Monday, 2 June 2014

Wise as Serpents; Guileless as Doves

We, as the blogging Catholic media, are entering into a new phase. I can see it and sense it. The main stream media has finally realized how powerful the blogosphere is and is beginning to highlight problems, from that point of view.

A note today in the news states that the msm is in decline because of the online media, including bloggers.

But, Catholic bloggers are now under the spotlight. We have to turn a corner. This is the "turning time."

From now on, the blogging community must be wise and prudent in the ways of the world. We not only must be professional, we must argue in rational discourse and not on the level of the personal.

I taught logic and argumentation for years and have written on this blog last year on the importance of rational discourse.

Two rules: stay with the objective facts and never use personal names or get involved in personal arguments.

Debate is absolutely necessary. Apologetics in the Catholic Church demands an objectivity and the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, as well as courage.

If we are to be taken seriously, we must be serious in our approach.

Here is a review of rules for rational discourse in the form of questions:

1) Is the argument coherent, clear, based on facts?

2) Is the diction used objective?

3) Is there a clear common basis for discussion?

4) Are the arguments concise and open to modification if necessary for coherence? This does not mean changing the inherent truth of the argument, but modifying approaches.

5) Are all, and I repeat, all emotional arguments and feelings set aside?

6) Are subjective arguments rightly seen as irrelevant?

7) Are those involved courteous and patient?

8) Do the parties involve invoke fact and details supporting the objective argument?

9) Are inflammatory words, ad hominems and ad populums avoided?

10) Are both parties involved in the discussion or is the argument merely one-sided, and therefore, only a harangue or rant?

11) Are the bloggers aware of civil rights, legal actions, and the entire media world of libel cases to be avoided at all costs?

12) And most importantly, do Catholic bloggers understand that they do not merely represent themselves, but the entire Catholic Church? There is a cult of individuality which makes many people forget they are part of the Church and represent the Church when writing.

If we merely want to write personal views and opinions, unless our minds are like the mind of the Church, we should not call our blogs "Catholic".

Thinking like a Catholic is being in the long rational tradition of debate and manners.

Pray, reflect, think, then act. We do not have to give our opponents fire with which to burn us.

We do not have to ask for persecution, and in fact, we are to avoid it if at all possible.

To do otherwise is to both cause scandal to the Body of Christ, and to damage any chances of evangelization. Our first job is to save souls, not "be right".  Evangelization is not the same as church politics.

Matthew 10:16
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) 16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.


  1. Interesting and perhaps something to discuss at the forthcoming meeting of the Guild in July. It raises a few questions!

    1. I was just thinking about you Sir as i clicked the comments button! [with no deference to the proverb].
      Best wishes and God's blessings on you and your fair lady.,
      Of course Supertradmum's right {If I won the Lottery I'd set up a school of apologetics with her as the principal]

      I'll confess to guilt on the odd indictment above [one of my problems is I too taught logic, argumention and critical thinking so I have an aversion to writing in that formalised way on grounds of appearing insincere or dissociate - plus when one 'mirrors' one's opponent's rhetorical style it levels the playing field - and one can seem less 'intellectually elitist' if one 'slings in a barrel-load' of euphemisms, analogies, hyperbole, slang, metonymy, synecdoche etc...

      It's also so much easier to write at length than with a few apposite epithets [think GKC arguing it's much less exhausting to write an article than a one-liner for Punch]
      and more GKC - those deeply concerned about certain subjects or issues are boring to the bored who simply couldn't give tuppence about them...that which may be enthusiastically written at length can be dismissed like the Emperor on Mozart as "too many notes"
      Yes there are a few with whom we argue who have no intention of actually discussing - like ballets in dodgy french opera - they just turn up, posture, ensure they're seen then vanish with either a smug grin that they've 'won' some non-existent debate or the claim of being victimised by an intolerant uncharitable individual or 'mob' whom they pity or hold in contempt...

      We're just not holy enough - and that sorrowful dearth of grace leads us to fall into the danger-camps of either pelagianism or donatism..thinking we know better than the Church, pretending we know what we don't, bearing false witness by stating our opinions as Catholic teachings, presuming we should be given a reserved seat in the forum because we 'belong' to the Church and that we have innumerable other talents and charisms - a demigod font of all wisdom - simply by being 'Catholic'!

      it's a spiritual war - do we seriously think the demons of the air or the cyber-ether are going to give us an easy time? At any opportunity they are going to try to corrupt the message and the delivery - pride and envy [see 12 above] are gateways to all the deadly sins and if there's a hint or taint within? well a whole blogpost can be pointless, worthless or even dangerous...[tbc]

    2. of course there are a few sins dangerous to a blogger...
      Gluttony - receiving and never giving anything back - expecting everyone else to do their but then bewailing their lot that nothing's being done until they can be cosy in 'it's too late now' Unwilling to sacrifice any of their precious time to contribute or participate...
      ...and of course Sloth...but sloth doesn't necessarily mean can mean a defiant refusal to either care or take a sit on the fence or refuse to stand by any banner other than the white one of hell's antechamber...the Laodicean, the Lukewarm...

      Another thing: Bloggers should STOP WINGING IT - if one does not know the reason why the Church teaches A,B or C or why we do X,Y or Z or why 1,2 or 3 is contrary to Catholic moral teaching - if you don't know why - don't pretend you do - go and find out or refer the person asking on to someone who does know and can explain it - I am stunned at the inadvertently well-intended amount of apologetic 'bearing false witness' I see on blogs and comboxes [and in the media!!!] . If you don't know don't guess and proffer speculation - or worse pretend that your conjectures are what the Church really teaches. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying 'I don't know!' - even Our Lord on this earth said that...

      Another thing - false humility and equivocation - if a Church teaching is true - if you know why it's true - don't pander to pragmatic, relativist, obfuscating faux-politeness of placing the Church on the defensive in regards to its faith and morals and its inherent Truth as the Mystical Body of Christ...if we abandon Christ or repudiate Him as the truth written on every heart - out of some deluded sense of 'respecting another's views?' we lose the respect of everyone....

      One final point before I shut up [I'm saying this here because I won't be attending in July]
      We are NOT victims: We are the Blessed; and should act accordingly in thanks to God.


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