being a canonical expert, another a legal expert, a liturgical expert, moral theologian, dogmatic theologian etc] giving them a 12-24 hour window to respond and confirm/dismiss/tweak any content]

Ttony said...

OTSOTA has got this pretty well spot on. My problem is, as always, finding the people with the will and the ability to make this happen, and to guarantee that it can happen week after week.