Friday, 10 August 2012

A Catholic mother on blogs and blogging

The following statement was sent to me this week and I have the author's (Elaine) permission to post it here.
It concerns an issue that has given me considerable food for thought; it poses, among many other things, the question....to whom are we speaking  when we blog?

Here it is, and many thanks Elaine for writing it:


Some thoughts on reading the Catholic blogs from a non-blogger

After reading the advert for the meeting of the Guild of St.Titus, I thought it may be interesting to consider the blogging world from the perspective of a reader.
 Clearly, these reflections should be regarded as idiosyncratic; a personal experience which is not necessarily applicable to a wider audience. 

With that in mind, I offer the following thoughts:

How did I come to read the blogs?
Simple, Richard Collins asked me to join the followers on his blog. Yet, this simplicity reveals an important point as it was a personal relationship that facilitated a step on the journey. It is worth considering how bloggers will capture that ‘personal touch’ in a more virtual environment.

How will the people in the parishes come to know the blogs?

Why do I read the blogs?
There are lots of different reasons why I read the blogs depending on what is happening in the Catholic world and in my world.
 If I am honest, sometimes it is just idle curiosity and I take a ‘pick and mix’ approach to see what is interesting. 
However, often it is a deliberate choice and then the reasons include:

·      Catechesis – especially from the priests ( Father Tim, Father Ray Blake, Father Z)
·      Encouragement – especially from Papa Stronsay
·      Following news – Rorate and others
·      A sense of community – this is important as we do not participate in parish life and travel to a different church each week for the EF Mass (follow Linen for this)
·      Entertainment
·      Challenge

Are there risks in reading the blogs?
Yes. The blogs can communicate powerful rhetoric and can be very convincing. 
Bloggers have a significant responsibility and duty to remain within the boundaries of the faith and not to lead readers astray. 
This applies not only to their posts but to the level of ‘debate’ allowed on the comments. 
It is difficult because debate is often healthy and sorts the wheat from the chaff and it is a tricky area to manage.

Conversely, I have a duty as a reader to consider things with a critical eye and not to blindly believe without thinking for myself.

Another risk is that the relationships are mostly virtual and readers can develop a false sense of knowing the contributors. 
This can happen when readers see the same name in the comments – for example, I could begin to think that I ‘know’ the Olde Jarra Scribe or Shadowlands but I have no idea who they are in real life. 
That is why it is essential that the Guild continues to build on the reality of personal relationships and the bloggers really get to know each other; long may your Chesterton hours continue.
My final risk is that the reading the blogs can be a time consuming distraction from daily duties!

What I do not like about the blogs
·         blogs that have adverts - apart from Mystic Monk coffee!
·         comment pages that become very critical
·         comment pages where two contributors are locked in battle and everyone else is an onlooker ( introspective and boring)
·         a focus on very local events without wider catechesis
·         lots and lots of recommendations in the ‘daily reads’ (too daunting)

Looking forward
The blogs have to become more widely known and read; especially those written by the priests in order to strengthen catechesis. How might this happen?
Equally, for those written by the laity there is an urgent need to think of yourselves as the labourers. You must work hard to ensure that the harvest is plentiful!

I hope your meeting is blessed and fruitful,
Elaine (August 2012)

Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

3 comments:

  1. Good points Elaine!

    Ros (shadowlands)

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  2. Your final risk is my first risk: time comsumption galore! Enjoy wisely!

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  3. Perhaps this is implied, but for me, when I read a blog, I must be able to trust that the writer is giving Catholic teaching as it is as well as educated commentary.

    I find that there has been a change in commentators over the past few years. In a sense, I compare the commentator of 2012 with the later days of homeschooling.

    Those of us homeschooling 20-25 years ago were mostly teachers and trad Catholics who were strict about our curriculum and day. Now, there are homeschoolers who are not really teaching, as those of us in education have discovered.

    In commentators, those who started in 2006, or in the case of my older blog, 2007, were those who were either educators or have some type of background in the Church. Now, there is a new generation of commentators who are much younger and have never learned the art of debate or objective thinking.

    This makes it difficult for us bloggers who have to pick our way through the comments and determine which are helpful and pertinent to other readers.

    Anyway, we need more very good bloggers before our rights to freedom of speech disappear. We do not have much time, IMO.

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