Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Why do we blog?





I mean, specifically, why do we as Catholics, blog?

What is the purpose of this exercise?

Is it merely a chance to air one’s views much as one might debate a topic in the local pub (always assuming you can find a Christian interested in discussing matters such as the hypostatic union and its various implications)

Or, do we blog because we wish to influence a larger audience and perhaps convert them to our way of thinking?

Or, is it just a personal whim and we have no cares about who reads our posts, what they think of them or how many read them?

I have the greatest respect for bloggers who can, hand on heart, claim that they have no interest in viewing their blog statistics; they must be saintly people.

I try very hard not to fret as to whether X or Y numbers of hits have been received concerning a post but, it’s in my DNA to measure what I am doing and to determine if it is for good or not.

If we have no cares for what we post then surely we must become as an empty gong or a clashing cymbal?

In the past twelve months, in particular, we have witnessed the power that may be wielded by the Catholic blogosphere; the odd Bishop about to be promoted quickly dropped from the list, Tesco calling a halt to sponsorship, beyond 2012, of Gay Pride, the Cardinal Vaughan School battle to retain its Catholic identity and many other incidents.

And we are still in an embryonic state as far as refining and honing that ‘power’ is concerned.
There are many facets yet to be explored and developed.

One of those facets is the power to inform and even educate, in short, to evangelise.
I do not mean that we can take the word of Christ and actually convert people (although that might happen from time to time).

 I mean that we have an opportunity to bring many thousands of Catholics up to speed with what is going on in the Church and guide them to a more profound faith.

Is that a bad objective? Is it, perhaps just a shade patronising?

Possibly it may smack of that but it is not intentional; the bulk of the laity have little or no concept of how the Church is changing, reforming, developing and, even, succeeding in the world.

They do know that the Church is now infamous for its muddle headed thinking on the clerical paedophilia issue but ask the Catholic man on the Clapham bus what they know about Summorum Pontificum and you will draw a blank stare before being thrown off!

Try telling a group of the laity that practicing homosexuality is a sin and see how many walk away.
Or that Purgatory is an approved doctrine of the faith (I know of some nuns who deny that this is so).
 Or, even that we have returned to Friday abstinence from meat – you will get some funny looks I assure you.


The Sunday sermon does not usually focus specifically on current church affairs. It focuses on the Gospel or Epistle of the day or, if it is a special feast, then, possibly a homily on that.

The Catholic press struggles to maintain a readership that is way below the number of Catholics in the country.
Therefore, the Catholic blogging community has a great deal to offer (as our blogging priests have shown).

Take this concept one step further. Why not expose the Catholic world of blogging to the laity en masse?

Show them that the Latin Mass is legitimate, that there are forms of church music other than folk Masses - open their eyes to the reform of the reform that is moving at a faster pace in many other countries than it is in Great Britain.

And what better vehicle to undertake this role than the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma?

A Guild poster distributed to key parishes and available as a download would not take too much effort and would spread the word much faster than the man with a cleft stick.


Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

4 comments:

  1. Thank you, Richard, for this very thought-provoking piece.

    I remember that I only started a blog when it became apparent that entering into a dialogue on other blogs or news media threads was becoming counter-productive - I was just a voice trying to speak up above the cacophony of anger and nastiness. Needless to say, I soon realised that such an exercise could often prove to be futile or damaging - especially the temptation to enter into ridiculous point scoring.

    Also, it seemed that many newspapers - from liberal to conservative - did not like having rational Catholics leaving comments on their threads. I would often have very mild and inoffensive comments of mine removed, especially if they gave a reasoned and logical (if I do say so myself, lol!) Catholic perspective on the hot topics of the day - like abortion or gay marriage or why belief in God is good and reasoned.

    I think many journalists or blog / thread moderators want religious people to conform to a stereo-type they have for us - unable to debate without angrily quoting Scripture, like Dot Cotton on Eastenders, or holding placards announcing that God hates certain groups! When they are shown that Catholicism, as Muriel Spark said, is the most rational of belief systems (inc atheism), as well as being the most loving organisation the world has ever seen, they just act like the Stasi or Gestapo and try to airbrush the facts.

    Frustrated with being at the hands of moderators, many of whom were more like Soviet censors, I decided to start my own blog, where I could speak my mind and be my own moderator.

    Sometimes, I wish I did have a moderator now, or an editor at least! My greatest fear is that blogging has many temptations - especially towards being uncharitable. In that sense, I've become a bit like a journalist looking for (as you mentioned yourself) more and more hits. Of course, there are obvious dangers to this - even though it's nice to know that people from the Holy See read my words every day. I couldn't have achieved that without being a blogger!

    Another good thing that blogging has helped me achieve is showing that so called experts on religion, especially religion correspondents on the papers and the news media, are often clueless. Many of us bloggers know far more than paid secular commentators on religion, especially those journalists who are more than happy pronounce falsehoods about Catholicism, whilst extolling the 'virtues' of paganism, Islam or atheism. It seems to be a sad fact of our times that not many people are defending Christianity in the public square, whilst a lot of commentators are obsessed with bigging up the alternatives.

    I never intended my own blog to be read by many people, and sometimes the stress of keeping one can be too much. In that sense, I am still discerning whether to carry on or not. For now, though, it really does seem that people are needed, and are being inspired by the Holy Spirit, to share the full treasury of Catholicism with the world - even if it sometimes makes us unpopular with the hierarchy in certain dioceses where the Gospel, it would seem, is muffled with embarrassment not proclaimed with joy.

    I'll have to write some more about this subject myself when I have time. I'm absolutely shattered, now, and need an early night. But thanks for getting the ball rolling.

    D

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  2. Regarding the idea of promoting the Guild more widely: how about we see if some friendly publisher (perhaps the CTS?) would distribute a leaflet or pamphlet about the Guild with some samples of its work?

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  3. I stumbled accross Father Pat's blog in Feb 2009 and felt nudged to pray for him. It was coming up to a year since the suicide of the priest who anointed my son for healing and I was looking for something, a word or two to make meaning of it all. I wanted to acknowledge the help the priesthood had given me and my family on so many occasions. I knew nothing of spiritual mothers of priests but had begun to sense a motherly feeling towards priests. I was praying my rosary 'religiously' and honestly thought I had found heaven on earth amongst fellow Catholics. I knew nothing of the differing camps at that point, i just thought we were one big family, which I suppose we are, but like all families, we don't always get on or see eye to eye.
    I got distracted in my initial purpose in blogging, which was to pray for and encourage priests in any way I could.
    Maybe I need to get back to basics.

    As for viewing statistics, I have this 'spiritual' view that God will send any person who needs to hear anything of value in my words. The rest appeals to my vanity at times, of course but then it just as soon wears off and makes me sick and unsatisfied. I mean, any audience apart from the God directed reader is just a random hit, isn't it? Of all the humans ever created, I manage to get a few to click on my page, it's hardly history making. But! If Jesus reaches into a person's heart through something I've quoted or written or affirmed, then that makes blogging worthwhile.


    I feel like my fellow bloggers are friends, I have grown awfully fond of, even if I do fight with them.

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  4. Great post. Thanx.

    May I also suggest that Catholic Bloggers refrain from appearing superior in their Blogs; and not spend ages debating our differences rather than rejoicing in what unites us.

    Gad bless.

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